I only had one Summer job though I did it for two Summers: working at the Queens Botanical Gardens in Flushing, NY as part of the NYC Jobs for Youth program. This was also my first job, when I was 15 and 16.
I did work pretty much every Summer after that, but the jobs were not only during the Summer.
Worked for parks and recreation. Various duties. Weeding flower beds along the road, picking up trash at the park, herding toddlers at the pool. Most days they let us go by noon and we got paid for a full day. That’s what earned it the spot as my favorite. The others were desk jobs. Of those, the National Guard was my favorite.
Worked in an ice cream vault. Very cool job – pun intended. Worked loading/unloading conveyor belts, stacking sleeves of ice cream for quick freezing, and loading delivery trucks. Minimum wage, but good overtime, plus all the ice cream we cared to eat while inside, as long as it came from the packages damaged from rough handling, and that happened a lot, unintentionally, even. I loved the cold, loved the fresh ice cream, especially the just-made ice cream sandwiches (put to shame the ones from the grocery store). Also, built muscle while working off the calories. Did it for two summers before I decided I needed a job that paid better for my college needs.
Grew up pretty poor, so we spent the summer picking fruit for jam and pies, helping learn things like how to operate a scrap metal baler to bring in extra money at my father’s job (paid by the bake), babysitting, working the fair (lied about my age so I could start earlier than 15), and my favorite… getting a permit to go onto logging land and salvaging logs for firewood. It was all pretty damn fun to a kid.
favorite…? i guess it would have been working for the post office when i finished high school and was killing time to start college. that was when they hired young people to work for 89 days during the summer time and over the christmas holiday season. don’t think they do that any more… must be old or sumtin’
It was the summer at Camp Bay Breeze…
4th of July weekend at Ocean City and Rehoboth…
Watching one giant leap for mankind on a 19" B&W that the camp nurse brought into the dining hall…
Fresh crab when we had to renet the swimming area after every storm…
Real banana splits that weren’t even on the menu…
Canoe races halfway to Patuxent…
Double dates in an ancient Volvo…
Neil Diamond always on the radio, but trying to learn all the Peter, Paul and Mary songs on guitar…
Had two I really liked. One was shelving books at the library (did that during the school year too) as there were so many interesting books to read. Didn’t matter - fiction, non-fiction, regardless of the section I was assigned to work on, I found at least one book to check out that I wanted to read. The other was sleep away camp counselor. That was a blast. I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to do something I would have otherwise done for free.
I worked at my uncle’s (the same one that warped me with motorcycles and cars) pet store. Really it was 99% tropical and marine fish, and a few other oddities that caught his fancy. It was also a weekend job the rest of the year.
I wound up taking most of my pay from the company store, but I had some great aquariums. Discus were cool, but had specialized requirements so not much else went with them.
I had just about anything that was interesting, and the tanks went through several different styles over the years. Angel fish, Oscars, cichlids, tetras, zebras, neons, gourami, betta, turtles, frogs, etc., etc.
If nature makes you squeamish, don’t read on.
I had a few piranha over the years, one grew from an inch to 5-6". He was shy, and wouldn’t eat if he thought he was being watched. So I had to put out the room lights and wait. He’d just swim around with the goldfish for a while, then there would be a sudden flash of silver, way too fast to see, and there would be half a goldfish. It might be the front half or the back half, he wasn’t fussy. Repeat until dinner is done.
Someone brought in a bunch of crawdads and sold them to my uncle. I put one in my main tank, and it started eating everything, so I tossed him in with the piranha. The piranha clipped all the crawdad’s antenna, but couldn’t get through his shell. The crawdad nipped at the piranha’s fins and made them ragged, but couldn’t do anything worse. That stalemate went on for months. One morning I woke to a piranha and a tank full of crawdad shell parts. The crawdad had shed his shell, and the piranha had dinner while it was soft.
Once the piranha flipped out of the tank while the lid was open. That was REALLY exciting. Where’s the nets? Where’s the fish? Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!! I finally found enough nets to scoop him up and get him back in the tank without losing any fingers.
I had another piranha that was less than an inch long, so I put him in the community tank. He looked cool swimming around with the other fish, and if he managed to eat one of the little ones, I was ok with that. I was very mad when the little red ear turtle ate him. Stupid $5 turtle ate a $20 piranha!
On the marine side I had everything from clowns & damsels to an amazing emperor snapper that knew who I was, and would eat out of my hand. Every time I walked past the tank, he’d come up to a top corner, and splash back & forth until I fed him. He wouldn’t do it for anyone else in the house. I could even hold a large bit of food a inch or so above the water, and he’d rise up and take it.
Some of my other favorites were lion fish and panther groupers. The panthers are white with black polka-dots, even on their front (pectoral) fins, which are transparent on most other fish. So they look rather comical, rowing through the water with their big spotted fins (kind of like clown fish). Both lions and groupers are greedy little guts, and will eat anything that will fit in their mouths. Both also really want to eat their prey head first (so the fins don’t snag on the way down) so they’ll herd their prey until they line up right, then there’s a sudden flash of motion and the goldfish simply vanishes. Or maybe there’s a bit of tail sticking out of the predator’s mouth. At the store I saw one big panther grouper with three goldfish tails sticking out of his mouth desperately trying get one more. They’re more stomach than brain.
Another really cool critter is the ribbon eel. There are several colorations: black with a yellow top fin, and bright blue with yellow top fin and face. At the time (70’s) we were told they were different breeds, but now the black are thought to be juveniles, and the blue are adult males, with adult females being mostly yellow. We’d also been told they were filter feeders, and that’s why their mouths are always open. I had a three foot long blue and yellow, and as the name ribbon implies, he could easily fit in the palm of my hand. There was a particular shell he liked, and would often hide all of his length in it, with just a few inches of body, and his open mouth visible. And at other times he would stretch his full colorful length across the tank.
Well, after having him for a while, my damsels and clowns started to disappear. And later there would be a little bundle of clown or damsel colored poop show up on the sand. But I was never able to catch the predator in the act. Then one evening I’m walking up the stairs, and something violent is happening in the tank. I rush up to get a better look, and the ribbon eel has one of damsels halfway down, and he’s thrashing back and forth across the whole tank as he’s working on swallowing the damsel.
When I later told my uncle about it, and said “Well, we know they’re not filter feeders now.” he replied “Sure they are, they’re just filtering your clowns and damsels out of the water!”
Turns out the ribbon eel is part of the moray family, so of course they are predators!
Oh, I also accidentally wound up with a side business of buying land hermit crabs from my uncle, and selling them at high school. I’d taken one to school just for laughs, and to show people, and it turned into: “Where can I get one? How much are they?” So I’d take requests during the week, and fill them on Mondays.
I had one that was in a beautifully colored spiral shell. It was sitting on my desk, fully retracted into its shell, and a girl looked at it and said: “What a pretty shell!” I can’t remember if she just reached for it, or actually picked it up, but suddenly the occupant stirred, and there are eye stalks and antenna and hairy legs everywhere. She screamed and jumped for the ceiling!
I got chewed out by a couple of teachers, but my biology teacher loved them. And my economics teacher told me he was going to have to give me an A, as I’d already demonstrated mastery of the subject.
So yea, I guess I was a hermit crab dealer in high school.
Started out doing weekend cleanup at my Uncles’ auto service garage. Later moved to the parts store and did weekend work year round, and 32 hours a week during the summer; counterman, inventory, stocking, delivery, etc.
I did that through college; it paid enough to get me through college (no student loans, huzzah!)
a couple of summers i went back to where i went to preschool/kindergarten and helped out with the kids that attended “summer camp” there. that was always a magical place for me both as a child and an adult. my family and i are still friends with the couple that ran it, and not too long ago they finally closed and sold the house. (i’m 35 though and i attended starting at 3y/o so they had a great run.)
i also had a job in data storage (ever pulled staples for eight hours a day? or filed microfiche rich with the smell of rubbing alcohol and machine fumes? bless the day i moved up to scanning court documents and then checks) and eventually i started working in my chosen field of graphic design at a publishing company for mathematicians. if i could go back in time i’d keep that job and not leave to finish my BFA, but you know, hindsight etc.
@jerk_nugget i also found out through a friend that you could go down to the local blueberry farm and pick blueberries and they’d pay you. that sounded great so i went with her one day. i was bored and miserable about an hour in and i don’t do well in the sun. still, i picked and picked and later we turned in what i thought was an enormous bucket of blueberries. they weighed it and i think i made about $1.60 that was the last time i ever did that. my dad said i had learned a great lesson about migrant labor.
@jerk_nugget It wasn’t a summer job, but a post high school job.
I spent a year or so in a bank vault microfilming checks and printouts. It was a mind-numbing job, feeding handfulls of checks into a automated filmer. On the printouts you would start a case of fanfold paper into the filmer, and then just wait for it to run through, or for something to go wrong. I could almost feel my brain melting and running out of my ears.
The high point of the job was when you got to process the film. It meant a three block (huge Salt Lake City blocks) walk to the basement of another building, so you got some fresh air. And you could spend the day reading, only interrupted every 45 minutes or so to change the rolls of film. Of course all of us wanted that plum job, so you only got it once or twice a week.
Oh yea, that was also the year Twix candy bars were introduced, and Salt Lake must have been a test market. For a couple of months there were people handing out Twix on every street corner downtown. We had so many free Twix we got tired of them. There were dishes full of them in the vault.
@jerk_nugget I was a full-time staple puller too. I prepared 385,000 documents for microfilming, which meant putting them in order, removing staples, and for the small things, taping them to a full size piece of paper.
As I got more experienced, I also indexed them.
The documents were manufacturing and inspection records for pacemaker batteries.
I didn’t just work it through the summer, but I’ll consider my high school job on par with what we’re talking about. I worked at a movie theater in a mall that’s long-since been abandoned. Nature has reclaimed it and kids go urban-spelunking in it now.
Anywho, I was an usher which meant sweeping popcorn and pretending to care if kids were in rated R movies. I was “promoted” to game room attendant which was BOSS. Fixing game machines, pocketing loose quarters, filling prize shelves, flirting with hot dads that were waaaayy too old for me. It was so great. Minimum wage but perks were the bomb.
We were friends with the projectionist so we would watch new movies the night before their release at 1 am (before that was an actual thing theaters did). People would bring in beer and we’d party in the theater til 3 am watching movies we weren’t supposed to. I may or may not have had sex there, who knows? It was the most fun job I ever had.
Did the same thing all the kids my age (13 to 16) did in the summer, we picked cherries. Lots of orchards around. We moved, set, and climbed 20-foot ladders. Had a basket tied on your belt. Hot and sticky, but with friends all day. And at the end of the day, the lake was right there and we just walked in. Also picked strawberries in June and grapes in October.
Indoors and year round:
(Long before the internet was there for everyone, long before universal cheap long distance calling)
On Sat and Sun I went to the local newspaper sports dept. Was there by 5:30am.
Got all the sports score printouts from the wire services.
Answered the phone and told the local fans how various games came out. In between calls, I just read books or talked to any sports reporters who happened to be at their desks that early.
Some of the fans called in every week and we got to have a lot of fun chatting with each other.
One tiny HS hundreds of miles away had a dedicated group of fans local to me. One year, they won all their football games by, I think, more than 50 points. Then they won the state championship.
That meant a lot of fun phone calls for me and that HS’s alumni.
I think that HS’s star player might have later become an All-American in college ball.
@bachsoffice@pooflady@therealjrn oh in college I worked in the IS office doing secretarial work. I would always get excited when a professor would request I run handouts on the “ditto” machine. Oh the fumes!!! Good times, fun memories!