1950 Memories of Suburban Adventures

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Money To Burn

My summer job in the cafeteria at Mom’s office building allowed my pockets to jingle jangle jingle. My new found prosperity quickly burnt a hole in those pockets.

Wealth (consisting of minimum wage) was a new sensation since I seldom earned babysitting money; I lived in the middle of nowhere.

My work day ended a couple of hours earlier than Mom’s. Sometimes I occupied myself by doing voluntary filing for Mom and her officemates, other times I walked around town and window shopped.

Definitely a woman of the world!

Definitely a woman of the world!

Despite having just eaten a free late lunch after the cafeteria stopped serving, I frequented a soda fountain at Grants Department store (different than the Grants near Bochi’s). My favorite snacks were a grilled hot dog on a toasted bun or a hot-fudge banana split. For variety, I sporadically ordered French fries.

I always left a generous tip of ten cents, which really was generous at the time. I sat up straight on the red vinyl stool to convey my status of big spender and independent woman of the world.

Occasionally, I rode the bus to Fort Edward to visit my two aunts and cousins. When I got my junior license Aunt Sophi let me use her car twice on extremely hot afternoons. I drove her two oldest daughters and other younger cousins to the community swimming pool. I was the adult in charge—not wise, but my aunts were used to my cousin Annie, the same age as me and definitely more mature.

A real job meant paying taxes. I begrudged the government’s dip into my pocket, until I received my first income tax return. I realized it was my own money getting returned to me without interest, but it felt like I hit the jackpot.

www.thecolorsofindiancooking.com A gourmet appetizer in the 1960s!

A gourmet appetizer in the 1960s!

I was the wealthy relative swooping down upon my parents with bountiful treasures. My most common offering was a package of three tiny glass jars filled with Sau-sea shrimp cocktail. The shrimp were barely larger than my thumbnail. Our local grocery store did not contain the array of foods available now, and the tiny shrimp floating in a weak cocktail sauce tasted delicious.

My magnanimous charity extended to my non-working sisters.

Paula and Susan holding the  Easter presents I bought them.

Paula and Susan holding the Easter presents I bought them.

I bought Susan and Paula a stuffed chicken and rabbit, each covered with genuine bunny fur, for Easter.

I continued to buy my sisters treats each tax time until I moved away. One year, I let Susan pick out two extravagant items Mom would never buy. She chose white patent leather dress shoes (not on sale) and a real majorette’s twirling baton.

On Paula’s sixth birthday I was a senior at St. Norbert College, several states away. I mailed her a shoe box stuffed full with every young Norton girl’s dream; penny candy and cheap makeup.

Being so much older than my sisters (nine and fifteen and a half years), I had money when they didn’t, and I knew what kids liked.

Lesson learned: It is far better to give than to receive; although receiving isn’t all bad.

Now it’s your turn: How did you spend money from your first job?

Related posts: Chapter Thirteen: Working Jello Girl; Chapter Twelve: Cow Poop, Barn Cats, and a Milk Maid

© Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures, 2012 forward. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. mihrank says:

    great title, bring motivation and success.

  2. I knew you have a big heart. 😀

  3. Ralph says:

    You are so sweet and generous ❤ xox

  4. valleygrail says:

    Wonderful story! Your sisters were very fortunate to have such a generous older sister.

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Thanks, VG. I used to feel jipped that I didn’t have an older sister. On the other hand, I got to be the boss for a long time.
      And as I told Ralph, I definitely didn’t have a halo hanging over my head. I spent plenty of time on the dark side, too.

  5. chsuresh63 says:

    It certainly is more blessed to give than to receive – especially blessed not needing to receive 🙂

  6. kriskkaria says:

    As I recall, probably horse stuff. I had no siblings but I had a horse that I showed.

  7. spunkybong says:

    Missed your hilarity. Now I’m back on my ‘skinny-drip’. 😀

  8. Choosing says:

    I remember feeling really rich at the age of maybe ten: I went to the village fair with 50 Austrian Shillings in my pocket (don’t remember if that was my saved pocket money or also consisted of gifts from Aunties and Granny). To put it into perspective: that would be about 4.5. dollars. But I thought I could buy the whole world with it! Funnily enough, I do remember the feeling of wealth, but not if I actually bought anything in the end.

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