Author: Judd, Brooks

Ten Items or Less Second Jobs (Or “My greatest skill has been to want but little.” H.D.Thoreau)

My mother grew up during the Depression. She shared a tiny house surrounded by alfalfa fields with her two sisters and four brothers just a few hundred yards away from the Old River in Tracy. They would walk the mile and a half to school, crossing the Old River Bridge to get to their single room school house (Naglee School). Their classmates aged from 6 to 14 and one teacher taught them all. Most spoke Portuguese but learned to speak perfect English.

Being one of seven children in a small house can certainly shape your economic philosophy. My mother more or less taught me the value of a buck. She once remarked that in terms of money or lack thereof, she was in her terms, “Tighter than bark on a tree.” It took me a while to understand what she meant. I knew enough about myself that I was not cut out to be an executive, salesman, or CEO. Blue collar was in my genetic makeup. That certain spark that would spur some of my friends to make it quite big in the business world was AWOL in my DNA.I did graduate from college with a B.A. in English, and even went back to get a teaching credential several years later, but that drive for financial success and a golden career just wasn’t there. I had a love of Henry David Thoreau and felt quite comfortable living his philosophy of “My greatest skill has been to want but little.”

It was easy for me to do without a lot of things. But the little I did need, well, they seemed to cost a bit more than I expected. Recently I was checking my Social Security statement and realized that the government began collecting from me during my sophomore year at Hayward High in 1964. I was working close to 30 hours a week for my Auntie Frances at her Kentucky Fried Chicken Store in Hayward.

But this doesn’t tell the whole story. A little history. I never had an allowance nor asked for one. Even at an early age I felt that I should earn my own money. My parents had enough to worry about and it made me feel good to sort of pull my own weight in the Judd household. My mother always worried about money and her fears became my fears.

At the ripe age of ten I was delivering papers for the Oakland Tribune and collecting a monthly pay check. Realizing that “the little that I wanted” cost more than I made, I soon began mowing lawns for a few of the customers on my paper route. Still running short of cash I expanded the lawn service to pulling weeds, yard maintenance, etc. I liked the sound the jingling change made in my pocket. It wasn’t a gold mine, but enough for clothes, lunch, a movie, and of course buying the latest 45’s.

In eighth grade I was getting ready to drop the paper route and I began looking for something to substantiate the lawn and yard care service. My chance came when my Auntie Frances said she could use me to batter cases of chicken at her Chicken Delight Store in Hayward. I would come in early on a Saturday or Sunday morning and whip up the special Chicken Delight batter mix, dump in an iced case of chicken into the huge stainless steel sink, mix it up all together, and then begin to fill up the stainless steel tray with the freshly battered chicken. I would lay down a wing, then a leg on the wing, then a thigh on the leg, and then a breast of the thigh, 4 rows across, and 4 rows down. Thus there were 64 pieces on chicken on each stainless steel tray. I would carefully slide the tray into the runners of the huge walk in reefer to be used later on in the afternoon. For this I was paid $.50 a tray.
When I was a freshman in high school Auntie Frances had me cooking in the kitchen, taking orders over the phone, and sometimes even opening and closing the store. When I had a day off I was invited to come down to the store and earn .50 for each machine I filtered or cleaned.

5. In January of 1967 I moved over to KFC and for four years I would cut chickens from 7 a.m.-noon take lunch and then load the chickens onto a truck and deliver them to the local stores.

The summer of 1969 gave us Woodstock, the moon landing, Vietnam, and Ted Kenney and Chappaquiddick. I would also turn 21 in June and in September I would move into my first apartment. It was time to find another “second job.” I headed out to the Willow Park Golf Course in Castro Valley to talk to my sister who had been their bookkeeper for several years.

Maria told me the golf course was looking for a nighttime “golf ball picker upper” The job sounded right to me. The driving range closed at ten p.m. and they needed someone to collect the golf balls from the driving range which was a small lake. I was to use a small aluminum boat, equipped with motor, plastic garbage can and a long handled fishermen’s net to scoop up the floating golf balls.

After the garbage can was filled with the red striped golf balls I would come in, dock the boat and drag the garbage can to a small shed next to the driving range. In the shed was a ball cleaner/washer apparatus. I would slowly dump all the balls into the machine while a brush would scrub and rinse them and then spit them out into a clean bucket. I would take the bucket (s) and dump them into the huge ball bin next to the pro shop for the next morning’s golfers. I would usually get done by 2 A.M. I would drive home, sleep about 3-4 hours wake up and go down to KFC and start all over again.

After enduring a young life of second jobs I thought that was about it for me. Then in 1983 while I was working swing shift on the Farm I discovered the joys of substitute teaching and there within lies another Daily Column.
Until June: Read a book, hug a child, pet a dog, stroke a cat, and be nice to someone.
Posted:  5/4/2012

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