AtoZ Letter J~Jack of All Trades

Howdy! What'll Ya'll have?

My Dad taught me that phrase!  I was 12 years old when my parents bought the Frontier Drive Inn.  It was the first of several ventures into the restaurant business my Dad tried over the years and where I was trained to be a Carhop/Burger Flipper/Soda Jerk/Short Order Cook/Dishwasher/Waitress/Cashier/Bouncer and made employable where ever I lived....forever. 

In short I was the Spittin' Image Jack of All Trades of my parents.  Surely, I was the youngest 'Carhop' ever to hop up on a step stool, whip out a big chief tablet and say "Howdy, What'll Ya'll have?"

 It was a good thing that everyone pretty much ordered a Burger Basket and Shakes...I was new to writing cursive and printing was way to slow.

I carried the step stool around like a tray.  It did double duty to be at eye level with the cars and the 'Order and Pickup Window'.  It was an invention of necessity as my Dad got tired of sticking his head out the window to get the BigChief Slips and hand out the Burger Baskets and Shakes.  He really was a Jack of All Trades.

I found these photos taken at the back door of the Frontier in one of Mother's 'Treasure Boxes'.  I know they were treasures to her as it was the first time my grandmother and cousin from Iowa had visited us in many years.  

That is Mother in the middle...my barefoot sister Connie in front, and me in the back...probably standing on my tray/step stool.

You should know that the Frontier Drive Inn had more to offer than a Skinny Kid Carhop.  Oh yeah, there was inside dining on Burger Baskets and Shakes, too, where Mother would take orders on a real Order Ticket Pad written in pretty cursive.  She was an experienced, friendly and pretty waitress who seldom used a tray.

She could line five Burger Baskets up her arm and carry three or four large Shakes in one hand, and when she used a tray, it was a balancing act to behold.  Everyone loved for her to wait on them just to watch her waitress...it was art...the way she tore off the ticket, laid it on the table face down with the dog eared corner up for easy pick up.  They couldn't reach in their pockets quick enough to leave her a tip, pay the check and be blessed with her beautiful smile and Iowa accent 'Thank-you, You Guys come back!"  And, they did! 

I remember thinking, "When I grow up I want to be a waitress just like my Mother."  And, I was...while putting myself through school...while home for the summer (their real Restaurant)...when my husband was in the Army in Maryland (a Greek waitress comedy...story HERE).
The one thing I never could get was
Mother's Yankee Iowa Thank-you and "You Guy's come back'."
Funny thing though...those Maryland Yankee's couldn't get enough of my
Howdy!  What'll Ya'll have?

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Unknown said...

I think this is a great family story. What a life experience for you growing up! Love the way you wrote it! Thanks for sharing. Carolyn @ Pastimes-Passions-Paraphernalia.org

Tasha Duncan-Drake said...

What a lovely recollection - I'm trying to imagine you on your step-stool :) My husband has the knack of picking up lots of things in one hand, but if I try it there are usually lots of crashes and bangs as things hit the floor!
Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - yes great childhood - hard work, but lots going on around you .. and all those trades you learnt .. bet they stood you in good stead ... I love the photos you've found too .. Brilliant ... cheers Hilary

Joanne said...

That's where you get your hustle and ability to do so much at one time. Restaurant biz is hard work - more power to your family. Great story and pics. Yes, I would like fries with that - thank you.

Empty Nest Insider said...

I'm impressed that you were able to do all those things at 12! It's great how your whole family helped out, and how you admired every move your mom made! Lovely photos, and such a warm touch of nostalgia. Thanks also for the shout-out, Sue. It was very thoughtful of you.


bookworm said...

I would have been a failure as a waitress (too klutzy). I have lots of respect for them - hard workers. My father also worked in a family business - what, in New York City, was called a "sweet shop". It really does, to use a cliche, build character. P.S. gave you a shout out on my blog today. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

Unknown said...

Looks like good times and good memories
Happy A to Zing

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

Everyone loves what is different! When I visited California as a teen, everyone just wanted me to talk about anything to hear my accent.
I can just picture you smiling and taking orders! Like a little Joanie off of Happy Days.
Visit me at: Life & Faith in Caneyhead
I am Ensign B of Tremps' Troops
with the A to Z Challenge

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Julie, what a wonderful post! You learned skills that will be valuable forever! What beautiful smiles!

Wendy said...

This sounds like an episode out of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
I was a carhop too one summer during college. That was my last restaurant adventure.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I would have been the worst waitress ever. I was smart (and nice) and chose to leave that profession to people who had skills there. Saved me a fortune in dry cleaning costs that way ;)


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