The Business Students

Back in the 1950s, the local high school had a program for the Senior students in the Vocational and Business Curriculums to work in local businesses for half day.  They would attend their normal classes in the morning and work in the afternoons.  They would be apprentices and trained in various areas of the business which would also give them much needed experience for their resumes.

We usually had a female student who would be with us the entire school year and as a result, we became quite close to them.  I personally remember we had 4 of them and each of them presented challenges to my mother’s patience and workload.  I fully realize now how much work my mother actually had to do extra…paperwork, meetings with the school and actual training.  After the 4th one(I’ll call her Penny, not her real name), my parents decided it was time to have someone permanent with experience who would actually be a help rather than needing help.

I was fascinated with all of them…I’d sit on the steps(I wasen’t allowed to be underfoot in the afternoons or in the store…I was quite young at this time…anywhere from 4-7). They were all bubbly, freshfaced and bobby soxers  and they would take the time to talk to me when there were no customers or it was breaktime.

At that time, the local bus stopped outside our door pretty much for the downtown area and across the street to go to the opposite direction.  5 pm was the last bus of the day.

My mother would leave the store daily to do necessary deliveries.(when my brother got his driver’s license, he did the deliveries…unless it was a wedding cake, then Dad did the delivery.  I loved to go on deliveries with whoever was doing them because I would always end up getting candy or small change…)   Dad was sleeping upstairs and Penny was taking care of the store.  This particular day, Mom left to deliver a large order to the convent on the other side of town and she had taken me along.    She got delayed in traffic and didn’t get back when she anticipated.  Penny got nervous seeing that it was soon time for her bus to arrive and quickly got her coat, purse and textbooks and ran out the door…leaving the store empty.  Customers started coming into the store and since we were a small shop where our customers knew us, they were concerned that something serious had happened.

One of the customers decided to go looking for Mom or Dad…went upstairs and actually went to the bedroom(on the third floor!)  to wake my poor Dad up.  “Where is your wife?  There is no one in the store and it is filled with customers! ”   My dad jumped up from his nap and in a few minutes was down in the store wasting on the customers.

Ten minutes later, my mother and I came back from the deliveries to see Dad waiting on customers and no Penny anywhere.  (Dad incidentally loved waiting on customers…he always had the early birds(6 am) on their way to work who’d knock on the back door hoping to get hot sticky buns.  He’d just write their names down and what they’d gotten and when they came to the store the next time, they’d pay.)

Mom called Penny later asking why she had done that and that she would have driven her home.  Many tears and “I’m sorry, I wasen’t thinking.” and Mom agreed she could come back and it wouldn’t be reported to the school.  But I do believe Penny was the final straw to my mother’s patience and tolerance level!

til next time…Eva

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