Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lessons from The World of Work circa 1942

My First Job in 1942

Now when I think back I suspect at age 15, I was going through a bout with depression. I was losing weight and my mother was very worried about me. She took me to The Woman’s Hospital for a check up. After a few tests I was told there was nothing wrong with me but I should try to eat food that was easy to digest. They put me on a special diet because I suffered with indigestion!!!

My cousin Esther’s mother-in-law Lottie worked in Hustler’s department store, down town. Lottie told my mother Hustlers was hiring young girls to work in their luncheon tearoom, part time. She said I needed an interest and I could earn some money. The tearoom was named The Quixie, meaning quick little restaurant. When I saw where I was going to work, I was delighted. It was a very attractive room with indirect lighting in the ceiling. The chairs were very colorful in pale yellow and green. Each customer had their own small table grouped for two, four and six people. The waitresses wore striped jumpers with a peasant blouse. It looked very elegant to me. Hustlers held classes for their employees to be trained. They were very strict about giving good service. This was a new concept for a lunchroom. The customer would pay ninety cents before entering and there was no tipping. This was a higher cost then it would be to eat in the Fountain Shop, in the basement.

There was a choice of four salads chicken, seafood, vegetable and fruit. The salads would come with two hot rolls freshly baked in their kitchen, a beverage and desert. The deserts were chosen from one of the two desert carts covering the room. I was impressed with the deserts. They decorated their deserts with real whip cream. I quickly enjoyed food I had never eaten before. I also gained back the weight I had lost. I really enjoyed my job and was as happy as I could be. The customers were very polite and a pleasure to serve. Even though they weren’t supposed to tip they would often do so anyway. Tips were to be turned in. There were two hostesses to seat the people.

These two young women came from upper class families and I always believed their families wanted them to work to get some experience. One of them seemed very spoiled to me. I once heard a rumor that the head supervisor said she would never make a Quixie girl a hostess. So I could see there wasn’t any future in that job. I became very fond of the girls I worked with. On payday we would go to some restaurant down town to eat dinner and then to a movie. I still hear from one of them. After sixty years we still send Christmas cards with a letter.

My job made a big difference in my life. I received praise for my work and I was earning money. There were shoppers working for the store who would come to eat and they would rate the service they received. I always got a good report. Sometimes someone from the Hustler family would visit. Before I left to work elsewhere, my sister Gloria and my cousin Esther obtained a job there also, so we have a lot of memories to talk about.

I have learned from this experience if you become depressed and unhappy, you should seek until you find what will help change things for you. It can be a very simple thing!


ms.jessie said...


i loved this story! what a great message about a little life change going a long way. i however have never lost weight from being depressed, guess i didn't get that gene!! oh well!!

love you, keep up the great stories i am so proud to be your granddaughter.


~V said...

Audrey, this is a lovely story to share. I especially like the little details. Thank you.