Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Smell of Popcorn and Waffle Cones Always Takes Me Back

I would like to introduce another recurring feature on this here blog - Tales from the Walk-In: Vignettes From Restaurants In Which I've Worked.

My first real job was in the snack bar for an attraction in our odd little hippy, Christian, gay, hillbilly, Victorian, Ozark tourist town. Blue Springs was a place that people could visit, buy some popcorn to feed the many ducks, and see a very deep natural spring and the surrounding bluffs. And I guess that's pretty much it? Legend has it that this place was a rest stop along the Trail of Tears. Back then, there really wasn't much to the place, but they did their best to attract tourists using the connection to the Trail of Tears and the springs.

Much later, after the owners' nasty divorce, Blue Springs was purchased by the Bank of Eureka Springs who planted tons of flowers around the property and it became the Eureka Springs Gardens. Now it is known as Blue Springs Heritage Center. Incidentally, it was also the location of my sister and brother-in-law's wedding four years ago and looked more beautiful than ever.

But back in the late 80s, it was sort of an out-of-the-way, sleepy little place tucked miles down the road from Inspiration Point. I was 14 and this was my first summer job. I popped popcorn and bagged it, made waffle cones, and scooped ice cream. I listened to my Cure tapes and tried not to get caught reading on the clock. It was pretty boring, but I loved making my own money. My mother, whose rationale was that I "wasn't home to contribute to the family," deducted 30% from each of my paychecks and kept it. Can you believe that? (If you know my mother, then yes, you can). In hindsight, I am still flabbergasted and highly amused. So even though I only had 70% of the probably $360 a month to spend, I loved being able to go shopping on my own, go to the movies with friends (a bunch of us piled into the bed of a truck to see Batman), and not be handicapped due to lack of finances. Earning my own money was my favorite kind of freedom.

The job only lasted the summer, but I've been working pretty much nonstop since then.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All I can say here is "Really Rita? Really?" She didn't at least set that 30% aside for your education or financial security?