Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dick the Car Hop Didn't Get Many Tips


For no particular reason I was thinking about one of the less-than-successful business ventures of my father, Ol' CBS. I can't imagine what possessed him into believing he should open a hamburger stand, but he did. That was in the summer of 1938 when I turned 13 and was ready to get a job. That proved easy because Ol' CBS appointed me curb boy, or car hop. Not far away The Spotless Spot had cute girls in short skirts filling that position but at The Pilot the customers had to settle for a surly kid in T-shirt and frayed pants.
The place was called The Pilot because it was just across the street from the Akron Municipal Airport. For 15 cents you could get a hamburger and a Coke. Fries set you back another nickel. I spent a good share of the summer sitting on a stool out front because for some reason most of Akron's hungry people preferred ordering from those pretty girls in short skirts. But sometimes a car would pull in and I'd walk over and say, "Yeah, wha' duh yuh want?" After writing the order on a little green pad I'd take it in and hand it to Ol' CBS, who would fry up a burger and open a bottle of Coke. I'd take it outside on a tray that fastened to car door, collect the money and then go back to my stool. When the customer flashed his lights to show he was ready to leave I'd collect the tray and more often than not look in vain for a tip. Once in a while someone would leave a nickel for me, or maybe two or three pennies.
I did take enough time off to build a Soap Box Derby car. It, too, had The Pilot at the Airport painted on its wallboard sides. It won a heat in the Akron race, the only one in three years of trying. Then I hurried back to my nearby place of employment for the after-race crowd. Three or four cars did stop by.
So that was my first full-time job and I can't say that it put much money in my pocket. Ol' CBS paid me two dollars a week and I got to keep all my tips. Some weeks that added up to another quarter. I'd put in about sixty or seventy hours a week so I've always felt it best not to figure my hourly rate because sometimes ignorance is bliss. Or so they say.
I think Ol' CBS was about ready to throw in the towel shortly after Labor Day. With school starting in another week he'd be out of a curb boy until four o'clock on weekdays and I don't believe he fancied doing the job himself. Then we went in one morning and discovered maggots all over the meat. That did it for Ol' CBS. He locked the doors and by following spring a vacant lot was all that remained where The Pilot had once stood.
Ol' CBS went back to being a salesman and I went back to seventh grade, a place where I did not distinguish myself as a scholar. At least two or three times a week the teacher, Mrs. Canfield, would say, "Dick, some day you're going to laugh out of the wrong end of the horn." I never have figured out exactly what that meant. Nor have I figured out what it was that I found to laugh about so much unless it was thinking about the futility of my days as a car hop.

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