Heat! It has come upon us suddenly just as a sudden cold snap will probably pay us one more visit before it leaves until late autumn. Do we need solar panels? Not so you could notice.
It got into the upper 90s on Wednesday as we sat on the Quartz Hill High School stadium sidelines for the 2019 graduation ceremonies. It was also so windy that the honorees had a hard time holding on to their mortarboards until time to toss them. The ritual was long and tedious. There were three (count them) student valedictorians, all of whom claimed they were going to miss everything and everybody when in reality they were all champing at the bit to be done with high rising every week day to be on time for the beginning school bell.
If my memory serves me (and it seldom fails to), what I was really going to miss in my day was the dating that was ending as all the guys left in the class would go immediately down to the recruiter’s office and sign up for one of the military services. Most of the boys robed up in this class had other goals, like high-paying jobs. So did the girls — that is, except those who got into colleges on their own merit to get ready for executive positions or political power. Lord knows we need plenty of both sexes in all of those positions.
As I kind of mentioned above, it was different back in 1943 when I was one of those summer graduates. Everything was going to war. We didn’t get to wear the robes or the mortars and tassels. War was uppermost on everybody’s mind even mine. I wanted to join the US Navy WAVES, but Mama said “No, no, no, we need you at home.” So I stayed at home and became a part of the Greatest Generation. I became a junior USO hostess and a neighborhood air warden wearing a pith helmet and a vest and carrying a ticket book to tag homes that still had shades open with lights showing after dark. Even in the Midwest we had to take precautions like that. You never knew where the enemy would strike and we not only had our air base, we were only 50 miles from where the Strategic Air Command was based.
Working for the war effort seemed to be the next best thing I could do so when I was given the chance, although I was under age at 17, to wait tables at the elite University Club, I jumped at it. The club’s rules were that only students at the University could work at the club. The only students available from there were young Japanese men who were displaced to Nebraska from their west coast homes. They were allowed to continue their educations at the university and thus could work at the club.
They were bright and good workers. That’s how and when I learned that not all Japanese people were bad. We worked well together and the work was sometimes very hard for me. I was never very big and lifting those heavy trays weren’t easy. I never had to. One of my Asian fellow employees always came to my rescue. They had to buck the chef’s patriotic personality, which did not tolerate one minute’s delay in the pickup of the orders placed. She was constantly waving her huge butcher knife as she yelled at them. So we traded chores — I would pickup their orders and load them on a tray. Then all they had to do was serve them. When I had an order to pick up I did the same and one of them would carry it and place it on a tray next to my table.
I enjoyed the work as I got acquainted with luncheon guests every day. Most of them were attorneys with offices in the same building. They were creatures of habit when it came to eating so I learned what they regularly chose and what they always drank to go with their dessert. I got good at having the early items at their individual places so they didn’t have to wait when they had to get to scheduled appointments.
One of those attorneys was Maxwell V. Beghtol, a corporate attorney who was employed by the Hollywood studios. He liked me and gave me his card with a note that said if I ever wanted an office job to call him.
I arrived at that point in time and when his secretary put me through to him he said “I must live right. My receptionist just quit to go back to school. When can you start?”
The rest of that story could take another column but not this time.
A homily that I really like is a quote from an unknown brain: “War does not determine who is right, only who is left.” Politicians take heed!