Monday, February 22, 2010

And She's Buying the Stairway....

Who among us, who grew up in a 60's era ranch-style home, didn't think living in a two-story house would be the coolest? If you've never lived in one, a multi-story house and it's stairways, is a thing of wonderment. A banister down which children can slide. A landing on top where small children in sitcoms lurk to listen to adult conversations below. Teens stomp UP them and things tumble down them. People crash and die, their necks and limbs tweaked at unusual black and white. Banisters to decorate for the holidays! I was fascinated with the stair lift that was used on The Farmer's Daughter.....*sigh*. And my godparents, Wynn and Royce Krilonavich's house, was huge and seemed to go on forever....

Those who have lived in two-story know the reality is far more tedious. Dirty laundry is carried down only to be washed and carted back up the stairs. Running to your room is a climb, not a simple run down the hall. But the real joy of stairs isn't realized until large items are purchased...beds and desks....and must be moved up those stairs. And when you have a 100-year-old house with stairs built long before building codes, the thrill fades quickly. Our house had, at one time included a second unit which was absorbed into the main house more than thirty years ago and includes not one but TWO sets of stairs. The rear steps are less radical but have a turn halfway up, making them difficult for moving large items. The front steps are direct but steep and narrow. I'm relatively sure we have been black-listed for delivery by most all local furniture stores, their drivers have begun to recognize the address. Hope's high school graduation present was a three-piece desk that was initially ordered wrong and had to be moved twice which did NOT endear her to the burly moving people. My big oak teachers desk, I've been told, will NOT be moved from this house. We may move but the desk will be included whether a buyer wants it or not.
The latest episode of "Stair Wars" started when Mark went to the plumbing store to buy a few supplies for the bathroom project from hell. He returned only to get the trailer to pick up a tub/shower he bought. We're not ready for the shower... but it was a deal! Mark was not blessed with sons - luckily his wife and daughters are a tough lot and, while the shower is not heavy, it IS bulky and cumbersome. We got it up the porch steps and pondered the situation. It would likely clear the ceiling but the banister railing would have to come off. Once that was done, Mark's plan was that we would "just lift the stall up on to the steps". Yeah, right.....So we tried that. The railing came right off but the newel post remained. We tried the lift but, with the post there, it wouldn't clear so we set it down again. That left Hope trapped in the corner for the time it took for Mark to pull the newel post but, once the post was out, we managed to boost the stall onto the steps at which point I had to run up the back stairs to access the top of the stall to continue it's move.

Some bashing and yelling and luckily some laughing came with with trip up. Another door and piece of wall were removed to clear the opening and the stall was home, for the time being.
There is still more work to be done in the bathroom so the shower will have to be moved in and out as the project progresses but now our front stairs are off limits. The total lack of railing is even more dangerous than the crappy railing was before. The newel post was battered and didn't really suit the style of the house so Mark decided that, rather than reassembling it to it's former tattered glory, it is now time to fix the front entry. Nothing so simple as paint since the walls, like those throughout the house, are covered in layers of wallpaper and paint - it's gotta go!
We now have begun this new, additional project by removing the wallboard from the lathe and plaster framework and we're at the point of no return, all because he ran for plumbing supplies. I DID say I wanted a house with character.....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Under the Boardwalk....

As my youngest continues to apply and hunt for her first job, I've been thinking about my first job. Many who grew up in Santa Cruz, had their first work experience at the Boardwalk or maybe the Soquel Car Wash - places we could easily get to on foot or bicycle. Kids who lived in Scotts Valley, started at Santa's Village for the same reason. These were places that needed a lot of employees so could afford to take the chance on whoever they got. Some lasted some didn't. Mark, being a car guy, did the gas station route, pretty typical in the days before self-service pumps.

I was one of the Boardwalk kids, working at Hodgie's under the Jet Star, across the main entrance from the Merry-G0-Round. My parents knew Hodgie, actually Howard Wetzel, as a teen growing up around the corner from our house on Santa Cruz's east side. Networking was as much the way to job hunt then as it is now - it's who you know. Hodgie was actually a motor cop for Santa Cruz PD before his retirement and purchase of the restaurant. I mostly worked back in the fry corner, hand-dipping corn dogs and deep-fried artichokes, going home at the end of the day reeking of fry oil. On breaks, we would occasionally walk among the tourists but more often, would head to the basement, in the coolness away from the noise of the crowds or better, above the crowds by finagling a ride on the SkyGlider from one of the Seaside Company kids in exchange for a corn dog snuck out the window when they passed by on their breaks. Riding up high, the car gliding along a cable swinging in the warm air. From up there, you could see the beach and the tiny people and for that brief expanse of time, not have to worry about filling the oil or Hodgie barking at us to quick goofin' off when one of the cooks would toss an ice cube into the vats of oil, causing the oil to burble and us to squeal.

The Boardwalk was eerie in the morning, before the crowds arrived. No lights. No ringing bells or yelling kids or carousel calliope. Just the workers, carrying supplies to the restaurants and preparing for the day. More eerie, however, is the Boardwalk at night, without lights but with thousands of people, including the obligatory screaming girls. I was working on the Fourth of July 1974 when the lights went out. At some point, in the midst of the fireworks., a blown transformer. In the panic, there was a stabbing somewhere on the Boardwalk and tourists ran for their cars. The ensuing traffic jam filled Beach Street and all roads leading from beach flats, making it impossible for the ambulance to get to Beach Street. Hodgie, gruff as he was during the work day, turned fatherly and would not allow us to leave. Initially we pulled the windows closed then relented when there was some money to be made - working from coffee cans full of change, we sold coffee, hot chocolate and any food we had already cooked. Then the windows came down and we all sat in the dark of the dining room watching the lights of the refugees disappear over the bridge. When the traffic finally dissipated around one in the morning, he let us walk together to our cars and head home. I still remember laying in bed that night, the excitement and the sore feet after fourteen hours keeping me wide awake till nearly dawn. The panic was not forgotten and the fireworks were gone from the Boardwalk until 2007.

All that excitement and that was my first job. So, where does a kid get their first job experience around here? How does my 18-year-old, with a good brain, no criminal history, a diploma AND a two-year degree, get a job when she has no work experience? Would it be easier if she were fifteen? Now that she's 18, prospective employers seem to expect her to have job experience and won't take that chance. Yet we go in stores regularly where we nearly beg for service from unpleasant kids with no social skills.

This was a problem we hadn't considered when we discouraged her from getting a job when she was in high school - we thought she needed to focus on her studies since she was taking all college classes. How does she convince an employer that she's worth the risk when she has no work references. When so many are looking for jobs, how do you make yourself stand out? How do you prove you have skills and network in a town without a Boardwalk or a Santa's Village? She's thinking she'd like to wait tables....or stock shelves....whatever it takes. When the corporate stores require on-line applications then don't allow for calling in to check on your application. what's the procedure? How does THAT work? Should she go back to school and get MORE education without a particular goal in mind? Or just keep pounding the pavement, filling out applications and wincing when an interviewer asks the inevitable question about her work history? My child is looking to start making those first-job memories.