Summer of 1942
The middle of June , 1942 had come and I was joyfully anticipating a summer of swimming, baseball and all the other
activities a fifteen year old boy could envision.Tenth grade completed and only two more to go before graduation and adulthood.
was only six months since Pearl Harbor and the start of WWII. My father, Gus, had been recalled about a year previously to resume
his employment at the Charleston Navy Yard as a machinist. He was able to arrange for a ride to work with a group of fellow workers.
day Gus asked me if I would like to have a job in the Navy Yard for the summer. I almost fell over. A job? Navy Yard ? I'm only 15
years old ! I thought one had to be 16 to get a working certificate. He said I could go in to the Yard with him and he would introduce
me to my boss.
The job was working for a company that had a concession in the Navy Yard. I don't remember the pay, but it was probably
a little more than minimum wage , which was
40 cents an hour at the time. The concession had the contract to provide soda in dispensing
machines throughout the Yard.
The machines were distributed throughout the Navy Yard, which was situated on 130 acres. The machines
were designed to accept a coin, a nickel, which would then
produce a small paper cup onto a platform . The syrup would drip into the
by soda water. Open the little door, retrieve your cup and you now have a refreshing carbonated soda. One flavor only...I
think it was a cola .
Those machines had to be filled daily and the coin box emptied of nickels. This is where I practiced my new profession.
I was given a four wheel cart, with a long handle, in which all the supplies were stored. I started every day by loading the cart.
I then pulled it by it's handle from one machine to the next. The cart contained five gallon containers of water, gallon jugs of syrup,
carbon dioxide cylinders, paper cups and
some basic tools. Some of the buildings required that I pull the cart up a ramp, which was
hard to do for a 130 pound 15 year old. The coin boxes were emptied by the concession owner. The inventory was carefully monitored,
which meant , if I was thirsty from all the cart-pulling, I couldn't help myself to a drink. I had to insert a nickel like
, the syup and water would beat the cup to the platform, and the customer would have to stand there and watch his nickel drink go
into a drain.
Many harsh words were expressed to me when I showed up for a machine fill. I had to tell him, I couldn't give him a refund
but I would take his name and tell the Boss, who , presumably , would take care of it.
I did this from late June to late August. I
was given a $1.50 allowance from my weekly pay, the rest went to help the family. When it came time to leave, my boss offered me more
money, I think 20 cents an hour, if I would quit school and work for him throughout the year.
The following summer, when I was 16 ,
and possessing a legal working certificate, I got my own job locally at a Cutting Die Factory in town.