COLLEGE BREAK, 1952...First trip to California
When I was between my Sophomore and Junior years in college I spent the summer break in California. A classmate and I traveled there from Massachusetts by Greyhound and I will never forget that long, l-o-o-o-ng bus trip. There were many stops but only two of them gave us enough time to shower and wash our hair.. Gayle and I decided we’d “beat the system” and save 25c in the bargain. . We crowded together in one booth…vying with each other for every drop of precious water. The only problem was that the booth had a door that reached only half-way to the floor & the attendant saw our four legs. We ended up paying the full price after all!
The trip took 5 days and by the time we landed in Los Angeles our ankles had swollen to twice their size and we could hardly walk. We were met by my beautiful slim sister and her handsome Danish husband. They looked like an advertisement for the good life in California, as compared to us, the pasty complexioned and fat relatives from the East.
An active day or two got us back to our normal selves, however, and we did manage to get jobs as waitresses in the historic Pierpont Inn, in Ventura, overlooking the ocean. (In the photo that’s Gayle (on the left) and me in our waitress garb.) It was hard work. We were taught to carry the big trays, loaded with food, balanced on our shoulder. By the end of the summer my right arm was actually larger than the left. But, the ambience and the clientele were delightful and the tips were plentiful…enough to enable us to fly home!.
A memorable Pierpont moment was the night that I had Rory Calhoun as a customer. The Pierpont was often visited by celebrities but it was seldom that I had a chance to wait on them…they were usually assigned to the older waitresses. Rory was dressed in his usual outfit…white cowboy boots, white pants & fancy white shirt. I emphasize the “white” because it was hardly that after I spilled chilled gazpacho on it. I tripped and upset a whole tray of the tomato-based soup into his lap. What a gentleman he proved to be. He insisted that I remain as his waitress and left me a huge tip!
That was truly a magical summer…hard work, sun, sand, ocean and my first chance to explore this amazing country of ours.