Would you like fries with that?

AmVets is coming in the morning. They come almost every month. Cathy calls (she’s so nice! In fact, at poker last night I realized that she calls all my friends!) and I always try to find something nice to donate. So I’m looking in all the nooks and crannies. I found a box with photos and congratulations cards (from my 1st wedding! yikes!) and my pay stubs. Pay stubs?

So here you see my pay stub from Gino’s. For a whopping $9.24. I worked my butt off for that paycheck. Slipped on a slimy floor, wore white shoes and a tacky red and beige polyester uniform. I EARNED that $9.24. More than earned it.

For those who don’t know…

In 1957, Baltimore Colts football players Alan Ameche and Joe Campanella, along with Louis Fischer, opened a hamburger restaurant at 4009 North Point Road in Dundalk, Maryland just outside of Baltimore. Soon several other stores were added in the Baltimore area. In 1959, the trio was joined by Colt’s captain Gino Marchetti, and the chain became known as Gino’s Drive In. Within a year the company went public to secure funds for expansion and began to reach up the East coast into New England and as far South as North Carolina.

Gino’s did not franchise, each store was company owned and operated. Gino’s was distinguished for it’s philanthropic efforts, aimed at helping young people. Executives of the company supported many educational, cultural, recreational and athletic projects.

By 1969, there were 100 Gino’s Restaurants, growing to 330 in 1972. In 1978 there were 359 Gino’s stores.

Aside from working for the family business, this was my first paying job. It was an eye-opener. Not the working hard part. I was good at that. It was stepping outside my social comfort zone…

Marty had a crush on me. He was cute. Not as cute as his friend, Mark (who I later met as an adult and was not nearly as perfect as I thought he was back then…) but cute just the same. He drove a motorhead kind of car. I really liked that car. I had never met anyone with a car like that. (until college when I dated a guy with a primer gray 1967 Camaro. But I digress.)

All my friends drove their parents’ cars: Volvos, Buicks, station wagons. You get the point. Marty was different. He and his friends were wild and daring. His parents let him stay out late and he had few rules. He had freedom. It looked really great from where I sat. I didn’t find out until later that Marty felt miserable and unloved at home. Never occurred to me that it wasn’t freedom, it was lack of involvement at all.

The kids I hung with (you know who you are!) may have done the occasional rebellious act, but were really good kids. And they had loving, caring families. And rules. I don’t know that I realized that lack of rules and expectations is not a good thing for kids until later.

I wonder what happened to Marty. I hope he’s happy somewhere. We didn’t “date” long. I wasn’t comfortable with his rowdy friends (and he didn’t kiss very well…but that’s another story!).

Then there was Charise. Don’t even ask me why I remember her name! Maybe it’s because she punched me REALLY HARD in the parking lot after closing one day. Ouch.

I got her fired. I, my friends, was a whistle blower. I didn’t like to make trouble. And particularly there, where I was not with my friends, I was shy and reserved. But this girl did something terrible.

She and I were both working register. I overheard some guy snip at Charise. Not ruder than most customers, frankly, but not very polite. And then it happened. I saw Charise make a soda from the fountain, turn around with her back to the counter and spit in it. Then she put the lid on and served it to the customer.


I said, “excuse me” and took the cup. I made him a new one. I told him the cup looked dirty. She glared. Then I went to the manager and I tattled.

She was, as I said, fired.

And she was waiting for me after work.

I don’t think I told my parents. Why? No clue. But it does make me wonder if my kids will tell me things. My parents were plenty approachable, so I don’t know why I wouldn’t have talked to them about this. Great. Another thing for me to worry about as my kids get older.

Anyway, the Gino’s years were enlightening. Since my neighborhood and school were a bit insulated, it gave me a peak into the wider world. And finding the whopping paycheck stub brought me back there for a visit…

One thought on “Would you like fries with that?

  1. Well, you seem to have gotten a lot more out of that job than meager wages! (Marty aside, some life lessons, maybe…) I don’t even remember you working there. Too bad you didn’t have a nice photo to post to show off your polyester uniform. Paystub — $9.24. Photo of you in that uniform — priceless. 😉

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