My First Job…by ARHuelsenbeck

My parents were immigrants from Germany. My mother’s sister married an American G.I. after World War II, and she and her husband sponsored my parents’ entry into the United States. I was conceived in Germany but born in the United States.

After my parents became American citizens, they sponsored my mother’s cousin’s family to come over from Germany. I knew her as Aunt Lizi and her husband as Onkel Willi. Their three children were Volkmar, Claus, and Gudrun. My dad helped Onkel Willi (a professional baker) get a job in the bakery where he worked. The family lived with us for a short time. I don’t remember that because I was so young, but Claus told me years later he remembered watching Hopalong Cassidy on television with me.

My mother and Aunt Lizi had many fallings out. Some years they wouldn’t even speak. But then they’d forgive each other and start visiting each other again. I have memories of lots of fun times together at their house or ours.

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Toward the end of junior year in high school, I wanted a real job to save money for college, something other than babysitting (although I continued to babysit through college). My dad talked to Uncle Willi, who now owned a bakery two towns away. He hired me to work in his store. I wore a white uniform and waited on customers. I sliced bread, filled jelly donuts and eclairs, and eventually frosted and decorated cakes.

My school let out early enough that, even with taking the bus to the bakery, I got there before the nearby Catholic high school released for the day. Many of the students (some of whom had been my classmates in elementary school) stopped in to buy a brownie or a giant cookie before they returned home—the after-school rush. (I enjoyed a certain status by working at a place that was popular with teenagers.) I also worked on the weekends. Sunday morning was another busy time, with parishioners buying crumb buns, cinnamon raisin buns, and hard rolls for breakfast after Mass.

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One of Onkel Willi’s little quirks was that he left the drawer of the cash register open when he closed the store for the night. He wanted to be sure that if a burglar broke in, he wouldn’t destroy the cash register trying to get into it. (Cash registers were expensive.) He left about forty dollars in the machine, reasoning that any less, and the burglar might vandalize the store. He figured forty dollars was the threshold at which the burglar would just take the money and leave. (We’re talking 1969. Forty bucks was a fair chunk of change in those days.)

I worked at the bakery until I left for college. When I came home the first summer, I found a new job at a local dry cleaner, because I wanted a position won completely on my own merits, without my dad’s help.

But I always remember with fondness my very first job at the bakery, where the fragrances of vanilla, butter, yeast, and cinnamon greeted me as I passed through the portal.

What was your first job? Was it a good experience? Share in the comments below.

 

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About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.
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15 Responses to My First Job…by ARHuelsenbeck

  1. I enjoyed reading about your first job. Our grandson dreams of opening a bakery someday. My first job was being a counselor at a Girl Scout summer camp.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous says:

    Was this Malaika’s Bakery?? Sure I spelled it wrong. Loved that place. Claus was a few years older than us. He graduated from RBC. I want to say he was in the band also. Memories

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andrea R Huelsenbeck says:

      Yes, Maleika’s. Do you remember me? I worked there in 1969-70.

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        Didn’t know it came up as anonymous. This is Mary Beth. Strange, I don’t remember seeing you there. But then again, we hadn’t seen each other in a few years. Didn’t know you were related.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Monica Junge says:

      Did you also go to RBC? Do we know each other? I am Monica Maher. Parents owned Sea Land Marina on Front St. under the bridge to Red Bank until a few yrs. ago.

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        We know each other now on Facebook. Mary Sundermeyer DeRosa. Didn’t know your family owned the marina. Too funny. I didn’t know I showed up as anonymous!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Monica Junge says:

        Hi Mary Beth, yes we are cousins, our mothers were sisters, my parents were the ones who sponsored Andrea’s parents. Small world, we “talk” to each other on FB, like yesterday w/the making of the soups!

        Like

  3. Val Moore says:

    Great article. Thanks for sharing. My first job was working for my father on a chicken farm , producing eggs for sale at local supermarkets. I got a good overview of a small agricultural business .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Monica Junge says:

    Hi Andrea, I didn’t know you worked at the bakery there, probably ’cause I took the bus home and you got there afterwards. I graduated in ’69. I remember cousin Gudrun working there after her high school, she was 4-5 years older than me, I thought she was so beautiful. Yes, our mothers and Aunt Lizzi would fight and then they’d make up and then someone would say something again. Gosh, I wish we could go back in time w/what we know now. And my first job was a 5 & dime store in Red Bank and then later at Freedmans’ Bakery. Mother wouldn’t let me work for Uncle Willi, don’t know why but she liked him better than Lizzi. As a kid I used to go to their house sometimes in Middletown.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andrea R Huelsenbeck says:

      Which 5 & dime–Woolworth’s or Newberry’s? Remember getting a Coke (with crushed ice) at the lunch counter in the little cone-shaped paper cups?
      It’s so funny your mom wouldn’t let you work for Willi, but let you work for the competition. It must have been during the time when no one was talking to Lizi.
      I remember the house in Middletown, with the cathedral ceiling in the living room and the giant wooden fork and spoon in the kitchen.

      Like

      • Monica Junge says:

        Neither one, it was a small place on a side street, I remember it was an awful owner but there was a lunch counter and I had to clean it and the grill. And I was under age, I think 14 or 15 and lied on the paperwork and then eventually he had to let me go and then when I was of age I worked at the Asbury Park Press in their customer service, hated that and parents had to drive me there and I then supplemented by babysitting and then Freedmans. Oh yes, now I remember the wooden fork and spoon and catherdral ceiling. One week after graduation I started working in Newark at Prudential Insurance, eventually transferring to Holmdel and after a divorce to West Palm Beach, even St. Louis when I married Jens. I now still get a pension from Pru.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I got a job as a tray girl in a hospital, taking meals to the patients. I was just 13, so had to quit for a week till I turned 14 and got a worker’s permit. Made 50 cents/hour. After 18 months, left there to work at Kreske’s 5 & 10 (before K-Mart). Started out at 40 cents/hour but didn’t have to work Sundays. Ended up at 80 cents/hour because I had my own department and did my own ordering (records and sheet music). There were two other record stores in town but one leaned more to classical and the other to big bands, etc. I won several awards from the main office for increased sales. During college I worked at a new record store that opened ($1.25/hour), then at 20 got my dream job as secretary to the book editor at a Christian publishing house.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andrea R Huelsenbeck says:

      I worked at a Kresge’s while I was in college, mostly in the deli department, making subs. The shopping center where it was located was being remodeled into an enclosed mall. I got there early in the morning to start making as many subs as I could. At 10:30 the first construction workers had their lunch breaks, and by 11:00 we were sold out of subs and had to make them as people stood in line and waited.
      One girl who sometimes worked with me had a dream that she was lying in a coffin behind the counter while people yelled at her to get up and make them a sub.

      Like

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