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The Toils of a Tarrytown Teenager

The Toils of a Tarrytown Teenager

May 22, 2021
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I suppose I should be grateful to have grown up in Tarrytown in the 60’s and 70’s.  The life of a kid was pretty simple back then: get up, go to school, ride the bus or walk home, play in the street until dark, do a little homework, see what was on CBS, NBC, or ABC, go to bed – that last one was always the hardest.  It was even reasonably easy to get a part-time job and make a little money by the time I qualified as a child laborer.  But the actual work was not so easy.

After a few paid gigs as a babysitter for some youngsters down the street – one of whom is now CEO of her own company, I got my first steady, All-American job as a paperboy.  In those days, the Austin-American Stateman was an actual bundle of paper, printed with easy-to-rub-off-on-your-hands ink.  I think you can even still get it in that quaint, vintage format today.

In 1975, a rolled-up newspaper tossed onto your driveway or front porch was the only format available.  Waking up at 5:00 a.m., I’d find a stack of newspapers waiting for me at the end of our driveway.  It took me about 20 minutes to roll each copy, slap a rubber band around it, or a plastic bag on rainy days, and stuff the large canvas bag I would carry on my back as I mounted by trusty bicycle to deliver the news of the day to my neighbors of Tarrytown.

Take care not to be dismissive of the varied skills of a bicycle-mounted paperboy.  Weaving from side to side on the pre-dawn streets with a 70-pound sack on your back (more on Sundays), compensating as the load lightened with each throw, perfecting the overhand, side-arm, and occasional skyhook toss depending on the layout of the target subscriber’s front yard, and being prepared to go retrieve an errant paper from the bushes when your toss wasn’t perfect, were not the kind of talents learned on YouTube back then.

A few years later when I had my drivers license, I’d throw the bundles of Stateman’s into the passenger seat of my dad’s Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme – you know, the one with power windows.  Took me half the time.  But not every morning went smoothly.  There were those times when a knock on my bedroom door signaled dread.  My alarm hadn’t woken me, but my mom did.  She took the call from the Statesman office asking why subscribers on my route were calling in to complain about their missing morning paper.  Alas, my career as a paperboy had come hard up against my increasing requirement for teenage slumber.  I had to move on.

The next logical advancement in my stereotypical teen career was to go into the consumer retail packaging and finance industry.  “Ahem”, by that I mean I became a grocery store sacker and cashier.

Founded in 1920 by the Knippa family, Kash Karry grocery stores operated in Austin’s Hyde Park, West Campus, and Clarksville neighborhoods.  I landed a job at the Kash Karry at the corner of Windsor Road and Spring Lane in the now infamously meatless Tarrytown Shopping Center.  But back then we sold meat.  Big, thick beef steaks, ground hamburger, pork chops and more!  A modest fresh produce section occupied the back of the store.  Rows and rows of canned goods – “Ho, Ho, Ho, Green Giant” peas and “How About a Nice Hawaiian Punch”.  The frozen food aisle had cases of Swanson T.V. dinners and of course local favorite, Night Hawk “Steak & Taters”.  Behind each cash register were stacks of your favorite cigarettes sold by the pack or the carton.  All the staples needed to feed and keep Tarrytown neighbors happy in the late 1970’s.

I moved up the company ladder, promoted from sacker, and stock boy, to cashier.  Since UPC bar codes were still part of the distant future, a cashier had to handle each item, find the little price tag sticker or purple ink stamped price and key the amount into the register.  While you may think this was a slower ordeal than today’s grocery check-out experience, we Kash Karry’ers took pride, even to the point of employee competitions, in how fast our fingers would fly over the cash register keys.

It was fun work!  I always looked forward to clocking in with my timecard as much as I did to clocking out.  Though I can’t recall what the meager hourly wages were back then, it was a job that put a little money in my savings account, a little gas in my car, and allowed me to get to know my co-workers and our most regular customers in the neighborhood. 

Working hard for our money is what most of us do to save for our future and hopefully, build wealth.  From our first part-time job to a rewarding career, earning money is possible only when we learn how to apply the skills and knowledge we’ve gained, to serving others.  Today, it’s gratifying to get to know my clients at my own business, Current Investments Wealth Management.  I help them develop a plan, design a portfolio, and if we’re successful, ensure that the money they’ve work hard for, returns the favor.  Let’s talk about how you want your life’s work to pay off!