Throw Me A Bone!


It was a simpler time---1946. I was 14 going on 22. As many of that age I knew it---all. My mother and I lived in Long Beach California. At that time the phrase---tenant-housing was not used in reference to where the unfortunate lived. No, it was simply called court-yard housing, I guess that sounded better. The court-yard was merely two long rows of one room apartments with a pull down bed, a closet that had a toilet and oh yes, the kitchen had a sink with a one burner hot plate and a fold up table and two chairs. The yard between the two rows was mostly dirt weeds and trash. Maybe at one time it had plants that were well groomed. The reason that I know this is that two blocks north there were several Court-Yard apartments that were very nice and well kept. Mostly retired people lived there.

That summer I decided that I would just go out and get a job. No big deal when you look 18 and you think you are smarter than all those other people out there. I had the "street smart" and didn't realize that there was any other kind beyond that.

Just a short distance from our "mansion" there was a small cafe. I noticed that it had a sign in the window, "WAITRESS WANTED" here was my chance. No--- I had no idea what all a waitress had to do or know. In my mind what was so hard about writing down on a pad what a person wanted to eat and then bringing it to them? At that time my culinary skills were a bowl of corn-flakes, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and sometimes on Moms payday a baloney sandwich with tomato.

It was my lucky day.  The middle aged lady that owned the small cafe was trying to cook and wait on the customers at the same time for her waitress had called and said that she would not be returning to work there.

I sat down and ordered a cup of coffee, but I really would have preferred a coke.  This I thought would help to show that I was much older.  I waited until the lady was back in the kitchen and trying to fill an order and I just went behind the counter and grabbed the coffee pot and started going around asking the customers if they would like a refill.  The counter only had nine stools and then there were four booths on one side plus two tables out side on the sidewalk.  At that time there were only five customers inside.  Of course I chit-chatted with them.  When I looked up the owner was standing there smiling at me.

"You wouldn't be interested in a waitress job would you young lady," she asked as she looked me up and down.  I hesitated for a long moment as if I had to think about it.

She told me her name but said everyone just called her Miss Maude.  She asked me if I had ever been a waitress, "of course I said yes I had".  She asked me how old I was "of course I was eighteen."  It was s different time and people didn't ask for proof of any kind of ID.  It simply boiled down to the fact that Miss Maude needed a waitress and I wanted a job for a short time until school started. 

Miss Maude served home style meals and most of the seniors from the nicer court-yard apartments came to her cafe to eat every day.  I soon learn them by their first names.  There was old Tom and his buddy Ted and there was Sam and he brought his dog with him and tied it out side by one of the tables.  Yet, they all ate inside.  No matter what they ordered they always had a beer to wash it down.  I soon learned that when they walked through that door I just automatically popped the cap on three beers.

One a week Miss Maude had what she called a special.  A T-bone steak that filled a platter, with a side dish of Cole-slaw and apple pie for desert.  This was the most expensive item on the menu.  Of course there were the usual items, hot-roast beef sandwiches and meat-loaf.

It was old Sam that I really enjoyed talking to, he was a mild mannered man with the kindest eyes.  He was dressed better than most.  He was always asking me questions about myself and with out telling him anymore than that I lived with my mother down the street from him, which he seemed to already know, for they all had to pass there each day to come to the cafe.  Sam always left me a big tip.  I got tips from the others but Sam's tips were double to what the others left.

He would get up from the counter stool several times and look out to see if his little dog Penny was alright and he would tell me funny things that Penny did.  It was plain to see that Penny meant a great deal to him and was his best friend and companion.

On Friday's when Miss Maude served her T-Bone special and Sam always ordered it, instead of scraping it off into the garbage pail, I just put the bone into a little brown bag for Sam to take home to give Penny.  After all he was the only one that seemed to be able to afford one of those steaks each week and it was just going to be thrown out into the trash.

It was Sam's big tips that let my mother and I sometimes enjoy seeing a movie.  Miss Maude gave me a lunch each day for that was part of my pay and she always paid me in cash at the end of the week.

It was only a few weeks until school would start and it was the first day that Sam an Penny did not come to the cafe for their meal.  It was apparent that something must have happened for Tom and Ted did not come to the cafe for several days.  When they did come, they informed me that Same and his dog had been hit by a car as they crossed the intersection and they were both killed.  I stood there behind that counter and cried like the fourteen year old girl that I was. 

It was about three months later when I came home from school my mother told me that a man had been there and left an envelope for me.  She said the man was an attorney.  On the outside of that brown envelope was my name printed in big bold letters and inside was a check for five hundred dollars and a---picture





Comments 23 comments

john guilfoyle profile image

john guilfoyle 7 years ago

wow....i lived in san pedro in 73 across the bridge from long, I knew it all at 14 too..this story elicited alot of emotions for me, initially I was laughing from the get-go, then I was leaning forward anxiously during the character description wondering where we were going..then my eyes got watery(must be reading too much)...

then the good that came from the bad....what a cool man.

I thank you for the cathartic experience. I was feeling kinda down. I've come to know that if I read one your stories, I invariably feel better afterwards.

plus i'm given insight to a valuable life lesson..


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

Very impressive. You should include that one picture of you at fourteen to complete the picture of how grown up you looked.

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Pachuca213 7 years ago

WOW what a wonderful remind me of my grandma..she was in Long Beach in "The Projects" at that very same time until 1948 when her and grandpa bought land and built their home in Anaheim where they still are least grandma is, Grandpa died last December. But I always love to hear her stories. Just as I am really starting to like yours....thank you for the memories!!! =) JJ

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

Another wonderful tale from your past well you remember the details! :)

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 7 years ago Author

John thanks, I knew San Pedro quite well. I have said many times in my hubs that I NOW thank my parents for bringing me into that world---in poverty, for it taught me so much that I would have never known and will never forget.

Jerilee, yes I forgot about that picture---next time?

Pachuca thanks, I am blessed for many wonderful people that I have met on Hubpages have said "I remind them of their Grandma". I too lived in Anaheim (12 years)and raised 3 children there---(Huber's--Jerilee Wei, & Ryanobie.)

Feline thanks again, funny sometimes I can't remember what day it is but I remember the past like it was yesterday.

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Pachuca213 7 years ago

how cool is that? WOW what a small world.

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

John G told me what a great story this was, so I just had to come see for myself -- it's just lovely. What a great old gentleman, and what a sweet story. I feel better when I read your work, too; your life wisdom shines through. Thank you for sharing this one!

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 7 years ago Author

Teresa thanks, 77 years of hard knocks does teach you some great things and add to that a Cajun Grandfather who could neither read or write but he told everything as a story---sometimes that has a deeper meaning.

I dislike reading a book and knowing in the first three pages of how it will end or even being "a happy ever after". Every life is a NOVEL? What do you think?

Nancy's Niche profile image

Nancy's Niche 7 years ago from USA

A wonder story and how very true your statement is of "IT'S SO EASY TO THROW A BONE OF KINDNESS."

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 7 years ago Author

Thanks Nancy, seems to me that scattering a few more bones of kindness around this world couldn't do any harm?

Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Miss Ginn

Like always, your stories tug at the heartstrings. It's true before and it's still true today - kindness begets kindness. Thanks for sharing :D

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 7 years ago Author

Cris, to bad the rest of the world seems to forget it.

Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Miss Ginn

But that's what your stories are for (and some of a mine! ahem! LOL), to remind the world of the good things. Wait a minute! I think we have a reversal of roles - I'm supposed to be the "sort of pessimistic" one! :D

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 7 years ago Author

That's ok Cris, if ever now and then you stray---some of us will slap you back in line.

Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

What a wonderful story. Although it was sad, too, you tell it SO well. I felt as if I was right there, living the experience with you...

Thank you!

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio

The above comment was supposed to be from me, lol...I accidentally wrote it on my husband's ID. Sorry!

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 7 years ago Author

Tam/T-Cornetts, you are both welcome any time. I'm just an ole story-teller, glad you enjoyed.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

What an amazingly touching story. My family came from Iowa and settled in Long Beach and Crenshaw Blvd., area in LA, a long time ago. I remember the 50's and 60's pretty vividly, but this story takes the prize.

Thanks so much,


Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 6 years ago Author

Lorlie,sometimes it's a small world. I went to Long Beach in 1946 and lived there and in Anaheim until 1972. Now I live in "WILD & WONDERFUL WEST VIRGINIA"

P.S. Funny--I taught my children how to fish above Bishop. Bishop was a sleepy little town then. Check out hub-"Marshmallow Fishing" You could have been there too.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country

My parents were born in Long Beach. I lived there until '65-- then in Anaheim for 30 years. We always ended family vacations at Rock Creek, above Bishop.

I enjoyed your moving tale of kindness.

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 6 years ago Author

Rochelle maybe our paths crossed many times. I lived right behind Disney land off of Katella Ave.

The fishing trips were to a lake above Bishop--I don't recall the name of the lake at this moment. small--small world sometimes. I think that we were very fortunate to have seen those places at that time. Thanks

Becky 5 years ago

I really enjoyed this story of a different time. My mom was a little younger than you. She was born in '36 and her stories were similar except she grew up in northern CA, Susanville. Her uncles had a ranch there and her mom was THE teacher.

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 5 years ago Author

Becky yes, California was so different way back then but time changes so many things and we move on and bring those postive memories with us.

Today I'm enjoying (Wild & Wonderful West Virginia)

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