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
♥ IT'S SO EASY TO THROW A BONE OF KINDNESS: