BY JULIE SEYLER
It’s funny how unaware we are when we start our life journey. There are dreams and hopes and disappointments, and when scanned from the perch of the right side of 50, it can be fascinating to see how many different lives we have experienced by the time we get to this one. And certainly, the annual issuance of W-2 forms makes one contemplate how many jobs we have held.
So when I look back, it was 43 years ago (ye gads) when I got my first job. I was 14, the age when you could get your working papers in New Jersey. My parents insisted that I start earning a living, or at least stop relying on them for my allowance.
It’s long long gone, but there was a miniscule “restaurant,” if I can even call it that, on the south end of the Asbury Park boardwalk by the Casino called the Maxwell House Coffee Shop. All we served was homemade cinnamon donuts, homemade plain donuts and Maxwell House coffee. We opened at 7 a.m., and closed at 3 p.m. I could, and did, eat all the donuts I wanted. Every morning, and throughout the day, a batch of dough would be whipped up into a thick creamy mass, pushed through a machine, and dropped into a vat of hot oil to be quickly fried and as quickly removed. They were delicious. Dunkin Donuts is a facsimile of the real thing I stuffed my face with for two summers in a row.
I graduated to other boardwalk joints – 1970s landmarks like the Casino Coffee Shop, Howard Johnson’s (loved the clam strips), and Michael’s Seafood Restaurant. I hate to admit it, but I became a really good waitress. I juggled five, stacked dishes at a time, served them without a crash, promptly cleared them when everyone finished, and then handed over the check five minutes later. It was all about turnover.