Friday, March 4, 2011

Get on the Bus

I went to work pretty much full time at Royal Castle when I was sixteen. That is, if you count
thirty hours a week as 'pretty much' full time. And I guess it is for a tenth grader, but HEY, I needed the money... to pay for a car... to get to work. Hmm, in the magic clarity of retrospect, that doesn't make any sense, does it? But I never said I was smart when I was sixteen. I never said I was smart now for that matter. This is my tenth grade school photo. I didn't have a mustache yet.

But before I was sixteen, pretending to be eighteen so I could work all night alone cooking eggs for drunks in Miami, I was fifteen and only worked sporadically here and there. Interestingly, I have no photographs of my brother or me in our Royal Castle whites.

We wore whatever the manager ordered from the laundry that week and since I was already six feet four at fifteen, nothing ever fit, so I looked like Tom Hanks when he outgrew his kid clothes in Big.

To complete the picture, you have to add the cheap brown canvas shoes that were so soaked with grease that they squished when I walked, the paper hat with the sweat stains creeping up from my fevered brow and the pièce de résistance, the once-white, now-filthy apron harboring generations of disease-carrying flora and fauna steeping in a peculiar meld of burger juice, egg leftovers and five-day-old chili.

OHHH, and it wasn't hot enough in this cauldron, so they made us wear Colonel-Sanders-style black ribbon bow ties. This was the South, after all, and we were gentlemen. Greasy gentlemen.

The ties were designed to keep the steam inside our shirts, but as soon as we were out of sight of any 'manager', we would disconnect the tie from one side of our collar and let it dangle from the other like a tragically crippled black bird with a broken wing.

But, like I said, before all this I was fifteen with Royal Castle far off in the future. It was then that I discovered buses. The part of Miami where I lived at this point is called Carol City. Just a few years before we moved there, it was called 'The Everglades' which is a euphemism for 'The Swamp'. But they cut some canals and drained it and
voilà cheap land! But by the time we got there, it was built up enough to have service from two bus lines.

And if you were a fifteen year old with no other means of transport, the bus was a gift from heaven. One of the lines was the Haulover Beach Bus.

This picture is sort of what it looked like. Somebody captured some old buses from the 1940s and ran them into the ground for us. Just a couple of blocks from my house was the absolute end of the line, but you could get on there and ride all the way to the beach for a quarter.

There was no air conditioning but we all rode in our bathing suits anyway. It was a real treat, because even though my brother and I grew up in Miami, my family went to the beach very rarely. I guess my parents weren't big beach-goers.

Haulover (get it... Haul - Over) is a beautiful beach, this is how it looked a couple of years ago.

My eldest (not old) daughter, Leah visited Haulover as a baby, here's a shot of her just before she dove into the surf.

So since Leah had been there so much, we had to take Heather to Haulover as well when we went down for a visit. Look how cute these people are! Heather with her little hat and Leah hoping not to drown this time and look at Deb just a few months after giving birth! See what happens when you're poor and have no food.

So, Deb put Heather down in the sand and she immediately grabbed a handful of beach sand and ate it. Yay, Heather!

Fortunately, the sand there isn't the sticky crap they have at the Jersey shore, it's larger pieces of broken shell, so we were able to get most of it out of her mouth. Well, some of it, anyway.

I know I can't leave you hanging, so we'll talk about the other bus line in a future post. I know you can hardly wait.


Leah Kleylein said...

I can't help but notice in the pictures that you chose to purchase a BLACK inner tube for me to use in the hot florida sun. some sort of life lesson there? hmmmm?????? HMMMMM????????

Dave said...

I think when we lived in Carol City and took the Haulover to the beach it took about four hours and ten transfers! Maybe I'm exaggerating, but maybe not!