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June 26, 2013

Punching in for the first time


“My first summer job was at 12 years old picking strawberries with a Spanish-speaking farm labor crew in Schoharie,” Keller said. “I did not speak Spanish, so any communication had to be done with hand signals. I made very little money the first day because I was slow and many baskets I picked were over or under ripe berries, which did not count toward my total amount.

“The next day I came to work sunburned and sore, but I stuck with it, got faster and learned some Spanish words (not all of them repeatable),” she added. 

“I was glad that the strawberry season was cut short by rain because I don’t think I would have held up for too long. I earned the money I needed and took away a lifelong respect for those who farm, knowing I could never work that hard,” Keller concluded. 

First summer jobs are memorable for many different reasons. Oneonta’s Robert Garfield shared a story of his first job where some of his memories were captured on film.  

“My first summer job was at the game arcade at Rockaway’s Playland amusement park in 1975,” Garfield recalled. “This was just a few years before the advent of ‘Space Invaders’ and the other microprocessor-based video games that would revolutionize the coin-operated amusement game business. But in 1975, the games still used electromechanical technology that made lots of clicking noises.

“We had pinball machines with rotating score reels, shooting games where the targets danced around on motors, and driving games that used rotating drums to represent the road. The only game that had a video screen was Wheels Bally/Midway, an upright driving game where you had to steer something that looked like a car around other cars that tried to crash into you. In 1975, people stood in line to play it.

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