Summer Jobs: Food Service

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NPR's Robert Siegel and Melissa Block hear two summer job stories this week, both about serving food in polyester uniforms. First, Martie Maguire of the Dixie Chicks talks about scooping ice cream in Dallas when she was a teenager. Then, listener Leslie DeLucia, of Urbana, Ill., takes us back to 1974 and the experience of being a 16-year-old worker at Kentucky Fried Chicken.


Time now for a couple of summer job stories. First, from fiddler Martie Maguire with an assist from her sister Emily Robison.


They formed the Dixie Chicks in their teens, but not before Martie's first summer job in Dallas - scooping ice cream at a place called Braum's. She was 16 and mortified by her outfit.

Ms. MARTIE MAGUIRE (Singer): I had to wear a trucker bonnet, as we called it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. MAGUIRE: It said Braum's, and it was brown and white. And then I had to wear a brown apron, a white shirt and brown polyester pants.

Ms. EMILY ROBISON (Singer): With sensible shoes.

Ms. MAGUIRE: Sensible shoes. And I see from behind the counter that my boyfriend - my mom has told him where I'm working and I hadn't told him that -and he's walking in the store, and for that reason I crawled behind the counter and crawled to the bathroom and did not come out.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. MAGUIRE: So embarrassed.

Ms. LESLIE DeLUCIA: My first job was manning the register and counter of a Kentucky Fried Chicken in the tony suburb 25 miles north of New York City.

BLOCK: Leslie DeLucia, now of Urbana, Illinois, also wore a polyester uniform, but she was not embarrassed. She had other things to worry about.

Ms. DeLUCIA: I'm going to take you back to the summer of 1974, and I knew all the words to the ooga-chaka, ooga-huga, ooga-chaka song.

(Soundbite of song, "Hooked on a Feeling")

Mr. BJORN SKIFS (Vocalist, Blue Swede): (Singing) I can't stop this feeling deep inside of me.

Ms. DeLUCIA: That would be "Hooked on a Feeling," sung by Blue Swede. I was 16, and it was time to start earning some spending money for my Bonne Bell strawberry Lip Smackers.

(Soundbite of song, "Hooked on a Feeling")

Mr. SKIFS: (Singing) I'm hooked on a feeling.

Ms. DeLUCIA: Experiences, shoes. In order to get to the huge walk-in fridge at the back of the restaurant, we had to carefully squeeze around the massive pressure cooker and racks and racks of recently floured chicken parts.

Well, before it was always blanketed with the colonel's secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices. Splash a little water on the floor, and the secret recipe turns into secret recipe cement. I grew an inch by the end of every shift.

Birth control. My boyfriend at the time worked in a fiberglass factory. When he picked me up from work after a shift, we couldn't stand touching or kissing one another. He had prickly fiberglass hairs on his arms and face, and his breath smelled like chemicals. And I was a greasy, shiny mess and smelled like old cooking oil mixed with rice pudding, fried chicken crumbs and coleslaw juice.

(Soundbite of song, "Hooked on a Feeling")

Mr. SKIFS: (Singing) Yeah, you turn me on.

Ms. DeLUCIA: Pain. I learned the hard way that spilling freshly brewed coffee on a polyester uniform with a front zipper is a nightmare experience of hurt that required a trip to the doctor's office.

Outcome. So now, at age 52, when I think about that summer, putrid odors, my Herman Munster cement shoes and burned zipper chest, it's a wonder I was able to hold on to fiberglass boy. Funnily enough, I married him six years later and will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary next summer.

(Soundbite of song, "Hooked on a Feeling")

Mr. SKIFS: (Singing) All the good love when we're all alone, keep it up, girl. Yeah, you turn me on. I'm...

SIEGEL: That's Leslie DeLucia of Urbana, Illinois with her summer job story. She adds that whenever fiberglass boy, aka husband Evan(ph), drives the family by a Kentucky Fried Chicken, he always exclaims, oh, let's stop and get some KFC, and then laughs.

BLOCK: Leslie always smiles and says, no, thanks. And sons Nick(ph) and Mike(ph) never get the joke.

SIEGEL: Thanks to Leslie and to everyone who sent us their summer job stories. We got nearly a thousand. And next week, we'll hear a few more.

(Soundbite of song, "Hooked on a Feeling")

Mr. SKIFS: (Singing) I'm high on believing that you're in love with me. I'm hooked on a feeling. And I'm high on believing...

BLOCK: This is NPR.

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