to the editor from this week's Chronicle:
I liked Jim Rehderís challenge to give $250 to the refurbishing of
the Community Hall. I canít afford $250 right now although I would
certainly like to contribute that much. I am sending a check for
$100 which is considerable since I make a living telemarketing and I am
a struggling writer. I think my contribution in the past outweighs
any money I contribute now. Some of us keep on giving.
Back in 1970 when I was a sophomore in high school I was the Hallís
Custodian (a nice word for janitor) until I graduated from High School
in 1972 and then turned it over to my Mom.
I remember many things about cleaning the Hall. I got paid minimum
wage which was $1.60/hour back then. Feeling the sting of poverty,
the Hall job wasnít much money but it was more money, more than the 50
cents an hour I made babysitting the Jerry Wren family of ten kids, a job
I had for seven years.
I remember I put in ten or twelve-hour days back then and always worked
weekends. While my friends went to away basketball or football games
or studied, among other things I washed and waxed the main floor of the
Hall in preparation for the weekly Saturday night dances. I wanted
it spotless and to shine. Trouble was the wax made us slip and slide
on the dance floor. It was a hoot to watch. Guess I got a little
carried away with the wax.
I remember cleaning up after the Saturday night dances. The stench-filled
bathrooms were the worst. The upstairs girlsí bathroom had paper
towels all over the floor and used tampons and unsanitary napkins strewn
all over. The boysí bathroom in the basement, however, stifled me.
It had feces and excrement covering the walls, not exactly a cheery job
for a high school kid to clean up but somehow I did it. I even contracted
a staph infection from it and had to be hospitalized (without any health
insurance) for a few days in my junior year. I felt the Cottonwood
Jaycees should have helped clean up the mess since they were responsible
for renting out the Hall for the dances but I cleaned it up myself at $1.60/hour.
I also remember cleaning up after weddings. Normally the keg
of beer completely destroyed my clean, waxed floors. After it was
over about 5 or 6 p.m., I had to hurry and clean it in preparation for
the Saturday night dance.
I remember cleaning the former stage and imagining myself to be a celebrity
up there in front of a swelled audience giving an important speech.
Even a janitor has dreams.
And, every year the torrential rains would flood the basement and I
would enlist my Mom and brothers and sisters to help me clean the residue
of water and mud. It took us days. And, it wasnít easy.
We didnít have a vacuum that sucked up the water and mud but rather mopped
it up by hand using a standard household mop. The basement also had
a small jail which spooked the hell out of me to think that one day there
might actually be a prisoner in it who I happened to come upon while cleaning.
The responsibility was great considering I was a high school kid and
considering I usually worked alone. It never dawned on me that life
could have been different.
And now, a word of advice. I would highly recommend that those
who rent the Hall in the future pay a damage deposit in addition to a userís
fee. The deposit can be refunded in part or whole if there is no
damage done to the facility. I recently paid a $375 deposit to use
the party room at my condo so it is not an uncommon request. Iíd
just hate to see the newly refurbished Community Hall be destroyed by disrespect.
All the best to you,
(a former Janitor)
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