Thursday, September 13, 2012


When I was in college at LSU in the mid-sixties, I got a part-time job working for a high-end toy and baby furniture store called Kid Stuff. The place was in Baton Rouge, on Jefferson Highway, just off Government street, next to Joe D's Market. (Joe D's had a great fried chicken Po' boy.) 

The toy place was notable for having an airplane mounted on a pole in a nosedive position on the roof. The engine was gone, it was just the shell, but it was an attention-catcher. 

Sadly, I never took a picture of the place, and it's no longer there. 

My job was mostly to deliver and assemble things. I would come in after school, load the store's new pickup truck, and take off. The majority of toy items were swing-sets. I'd lay out the parts and then put them together, and I did enough of them after a few months I could do it on autopilot. Five minutes–I remember my record as being just over three minutes–and that with the kids waiting swarming all over the place.

The little jungle gyms? Those were a bitch. The holes never quite lined up, and by the end, the whole thing was under a lot of tension. If the last bolt let go, it was apt to be shot across the yard like a bullet ...

Not as much fun in the rain, though I did have a nifty rainsuit.

Inside the houses, what I mostly put together, were drop-side baby cribs. I think those are illegal now, or at least modified considerably, because they were dangerous. Over the years, a lot of babies were hurt, even killed, in these, and if ever you needed an example of why there needs to be some kind of governmental regulation of consumer products, this is one. We didn't know it back then. I mean, no reputable American company would make a product dangerous to babies, right?

They were called drop-sides because a latch at the bottom would allow a parent to do just that on one, sometimes both sides, making it easier to load and unload the baby. 

Never got really good at those, because it seemed no two of them were quite the same.

I was there only for a few months; when summer rolled around, I had a gig lifeguarding and teaching swimming lessons, and even at minimum wage, the combination of hours and a cut of the lesson fees paid better than the toy store.

After I got married and my bride and I moved into an old house downtown, I got a night job working the gift show and Avis rent-a-car counter in a big hotel a couple miles away. I rode my bicycle to and from work, which put me on the road home at eleven p.m. I remember I got stopped once by the police for going the wrong way on a one-way street on my bike. They didn't give me a ticket, which was good.

That's it from the oldie station for today ...

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