You know those fast-talking studs at the local ice cream parlor that stand in between you and that root beer float? Their official job title is soda jerk, and in 1954, Barry Friedman took his first job as one.
Friedman took the position at a local drug store. He says the job came with a lot of perks.
“There was a certain prestige associated with those of us who worked at Gill’s. The young girls would come in and giggle and would certainly make their interests subtly known that if we were going to a party, we might invite them,” Friedman recalls.
But the girls weren’t the only perks of the job. Having income came with responsibilities he enjoyed having.
“I was getting rich. Ninety cents an hour. A really good tip was 50 cents,” he says. “The tip money was mine to spend to save up … to go to a Chicago Cub baseball game. The 90 cents an hour went into my dad and mom to put aside for college. It gave me a sense of freedom.”
When Friedman looks back on those five years as a soda jerk, he has nothing but good memories.
“It was seemingly a carefree, feel-good time, but it had immense overtones with respect to my development. I loved the job,” Friedman says.
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