Not by any means was every artifact I unearthed from a box in my basement disposed of. One of the survivors is a cowbell. A real, honest-to-goodness cowbell. I plan to offer it to a friend who actually has cows.
I came into possession of this cowbell from Mr. Hamburg, an early competitor of McDonald’s, with two convenient locations: Route 9 in Framingham, and at the intersection of Route 30 and Speen St. in Natick.
I worked at the Natick location, starting as a cleaner of trash barrels and ending as…ummmm…(I think I’ll save the rest for the book I’ll never write).
As you no doubt deduced from the name, this was a fast-food hamburger joint. But at one point, a hot ham sandwich was introduced to the menu. It was called…THE HAMBO. Everytime someone ordered a Hambo, you had to whack the hanging cowbell, and yell “HAMBO!!!”
I wanted to ask why a cowbell was used to attract attention to a product that came from a pig. But when you’re making $1.60 an hour, it’s wiser to keep your mouth shut.
($1.60 was minimum wage in 1968. For the doubters, here’s a copy of my first pay stub.
Why did I save my first pay stub? Maybe because it was my first. Though I do seem to recall thinking to myself, “Hey, maybe in 42 years I can blog about this!”)
For better or worse, I was as easily annoyed then as I am now. You can only yell “HAMBO!” and smack a cowbell so many times before you want to smack someonething else. So the cowbell mysteriously disappeared. Who took it? No idea. It just turned up in my possession.
If it’s true that you learn almost everything you need to know in kindergarten (and come to think of it, I didn’t go to kindergarten), I believe everything I ever needed to know about working for a living I learned in my first job. Mr. Hamburg, where, as you can see, you really were in luck with a buck.
I learned so many lessons, and I still keep most of them to myself, though I’m sure the statute of limitations has expired.
But one of the best was this one: if you catch your married boss with a woman whose name isn’t Mrs. Boss, you can get away with…(I think I’ll save the rest for that book I’ll never write).