Friday, November 26, 2010

Ten Room Apartment: $110

I've lived in the "good old days" most of my life. But in my mid-20's I kind of outdid myself. It was the late 1970s, and I had just made a major career change - I quit a dead-end job at a Watertown Lumber Yard.

I simply couldn't stand not working, so I immediately set up a number of part-time jobs to support my life style such as it be. I worked on the night shift at the local Best Western Motel, so my days were free for other jobs.

I had a 10-room apartment on Main Street in Watertown, WI. Ten rooms, yup. I lived above an office supply store, and they let me work down there, too, unpacking shipments, and doing janitorial work, as credit toward my $110.00 per month rent. And I shoveled snow for them and the tavern next door. The tavern paid in whisky, and that was a good arrangement, if you ask me...

Then I added a day-job two days of the week working for Minning Liquor Warehouse. I loaded trucks, and soon I had my own weekly delivery route. And sometimes my old buddy Norm Tessman would need some help. He ran an emergency towing company, so when a car slid on the snow and ran in the ditch, I was the guy who dug down under the car to attach the winch hook. (now why was THAT job open?).

Then there were the music jobs - music is what keeps people going when sleep is short and times are tough. I played piano at the Feed Bag Restaurant and Bar on Friday nights, and on Saturdays I would play accordion at Teggatz's tavern (the guy downstairs).

My run-down apartment on Main Street had 10 rooms, and huge skylights! I had a music room, with an old piano in it, a bedroom, a living room, kitchen, separate pantry, one room which I just used as a closet, and a purple room I didn't use for anything at all! What a feeling of wealth!

I had a collection of old faded maroon stuffed furniture with broken springs, you sank down almost to the floor - talk about some serious comfort! I was very poor, very tired, and also very happy.

As Peter Berryman of Madison said: "Music will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no music."

By the way, the lady in the photos is Miss Riley. She was very smart and independent. More on her some other time. Happy Thanksgiving weekend, and thanks everybody for your kind birthday wishes!

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