My parents owned a bar and restaurant with a huge dancehall in back. Every Saturday night we had a dance with live bands. The crowds were huge and unruly after drinking more alcohol than one could possibly imagine.
I was in elementary school and worked everyday after school in my parents restaurant and bar. It was a wonderful education. I learned what not to do and what worked at an early age.
One night at around 2:00 a.m. I was working as usual.
I often took naps with my father. That is to say that I lay trapped next to him between him and the wall in our small office. I watched wrestling from behind him as he slept with the aide of a few beers. I was wedged in between him and the wall and trapped.
I was an energetic child to say the least. I was sent off to relatives as often as possible. I was not a good napper.
On this particular evening we had a full house which cuts both ways. Yes, the opportunity for a tidy profit is at hand, but the customers are inebriated and generally out of control.
After my “nap” I was soon back at work.
A man came in with two women from the dance and sat in a corner table. They were feeling “no pain.”
I was to be his waiter. I handed them all menus and walked back into the kitchen to attend to other matters. I wore a red jacket and a white apron. Hey, this was a class joint.
After the appropriate time I came our and asked the trio what they might desire for dinner.This was a Mexican restaurant by the way and all the food was served on very hot plates right out of the oven.
I took their order and relayed it to my brother and mother who worked back in the kitchen. We had a spinning check holder in a high narrow window between the dinning room and the kitchen.
The walls were all covered in wood paneling and the floor was green asbestos tile. I mopped that floor a thousand times if I mopped it once. The booths and tables were red.
All was going well up to this point. I was working several tables and doing my best to keep up. Remember, I am ten or so years old and its after 2:00 a.m. on a Saturday night now Sunday morning.
Then it happened.
I could see that the man and his two women companions were finished with their dinners so I walked over with the bill. I gave it to the man and carried a few dishes away. When I returned the man had torn up the bill and tossed all the pieces somewhere.
He said that he hadn’t received a bill and that I was less than inept.
That was a mistake on his part.
I was tried and sleepy and generally in a foul humor now due to his behavior. I started cussing him out and called him everything but a human being. I made a move in his direction.
As this scene is unfolding my oldest brother has seen it through the small opening between the kitchen and the dinning room. He came quickly out of the kitchen to intervene.
He looked exactly like Clark Kent and surprisingly, a little like Superman. Hum. He is six feet tall and weighs in at 225 most of the time.
He grabbed me by the back of my pants and lifts me up like a small dog and starts talking to the customer. He made it clear what was going to happen next and the customer agreed as I hung down in my brothers hand by my belt.
The man dug out his wallet and paid the bill and left in a huff with his two lady friends. All the while a woman at the next table has been taking all of this in.
As I came back to clear the table she asked, “Were did you learn to cuss like that, young man?”
“I have tow older brothers and I live in this bar,” was my answer.
I was expecting a stern lecture on my bad behavior and misspent youth, but instead she smiled at me and picked up her purse. She dug around in it for some time and then her hand came up with a two dollar tip for me.
In 1962 two dollars was a chunk of dough. I was in heaven. Two bucks could buy a young boy a lot back in those days.