Odd jobs

Friday 6 October 2017 — Homeport: Falmouth Harbor — Columbus Day Weekend

Ah, sad Columbus Day. 

This summer resort town now enters a kind of drought, not caused by a lack of rain but by a lack of young adults. Even those born and raised on the Cape, once they attain a certain age, head over the bridge and get on with their lives. I read in the local newspaper that the town considered providing more affordable apartments for young adults in the hope that more would stay in Falmouth. Of course, even with affordable housing, young people won’t remain here unless they have adequate year-round employment. 

Still, it’s nice to see young men and women at Mass on a summer weekend, though you know they’re only visiting. Very early in the season, after colleges let out, there are always groups of students renting vacation cottages before the rates go up. At that time of year, I see them at Betsy’s Diner, where the motto is “eat heavy,” and the food is inexpensive. Groups of six or eight college boys will sit at tables pushed together. They order heaping plates of meat and potatoes. The same applies to groups of young women, who seem to prefer salads.

There are many young adults in Falmouth during high season. They have summer jobs in the hospitality industry. They also tend to come from other countries, having obtained seasonal work permits from the U.S. government. They give the town a certain international flavor.

Maybe one day one of them will be a president or a prime minister in their country of origin. Maybe one day a justice of a supreme court somewhere in the world will remember with fondness once waiting tables at the Flying Bridge Restaurant. 

After all, Brad Pitt, the award-winning actor and producer, worked at a grilled chicken place called El Pollo Loco (The Crazy Chicken). Dwayne Wade, the National Basketball Association superstar, filled orders at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Superstar Lady Gaga waited on tables in New York. Queen Latifah — rapper, actress, model, and talk show host — worked at a Burger King. Entertainer Madonna preferred a job at Dunkin’ Donuts. 

Some of our local Church personalities also had summer jobs related to food. Young Tom Harrington worked at Sunbeam Bakery in New Bedford, where he was known to break into a rousing chorus of “Volaré” to liven things up. In 1958, “Volaré” won “Song of the Year” at the first ever Grammy Awards. Father Freddie Babiczuk worked at the Jack-in-the-Box in Taunton. Father Gerry Hebert had a restaurant job as well — out back washing pots and pans. Father Arnie Medeiros’ job involved garden produce. He picked pecks of peppers (Whether or not they were ever pickled, I know not). 

Megan Fox, the actress and supermodel, also worked in produce — at a fresh fruit emporium. She wore a banana costume to attract customers — shades of Josephine Baker and her exotic “banana dance.” 

Father John Perry once worked delivering food trays to patients at the former Truesdale Hospital in Fall River. Some years back, if you stopped at the creamery in Somerset, your ice cream treat may well have been prepared by none other than now Bishop Emeritus George Coleman. I am not making this up.

Some who are current stars of stage and screen took odd jobs that would eventually relate to their future careers. Quentin Tarantino, the actor and director, worked in theater (but as an usher). Actor Nicolas Cage also worked in theatre — selling snacks in the lobby. Warren Beatty, too, had a theater job — as the in-house exterminator. Country singer Garth Brooks worked in Nashville, but not at the Grand Ole Opry. He worked in a store selling cowboy boots. Ozzy Osbourne, the “godfather of heavy metal” music, once worked in a slaughter house. This explains a lot. 

The same holds true in the priesthood. Father Dan Lacroix worked as a parish secretary and Msgr. Steve Avila as a church organist. Now they’re both church pastors.

Some big stars of entertainment first worked in sales. Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss peddled newspapers. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld and actor Johnny Depp were telemarketer (It was a job). Rapper, entrepreneur, and fashion designer Kayne West sold clothing at a Gap store. 

Well, we have Father Jason Brilliant — he had a job in the men’s clothing department. Father Ray Cambra had a clothing-related job, too, one might say. He worked at a laundry. 

Rapper Jay-Z peddled illegal drugs. At least Father Dick Chretien’s seasonal job was above board. He worked at Pleasant Drug in Fall River. 

As for me, dear readers, my first summer job was in quality control at a ring binder factory in New Bedford. I got paid to open and close (twice) every binder coming off the production line. Once I had mastered ring binders, I advanced to opening and closing suitcases in a luggage manufacturing plant. The sound of a click still drives me up the wall.

You just never know who got their start in life doing what odd job.

Anchor columnist Father Goldrick is pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Falmouth.

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