You know, we had never even heard of Columbus Day back in 1959. Today, we lovingly associate this holiday with daiquiris and shrimp sandwiches.
We had just flunked out for good from CalBerkeley, so we got our second real job. Previous work experience included part-time jobs babysitting and operating a switchboard at a stationery story in Long Beach, Calif; babysitting and ironing for faculty families at Cal; and a full-time job as an office manager in Phoenix. We didn’t do student loans in those days.
This new job was the best learning experience we’d had to date. Our boss was a wonderful Italian woman, who was supervising an office of four women. The company made wood burners for logging operations all over the world. As the newest employee, we operated switchboard and did accounts payable. It amazed us to see how easy accounting was in the real world.
We’ll never forget our job interview. Ms. Boss was wearing a pencil skirt with dyed-to-match cardigan sweater and blouse. We were wearing an olive-green pencil skirt with dyed-to-match cardigan sweater and blouse. It was Fate! We liked her on sight and she must have reacted the same way. Think “Mad Men.”
However, she asked a few pro forma questions. “Do you like to work with numbers?” We lied and said yes, neglecting to mention we had just flunked out of accounting 101.
She took all the women out to lunch on the first Friday of every month, where we each had a cocktail and shrimp sandwich. IFO always had a daiquiri – perfect with shrimp.
Another great contribution from Ms. Boss was her wonderfully wise advice, when we shared our misgivings about our upcoming marriage to our DDH. “We have great times together, but I just don’t know…” we quavered. “If you can laugh over the breakfast table, you’ll do just fine,” she said. And, she was right.
So, what is the connection with Columbus Day? Ms. Boss and her huge Italian family always celebrated the day. It was kind of like St. Patrick’s Day for them. Now we smile and remember.