High school graduations are all over the place this weekend. I’ll be going to my first high school graduation party in 30 years on Sunday, as niece Kelly Fisher will by then be liberated from Rush-Henrietta Senior High School, near Rochester.
I graduated from stately Aquinas Institute — another Rochester area landmark — in 1973. It should be our 40th class reunion sometime this year, but I don’t think anyone is putting anything together. I guess our all-boy school was more anti-social than places like Bishop Kearney, Cardinal Mooney and St. Agnes.
If I’ve been out of AQ for 40 years, it also means I’ve been working full-time every summer since then. A couple of days after I graduated, I landed a job at the front counter of the Red Barn hamburger joint on Ridge Road. I’ll bet a lot of people don’t remember the “Barn,” which was behind McDonald’s and Burger King in popularity. Carroll’s might have been more popular, now that I think of it.
Anyway, while McDonald’s had the Quarter Pounder and Burger King promoted the Whopper, Red Barn’s big hitter was the Barnbuster. I think they all tasted just about the same, but I think we had the best name. And if you really want to know, the Big Barney was our answer to the Big Mac.
I sound like a company man, but I didn’t stick around too long — after about a week on Barn duty, I found out about another, more lucrative job at Maplewood Park. My neighbor, Mr. Frank, ran the playground and signed me up as the pool’s night watchman. It was great dough for an 18-year-old kid — $3 an hour. The best part was ... Maplewood didn’t have a pool. I hung around the playground, shot baskets, tolerated the pain-in-the-ass kids. And made $120 a week. Good old Mr. Frank!
During college, I spent three years at Eastman Kodak as one of the hundreds of summer students doing odd jobs. I had a full-time position a week or so after college graduation in 1977 and was working in newspapers by early 1978.
So, every summer since high school graduation — I’ve had something to do. Afternoons playing softball, going to movies, reading comic books, watching thunderstorms on the front porch, riding bikes and traveling on family vacations — the so-called carefree days — were over.
I’m in no rush to retire, but know I’ll be getting my summers back during the next five, six or seven years. I wonder how that will be .... softball and comic books are no longer appealing, and most big-screen movies do not interest me. I still like watching thunderstorms and do have a bicycle. And I am looking forward to some kind of vacation travel.
But retirement does mean that while you do have all that time to yourself, you’re beginning the fourth quarter. Retirement generally means senior citizenship, golden years and eventually, the end of the line. I’m in no rush for any of those, either.
So for now, July and August are booked. I’m kind of glad they are.