Back in the 50’s when my brother and I were kids living with our folks above the Diner they owned, we were always looking for ways to earn a bit of loose change. Of course there was always the tables to be cleaned the dishes to be washed and the trash to be taken out. But at the ages of 5 and 6 we were a bit small for that, though we would do our best. All being a part of our Friday twenty five cent allowance. Especially in the Summertime our mother found a way to keep us happy and out of the way of her, the waitresses and the customers.
Located in the Western mountains of Pennsylvania away from the cities and towns, our little place called “Mid’s Diner” was home to the truckers passing on US Route 30, commonly called the “Lincoln Highway” for coffee, chili, burgers and fries.
A most bothersome distraction to the truckers and other patrons who stopped in to have a little respit, were the flies. They hung around outside the doorway crouching and waiting to zip inside with them as they entered. Being hot and without air conditioning in those days made this even more troublesome.
So! A great project for us boys.
With fly swatters and paper cup collectors in hand we were ready to go. Being offered a “penny a fly” to attack and do away with as many of the bothersome critters as we could. Such a simple thing one might think, but those little buggers were smart and caught on to our campaign of eradication. As slowly and stealthily as we could we would creep upon a target and soon there would be the sound of a lethal “splat”. One down and a hundred to go!
Always along the large windows they buzzed, apparently trying to retreat back outside. It was like “shooting fish in a barrel”. No expertise needed! But near the customers we had to use some common sense and not kill but just ‘shoo’ the flys away so that we could get to them later. If we took one on the counter or the booths we had to wipe clean the “residue” so they would appear to be still sanitary. Or at the least not a messy glob!!
My brother, the younger, had a bad habit of wanting to sneak up behind a trucker and find a fly residing on his “butt”. Whereupon he would give it a sharp ‘whap’! More than once I heard the loud “damn” coming from these big tough guys and then a little “harrumph” when they saw what happened.
As the prey thinned out we had to be more aggressive and seek under the booths and check on the light fixtures for the hiding little creatures. And finally swat till we had done away with nearly every little flying creature.
By the time we were finished we were so proud of our ” game hunting”!And the possibility of earning a Dollar or even more, which our mother happily doled out to us counting each coin. Off quickly we would go to our bedroom to recount the coins and plan our next purchases.