AmericanStudies

One Interesting American Thing per Day

Ben Railton

Ben Railton
Location
Needham, Massachusetts, US
Birthday
August 15
Title
Associate Professor
Company
Fitchburg State University
Bio
One interesting American thing per day, from a professor of American literature, culture, history, and Studies. Check out http://www.americanstudier.org for more!

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JUNE 30, 2012 11:17AM

June 30, 2012: Crowd-Sourcing Summer Jobs

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[Following up the week’s series with any and all responses, experiences, and ideas from readers and fellow American Studiers. Add yours, please!]

Maggi Smith-Dalton shares a “summer job as director of an arts camp which included getting kids to do their own Jack Kerouac scroll.”

Former student and future teacher Matt Marchetti shares this amazing story of his summers at a Connecticut pizzeria. And speaking of Matt, check out this analytical piece of his on horror films and American society, and please send me pieces of yours for that page on the website!

Rob Gosselin shares this compelling account of a summer job at an impressionable and important moment in his young life.

Former student, photographer, entrepreneur, and mom Megan Clemens shares this story: “I had a job being a dining attendant at an assisted living home for a year in high school. At first, I hated it because I was carrying stacks of really heavy plates from room to room, pushing a cart with broken wheels that would snag on everything, and washing dishes in scalding water in the summer without air conditioning. I really thought I was in hell. There were between 12 and 20 residents at a time and they ate meals in a family-style dining room. Sometimes as I was carrying the heavy plates or burning my hands on hot dishes I would wonder what these people’s lives were like before they lived here and how did they come to end up here. Some days I would punch out and go visit residents or they would come and chat in the kitchen, and I had the opportunity to learn about their lives. One woman, Kay, was married for three years and had four children before her husband was deployed and subsequently killed a month into his deployment. She raised four very young children by herself and had a job in the factory despite what other mothers thought of her in the 1950s, and told me she never remarried because her husband was her soul mate. Another woman, Barbara, was only in her sixties but lived there because she was afraid to live alone and didn’t have any family to live with. She wanted children but never got married, so on holidays I send her a card and I went to see her before prom to show off my dress. When I would visit the residents’ rooms they would take the time to show me all of their pictures and special belongings and tell me where and when they got them and so on. I wish I could remember more than I do about them, but it changed my perspective of the people I share the world with from just people walking by me to people with an identity and a life that is unique, and that was something I really valued.”

Monthly recap tomorrow,

Ben

PS. Add your summer job experiences and perspectives in comments, won’t you?  

6/30 Memory Day nominee: Lena Horne, the unique, talented, and beautiful singer, actress, and performer whose civil rights activism helped change American culture and society.

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