Teenage Years Ages 13 to 19 by Gaby Levine

Memories of Manual Arts High School

I attended Manual Arts High School, on S. Vermont Avenue, from the middle of 10th grade until graduation.  I think I really grew up there, and developed confidence in myself.  The atmosphere at Hollywood High, my previous school, was definitely cliquey, plus I didn’t live very close to school.  Manual Arts was within walking distance if you had time (I’d walk home from school with a friend when the weather was nice), and I found it easy to be friendly with everyone.  Well, I do remember one boy I disliked.  We were both in a summer ceramics class, and he began boasting that he had poured gasoline on a cat and set it on fire!  Even then, I wondered if he was telling the truth, but still —-.  He showed up at our 40th Class Reunion, and seemed like a very normal person, but I didn’t ask him about my memories of ceramic class!

I was taking the college prep classes, but by taking summer school, I freed up class time for some electives.  I remember taking sewing, so I could get some expert advice when making my clothes.  The teacher very nicely agreed that I didn’t have to work on the beginner projects, as long as I wasn’t disruptive to the class!  I also fitted in Spanish for the whole time.  I really liked learning a foreign language, and although I don’t have time for more classes, other languages still intrigue me.  

Once I was 16 years old, I always had a part-time job.  For most of high school I worked at the Woolworth’s in downtown LA every Monday night.  I think that was their open-late night.  My usual job was taking care of the ‘small hardware’ counter.  That’s can openers, etc.  Not too many people come by Monday night and buy can openers, but we had to look busy, so no standing their with our arms folded, waiting for customers.  It took about five minutes to dust the whole thing, and that left about two and three quarter hours to rearrange the stock!  I started to accost passers by – “Wouldn’t you like to look at the nice new can openers?”  The trick was to leave AS SOON as the store closed, so that when you were out at the bus-stop in the dark, there were still a lot of people around.  I was late one time, and a man approached and wanted to start a conversation.  I was really scared.  I just told him I didn’t know him and didn’t want to talk to him, and turned away.  Thank goodness he didn’t persist, and I got on the bus with a great deal of relief!  Anyway, by working the one night a week, I was guaranteed full time work for the Easter week and Christmas holiday seasons.  That was usually daytime work, so no problem.  I often worked at the candy counter.  I remember that at Christmas they would have these big glass fronted bins of assorted loose candies under the counter.  People would indicate which assortment they wanted, and we would scoop out the amount they wanted and put it in little bags. The candy looked lovely, at least at first, with the bright, shiny colors and varied shapes.  I tried it, of course, but sadly, it all tasted the same!  

Later in the week, after we’d scooped for  a while, little chips would come off (the candy was not individually wrapped), and the containers would develop a rather dusty look.  One time one of the staff managed to drop a whole carton of candy while trying to refill the bins, and the little pieces spilled all over the floor!  Oops!  I couldn’t believe it when the supervisor told us to sweep it up — AND PUT IT IN THE BINS AND SELL IT!  Talk about the 3 second rule!  I have a feeling that’s what’s been going on at those peanut processing factories! 

We had a shopping center not too far from our house with a Broadway and a May Co.  They did pay a bit better than Woolworth’s, so when I heard that they were hiring temporary help for inventory, I went over and signed up.  I think it was the Broadway that hired me, and I was called in several times for inventory.  It was a bit frustrating, because they would give us the lists of items, and we just had to count up how many were on the shelf, and mark it down.  The problem was – say I was counting ladies lingerie.  OK – there are the blue, underwire bras, sizes 36C.  Four of them, mark it down.  Now, next to them are the pink plain bras, size 36C.  THEY’RE NOT ON THE LIST!  Have to find the supervisor and ask – what should I do?  It might be – write it in at the bottom, or it might be – add it to the pink underwire bras, or it might be – just forget about them!  It never made sense to me!

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