Hot Fun In The Summertime
Memorable Summer Jobs

Green Side Up

By Steve Kremer
Copyright 1995-1998

My first summer job was working for an independent landscaping contractor, a fancy way of saying I spent most of the summer laying sod.

It was hot dirty work. But it was a job, and it was cash at the end of each day, two twenty dollar bills, and a cold can of Old Milwaukee Beer, sometimes two beers if the boss Rick was in a good mood. He had a cooler in the back of his GMC pickup. If it had been a good day, he'd give us another can of beer and tell us stories of his Navy days in Vietnam. He spent his tour "in the 'nam" in the rear smoking hash, playing basketball, and avoiding a snake they called the "two step" . If you were bit its venom was not fatal but you would get about two steps before you'd pass out.

One of the guys I worked with on the job was Franklin Nathan Stein. Nice guy who spent his life being kidded about being Frank N. Stein. There was another guy on the job named Kent Clark. We called him Man Super.

Laying sod also taught me tolerance about what other people thought was funny. Often someone driving by would slow down and yell out "Hey, remember, green side up." I'd usually just half smile and wave. Although on some particularly hot and humid days some of my co-workers tempers would get short. After the seventh or eighth time a "green side up" comment would be met with a large chuck of dirt being hurled at the offending car.

I used to get to and from the job site by either hitchhiking or riding the bus. Our local bus line was called SCCAT. It stood for St. Clair County Area Transit. All the buses had logos of a leaping cat with the line "when you need to scat, ride the cat!"

Once after a particularly long hot day of laying sod and perhaps one too many beers in the back of Rick's truck I boarded the bus. I found a seat near the front and sat and waited for the bus to get going. In my slightly tipsy state it seemed the bus was taking too long to get started. So I made my two hands into cat claws, roared like a lion, and said "let's make this cat scat!" The driver looked up at me through his rear-view mirror and said "just hold it down there Tarzan we'll be going in just a second." Embarrassed, I sunk down into my seat and meekly replied "green side up?"

NEXT:  Fun at the State Park

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