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BEACHCOMBER: Memories From Past Christmases

  • By David Barron

By Dave Barron

Christmas time brings back a lot of memories, most of them good, a few, not so good.

There are lots of happy memories of family gatherings, gifts, working and just enjoying the best that the season has to offer.

I particularly remember to two memories of events that happened when I was first began working.
My first real job involved being a bus boy in a downtown deli.

I was on Christmas break from college classes and was working in downtown L.A. at Kaplan’s Deli. It was a very large deli that served an office building full of AT&T employees. Because it was Christmas Eve the deli was preparing food for scores of office parties.

My sister drove me to work at 4 a.m. in the morning so that I could help prepare the holiday orders. The cook had setup an assembly line of appetizers. I carefully followed instructions and stood around a large table squirting cream cheese or whatever on the appetizers.

After that it was non-stop work making and delivering holiday food to offices. It was a long hard day, but very satisfying.
At the end of the day, I was getting ready to leave and was told the boss wanted to see me.

I went to his office which was a tiny cubicle above the kitchen. I got in a line behind the other employees and waited my turn to see him. I noticed all the employees, including the cooks, dishwashers, bus boys and cashiers all had big smiles when they returned from seeing the Boss.

When it was my turn, he looked at this Mexican American boy and said, “Thanks for your help today. You did a good job.” He then handed me an envelope. The envelope contained 15 crisp dollar bills, the equivalent to about $50 today.

Thanks, Eddie Kaplan. It was a good lesson: work hard and reap the rewards.

Another Christmas, I was working at Central Library in downtown. On Christmas Eve, the 200 staff members and their children would come in early for breakfast before the library opened at 10 a.m. At about 9:30 a.m. Santa Claus would come marching in led by a group of bagpipers playing what sounded like a Christmas carol.

The fun part was that all the bagpipers were of Mexican descent. There wasn’t a Scotsman among them.

Led by the bagpipers, Santa would lead a procession of children and parents throughout the library, going through the children’s room, history room, the science section and through the California room.

Finally, a warning call would be out telling us the library was about to open and urging employees to go to their stations.

The main doors would open on the Fifth Street, Grand Avenue and the Hope Street entrances.

Outside would be hundreds of people waiting to enter the library to enjoy the holiday decorations and listen to some Christmas stories.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas

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