I can remember lots of firsts. First day of first grade, I remember seeing Ed Olson walking around the classroom on stilts made of tall juice cans. We were six years old. Twelve years later, Ed and I and several dozen others of our grade 1- thru- 12 bunch were graduated from high school and Ed was driving an Olds.
I remember my first day of working in a "real" job - at the A&P Food Store in my town. I had always liked hanging around the supermarket anyway, so getting a job there was sort of natural. I used to round up some buddies and say, "It's Saturday! Let's go down to the A&P watch 'em bag orders!" When I got the job, I proudly donned the red apron and name tag, and went to work unloading endless truckloads of ginger ale, fig newtons and Vienna sausages. Another thing about that job I fondly recall: there I was in high school, making $2.15 an hour to start. A pittance, today, I know. But my friends who were slinging burgers at Gino's and McDonald's were being paid 50 cents an hour, and I was making over four times that much and I did not have to slave over a french fryer. A coffee grinder, yeah, but no hot oil. But the top scale for my exalted job class - "clerk" - was 3 dollars an hour. And guys I worked with there, the full-timers, the guys who knew the Land O'Lakes butter package trick and were only too glad to teach an eager young acolyte such as I, were making 3 dollars an hour, times 40 = $120 before taxes! And they were buying houses and cars and raising children on that. Just 41 years ago.
I remember the first time I was on the radio, and how great it felt to achieve a childhood goal of a) playing records b) talking about records and c) being paid for a) and b). There I was, 20 years of age, and being paid at the rate of $75,000...for every thousand weeks of work.
I remember the first time I encountered cheese grits, and the first time I shaved with a razor, and the first time I drove a car, and also the first time I drove a car that anyone knew about (two separate events, mind you!) and the first real fire I fought as a young volunteer firefighter and the first cigarette I ever smoked (and the last one!) and the first time I ever saw my Peggy. The greatest memory of all, that one.
But I have an operation coming up soon and I am glad that my doctor, the eminent neurosurgeon Neal Naff, M.D., has done this kind of thing before. Can you imagine what it must be like when your surgeon tells you this is the first time he or she has ever done this kind of thing before?