What's Cooking?

Foodways Traditions – the Teddy Bear House

Avatar photo

Terri Hunter

My very first summer job was at The Teddy Bear House, where I passed out graham crackers and juice to little kids for their snack while they waited for their parents to come fetch them. I went in the afternoon and stayed there until my mama picked me up when she got off work. I also ate cookies, drank juice, and played with the toddlers while the adults in charge got ready for the next day. It was a cushy job that taught me I did not want to teach kindergarten.

I think my ice cream truck experience was my next adventure. My dad let me “work” with him one summer on the truck he drove to sell ice cream at the ruby mines. It was great fun with the best boss ever. We had soft serve, and I loved making the cones tall and swirly. Sometimes he would leave me in charge. It was a heady experience for a preteen.

My next real job was when my friend, Elaine McCall, and I worked in a little snack bar at the top of the mountain on Gold City. We worked for Harold Corbin who, believe it or not, sometimes turned over the whole operation to us. It was fun taking orders, grilling burgers and dogs, serving cokes, and collecting money. When the cancan girls did their show in the saloon, Elaine and I followed along in the snack bar. I think our routine was as good as theirs.

My next summer job was at The DeSoto Trail Restaurant working for Hall Callahan and Sam Gibson. I liked breakfast shift because the cook made the best pancakes on Earth. He made them as large a dinner plate if you asked him to. Servers have to eat, too, you know. People teased me and said the cook would spit on the grill to see if it was hot enough, but I never saw that happen. I quickly learned that local folks got the family discount and those from “Somerselse” didn’t. Since I had a limited knowledge about who was local and who wasn’t, most of my tables qualified.

After that, I worked at The City Restaurant for Jim Sessions and Larry Brooks. My friend, Reatha Rogers, worked there, too. Once every table in our section except one needed to be cleared, so when a car drove up, Reatha and I ran to the clean table and sat as if we were customers so those people would go to the other section. Evidently, we were still being supported by our parents at that time. The City had the sweetest cooks but the grouchiest older servers who had absolutely no use for me, and I stayed in trouble for not living up to their expectations. Luckily, Jim’s and Larry’s expectations weren’t that high or maybe help was hard to find then, too. 

Ah, summer jobs – what could be better?