Badger Insider readers share stories on how they earned a living in Madison during the summer
Paul Aspinwall ’64
I spent summers (beginning with ’61) working at McDonald’s (University Avenue and Shorewood Boulevard); driving Badger Cab; ROTC summer camp; and stocking the shelves for Discount Records opening on State Street. No big money, but paid for one year in total.
James Schluter ’67
I grew up just outside of Madison. The only way I could afford to attend college was to commute to the Madison campus. The summer before my freshman year, I worked 60 hours a week as a cook in a Madison area truck stop. After my freshman year, I was able to get a laborer’s union card and worked construction for over three times the cook’s wage. One summer I worked on Sellery Hall. The original one. Stripping “pans” on the reinforced concrete structure was likely the hardest, most dangerous job I’ve ever done. But it allowed me to pay my way through engineering school.
Angelo LaBarro ’62, MA’72
Born and raised in Madison, I worked for 13 summers as a lifeguard on the Madison city beaches during high school, undergraduate and graduate years at the UW. The perfect summer job during Madison’s glorious summer days. In the 1950’s, 60’s and 1970’s there were very few city pools, so EVERYBODY came to the beaches. The PERFECT summer job!
Joan Collins ’64
I majored in journalism and contacted the Milwaukee Sentinel and set myself up as a campus correspondent/stringer. I covered summer fun on campus and took pictures ranging from student bike racks to unusual notices on the bulletin boards at Memorial Union. Wrote about the Hoofers Sailing Club, Bucky Badger ice cream flavors and more. I had to call my stories into the Sentinel newsroom using the pay telephone on the second floor of the Union. A reporter at the other end would type on a manual typewriter as I dictated my words. I would bike my roll of film down to the Badger Bus, and I had no clue how the pictures turned out unless and until I saw one printed in the Sentinel. I was paid $1 a column inch. Yes, I kept a ruler handy! The highlight was taking a hot weather picture of students catching balloons filled with water to cool off. Landed on the front page. Big thrill for me.
Peggy Burgdorff Douglas ’65
I had the best summer job ever at the AAA office in Madison as a travel counselor. I did that for three summers, and it instilled in me a love of travel that I still enjoy 50+ years later.
Roslyn Wein Gorchow ’51
The summer of 1946, I had graduated from Central High School in Madison. Before my freshman year, I took a job at a homey family restaurant called “The Hasty Tasty” on University Avenue. I made the best-grilled cheese sandwiches and really good ice cream sodas. I walked to the restaurant and back five days a week until my freshman classes started. Had a good time. The next summer I took a job at the University of Wisconsin Medical Library, mainly shelving the medical books and helping at the front desk. Sometimes when I left the library, I walked with Helen White, the head librarian. We had good conversations and think we lived in the same direction. I lived at 525 West Johnson Street, my home with my family all four years until I left for Wisconsin State Teachers College in Milwaukee. These were busy and active years. We had renowned speakers. I recall a lecturer from Chicago speaking of the early nuclear studies and Dr. Paul Wittie from Washington, D.C., who spoke of the early days of Social Security. I feel I benefited from my jobs and my courses.
Dave Downs ’54, MD’57
For five summers, from 1951 to 1955, I drove the “skeeter-eater” truck for the Madison Health Department, spraying 100 pounds per week of DDT (gasp) into Madison’s numerous ponds, marshes, and storm sewers. Results? I think the skeeters won, as they’re still there. All I got was a paycheck and a mild case of DDT poisoning, manifested by a fine hand tremor, which took 18 months to disappear. We didn’t know any better, as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring wasn’t published until 1962.
Kris Koepcke ’57, LLB’64
Summer 1962: Jake Beusher got me a Department of Agriculture internship … carried into the summer of 1963. Helped me a lot! Became a patent advisor to Forest Products Laboratory which really greased the skids under my business law career.
Summer 1954: Dug holes in old Madison streets to replace gas connections … met a couple of neat townies!
Summer 1955: Prof Cline’s summer geology field course … Black Hills to Grand Canyon … no girls!
Summer 1956: ROTC summer camp, Ft. Riley, KS … got a baby girl … Kristeen born!
Renee Aronov Miller ’62
Morton Grove, IL
Many years ago, I spent one of my summer breaks working on an Avon production line. It was hot, boring work and I really did not like it very much. But it paid well, and I needed to earn money so that I would have spending money for the next school year. While the people that I worked with were very nice, I had nothing in common with them and very little to discuss except the weather. I spent most of my breaks and lunch hours reading, and I am sure that they thought I was a ‘stuck-up’ college kid. To be honest, I guess I was in a way. My working time was spent trying to keep up with the production line and get the products packed before things backed up on the line. The only thing that kept me from going ‘mad’ was that we changed stations every hour. What I learned from that summer experience was that I needed to finish college so that I could get a job that let me use my brain along with the rest of me. However, I also learned to respect the people that I worked with that summer, because I had a chance for a better career with my education, while they were pretty much stuck in their rut for life.
Monica Whitehouse ’14
I spent two unforgettable summers at the Lake Vista Cafe, the picturesque bistro overlooking the lake at the Monona Terrace. This is truly a hidden gem of a restaurant highlighting some of the best qualities of the city: a menu emphasizing local ingredients (they even grow their own in an on-site garden), an unforgettable view of the lake, and a friendly staff not afraid to take every opportunity to boast about Madison to all of the visitors!
John (Jay) Voss ’66, MA’67
New Fairfield, CT
For at least two summers in the early sixties, I worked for the Forestry Department of the City of Madison. The Dutch Elm Disease beetle was rampant, and our job was to travel around the city in an ancient dump truck, picking up the brush and wood from the felled trees and depositing our deceased stash at the landfill. I learned about driving a heavy truck with a suspect clutch, how to navigate the streets of Madison, relating to the full-time tree experts at the time who were suspect of we college types, and — during one two-week stretch — laughing out loud at Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 while enjoying my lunch break. I loved the job until they brought in the chipper and made our work life loud and unpleasant.
Isabel Erichsen Hubbard ’57, MS’79
In the summer of 1956, I joined a musicians’ union and played in their summer band, which performed weekly and was paid union rate at that time. I was also taking a math course by correspondence, so this band job was enough for extra cash. It was a good way to become a better musician.
Jerry Doran ’62
The summers of 1959–61 I worked for the Dane County Highway Department doing just about everything from running jack hammers to roofing. We did a lot of work away from Madison. Every morning during the week we reported for work at the Dane County Highway Garage on Fitchburg Road in South Madison. From there we drove to our work assignments. It was hard physical labor, and I loved it because it helped keep me in great shape. I think that we got paid about $1 per hour, but at that time that was the going rate. It was a great summer job.