My first job was at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown. Ticket and souvenir sales were rolled into one department. One lucky girl, often my sister, got to sit in the private ticket booth and read books when she wasn’t busy. The rest of us worked the ticket window and the souvenir counter.
Howard Talbot hired me.
“Well, hello, young lady,” he said whenever he greeted me, a big smile on his face. He was a genuinely happy man who intimidated me only because he was my boss.
I saw him a couple of weeks ago and he still greeted me the same way.
“Well, hello, young lady,” he said, and smiled that same smile. He was stooped over a walker and I have some gray hair now, but I was transported to the old BBHofF, before they added on and made it big and fancy.
His office was right around the corner from the souvenir shop so we saw him often.
That same summer that I worked for him for the first time, I also had a part-time job working for a researcher at Bassett Hospital. Dr. Ashford was looking at temperature changes in patients in the days before their death. My job was to pull charts of patients who had died in the hospital and retrieve the data about their temperature from the vitals recorded by the nurses.
Between my work at the Hall of Fame and my work at the hospital, I kept busy which was always a good thing for me. By the end of the summer, though, I was tired of working. Both jobs could continue into the school year, although both employers acknowledged that my hours would be less.
The introvert in me loved the aloneness of the research job, so I decided that I needed to tell Mr. Talbot that I wouldn’t be available to work at the Hall of Fame during the winter. The next time I worked, I asked him if I could talk with him for few minutes.
I had mentally rehearsed everything I wanted to say to him. Still, I fidgeted nervously in the chair opposite his desk after he called me into his office.
“Well, young lady,” he said with a smile, “what can I do for you?”
“I’ve really enjoyed working at the Hall of Fame this summer,” I told him.
He nodded at me encouragingly.
“And you know I’ve also been doing some work for Dr. Ashford,” I said. Dr. Ashford lived just around the corner from the Talbots.
He nodded again.
“So the summer has been ludicrous,” I said.
He stopped nodding. He looked at me. I thought that maybe he didn’t understand the big word I had used.
“You know, I made a lot of money,” I explained.
A smile played at the corners of his mouth. It’s a wonder he didn’t burst out laughing.
“I think you mean lucrative,” he said quite seriously, though his eyes twinkled as he watched me.
I’m sure I blushed. I can still feel the redness in my face. I forgot the rest of my speech, and, as a result, ended up working at the Hall of Fame for the next two years.
It really was a fun job.
Howard Talbot passed away a few days ago. Yesterday I went to his calling hours. I told his wife and his children how much I loved the way he always greeted me and called me “young lady,” whether I was 15 or 55.
I couldn’t bring myself to tell them this story. It still makes me blush. And laugh.
But today it might make me cry.
Good-bye, Mr. Talbot. Thanks for the job and the memories. I’m glad I knew you.