When my dad had a truck farm near San Diego in the 1950s, we all worked to pack tomatoes one Thanksgiving Day: my parents, my two younger sisters, and I, about age 11. There had been a hot spell the week before, so our acres of tomatoes were ripening at a fast pace.
We had to work all day, packing almost 400 lugs before the produce truck arrived. We started before 7 a.m. and finally finished about 5 p.m. My parents and I sorted the tomatoes by size and packed them, while my sisters pasted the Bruns Brand label on each lug.
When we arrived home, it was too late to join relatives for their mid-afternoon meal across town, and we didn’t have any kind of Thanksgiving food at home. So, my parents said, “We’ll go out for dinner!” Except they didn’t have any cash, and they certainly didn’t have a credit card. The only source of money was my trusty black piggy bank.
Amused at our rather bizarre situation, we found enough change to open the bank (it clicked open at $10), and then headed out for the only restaurant that was serving Thanksgiving dinner in our Cardiff/Solana Beach area. Remember, this was about 1953 in small-town America.
Luckily, the Fireside restaurant offered a full-course turkey dinner for just $2 per person. We didn’t have anything extra, such as drinks or appetizers, but it was a great feast for a mighty hungry family.
The bill came and we had to pay for it with nickels, dimes and quarters–$10 plus tax. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough for a tip. The waitress was gracious as she counted our change and realized we had only a few pennies left, but my mom (now 94) still regrets to this day that she didn’t go back the next day to give the waitress her well-deserved tip.
(Editor’s note: After earning a master’s degree in journalism from UCLA in 1965, Bill Bruns worked as an intern for Life magazine. Subsequently, he was hired as a staff writer and moved to New York City. He covered the 1972 Winter Olympics in Japan and the Summer Olympics in Munich. After Life stopped publishing the end of 1972, Bruns wrote freelance articles for People, Money and other magazines, as well as co-authoring 12 books on various subjects, including tennis, sports psychology, ski racing and stock-market investing. He then worked as Hollywood bureau chief for TV Guide from 1989 to 1992, before serving as editor of the Palisadian-Post from 1993 to 2013. He received a Spirit of the Palisades Award from the Community Council in 2014.)