When I went back to my Dad’s that next year he ran the kitchen at a place called The Half Day Inn which was a bar and grill in a suburb of Chicago. I used to go with him to work and hang out. They had a dining room in back that was closed and there was all sorts of old tables and chairs just jumbled around in there. I liked playing around in there but a kid gets bored rather quickly with tables and chairs. They also had a couple of video games that I used to bleed my Dad’s pockets playing. Pac Man, Space Invaders and Asteroids. They also had a pinball machine called Sharpshooter. I became somewhat of a hustler in there because all these old dudes that came in for lunch and a beer thought they could easily beat an 8 year old. They had no idea. I would make quick work of them beating them all easily and pissing some of them off in the process.
It got to the point where I would ask people for quarters and that kind of pissed the boss off. So she did what any boss would do with her chef’s 8 year old, she put me to work washing dishes in the back and paid me with a roll of quarters a day. Now some of you might think that this is child labor but I looked at it as a win-win situation as did my Dad. They had a big tray dishwasher in back and I learned how to use it rather quickly. I would burn through those dishes in no time in order to get my loot. My favorite to play was Space Invaders but I was best at the Sharpshooter pinball machine even though I needed a barstool to reach it and be able to see. I flipped it several times and I could make a quarter go a long time on that machine winning many free games.
I had several shirts from the Half Day Inn, with the saying on the back “located in beautiful downtown Half Day”. It may have been considered beautiful to some but it was really just a small section in Vernon Hills Illinois. It was located at a busy intersection and had a big dirt driveway out back. Across the street was a Go-Go bar in a small plaza and I didn’t know what that was so I asked. My Dad told me it’s where girls dance naked but you had to be an adult to get in. I quickly remembered the movie Time Bandits with the little people and I asked if we could go in if I dressed as a man and had a monocle in my eye – I was only 8 so I was short and surely they would believe it! I had the look all planned out in my head and I looked like a 40 year old little man in that vision. Sadly I never got to go.
My Dad was still driving his old brown Cutlass but he had also bought a newer White Cutlass, I think it was an 80 or an 81 and it was a sharp looking car. It was in the shop that summer but he had always talked about how he thought about trading them both in for a conversion van. Unfortunately he never did but my love for conversion vans began there and I went on to get a couple myself later on. He also had all sorts of sayings back then, some of which I still say. Most were word plays like “siss on you pister, you ain’t so muckin fuch” or “I’m gonna go shake a tower” and then there was “snug as a bug in a rug” or when he got really mad like when he hurt himself or something “sh*t – f*ck – turd –ass – piss – c*nt” all in one quick breath. Of course at a young age I found that funny as hell.