Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

January 9, 2013

My First “Real” Job

Filed under: Childhood Memories,Food — Janice @ 12:55 am

I was reminded tonight of my first “real” job out in the world when I saw that the idea man of McDonald’s passed away Monday. Among other things, Fred L. Turner invented the Egg McMuffin and introduced breakfast to McDonalds. The obituary said that happened in 1975. In Canyon, Texas, I am quite certain it didn’t happen until the fall of 1976 when I was working there.

I don’t remember exactly when I started working for McDonald’s, but it was somewhere right at the beginning of my senior year of high school. I can be one of those “We got a Hershey bar for a nickel” kind of people because I remember some of the prices on our menu at the time. The soft drinks came in 3 sizes — all probably smaller than the smallest sizes today. Small was 25 cents, medium (which was PLENTY and was my usual choice of size) was 35 cents, and the large was 45 cents. Seriously, the large was probably 12 ounces and there may not be a small that small anymore. I think the only diet soft drink we offered was diet 7-Up (or maybe Sprite). I am not sure there WERE any diet drinks at this point in the world. I know for a fact that there was no Diet Coke (and how did we live without it??? haha – I’ve just about given it up completely now). We had Coke and Dr. Pepper and the diet 7-Up and maybe a root beer and an orange drink. And that’s it. And get this – When you ordered a drink, we actually got it for you. We got the cup, put the ice and the drink into it and put a lid on it, too.  I don’t think they do that anywhere anymore except in the drive-through.

Our little hamburgers (which should not even be called hamburgers and weren’t up to real hamburger standards then either) were 35 cents and a cheeseburger was 45 cents (I think). Big Macs may have been a whopping 75 cents at the time. We served quarter pounders, too, so they were somewhere in between. Small fries were 25 cents, I think, and large were 45.

Great prices, for sure, until I remember what I was making. Really I don’t remember what I was making, but something less than 2 dollars an hour, I think. I do remember when the town of Hereford was opening its first McDonald’s and we trained their employees. Their employees were making a nickel more than we were while they were training. Yep, I still am not happy about that!

Beyond the hamburgers, fries, and drinks, we had the fish filet (the memory of their taste is wonderful — the real deal never lives up to it anymore) and the apple and the cherry pie. There were shakes, too, strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla. And I think that was it, pretty much. McDonald’s was built on the consistency of a limited menu and we certainly had a consistent limited menu. Then this guy, this Turner fellow, had to get all forward thinking and innovative.

We did start serving breakfast while I was there. I never worked a breakfast shift, so I didn’t have to deal with the eggs and pancakes and Egg McMuffins. I do remember it made it a bit nicer when you worked a day shift, though, because the store was already open and operating when you came to work. And it did make more jobs for more people there in our little town. Lots of the “older” workers (they were probably 19 or 20) took the morning shifts because they didn’t have to be at high school at 8:30.

I worked at McDonald’s for about 8 months at the most. I tried quitting after I’d worked there just a few weeks because they had me on the schedule every single night. I did not know an employee could ask for a change. The managers were very good managers and they didn’t want me to quit and were happy to adjust the schedule and let me work as many or as few shifts as I wanted to. They thought I wanted to work every night because I had put on the application that I was available every night. So they kept me on, but finally the fun and activities (oh and studying I guess maybe) forced me to quit in the spring.

Occasionally McDonald’s runs commercials about how many people started their working careers there. I am very glad I started working there and got a good experience and some good training in work ethic. I certainly made a lot of good friends with my co-workers and even some of my customers that are still friends today. I don’t eat at McDonald’s generally now, but I know they usually have the same high standards we had back then and are always good for a clean bathroom break when I’m traveling and a no-surprises burger. I can’t say they are fast like they were in my day, but I’ll blame that on the number of people in the world, not on McDonald’s.

Mackie and Janice work at McDonalds 1977

Miracle upon miracles, I was able to quickly find a photo I was looking for (without getting lost looking at a million others).

This was in the days before we had a camera with us every waking moment, so this is the one and only picture that exists of my sister, Mackie, and me in our McDonald’s uniforms. Yes, they were polyester and constructed in a way to make even the most attractive teenage girls look bulky and awkward.


  1. You call that awkward and bulky? I call those servers in McDonald’s uniforms gorgeous and graceful.

    Comment by pat — January 12, 2013 @ 7:50 am

  2. Your worker’s memory matches my customer’s memory. Early in my high school years, my standard lunch was a cheeseburger, fries and medium Coke. Total with tax came to $1. Prices went up before I graduated, and I had to choose between downgrading to a hamburger or a small Coke.
    My sister applied at McD when the first one opened in Amarillo in 1968 or 1969. She was informed that girls were not eligible. In those days before righteous indignation, she just shrugged and went home. The manager called sometime later to let her know the golden arches had opened for women. Back then, the uniforms were just as gruesomely double-knit but also babysh** yellow AND the girls wore dresses.

    Comment by Beth — January 19, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

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