Working in Brooklyn

By John Vollaro   February 2007

    I had two significant work experiences during the formative years growing up in Brooklyn. The first of these was a job delivering packages at the corner drug store. The store was owned by Gordon Jacobson and I worked there from the time I was 11 years old until I was 17. When Gordon retired and sold the store to the Zabells, I stayed on and continued to work. 

    When I was 13, I began spending the summer months at Schroon Lake helping my grandfather run the motel business at Luisanda. At the same time I began working at Lakeview Equipment Co. which was located next door to Luisanda. My job at Lakeview was to manage the boat rental part of the business.

    When I was 11 and my brother was 15, we were both too young to work. You had to be 16 to get working papers that allowed you to work as a teenager. One exception to this (and I don't know why) was delivering newspapers which Joe did for a while. He complained bitterly about it and often said he would quit. One day when I was buying some candy at the drug store, I put my nickel on the counter and
asked Mr Jacobson "Do you need any help?". He smiled down at me and said, "Aren't you a little young to be looking for a job"? I said I was asking for my brother and that he was 15. Gordon said "Tell him to come in if he wants to work".

    So it was that the law was bent and Joe began working at the drug store for the amazing sum of fifty cents an hour. Before long, I began filling in when Joe couldn't work and soon became a "regular". The jingle in my pocket was incredible. Suddenly I could get things that were never within reach before. The first thing I bought was a turtle at the pet store. It was a tortoise about the size of a half cantaloupe and I called him Gulliver. Soon I had enough to put a three speed transmission on my bicycle and other unheard of amenities.

    My boss Gordon was a ham radio operator. When I told him I was interested in radio and had my own crystal receiver, he took me under his wing. With his encouragement I began studying radio theory. When I was 13 I passed the FCC license exam and became a ham operator too. This welded our friendship and helped to launch me into a world of unlimited challenge and satisfaction. It also offered a sink hole for every penny I earned.

    My grandfather Andrew ran a motel business at Luisanda during the summer months. When he was in his 80's, it was decided that Joe and I would help him clean the cabins and make the beds. This was a great opportunity for us to spend the entire summer at Schroon Lake. It also became a segway for me to begin work at Lakeview.

    After graduating from high school, I was uncertain about college and decided to get some professional guidance. I went to the New York State Employment Agency and took a battery of aptitude tests. The counselor I spoke to suggested that a two year college was appropriate for me. I took that advice and applied at New York City Community College. This was an important next step in my education.

The gas truck with no breaks
A stolen date (the boat did it)
The boat at the dam (quick action required)
Cars (50 Chevy story)

Site Map