Karen and I “Work Parties” – Karen Series, Part 5 of 10

Note: please see previous posts to catch up – they are a series that all tie together!

When I first married into the Daubenmire family my mother-in-law worked as a waitress at the Country Club. She loved her job and had a lot of friends there, both on staff and among the clientele. But in 1973, the Club changed management and all the current employees were let go. That didn’t stop Betty one bit.

home barThe first thing Betty did was encourage all her former clientele to entertain at home and let her run their parties. It was a raging success. She partnered with her friend Rosemary who served as a cook and she hired me and Karen to be bartenders and waitresses. She trained us with an iron fist. The bar was to be set up a particular way so that any of us could work it without searching for things. Everything had a place and we were all disciplined to do any task interchangeably. Betty was so professional that she would watch for guests arriving outside and order their drinks while they were coming up the walk. Karen or I would make them and Betty was ready when each guest hit the door. The guests, of course, felt pampered and special.

Betty also made sure we earned very good money. She charged a minimum of $25 for 3 hours or less per person, then $10 an hour per person after that. And these people were very good tippers so we were well taken care of. To go home with $50-$100 or more a night in 1973 was amazing.

But Karen was rather spoiled. She had a full time day job already so she would be tired by the time she got to one of our party gigs. Then the complaining would start. Karen called her mother (Betty) by the nickname of “Queenie.”

“Queenie,” she would say, “when are we getting out of here?”

“Whenever the work is done,” Betty would answer.

“Don’t these people have homes?” Karen would complain. “Why don’t they leave us alone?”

Betty would sigh and roll her eyes and just keep working.

Still, Karen was essentially a hard worker and always did a good job even though she gave her mom a hard time.

Over the years we built up regulars who trusted us in their homes. The beauty of having us work a party was that we cleaned up everything so well that you never knew a party had happened when we were finished.

Then, Anchor Hocking, the local glass manufacturer, decided to buy a historic home in the downtown area for entertaining out of town guests. They remodeled the place beautifully and hired Betty and Rosemary to run it. Naturally Betty brought me and Karen and eventually another sister-in-law, Rita, in to work the bigger events. We all worked together there for years and Betty took mighty fine care of us.

The only thing was, the Anchor brass and their spouses would get me and Karen and Rita confused. Betty was blonde, as was I and Rita, so people always thought we were the daughters since Karen’s hair was dark. And I had the most distinctive name, so very often everyone would call all of us “Starr.” Rita would grit her teeth and smile but it never bothered Karen a bit.

For instance… one time the CEO of Anchor went to Asia to visit buyers. He was given a very valuable hand-woven tapestry as a gift. When he brought it back, he wanted to hang it in the front room of the Anchor House and asked Betty to get it done. Since I am the crafty one in the family, Betty called me in to consult. I told her to have maintenance mount a hanging rod on the wall by the fireplace and I took the tapestry home to hand sew a rod-pocket on the back. We were able to get it hung before the next major event to surprise the big wig guy, Ray. It turned out really well.

So the next big party comes along and we’re all buzzing around the Anchor House serving cocktails and getting ready for dinner. I can’t wait for Mr. Big Wig to see the tapestry hung and tell him how I did it. I know he’ll give me a proud “attaboy” for my fine work.


Later I’m walking by the front room with a tray of drinks and I see Karen and Mr. BW standing in front of the tapestry getting their photo taken. He has his arm around her shoulder and she is grinning like the proverbial Cheshire Cat. After the flash bulbs die down, Mr. BW gives Karen a nice hug and thanks her profusely. She graciously excuses herself and comes out in the hall to talk to me.

“What was that?” I ask.

“Oh, you know…” she explained, “they all think we’re you, so I just let him think it!”

“You told him you did it?” I cried in alarm. “How could you?”

“No, not really,” she replied. “I just didn’t correct him. Are you mad at me?”

The look on her face was so mischievous I couldn’t be mad at her. (Well, maybe a little…) And every time we looked at that tapestry afterwards we would howl with laughter. It really was a perfect prank because the Mr. and Mrs BWs of the world didn’t care who did it. And it was our own little private joke.

But that wasn’t the last time Karen pulled that on me. Wait till you hear what else she did!

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