I drove down to Troy this morning to pick up Phil after he had ridden his cycle the 60 miles there, and as I watched 220 spool away into the heat I wondered if the current budget crisis has stopped a lot of roadside mowing-- things are looking pretty shaggy along the highway, and NCDOT generally prides itself on landscaping. Which made me think of my stint with a mowing and maintenance crew in '75. As a college senior (kind of an old one) I needed a summer job; I was hired as the Very First Female Maintenance Crew Member of Greenbelt Park, MD. Given the decades I grew up in, and being in the field I was in, I did a lot of Very-First-Female [fill in the blank] jobs.
I learned to sort of drive a tractor that summer, although after I almost put it through the back of the garage they mostly had me on the riding mowers. I painted a lot of buildings and fences with a mysterious tarry brown substance called "cooping oil" [later figured out it was Cuprinol, a wood preservative.] Whenever things were slow we'd take a trash bag and walk the trails and parking lots, "picking sanitation"--- their curious term for collecting trash. The low point was periodic weekend garbage collection duty, going in on Sunday with the big truck to clean up the messes made by Saturday picnicers. For some reason church groups were the worst. Actually anybody who had a crab feast was totally the nadir. Crab feasts are endemic to Maryland; you buy a bushel or three of live crabs, end their lives in boiling steam with a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning, and dig in with beer on the side. Then all the shells and gooey bits get thrown into a thin plastic trash bag, the sharp shells poke holes, it sits in the hot sun fermenting, and when you try to pick up the (always too full) bag the whole mess gets dumped on the ground. Such fun!
When I left for the fall semester, the foreman 'lowed as how he'd likely hire him a few gals the next summer since I had worked out purty well. Oh, the progress.