'Back in My Day' (by Gracie Jarvis)

‘Back in My Day …’ Teachers recall their first cars, first jobs

By Gracie Jarvis

No one thinks about growing up until it happens to you. You can reminisce on your teenage years but you can never go back.

The teenagers who grow up to be teachers get a whole new experience. They get to see what teenagers in the new generation are doing, what models of cars their parents are buying for them, and they even get to see the teens blossom into adulthood with jobs. This environment would definitely make an adult think back to their teens when “life was good.”

Everyone has a different experience in their teenage years. It’s awkward for some and amazing to others. One thing almost everyone has in common, no matter how late or early, is a first car and a first job.

Business teacher Mr. Steve Wuthrich’s first car, a Berlinetta Camaro, was purchased by his parents. “My parents bought me my first car. They bought all four of us a new car. They were in a financial position to do that so I was very appreciative.”
A Berlinetta Camaro from the era of Mr. Steve Wuthrich's first car (NOTE: not an actual photo of his car).

Being able to drive for the first time is an amazing feeling for many new drivers. “It meant independence and freedom. I was out all the time,” Wuthrich says. 

Eventually, everyone has to do away with their first cars and get something more efficient, which is exactly what Wuthrich did. “I traded my first car in for a new truck,” Wuthrich says. 

His first job was delivering the newspaper. Some teens don’t like working these days, but he had a different opinion as a teen. “I did not mind delivering the paper in the morning. Back in those days you had to go to each house and collect money on a monthly basis. I did not like the collection part,” Wuthrich says.

Wuthrich was always focused on saving his earnings. “I started saving right away to buy a new moped to deliver papers with,” he says. 

As all first jobs have to come to an end, Wuthrich gave his paper route to a younger kid when he was a sophomore in high school.

Art teacher Mrs. Helen Zacek’s first car was a maroon Mercury Sable. The car was purchased by her parents.
Maroon Mercury Sable A maroon Mercury Sable from the era of Mrs. Helen Zacek's first car (NOTE: not an actual photo of her car).

 “My parents bought me the car with the agreement that I would cart my siblings around as needed. I felt grateful that they were able to do that for me,” she says.

She was appreciative to be able to drive alone, when she wasn’t taking her siblings places. “I felt so adult like. I mean I felt like I was growing up and had a touch of freedom,” Zacek says. 

Her first car was eventually traded in on the next car for the next sibling in line. “I only got to use it while I was in high school,” she says.

Zacek’s first job was at a clothing store, Salsa, on Ball State’s campus. She enjoyed her job because of the environment and aesthetics.

“Yes! I got to work on campus around college aged kids and I got to work with my best friend at the store, too. I also got a discount on the clothing which was my style at the time -- 90’s hippie style,” she says.

Zacek’s first job came to an end on a good note. “I put in the proper amount of notice that I was not going to be able to work there anymore. I was graduating and moving,” she says.

English and theatre teacher Mrs. Dawn Raleigh’s first car, a 1993 Honda CRX, was purchased on her own. “I bought it new. It was such a fun car!” she says.
1993 Honda CRX A 1993 Honda CRX similar to Mrs. Dawn Raleigh's first car (NOTE: not an actual photo of her car).

Raleigh enjoyed being on her own, but she took precautions because of worry. “I was excited! I think nerves played a part too,” she says. 

Her first car was eventually traded in some years later. “I traded it in after I had it for four or five years and ‘upgraded’ to a Honda Civic that was sporty,” Raleigh says.

Raleigh’s first job was as a Learn to Swim instructor at Delta. She enjoyed her job so much she now is the head of the Learn to Swim program.

Her first job eventually ended after her senior year. “I’ve always ended my jobs on a good note, or at least tried to do so. Obviously, my high school position ended when I graduated,” Raleigh says.

English teacher Mr. James Lodl’s first car, a black 1998 Chevy Monte Carlo, was given to him by his father. “My dad upgraded his car so I ‘inherited’ his old one, which was fine by me,” he says.
black Monte Carlo A 1998 black Monte Carlo similar to Mr. James Lodl's first car (NOTE: not an actual photo of his car).

Lodl enjoyed having the freedom of driving himself places. “I liked being able to get myself to and from school. It was a real freedom for me,” he says.

Not long after getting his first vehicle, he got into a wreck, ending his time with the car.

“I got into an accident a week after I got my car,” he said. “I got t-boned by a big SUV because I accidentally ran a stop sign. And this was before texting and driving. Pay attention and stay safe kids.”

Lodl’s first job was at a grocery store, IGA. He bagged groceries and pushed carts. He enjoyed being around the people and getting to know the customers. 

“My first job was awesome. I’m a people person so it was a good fit for me, since I got to know people who shopped there regularly. I also felt pride in keeping the store clean and I liked my co-workers a lot,” Lodl says.

His first job ended after a few years.

“I worked there quite a while, three years I think. I saw the writing on the wall for that store. A while after I quit, the store shut down and everyone lost their jobs. It was sad,” Lodl says.

No matter the age, no one forgets their teenage years, which includes many firsts like jobs or cars.

Everyone may come from different backgrounds, but what matters is making the best of it and setting the foundation, including getting a car and job for the first time.