8650 Candlelight Lane Suite One, Lenexa, Kansas 66215
Summers at Rossmoor
Isn’t it funny how well we remember certain times in our lives? Some of the clearest memories I have are of my summers during college; they are memories that always come back to me this time of year. Like many college kids, my summers were “free” only in the sense that they freed me up to work. And I worked at a pretty unusual place: a retirement community in Walnut Creek, California, in the Bay Area. I worked at Rossmoor World of Leisure, and it was a 45-and-older community (due to the elderly demographic, some of my co-workers called it “Rossmoor World of Seizure”). I worked there for three summers as one of their lawn mowing crew members and made union wages the whole time. That meant I was able to pay for college by myself just based on what I did during the summer; although, I did work a bit during the college year for gas money and such. Rossmoor was an interesting place. Entirely situated in a valley with a golf course running right down the middle (some of those same co- workers also called it the “Valley of the Dinosaurs”), Rossmoor was entirely self-contained. It had its own landscaping crews, roofers, hospital, and ZIP code. And the residents sure had it made. I’d never seen a Bentley before I started mowing lawns there. Of course, most of the time, people just drove around in their golf carts. My job was mowing lawns. Every Monday, one lawn mowing crew took the right side of the valley and the other took the left, and they’d meet up on Friday at the other end. First came the guy with the weed-eater, then the guys on the mowers and finally the guy with the leaf-blower
backpack. Nobody wanted that job; it was 90 degrees out, and that thing was heavy, stinky and loud, so we all took turns doing it.
There was a third landscaping crew that maintained the golf course. I had a friend on that crew, and his life was a lot like the movie “Caddyshack.” All he did was wage war on skunks and gophers! He had to be a little sneakier than Bill Murray’s character, though. While most of the residents wanted a pest-free neighborhood, none of them wanted to see “how the sausage was made,” so to speak. Sometimes we’d finish earlier in the week and do odd jobs, like cutting the tall grass on the hills around the golf course. That was alright because we could watch the “seasoned citizens” cheat at golf and heckle them for trying to sneak a ball back on the course from the rough. The trade-off was that we had to wear helmets because none of those “seasoned citizens” could hit a golf ball worth beans! That same friend who was on the golf course crew had a surefire method to avoid getting struck by golf balls. He’d walk right down the middle of the fairway! Although the work was hard, I had fun during those three summers. I always came back to school tanned, in good shape, and with enough money to pay off two semesters of private college. One summer, I even came back with a car, a ’74 Mercury Comet that I bought from one of the Rossmoor residents. Although I don’t have that car anymore, I’ll always have the memories of my summers at Rossmoor World of Leisure. It was a strange place, but it was a great one to work at.
– Dr. Bridensti ne
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