Hula Loola and other summer memories

by April Henry

Our theme this month is teenage summer memories.

I tried to conjure up memories of me lying out, getting a tan. But I drew a blank. And not just because I am so pale I'm almost translucent.  No, it's because as soon as I was able to find a job, I started working so I could make money for college. I spent nearly three years at Pietro's Pizza, wearing a red skirt, a stiff red and white blouse, and a red kerchief that gave my ears phantom-scarf syndrome for hours afterward.

(To give you an idea of the era, when the manager asked me to hem up my skirt, I didn't ask why, I just did it. And whenever we went upstairs to count my till, he had me go ahead of him on the stairs.)

When I worked until close, I remember feeling so grown up, getting off at 1:30 in the morning. A lot of us would go out to the VIPs Restaurant afterward and order breakfast. (That VIPs turned into Choo-Choo Willy's, which was followed by Bob's Big Boy Restaurant, a JB's, and an IHOP.  Then the building was torn down to make way for a new freeway interchange.)

Working made me feel independent, responsible, grown up.  Maybe I was faking it or fooling myself, but that's probably how most things start.  I remember the Moonie who snuck into the men's bathroom and tried to get people to buy his Tootsie Pops. The quick change artist who got me so befuddled that he left with $20 and me still confused about what had just happened. The feeling of pulling together as a team when we were really busy. Changing in the breakroom even if there were other people in it.

Memories become a book
A few years later, a pizza delivery girl disappeared in a neighboring town. She was called out to a fake address, and her car was found with her purse on the seat, keys in the ignition and the pizza boxes scattered on the ground.  It came out later that the caller originally asked if another girl was making deliveries that night.

Those two things: the fact that the victim worked at a pizza parlor (although our Pietro's didn't make delivery) and the fact that the intended victim was lucky enough not to be working that night stuck in my head for a long time.

And they finally became a book which came out last year and is now out in paperback:


  1. Great post. I was imagining being there while reading it. It's particularly image worthy because I'm reading Last Dance at the Frosty Queen right now and it takes place in that era. I'm going to add your book to our library collection.

  2. I agree--great post. I love the line about how faking or fooling yourself is how things start. (And I'm a fellow pale-girl here. I get a burn going out to get the mail...)

  3. I think a lot of these memories are going to involve summer jobs!

    The restaurant I worked at was robbed shortly after I started working there. (Not while I was there, though.) They locked the employees in the walk-in freezer but apparently didn't realize the freezer could be opened from the inside ... even though the robbery turned out to be an inside job involving a former employee.


Post a Comment