I had been managing the Bakersfield store for about two months, when one day Joe Cornet Jr. walked in and introduced himself.
Then he looked around, and asked, "Where did all these signs come from?"
When I explained that I did them in the evening after the store closed, he said, "These signs are great! You know, we could use them in the other stores, too. How would you like to work out of our main office in Pasadena and go around to all the stores making signs?"
"That would be wonderful!" I replied enthusiastically.
Besides doing work I enjoy, I would also be back near my friends in Hollywood. What a deal! I could hardly wait to get started.
Mr. Cornet then said, "As soon as we can find a replacement for you here, we'll bring you to Pasadena and get you set up in our warehouse."
Less than a week later I was living in Pasadena and going all over Southern California to decorate Cornet stores.
In fact, Joe Cornet Jr. took me with him on two occasions when he had to visit their Las Vegas store (their biggest and most profitable branch) and on one occasion Bob Cornet (Joe Jr.'s younger brother) flew me to their Boise store in his private plane.
It was really a fun job and they were paying me $150 a week (which seemed like a pretty decent salary for a high-school drop-out in those days).
Dating the Boss' Secretary
In fact, the Cornets were very good to me and I thought maybe I had found a job that would last me the rest of my working life. Furthermore, Joe Cornet Jr.'s secretary seemed to like me, and before long we were dating.
Patricia was a slim blue-eyed redhead of about my age, and after a few dates she wanted us to "go steady." Well, I was still in love with Norma Jean Salina (although I couldn't tell Pat about this) and found I really couldn't offer her the kind of comittment she wanted. However, I wasn't seeing anyone else—so we actually were "going steady"—but not in the way she was hoping for.
Nonetheless, we had some good times together—and one occasion comes to mind rather vividly. Pat lived in Temple City, and the drive from my Pasadena apartment would usually take about 15 minutes. Well, it was January 1st and I had just finished watching the Rose Parade on TV.
I called Pat and asked if I could come by and she said, "Sure. Come on over." I said I'd be there in 15 minutes and headed for my car.
Well, it took 15 minutes just to back out of my driveway and another 15 minutes to get to the first intersection on my way to Temple City.
Caught Between the Rose Parade & the Rose Bowl Game
I'd never been in Pasadena on New Years Day, and had no idea what I was getting myself into when I said I'd be at her house in a quarter of an hour.
Of course there were no cell phones in those days, and it took over an hour to circle around the block and get back to my apartment, where I called and explained what had happened.
We settled for seeing each other later that night.