Summer Jobs: Working in the Sun

May 26, 2018
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By Judy O’Gorman Alvarez |

Nothing says summer like the summer job. The chance for many people to leave their winter
work and classrooms to toil away in the sunshine and warm temperatures for those few fleeting summer months. Meet a few of the Two River-area folks who call the Jersey Shore their summer “office.”

Frances Rooney has been selling hot dogs from her cart in Sea Bright for decades. Photo by Lily Marten

THE HOT DOG LADY

The beachgoers and tourists who flock to Sea Bright each summer may not realize it, but residents and workers know that Frances Rooney – affectionately known as Mrs. Rooney, The Hot Dog Lady – is hawking her Sabrett hot dogs year-round.

And that’s where hot dog diners of all ages have been able to find her feeding the masses – subject to the winds and whims of Sea Bright weather. “I never go out on rainy days,” said Rooney, who lives in Little Silver.

For years the Rooney family’s hot dog stand stood on their empty lot on Ocean Avenue. Now on the spot, named Rooney Plaza, stands a commercial and apartment building, that provides a perfect location to house Rooney and her cart, which she has run almost single-handedly since 1977. “And we’ve had the business since 1965.”

Nowadays she gets some help from her son-in-law, especially with hauling the cart in and out of its spot.

With the first hint of summer, customers come to Rooney for her frankfurters. “I have to say, so many people say ‘I’m so glad you’re back,’” she said. Rooney admits she’s not sure why she keeps serving up those wieners. “I tell people I’m duty-oriented.”

For the past 40 years Rooney has watched families of hot dog lovers grow up. “In some cases four generations of families,” she said, have come to her stand.

Most of her clientele are regulars, such as the beach badge wearers and surfers. “I have local employees in town who come in. I have a couple who are regulars who come in once or twice a week.” Onions, Rooney said is the most popular topping. “And of course there’s mustard and sauerkraut – the usual.”

When hot dogs are the only item on the menu, tales are few. “But one time someone had 18 at one time,” she said.

Alas, fewer people are eating hot dogs these days, Rooney laments, instead choosing healthier options. “I don’t know, I’ve eaten them all my life – and I’m still here!”

Dylan Chayes balances his medical studies with a summer job as a caddy at Navesink Country Club. Photo by Lily Marten

THE CADDY

After a long semester studying anatomy, biochemistry, physiology and the like, first- year medical school student Dylan Chayes of Oceanport appreciates a good day in the sunshine, even if it’s touting a bag of golf irons.

“I love to golf,” he said. “Essentially you’re going for a walk – and helping people.”

Chayes has been caddying at the Navesink Country Club in Middletown since his sophomore year at Cornell University. It has always provided a nice summer income while allowing him to practice his swings in a sport he enjoys. Now that he has completed his first year at Rowan School of Medicine, he’s ready for another summer of bogeys, birdies and bonding.

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“I used to be a winter member here and played hockey,” said Chayes. “And my father caddied at Navesink – way back when.”

Chayes has proven his prowess in many areas; he played football in college and at Red Bank Catholic high school, where he also played ice hockey and baseball – and was valedictorian of his graduating class.

Following around duffers of all abilities allows caddies to learn the do’s and don’ts of the game. “I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “Just by watching, you get a better sense of the game.”

Chayes also takes advantage of the chance to play some rounds with fellow caddies on Monday afternoons when his colleagues take some time on the course, culminating in a caddy tournament.

But Chayes especially enjoys the golfers he meets. “To interact with really interesting people, is what I get most out of caddying,” he said. “I’ve met a few doctors who’ve been helpful when I’ve had a question about my process about medical school and ways to make myself a better candidate.”

So along with a good summer tan and practicing his swing, Chayes says he gets “All kinds of life advice.”

High school physics teacher Tom McLoughlin spends his summer guarding the beaches and training lifeguards at Sandy Hook. Photo by Alisha Mejia

THE LIFEGUARD

Last year some 700 rescues were executed at Sandy Hook beaches. And this summer, thanks to lifeguards like Tom McLoughlin, the beaches will once again be covered.

For nearly 50 years McLoughlin has been heading out to Sandy Hook armed with a baseball cap, sunblock and a desire to guard the beaches and keep swimmers safe.

McLoughlin started lifeguarding in 1969 when Sandy Hook was a state park. In 1974 it became a national park, part of Gateway National Recreation Area, and he continued as a lifeguard.

But come Labor Day when the lifeguard stands come down, McLoughlin goes back to teaching physics at St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel.

“I really enjoy the lifestyle of being out on the beach,” he said, as much as his time in the classroom. “In recent years my job is more supervisory. I’m not sitting on the lifeguard stand anymore, but I’m still on the beach patrolling.”

McLoughlin describes the life of a Sandy Hook lifeguard: “The day starts at 9 a.m. For the first hour the staff works out as a group. Stands go up at 10 a.m. And we guard five different beaches.”

Three guards are assigned to each stand and relieve each other on breaks throughout the day.

The job of guarding beaches and saving lives can be exhausting and relentless, but also fun and rewarding.

But when lifeguards are forced to don their rain gear instead of sunblock, it can make for an uncomfortable day at the beach.

“We man the stands during inclement weather because people will come out and go to the beach in pretty nasty weather too.”

The vast majority of rescues are routine, McLoughlin said, and the lifeguard on the stand can often see trouble, “sometimes before the person realizes it themselves.”

College student and camp counselor Megan Daniels, with her friend Jessica, spends her summers with special needs campers at Dorbrook Park. Courtesy Megan Daniels

THE COUNSELOR

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From the moment Megan Daniels of Colts Neck met the campers at Monmouth County Park System’s special needs camp at Dorbrook Park last year she knew she found her summer job.

“They are all so excited to be there,” said the college student. Every day the same campers will greet her with energetic hugs and greetings of “Hey Buddy!” “Every single day,” Daniels said.

This summer she’ll be back as head counselor of the Bronze Group for campers 6 to 60 years old with a variety of disabilities, such as autism, Down syndrome and emotional behaviors.

Among her daily duties as counselor are hugs and smiles, as well as arts and crafts, swimming, time at the spray park and plenty of games – from Freeze Dance to a nonviolent version of Dodge Ball.

“They love the Duck, Duck, Goose game – but we call it Fish, Fish, Shark,” said Daniels. When creating games and pastimes, Daniels says: “Our only limit is our imagination to what we want to do.”

A job like this one allows Daniels to earn money, enjoy the outdoors and learn the skills to help her future career in early and special education. And develop a bond with some very special campers.

“I love getting the chance to swim and run around,” said Daniels, a rising junior in the speech pathology program at Seton Hall University, with her undergraduate concentration in early and special education. She hopes to work with the special needs community.

“Every day I cannot wait to wake up at 6:45 a.m. to come to camp,” she said. “It’s the happiest place in the world.”

Mike Dilworth, pictured with his daughter Amelia, trades life as a special education teacher for one as a deckhand on the MiJo II fishing boat. Courtesy Mike Dilworth

THE DECKHAND

When the last school bell of the semester rings each June, Mike Dilworth of Freehold heads to the sea on the MiJo II fishing boat out of Atlantic Highlands.

“I’ve been on the water since I was in diapers,” said Dilworth, who is originally from Middletown where he spent his formative years on his grandfather’s boat.

“My first summer job when I was 14 or 15 was with my uncle, a captain on a boat,” he said. “They paid me $10 to clean bait trays.”

Dilworth earned money on boats throughout his school years. And when he went on to teaching he was able to continue his passion for working on the water while earning a summer salary.

“I like to say I plan my career around my summers,” he said.

Dilworth is in his ninth year of teaching special ed for first and second graders at West Freehold Elementary School.

“I find my knowledge (on the water) can be a natural transition to science,” he said “Seven-year-olds love sharks!”

He tells them how the ocean creatures in their books – turtles, whales and dolphins – often can be found right off their coasts.

“You could be swimming next to a blue shark,” he tells the delighted and mesmerized students.

In his summer job he prepares the MiJo II, operated by The Two River Times columnist Capt. Robby Barradale, handling everything from ensuring proper fishing tackle, maintaining fishing equipment and helping guests unhook their catch.

“I meet different people every day from different walks of life,” said Dilworth. “I appreciate that.”

Dilworth, a father of two, relishes the juxtaposition of his jobs. “During the school year I’m all buttoned up, molding children’s minds,” he said. “Come June, the stress of it all is relaxed. It’s summertime!”


This article first appeared in the May 24-31, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.

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