Babysitting with Coffee, Tea, or Me? by
(21 Stories)

Prompted By Working

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My first “job” — like so many girls in the 1960s and 1970s — was babysitting. Twenty-five cents an hour at first, for some little kids in our apartment building when their parents went to a movie after dinner. By the time I was in high school, I had a circle of families I “sat” for on a regular basis, 50 cents an hour, a dollar an hour for more than one child. I was saving to pay for a high school graduation trip to Europe. That was a lot of babysitting.

I loved reading about the very friendly skies while the little kids were asleep.

Babysitting was pretty boring, because kids went to bed early and I mostly watched TV after my homework was done. Things like The Odd Couple and reruns of The Flying Nun and Hogan’s Heroes. Who remembers The Courtship of Eddie’s Father? But I digress. There was one family I didn’t sit for very much, and I don’t even remember the kids, but I do remember what I did in that house after everyone was in bed and why I loved going there.

Their family room was built out over the garage and they had some pretty interesting books in their bookcases — almost racy — at least for a 14- or 15-year old who didn’t know much about the ways of the world. My favorite book was Coffee, Tea, or Me? The uninhibited memoirs of two airline stewardesses. (You can still buy this book, believe it or not.) I used to lie on the floor on the wall-to-wall shag carpet and read about the “very very friendly” skies. I always knew when the parents returned home — as soon as the garage door opened, I could feel the floor vibrating underneath me, and I knew it was time to stash that book and pretend I was doing my homework.

Interestingly, I never dreamed of becoming a stewardess myself. Nothing about that romantic, international, on-the-edge lifestyle appealed to me. But I loved that cover, those curly letters and those curvy gals. The fantasy of freedom. The lure of a great story.


Profile photo of Jennifer Swanton Brown Jennifer Swanton Brown
Poet. Nurse. Teacher. Mom. Daughter. Sister. Knitter. Swimmer. Contemplative in training. Follow "A Twirly Life" (

Tags: Stewardesses, babysitting
Characterizations: been there, funny, right on!, well written


  1. Patricia says:

    Ah yes, the one perk of babysitting–snooping around the house! That book obviously made an impression on your young self. You had much more fun than I did, my one regular gig was for 5(!) kids aged 10 mos. to 10 years, so not much reading time.

  2. John Zussman says:

    The lure of a great story, indeed! Thanks for cluing us in to what babysitters REALLY did once the kids are in bed.

  3. Suzy says:

    This is a great memory! I had the same experience of finding salacious reading matter in the houses where I babysat. Can’t believe the stewardess book is still available on Amazon. Maybe there will be a rush of orders as a result of your story.

  4. Jim Willis says:

    Jennifer, I enjoyed your story about the rites of babysitting that so many teens have gone through. I look forward to more of your posts!

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