Baden McDonald’s staff reunites after 50 years

BADEN — While reminiscing about his time working at the Borough’s McDonald’s, Tom Applequist recalls the days in 1970 when the Big Mac was only 68 cents and the breakfast menu was still only an idea floated at board meetings.

“I lived just two blocks up the hill,” Applequist said. “One day I walked up the hill, I think I was 15 or 16, applied for a job and started working.”

Rising through the ranks to assistant manager of the first Beaver County McDonald’s location, Applequist would quickly bond with his colleagues at the popular Baden location. The group of high school students working in 1970 posed for a photo inside the classic ‘red and white’ building, with the seven boys smiling near the kitchen as they posed for the camera.

As Applequist worked with many different people over the next five decades and the Beaver County McDonald’s brand continued to grow beyond just the Baden location, the lessons and relationships Applequist established during this period had a significant impact on his life. Her first job allowed her to connect, learn and socialize with her colleagues, all discovering the world together.

“You live and learn through it all,” Applequist said. “I loved working with people and I still do.”

After recently rediscovering the 1970 photo, Applequist decided it was time to reconnect with the original crew. A few Facebook posts and phone calls later, Applequist reunited the entire team after 52 years to recreate their photo on June 29 and catch up on their entire lives after their time at McDonald’s.

“It was beyond anything I could imagine,” Applequist said. “(These) guys were in the limelight today.”

After 50 years, sharing life stories and vital lessons learned in 1970

Pictured in a reenactment of their 1970 McDonalds team, taken June 29, 2022. Front row, left to right, Ron Mowry, Lee Bookwater, Jack Leindecker.  Behind, left to right, Terry Pasteur, Dave Smedley, Tom Applequist, Harry Rose.

Enjoying breakfast at the newly refurbished Baden McDonald’s, the seven former employees shared their experiences in the job market and the important life lessons they learned from their first job there.

Only working at McDonald’s a few years after the original photo, Dave Smedley decided he wanted to pursue an education. In order to afford this field, he enlisted in the Marine Corps.

“I wanted to get an education, so I joined the Marines,” he said. “I spent four years in the Marine Corps, and I’m the luckiest Marine you’ve ever met. I guarantee you because three of the four years I got stuck in the Bahamas. They sent me there -Down as a joke, because if you google ‘Smedley Butler’, he’s a very famous marine.”

After his time in the army, Smedley would work at Armco Steel for 12 years before the plant closed. Later, he will use the GI Bill to pursue studies at Robert Morris College. His new degree would bring him into the insurance and finance industry, leading him to his current position as a financial adviser at the offices of Lincoln Financial in the Wexford area.

Lee Bookwater also joined the Army after leaving his position as store swing manager, joining the Navy’s submarine service for eight and a half years. Meanwhile, he was working his way up to a senior enlisted workstation. Bookwater credits his leadership skills to his time at McDonald’s.

“I learned to work with people and try to be a leader, which helped me a lot once I left here,” he said.

After the army, Bookwater started working for Westinghouse Corp., married, and had two boys. He retired four years ago and currently has two grandchildren.

While Harry Rose would first work in a cheese shop after McDonald’s, he would leave his post there to serve in the Army Military Police during Vietnam. After serving overseas, he was stationed at Fort Ritchie, which is just under eight miles from Camp David, until 1974.

After her service, Rose would remain in the Wilkes-Barre area and hold various positions with businesses in the area. He would eventually marry twice, have five children and become a grandfather of 11 children.

“Now I’m back here after 50 years,” Rose said. “Seeing everyone, remember everyone. No one is alike.”

Former Baden McDonald's colleagues Terry Pasteur, Dave Smedley, Ron Mowrey and Harry Rose talk to each other on June 29.

Smedley, Bookwater and Rose attribute their first job to the foundation of their work ethic. Not everyone takes their first job at 16, but they credit this initiative with the successes of a lifetime.

During her training as a manager for the Baden site, Rose learned to value hard work and continually challenged herself to set new goals. Often working two or three jobs at a time, this challenge allowed him to succeed and often led him to leadership positions.

“If you work hard, you will succeed,” Rose said. “That led me to management here and all the jobs I’ve had since. I mean, I was actually chief of police for six months. I always raised the bar to try harder .”

Bookwater also credited his managerial duties at McDonald’s as the basis for his leadership roles, particularly while serving in the Navy.

“As the swing manager, you kind of had to run the show and keep it all going,” he said. “It just followed from here into the military.”

For Smedley, taking the job at McDonald’s was an opportunity he would never regret. It taught him to seize opportunities when they were available.

“When the opportunity comes, that’s what you do with it,” he said. “A lot of people have an opportunity, but not everyone uses it.”

While military service kept some of the boys away from the Baden area, some of them went on to colleges and trade schools to pursue their future dreams.

“I started going to Geneva College when I was working here, it helped me in many ways socially and to think about the future,” said Jack Linedecker, who retired from his position as appointed therapist. by court in West Virginia last year. . “When I graduated in Geneva, I went to work in a place called Allencrest Juvenile Detention Center for a few years.”

After his time at the Brighton Township detention center, Linedecker would be contacted by a Lawrence County judge to run another detention center at New Castle. He would run the establishment for a few years with his wife before their growing family moved to West Virginia. Linedecker earned her master’s degree in therapy around this time and would open her own practice, with the later years of her career focusing on families sent to therapy by a local judge.

Baden McDonalds owner Paul Sweeney, standing, listens as Lee Bookwater tells stories from the 1970s as Jack Leindecker looks on at right.

Linedecker now divides her time between her home in Wheeling, W.Va., and a home in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Throughout his career, he credits his first job at Baden McDonald’s for teaching him the value of a dollar and hard work.

“You learn the value of a dollar by working at 16 to save money and buy cars,” Linedecker said. “I don’t know how it would have been if I hadn’t worked here and had no job.”

In addition to their first job teaching them a lot about the value of hard work, it also taught them skills in communicating with others. Working in the service industry helped many band members “break out of their shell”, allowing them to overcome some of their shy natures and develop skills they would use for decades.

“I went from a quiet kid to McDonald’s opening me up and teaching me how to interact,” said Terry Pasteur, who currently owns an appliance repair business. “Man, I had fantastic sales. You never forget your first job, that’s for sure, but it helped me in so many ways.”

Pasteur began classes at refrigeration school while working at Baden McDonald’s, which eventually led to a job at Whirlpool. Pasteur now works in the Beaver Valley with his own business, Terry’s Appliance Repair. He got married and started a family. Pasteur has two daughters and two grandchildren.

By learning how to socialize and interact with customers in the restaurant industry, Pasteur believes he was able to learn customer service skills and handle customer complaints.

“When you’re in the service industry and you show up to a customer with a brand new refrigerator or washing machine that doesn’t work, they want to put their hands around your neck,” he said. “You have to know how to deal with this person, calm them down so they understand that the problems are going to be dealt with. I received this training from McDonald’s because there were people who came to the counter to tell us that they don’t didn’t pay taxes, or the food wasn’t good, and we had to calm them down.”

In addition to social skills, sales experience is an important part of Pasteur’s job. He attributes some of his success in selling guarantees and other products to contests held in the McDonald’s store.

“We had these contests: who could sell the most big fries and stuff,” Pasteur said. “When I went to work for Whirlpool, we had to sell extended warranties. Man, I don’t know how many times I got top selling awards, and I had fantastic sales.”

Working at McDonald’s taught Ron Mowry important lessons for his future career at US Airways, where he worked as a ground worker, unloading planes for 31 years. His career will take him from the Pittsburgh airport to the Philadelphia airport after the attacks of September 11, 2001, but he will never forget the important lessons learned with his friends.

“Friends, hard working, showing up on time, those values ​​stay with you,” Mowry said.

Tom Applequist, left, chats with former colleagues Terry Pasteur, Dave Smedley, Ron Mowrey and Lee Bookwater.

After climbing that hill to work at McDonald’s in 1970, Applequist remained a company employee for more than 40 years. While he deeply values ​​the memories made with his original crew, his experience with the company has left him with many fond memories and friends.

Whether reminiscing about 1970 or ordering from the menu now, Applequist’s time at McDonald’s is something that is close to his heart.

“I had to leave in 1973 to go to Penn State University to finish my education,” he said. “I came back (home) when I graduated, and three days later I’m back at work. And here we are, 40 years later, and I’m telling people this is the career the most wonderful thing I could have ever asked for, every moment of it.”

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