Shirley Tellam was 16 years old when she served her first burger and 72 when she wrote her last order. The Grass Valley woman is saying goodbye to the only job she’s ever had.
Tellam retired from Humpty Dumpty Kitchen Wednesday. For over 55 years, she has been with the small-town restaurant through thick and thin.
“The restaurant burned about five years ago. All of us did our part to put Humpty Dumpty back together again,” Tellam said.
Tellam started as a cook in 1962. She says burgers were just a quarter and back then her pay checks went towards gas money to drive her late 1950’s Voxhall coupe.
Today, her customers fund her vacations.
“My job has given me time to travel. I have been to 35 countries,” Tellam said.
When Tellam’s shift starts, she doesn’t stop moving. The 72-year-old probably walks a mile around the restaurant every day and rarely messes up an order.
“I remember regular customers by their food order not their name,” laughs Tellam.
Tellam has a lot of good memories at the restaurant but recent years haven’t been easy for the server.
“It’s been a tough year with my husband and brother passing away,” Tellam said.
Things are looking up, though, and retirement means a new beginning.
“I am going to get married again in July. Our honeymoon will be in Alaska,” Tellam said.
Tellam will be missed at Humpty Dumpty Kitchen. She may be off the clock for good but that doesn’t mean she’s gone.
“I will still come here to eat. I come every Sunday,” Tellam said.
Take a load off, Shirley Tellam, and thanks for the good service.
(In case you are wondering, her last meal served was eggs over easy with bacon, home fries with onions and bell peppers).
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