SANDUSKY - Some people make money for college by waiting on tables. Others bag groceries or flip hamburgers.
Liz Rottner filled her piggy bank by guessing the weight, age, and birthday of visitors at Cedar Point.
Now 38, she says it was the best job she's ever had.
“The shame of the thing is that I peaked at 22,” Ms. Rottner said. “No other job has come close. I'm an accountant now.”
But today Ms. Rottner and 16 other former “weight guessers” from the 1980s will relive their glory days during a reunion at the amusement park. The Cedar Point alumni will work the park's three giant scales from noon to 8 p.m., enticing visitors with the chance to win prizes.
The weight guessers' profits will go to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Home for Children in Eaton Rapids, Mich.
The game is simple: You give the attendant $5. She guesses your weight, and you step on the scale. If her guess is within 3 pounds, you lose. For ages, the attendant must be within two years, and for birthdays, two months.
There's no special trick to being a good guesser, Ms. Rottner said. You learn by watching people and learning what to look for.
“I see someone who's 5-foot, 7-inches and a medium build and I guess, and even if I'm off, I see him get on the scale. So it's just practice,” she said.
With age, “it's the smile and the lines around the eyes.”
Most of the time, birthdays are the hardest, she recalled. “Except once in a while, someone will walk up with a birthstone ring, and that kind of gives it away.”
Ms. Rottner, who was a weight guesser from 1984 to 1987, wonders whether she still has the knack.
“I still practice my spiel sometimes just for fun. It's really fun. I can't wait to do it. I'm wondering if we're going to give away the store,” she said. “It's been a long time since I've done it. I'm still pretty accurate, but not within three pounds.”
Janice Witherow, a Cedar Point spokeswoman, said the park's three scales - on the Midway, in Frontier Town, and next to the Magnum roller coaster - have been a popular attraction since 1956. At that time, a visitor could get his weight guessed for a dime.
“It is a tradition at Cedar Point,” she said. “Many amusement parks do not have weight guessers anymore.”
Ms. Witherow said the park seeks out people with the gift of gab to man its scales.
“I was talkative, so I think that got me the job,” Ms. Rottner said. “I always wanted to be a weight guesser.”
She's happy to try her old job for a day but not brave enough to step on the scale herself.
“I don't want anybody to try to guess my weight,” she said.