My first job, aside from baby-sitting, began the summer I was fourteen—that was in 1955. I was bored to tears at home and was trying to learn to knit, but mostly just tangling up the yarn on two pointy needles. However, about two weeks into the summer, Daddy called from the wholesale hardware company where he worked. He had just heard that they needed catalog stringers and wondered if I wanted a job for the summer. The pay would be the marvelous sum of a dollar an hour. I was ecstatic and agreed immediately!
I was to start my first job the next morning, so I got up early, ate a good breakfast, dressed in my finest clothes, and rode to work with Daddy. I had my purse and my sack lunch with me. I felt so excited that I had hardly slept the night before.
At work, Daddy introduced me to my new boss, and my new boss introduced me to the time machine where I punched in each morning and punched out each evening. The time machine kept track of my work hours and determined my pay for each two-week pay period. My job consisted of standing up for eight hours a day before head-high racks (you can see the racks at the very back of the picture on the right) of catalog pages to string together new weekly price sheets and inserts for the salesmen’s catalogs. These pages were printed on huge printing machines in the department where we worked. We then inserted the packets of pages into brown envelopes to be mailed out each week for the traveling salesmen to show to customers across a five-state area.
This job was easy—a real “no-brainer.” My two co-workers were Thelma, an older woman who lived out in the country with an invalid husband, and Anne, a college freshman. Thelma cheered us up and kept us fed by bringing in wonderful snacks she made for us and gorgeous flowers from her garden for our workroom. Her delicious baked goodies fed us well to keep up our energy and her remarkable dahlias brightened up our rather dreary workspace. Anne kept me entertained by talking about her college life. She also talked about her boyfriend who taught swimming at a camp in Kerrville. Her boyfriend’s job sounded so exciting that those tales planted the seeds of an idea for a future job for me.
Our task of stringing catalog pages was easy, fun for me, and my first paycheck was one of the great delights of my life! That very day, Daddy helped me open my first bank account and I got checks of my very own. Then I went with Mother to Fedway and bought the first two blouses I ever had that Mother had not made for me. My first job was such an exciting adventure and it opened up the world of work for me!
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