Through High School

I think I was about 12 years old (1942) when my father told us kids that our food and shelter would be provided for us but we had to earn our own money for whatever else we felt we needed or wanted, such as clothing, hobby material, bicycle, movie money, books, etc.

Jobs were readily available then in the countryside as the farmers were shorthanded wot with most of the young men in the military.  The local school district allowed the boys to leave school at 1 p.m. and work on the farms so every day we kids would line up outside the school and the farmers would come in their trucks and hire us to help them on the farms.  Since I was a head taller than any other kid in the school I was among the first to be selected.

The pay depended on the crop.  Thinning the fruit on the trees paid by the tree, 25 cents per tree, as I recall, but best of all, for me, was picking potatoes.  We would follow the potato picker down the row and as the machine dug up the potatoes and dropped them on the top of the row we would follow with a gunny sack and put them in the sack.  When the sack was full, holding about 100 pounds of potatoes, we would haul them to the end of the row where they would later be tied shut and put on the truck.  We got paid 10 cents for each 100 pound sack we got to the end of the row.  I was able to pick 10 sacks per hour (half a ton each hour!), a pay of $1.00 per hour when jobs in shops in town rarely paid over 30 cents per hour!

I also worked on Saturdays on the farm of a classmate of mine, Ulrich Hermann.  I had to be there by 6:30 a.m. and immediately go to the barn and begin emptying the cow manure from the trough into a wheel barrow and then rolling that barrow down the aisle and up the wooden plank at the end and dump the contents into the manure spreader.  This continued until the bell rang at 8:00 o’clock at which time we went to the farm house and washed up for breakfast.  It was an immense breakfast after which Ulrich and I continued our barn tasks and then rode the manure spreader and spread the manure on the fields.

Later I got a job in a grocery store where I stocked shelves and also worked at the counter attending to customers.  This was back when a customer went up the the counter and asked for 5 lbs. of flour and the clerk (me) would go and weigh out that much in a bag and bring it to the counter.  Then so many lbs. of potatoes, etc, etc.  Confusion reigned when my identical twin brother also got a job in the same grocery store.  A customer would confront me asking where their sack of potatoes was and shortly both my brother and I would each show up with a sack of potatoes.  Finally the manager decided one of us had to go as it was causing too much confusion.  Roy left, I stayed.

Later I got a job in a soda store where I was the King of a 40 foot long soda fountain.  That was a great job as we could eat all the ice cream we wanted provided the area was spotless and there were no customers waiting for service.

In addition I did baby-sitting, gardening, house painting and lots of other jobs.  I never lacked a job and not only earned enough money to meet all my personal needs I was also able to put money aside for my summer adventures.