Saturday, January 23, 2016

When kids worked for their money, I earned half of a quarter for a nasty job.

A blog post I read today reminds me of some of the jobs I’ve held in my life. 
A job, to me, is anything I have been paid to do. Therefore, my first job was when I was about eight years old and my sister Gay was six. 

The work was tough and gross, but we were promised a quarter. Not a quarter each, but one quarter for both of us, for doing a job no one else wanted to do.

We lived on a farm. 
Chickens lived in and around the barn. Hen nests hung on the walls, and we gathered eggs there every day. On a hot summer day, my daddy asked Gay and me to take a dead chicken down to the woods where we would leave it for wild animals to devour. Yes, there are animals that eat such things. I guess you could say this was recycling. 

Mother and Daddy standing behind Glenda, with braids, and Gay.This is about the ages we were when we earned our quarter.
Daddy saw our faces when he first mentioned it, and I’m sure he could tell it did not appeal to either of us. Then he said something that caused our ears to perk up.

"I'll give you a quarter," he said.

For two little girls who never had any money of our own, a quarter meant ice cream, Cokes, and candy from Hancock’s store. Gay looked at me, as she usually did, to see what I would say. We wanted the quarter, and I knew if Gay and I worked together, we could do it.

“OK. Where is the dead chicken?”

“Behind the barn, in the lot,” Daddy said.

Gay and I headed out to the barn. From outside the fence we could see the feathers of a white leghorn hen, and it was obvious, by the smell, she had been dead a few days. 

Holding our noses, we took a shovel into the lot and approached the decaying mass. The overpowering stench made me gag. I knew I was going to throw up. But I needed both hands to push the shovel under the hen and carry it. How could I do that and hold my nose, too?

After a few tries, Gay and I came up with a plan. I don't know who had the idea, but we have always worked well together, and it was the only way we could take care of this chore.

While I wrangled the heavy round-pointed shovel under the mess that was once a laying hen, Gay pinched my nostrils together with two fingers and held her own nose with her other hand. That was the beginning of a great working team. 

My father watched us that day. 
He laughed many times over the years as he told what became a family story, of how the two little girls carried the stinking dead chicken all the way to the woods with Gayholding both our noses and me hauling the heavy remains on the shovel. 

Thank goodness I never had such a bad job again, although I had some that I hated, and people I worked for who disgusted me. I’ll write about them in the days to come.

If you want to write stories about your life for your family why not start with the first time you worked to earn money. You will enjoy recalling the memories and telling the story.

I was inspired to write about my jobs by the blogger, roughwighting. She tells quite an interesting story. 

Do you remember your first job? 


Maren O. Mitchell said...

Glenda, this is a gem of a story, and well-deserving of becoming a favorite family story! What entrepreneurs you and Gay were!

Glenda Beall said...

Maren, thank you. A quarter was hard to come by back when we were kids and we couldn't let the opportunity get away. Where there's a will there's a way, Mother used to say. So we found a way.

Anonymous said...

Glenda, I love this! Thank you for sharing it. My first job was slopping wood preservative onto lumber, in the days before pressurized lumber! Dana Wildsmith

Anonymous said...

Good story, if I have a dead animal in the yard I'll call you to remove it for a Quarter...Your Daddy was a character and he knew how to teach Life lessons...My first paying job I remember was selling "Co-Colers" at the baseball games when Moultrie had a pro team. I think the most I ever made in a night was about $.36 . But I had to sell 18 drinks to do that...

Mike J.

Joan Howard said...

Great story, Glenda, and very well told! I remember I got 10 cents a week back then for chores, would save up for 10 weeks and buy a Nancy Drew book! Your chore was a lot messier!
Joan Howard

Glenda Council Beall said...

Thank you, Joan, Mike and Dana, for your comments. Our earnings were small but we learned to work for what we wanted, didn't we?