Topic: Still Working on That First MillionIn the 1930's, at the age
Replies: 3   Last Post: Jan 10, 2018 7:12 PM by: BerlinSPY73®
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Still Working on That First MillionIn the 1930's, at the age

Posted: Jan 10, 2018 4:59 PM

In the 1930's at the age of 12, I entered the world of paid employment. Putting a sealant on the end of a pig tail and attaching a label to each watermelon earned me the vast sum of $1.00 per day. I spent one more summer at this task and was ready to move up the economic ladder the next summer. At 14, it was a rite of passage.

Corn was another major crop grown in our area and it was harvested soon after the watermelon season began. I moved over to a platform at the Seaboard Air Line RR where fresh corn was packaged and shipped to the northern markets in refrigerated trail cars. Bunkers in each end of the car were filled with ice to keep the corn chilled during transit.

My job was to assemble the wire bound crates and do the labeling. No longer was I on a per day wage scale but a "piece" scale. My pay was now $0.40 for 100 crates I assembled. Most days we shipped two cars, each car containing about 450 crates. That meant on a good day I could make about $3.60. WOW !!!
At that rate I could become a millionaire in no time.

I soon learned the work days were long and there was no rest for the weary, but hey, all that money was a big inducement to keep plugging. The wire bound rates arrived in bundles of 10, laid out flat. I believe there were five wires around each crate. Each crate had to be squared up and where the ends of the two wires met, I had to give them a slight twist. I had a brace and bit device that I placed over the ends, gave it a few twists and when it reached a predetermined tension. it clipped off the ends of the wires. I had to be very careful or else my hands and arms would be covered with scratches.

After this part of the crate was assembled I inserted a panel in the bottom of he crate and it was now ready for the packers. The capacity of the crate was about five dozen ears of corn. The packers were responsible for placing the top on the crate. When the filled crates were ready to be loaded in the refrigerator cars, I grabbed my glue bucket and labels and went to work. Sometimes, if the packers were not busy, they would help me with the labeling.

Most of the time I would go back to the platform after supper and assemble about 200 crates to have an ample supply for the next morning. When the crates were assembled they took up a lot of space so I was limited in the number I could have in reserve.

Some days we received more corn than we did on other days and if there was rain, we did not work, thus. my daily pay fluctuated. The pay was definitely much better than my job with the watermelons. During the season I made about $60. - $70., big money at that time.

The next summer, I had a better deal and I'll tell you about that in the next exciting episode.


Re: Still Working on That First MillionIn the 1930's, at the age

Posted: Jan 10, 2018 5:32 PM

Keep the stories coming Joe.

Re: Still Working on That First MillionIn the 1930's, at the age

Posted: Jan 10, 2018 6:21 PM

Thanks so much Joe for the time machine. That makes my $1.35/ hour in the 60s seem down right sinful.....

Re: Still Working on That First MillionIn the 1930's, at the age

Posted: Jan 10, 2018 7:12 PM

For perspective, according to one website, $70 in 1935 had the same buying power as $1,261 in 2017. You certainly had a strenuous job with long hours to earn that money. I assume getting a job as a pre-teen was difficult during the depression with the competition from many out of work adults.
Beginning the first summer after my senior year in HS in the mid sixties, worked for three summers at a textile mill. The most I earned was $106 weekly. It was worth $805 in 2017. Thought it was great money then and felt very fortunate to have the job.

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