I received a different but interesting and appropriate gift for Mother’s Day. One of my daughters gifted me with a subscription to “StoryWorth.” The idea behind the subscription is to help me to write the stories of my life. Each week my daughter will select a question, and the company will email it to me. I am supposed to write the answer to the question and send it back. The company will send the answer to my daughter as well as combining the answers into a book at the end of the year.
This is my first question: How did you get your first job? The following information is my answer to the question. I included more than a simple answer to the question because it is part of the story of my life and will be included my life history.
My first paying job was babysitting a toddler when I was approximately twelve years old. There were not many babysitting jobs in the farming community where I lived. Most of the families were well established and had in-house babysitting services. Ruth, a friend to my older sister Bettie, asked me to watch her son while she went on a date with her husband. Ruth’s parents lived about half a mile from my home. Our families belonged to the same congregation, and Ruth’s father was our bishop. When Ruth married, she and her husband moved into a small house about half the distance between my home and her family home. I think that the going rate for babysitters at that time was 25 cents or less per hour. I might have received one dollar.
I remember receiving much praise from Ruth and her husband upon their return home when they found their child in bed asleep and the house clean. I had washed the dishes, swept the kitchen, and generally tidied the living area. There was not much for me to do after putting the child to bed because there was no television in the area yet and I had not thought to bring a book. However, I remember thinking that I was being paid for my time in the home, and I should not be lazy while there. So I worked. I had one other babysitting job in the area.
When I was seventeen I went to my older brother’s house to help with his five children for the summer. I wanted to purchase a school sweater and a class ring, so he invited me to live with him for the summer. A sister in our congregation asked me to babysit for her, but she withdrew the offer when I told her that I charged 35 cents per hour. Soon afterwards, a neighbor down the street hired me to watch her children during the day. This job lasted for several weeks. I do not remember how much I was paid or why the job ended. Was it temporary while the regular sitter was out of town? Did I simply move on?
My next job was working as a car hop at the Dairy Queen, moving inside to be a cook after several months. Buddy and Arlene were nice enough people, but they did not pay regularly. I remember receiving only one pay check from them, and I received it only because my sister-in-law asked for a loan to buy a new water heater or something. Maybe she knew more than I did because Buddy and Arlene declared bankruptcy soon afterwards. They sold the Dairy Queen to Kent and Thelma, and I started working for them and receiving regular pay checks.
Kent and Thelma had five young children, so Thelma was usually home with them while Kent managed the business. When they purchased the Frost Top at the other end of town, I started working there. Kent was an interesting employer. He was as round as he was tall and very jolly. He was also a big tease and kept asking me to “belly bump” with him. I, of course, would turn red with embarrassment, and he would laugh. I suppose that it would be called “sexual harassment” today, but I never felt threatened at any time. Kent started a side business while I worked for him. He made delicious onion rings to sell at the Dairy Queen and Frost Top. Apparently other restaurant owners started asking for them, and his business was born. I helped make onion rings when business was slow.
There were two incidents that happened at the Frost Top. The first happened while I worked as a car hop and carried a tray full of drinks or shakes to a car. While attempting to hang the tray on the window of the car, one or more drinks tipped over. Some – or all - of the drink(s) went in the lap of the driver, but I cannot remember how much. I do not remember what happened after the accident. I just remember being quite embarrassed.
The second incident happened while I was a cook. The other cook and I were assigned to change the oil in one of the fryers. We drained the used oil out of the fryer okay, but we had problems when we put the new oil in it. Apparently, we did not work fast enough because the fryer was too hot and caught fire as soon as the new oil hit it. I immediately called Kent, who was working at the Dairy Queen, but I did not think to call the fire department. I am grateful that a guy at the service station next door saw the smoke and called the fire department. The firemen were about to chop a hole in the ceiling when Kent arrived and persuaded them to stop. The fire was quickly extinguished, and there were no further problems. Kent said that it made him feel good to know that I thought to call him rather than the fire department.
I worked for Kent for nearly two years before I was hired at Hill AFB as a clerk-typist. I had taken business classes – typing, shorthand, etc. – during high school and wanted to work in this field. I advanced to secretary to a major who was the Army liaison with the Air Force and later for his replacement. While working for the second Army major, I also became the secretary to an Air Force colonel and his deputy. I worked for them until my husband graduated from college, and I transferred to a Navy base in California where I worked for six months.
When my husband was transferred to the oil fields of Utah, I was hired as a secretary at the First Security Bank. I took lots of shorthand and transcribed it into letters. I also opened many new accounts. I was there for about two years before we moved again. I went back to Hill AFB until my first child was born.
Many years later when my youngest child started school, I worked part time and handled the money for the Barratt Inn in Anchorage, Alaska. When my job was eliminated, I became a teachers’ aid for the Anchorage School District. That was my last paying job and ended when I started making a wedding dress and doing other preparations for an older daughter’s wedding. I never looked for another job because I knew that my favorite job was being a stay-at-home mother!