Working for a Living 1961 – 1970

Working for a living

Where to start is hard so I guess I will start at beginning. My parents were big on teaching responsibility, for this I will always be thankful although it has put me at odds with much of the world. My first job was around 7 years old, my family had taken on a paper route that covered most of the town I lived in to augment my father’s wage. We would get up at maybe 4 am and roll papers and deliver them out of the Corvair wagon we had. One of my parents would drive while I and my two sisters would run to houses along the way. We delivered maybe 500 papers each day. Then off to school. We did get something for our labor but it was not much the real purpose was family income. Then we also had sheep to care for. Chores we were not paid for but taught us responsibility and a lot about life. Especially when they would run off and we would have to find a way to bring them home. Also I had the job of picking stones out of our fields so the neighbor farmer could plant potatoes. I learned the advantage of mechanical advantage doing this job. Long hours bent over in the sun, but boy did I feel good watching that pile of rocks grow. There was one rock that started out as a fist sized rock sticking out of the dirt. After working on it for a day and digging a hole 4 feet deep in all directions I just about gave up on it. But a chain and a tractor finally moved it, what a feeling of accomplishment that gave me. I was beginning to think it went all the way to china.

Then when I was around 12 I got my own paper route maybe 40 customers that I serviced on a bicycle. This now taught me customer relations economics and the time value of money. This was the first time I really had money in my hand and it felt pretty good, it was never enough and always took too long to make, then I also had to deal with collecting. Most would be Johnny on the spot but some would avoid paying as long as possible. I made 2 cents on every paper and 5 cents for Sunday, Sunday paper is bigger and cost more. This does not seem like much now but it was a lot more then than now. There still was penny candy and a coke cost a nickel.

I am not sure what job came next, I worked for doc Chauvin’s boat yard as a gas jockey and washed dishes at a frat house and worked bagging plastic pellets at a plastic factory. These jobs were the kind of job someone under 16 can get that does not have a driver’s license. I worked most of the time after school and summers to pay for room and board. It also gave me a little pocket money. I also had to pay my father back for the loan he gave me to buy my first motorcycle. When I went to high school I decided to go to trade school instead of regular high school, every one tried to convince me this was a bad idea but I persisted. Since there was no transportation to Worcester from Paxton I had to reimburse my parents gas money. I eventually found I could ride with an older student and save a little money for myself. That is how I ended up washing dishes and bagging pellets. Rick worked at these places so since I rode with him it was convenient to work together too. When we washed dishes we were paid a set fee per day and split the money. Latter working in the plastic factory it was hourly. Minimum wage was 1.65 an hour then. Rick always wanted to see his girlfriend after work so we ended up there most nights, when my father was working second shift I could ride home with him.

It was not long after I turned 16 I had my driver’s license and motorcycle license. I was about a year into my sophomore year when I quit high school, and my father informed, me if I was not in school, I would be working or not live at home. I traveled around the country on my thumb for a couple of months, florida, and Midwest till I settled in to a job at a gas station in Uxbridge. Me and another kid ran the station. We both worked 12 hours on and 12 off for 1 dollar an hour under the table. 72 dollars a week, plus we lived there so no paying rent. There was a dinner/ truck stop next door and we were able to work as dish washers/ short order cooks for free food. I thought I was in heaven. Then the guy who owned the place rented an apartment in Woonsocket Road Island and bought a VW beetle for us to use, now we were styling. We were kind of celebrity’s to the kids our age who were in school. We saw a lot at night being on a main road between mass and Road Island, I remember this guy who would buy 1 gallon of gas at a time in his supper bird before he went to race. Another guy would come in with a supped up bronco that could burn all four tires. One night a local girl came in and pushed me into the back room and showed me things and did things to me I had previously not known. One night a car from Tennessee came in and passed me a fruit jar of moon shine, that stuff hits you like a bolt of lightning. It was all in all an education.

I had bought a 61 Chevy Impala and one night a friend and I were talking about how bad his girl had it at home and how he wanted to see the country. So I volunteered to drive if they wanted to go see it. His girl and I were over 16 and he was under but this never occurred to make a difference to us. We did not have any money really. So off we went and ended up in Florida. This is a good story for latter. Leave it to say I worked cleaning out trailers for gas and food money for one day in Florida for my next job.

After getting back home and losing my car to the Jacksonville police and completing my education did not know what to do so I decided to join the navy, see The Navy


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