We are discussing how we earned money as a kid.
I remember that I got allowance for a short time. My friend,( who lived a few doors up), and I decided to have a club. Since we both had female cousins known to the other who would be coming in for the Summer, we decided to pool our money, pay dues, pay dues for our cousins and then we’d really get to do something special together, a party, maybe the movies…who knows? A quarter here, a quarter there, into a pencil case, it started to add up.
Then one day, just before school was out, I went in to get the case to add our most recent dues, and the box was empty.
I was very upset, as you can imagine. I went to my mother, who went right to my teenage sister, with whom I shared the room. Neither of us suspected her, but she had other girls in all the time, (listening to her records, gabbing about boys). Defend them all as she might, the money was gone. My mother had to pay my friend all that she had put in. I never recouped my money and I think that was the end of my allowance.
Even before that, I earned money two ways.
When I was rather young, my brother brought me in on the bounty my father had put on flies. We had no air conditioning, there was a small farm across the highway, catty-corner from our house. Screens never kept them completely out, and we were in and out, in and out the back door; the dog was in and out, and my mother enticed everyone, (including the flies),with her cooking.
My brother quit soon afterward. At a penny a piece, it wasn’t worth his efforts. He made money with mowing and other pursuits, but I kept up the hunt for several years during warm-weather seasons. Then, where the farm had been, the land was developed into apartments. The flies flew.
By that time, I had taken over the family ironing. My father needed his clothing for work done well, and I came from a long line of great laundresses. (I’ll probably tell stories about them sometime, going back to my great-great-grandmother.) I don’t remember why my mother handed the job to me, but I do remember that I earned 25 cents a shirt, less for the handkerchiefs and something when I ironed my dad’s washable slacks. That was the only laundry I got paid for, but it was enough.
I got so good that I was by far then youngest woman ever on the altar society of my church and when I was 22, was one of the few chosen ones who took care of the priests’ vestments. Few dared to try, as the thought of dealing with those garments was frightening to them; they didn’t feel up to the task. In fact, when it had been that one of ‘the Chosen’ had each been assigned to take on one priest’s vestments, I was given one and also the vestments of the priest who came in on the weekends, the regional superior of the religious order to which the clergy assigned to that parish belonged.
I never had more than a few dollars at most as a kid; I certainly never had twenty to my name at any one time, and if I had ten, it was once, perhaps twice, and not for long; five dollars was a big deal. Of course, you could get a fair-sized candy bar for 5-10 cents, a nickel for a pack of gum, and there was always penny candy. A quarter could get you a lot of candy, or a very large, several scoop ice cream. When Slurpees came out , the small ones were a dime. (Yes, I am older than Slurpees!)
Throughout my teens I was an unpaid babysitter and laundress for my sister’s kids. At the end of my teens, I got my first real job, which I have described here previously. It was a variety store and I learned everything about inventory, stocking, and display design, (for which the bosses thought I had quite a knack). I learned customer service, cash register service and looking up those tiny numbers in weekly books to check for bad credit cards!
I learned to judge quality of clothing. People came some distances because they were one of the few retailers who sold Buster Brown children’s clothing, (a top line). I learned everything there was to know about Timex watches ,(back when they wound), and glassware, (they carried specialty serving ware), and wooden picture frames, (I have spoken of how I learned to judge inches quickly and see subtle color differences in the wood). I also learned to judge the best lamp shades for any particular lamp and change the lamp harp, if necessary.
The only part of the store I did not work in was greeting cards/gift wrap and, unfortunately, fabric. I would have liked that department.
The laundering should really come as no surprise to those who know my domesticity, but did you ever occur to you that I could have been a paid [fly] assassin?