As a Child, My Dream Job

… Was a Fireman or a Cowboy, to Begin With.
Then I Decided to be a Guidance Counselor
[but that didn’t happen either…]

By Jeff Salter

In my over-simplified juvenile world, firemen got to ride around in big red trucks and cowboys got to ride around on horses and shoot bad guys. Like Patty (the Monday Fox), I found it interesting to re-visit my blog of two years ago when we were on a similar theme.

In that earlier blog you’ll learn more about my aspirations to be a gunfighter or sheriff, an athlete, a teacher, a guidance counselor, and a writer. You’ll also learn about my detours — several years in the field of photo-journalism and nearly 30 years in librarianship.

Guidance Counselor

But today, I want to enlarge upon a dream I’d had since I was about high school age. By that time, having given up the notion of cowboy or fireman, I had decided I wanted to write and teach. Several wonderful English teachers had directly encouraged my writing, most specifically these three: Mrs. Theresa Fleming (8th Grade), Mrs. Rosalie Sherman (10th Grade), and Mrs. Erlene Howser Ward (12th Grade).


As a H.S. senior, I worked several hours per week (for one or both semesters) in the office of the guidance counselor, Ernest O. Welch. I no longer recall what I did, but it must have been typing and filing and could have even included answering the phone. Mr. Welch was so earnest and interested in the kids; he did everything in his power (within that somewhat inflexible school bureaucracy and its rather limited resources) to nudge students toward careers and endeavors which matched their interests and aptitudes. I was sincerely enthralled by that notion.

It struck me that previous generations likely had either of two extremes in their selections of careers: (1) many simply did what their father/mother/parent did — whether that was farming, construction, retail work, or whatever, or (2) many (who had survived the Great Depression) took the first paying job that became available and made the best of it. How marvelous to not only have numerous options in one’s career choice, but also to learn (more-or-less “scientifically” through multiple-choice questionnaires) which fields were more suited to our deeply felt interests! And Mr. Welch facilitated all that. It was an honor to work with him.


I had not originally intended to include this brief anecdote about Mr. Welch, but after I stumbled into contact with a member of his extended family this week, I thought it appropriate to feature my recollection here after all. If not for those many months I helped out in his office, I may not have ever gotten to know Mr. Welch, personally. But when I was phoned (at home) by the recruiting officer of Mercer University – who said he would be in the New Orleans area (in his private plane) the next day and was thinking about flying into Covington to meet me – I rushed into Mr. Welch’s office the next morning to tell him my wonderful news. He smiled broadly and said, “Well, they wine and dine great athletes. So why not great students?” I think he was almost as pleased as I was.

Mr. Welch and I discussed my intention of doing what he did with the generation that followed me. Alas, to get into guidance counseling required becoming a teacher first. I thought I could manage that, but it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. To get a teaching certificate, I’d have to survive all the education courses in college. Back then I did not even realize that I’d also have to take additional classes in psychology and whatever… and that I’d have to wait for a G.C. vacancy (and then compete for that vacancy).

Well, to make a long story short, I later became disillusioned with “education” classes and during the four years I was out of college (for my military service), I had time to re-think my career plans. While briefly entertaining a complete career in the military (on one hand) or teaching English in a small college somewhere (on the other hand), I eventually decided to go to graduate library school instead. That was 1976.

Fast-forward 40 years and I’m now writing “full-time” (though that is a misnomer, since authors have so many other demands on their time besides the writing itself). But I still want to help kids. To that end, I’ve worked in my church kids’ programming since 2008. The age I most enjoy working with is first and second graders — they’re so much less jaded than even the fourth graders I worked with for one of those years.


Well, I guess I’ve veered a bit from our assigned topic. But I believe you can see how things evolved from me being a horse-riding sheriff in the Old West.


When you were younger, what did YOU want to become?

[JLS # 318]


About jeff7salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Twelve completed novels and five completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015, "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015, "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015, "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014, "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014, "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014, "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014, "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013, "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013, "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013, "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012, "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012. Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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10 Responses to As a Child, My Dream Job

  1. jbrayweber says:

    Some jobs that I used to want as a child—race horse jockey, owner of race horses, zookeeper.
    Some jobs that I wanted as a teen—cameraman for a television news station, veterinarian, anything that didn’t require me sitting in an office
    Some jobs that I wanted as a young adult—cameraman and/or video/sound operator for tv or radio, police officer, game warden

    Jobs I verifiably suck at—telemarketing, waitress, sales

    Great post, Jeff.


    Liked by 2 people

    • jeff7salter says:

      your list of three “bad” jobs (for you) are also terrible for me. Telemarketing, wait-person, and sales. I’m no good at any of those. Thankfully, I’ve never had to do any of them for very long stretches. My longest stretch was in advertising sales for a small daily newspaper. I was awful at the sales part, though I thought I was pretty good at design and layout.


  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Mr. Welch may not have steered you into your chosen profession, but he probably got you thinking about all the minutiae that you’re so famous for. BTW, what is a GC vacancy? I don’t recall those in my teacher training. Nice stroll down memory lane.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jeff7salter says:

      G.C. vacancy would be Guidance Counselor vacancy.
      Mr. Welch also had at least one year of overlap with my big brother… and presumably four years with my younger sister — in the same school, Covington H.S. [LA].


  3. I never knew it took so much to become a guidance counselor.

    I bet the kids you work with enjoy having you around. I like the first to third grade range when helping with kids. They really do seem more enthusiastic and hopeful about everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      yeah, they’re not as jaded as even the 4th graders. By 4th grade, so many of the kids I worked with — at least the boys — were already way too concerned about appearing “cool”. Even with the 2nd graders — the group I’ve spent the most time with — a few of them would rather be rebellious and smart-alecky… but most of them are sweet kids.


  4. Joselyn says:

    Me nephew is a guidance counselor and I’m sure he is phenomenal at it. I know he had to get his masters degree and probably has to continue education as well. It’s not an easy path.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. One of the disappointments here is that the ‘guidance counselors’ seem to use their time trying to steer kids out of trouble, and not into careers and few work to even keep them in school.
    I applaud your work with young people, who can always use a boost.Many no longer have support at home and even if they do, ideas and their opportunities are often impressed farther upon them when it comes from an outside source.

    Liked by 1 person

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