How old were you when you held your first paying job? What was that job? How much were you paid? Did you budget and save for something you really wanted? I remember my first honest to goodness, on the record, paid job. I was an usher at a movie theater, I worked one show an evening Monday through Thursday, two shows on Friday night, and a matinee and two shows on Saturdays, and a matinee and one evening show on Sunday. My starting pay was eighty-five cents an hour, before taxes I was paid roughly $32.00 a week.
At sixteen I had my driver’s license and wanted my own car, I had been saving some but not enough for a car and then gas, so I took a job with a landscaper, I mowed lawns Saturday and Sunday ten hours a day for a dollar-fifty an hour, doubling my weekly income (weather permitting) and soon I was able to buy my first car, a dark green, 1958 Desoto for $200.00 dollars. Gasoline was 24.9 cents a gallon and a quart of oil was thirty-five cents. I felt real good having paid my own way. Having my own car and income gave me freedom to take other work. I continued landscaping now cutting down trees and splitting the wood and selling firewood, planting trees and shrubs. Winter meant snow removal, with a shovel.
Today I see young boys and girls taking entry level, learning jobs, at hourly wages of seventeen to twenty dollars an hour with benefits like health and paid vacations and paid overtime. Stocking shelves in a store, cashier, answering phone lines, store greeter. They live at home, eat meals at fast food restaurants and buy what they want because they have the money. As parents I hear so many say I want my children to have life easier than I had it, they either help them with or buy them their first car, and nothing ten years old. Few hold more than one job at a time. Few will ever know the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a job well done, like a summer job paving a road in the hot sun, stone and cement work, digging a ditch or foundation, cutting down trees, or splitting firewood. These weren’t the only jobs available nor that were held but they sure were character builders. Working until you were physically exhausted, dirty, sweaty, with a true feeling of accomplishment. A person’s income is an individual thing, everyone has the right to earn as much as they can and live comfortably. I have all my life sought to make a good living, live within a budget, save for the things we wanted after my family’s needs were met. There is a true feeling of achievement enjoying life the old fashioned way, “Earning it!”