A Motivated Kid

Discussion in 'Jobs I Have Had' started by Ted Richards, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. Ted Richards

    Ted Richards Active Member
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    I started early making money any way I could because there were a lot of things I wanted to buy. I vaguely recall selling something door-to-door when I was 8 or 9 but I don't remember much about it. It was farm country so door-to-door was formidable task. During fall school days I'd harvest sugar cane on the farm and sell it at school for a penny a stick. When I was 11, i hired out to dig a cesspool for the local store but that didn't last too long because I got it done quick as I could so I could spend the money!

    My first real job was a bit later that summer. A contractor moved his gravel plant into the desert wash a 1/4 mile up the road so I checked it out as little boys will. I noticed he had one of the laborers posted sitting in a lawn chair watching two open farm gates making sure no cattle wandered out. The gates had to stay open during the day so dump trucks hauling gravel could pass. I knew I wasn't up to man-size labor but I certainly could do that job! So I hunted up the boss and told him I could do that job for half wages and he could put the man back to work. That concept appealed to him so he hired me with one caveat, I had to get a Social Security number before he could pay me.

    I got the S.S. number but the job only lasted three weeks because when payday rolled around the boss told me he just found out that employees had to be 18 years old to work on a State Highway project and that included contractor hires. Then it was back to only selling fish worms. I didn't sell many because it was desert country and the nearest streams were miles away. I promoted that business by posting a 4 ft. X 8 ft sign outside our farm gate.

    More later
     
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  2. Ted Richards

    Ted Richards Active Member
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    I was 15 and hoeing the truck garden with my father in June of 1953 when a fellow drove up to talk to my dad. He pointed to the forest fire smoke on Baldy mountain in the Gila Wilderness area and asked my dad to go up there as a cook. My father explained that he was just too old and stove up to make that hike over mountain trails but he suggested that the fellow take me along as a cooks helper and so we did, It was an arduous two=day hike sleeping out rough the first night but we made it to camp okay. It was a fifteen hour day for $1.35 an hour, top wages back then but I sure had to peel a lot of potatoes! I sure beat farm wages of $8./day too. We were on that fire for 11 days and were burned out of camp once when a crown fire swept up the mountain but it was a great adventure and I was hooked on it!

    After that I carefully watched the mountains for smoke and when I spotted a smoke, quickly drive to the store and phone it in. The first time I did this, I was shocked when the forest ranger on the line suggested I get a volunteer crew and get up there, So I did and found out they paid traveling time as well as mileage on my old truck. When we arrived in camp, we grabbed a tool each and headed for the fire line. The old cook was eyeing us and said he needed a helper but I just kept walking. I'd had enough of peeling potatoes and washing pots and pans.

    Over the next two summers, I managed to go on 10 fires, most lasted only three days but if we stayed on the fire line, we could claim 24 hours a day. They would bring us out C-rations and canteens of water and we could grab catnaps at night in between patrolling the fire line and also claim traveling time. Rich work for a kid! In between fires, I could find some work with the farmers. Strangely enough, there were only a few kids willing to work like that.
     
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  3. Ted Richards

    Ted Richards Active Member
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    We were in a tight spot the summer I was 17. My father had been forced into retirement at 65 and there was very little coming in so I decided that I needed a full time job, at least for the summer. I found one at a sawmill 85 miles from home so I moved up there, rented a shack for $15/month and went to work on the greenchain pulling boards. The first week darn near killed me before I began to learn how to handle them then it went a bit easier. It was an old sawmill breaking down constantly and when it was down, we were laid off for a day or maybe several days. It wasn't the full time job I imagined.

    I fell in with a couple of older guys (30 somethings) at the sawmill that were also pretty good musicians. One of them got a letter from family saying there were lots of work in Los Angeles so they decided to pack up and move there. They invited me along so I went with them. Much to my surprise, the streets were not paved in gold. We rented a room in a seedy hotel and we started looking work. I found work in a water heater factory loading water heaters in a boxcar. The other two never found work so I was paying the rent and buying the food. A couple of weeks later I was fired for dropping a water heater off a forklift.

    I called my aunt in a nearby town and asked if I could live there and pay room and board. That worked out well and I went to work for a fence company building chain link fence on a large tract in the desert. That went well until September when school started. I was laid off and when I asked why, the boss told me "You have to go to school." That was a wrench in the works. I couldn't get a full time job because I was under 18 but I had to pay room and board. My aunt suggested I join the Navy so I did.
     
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