I followed my first job with a few more self-employed ventures.
There was a lemonade stand that lost money but supplied paper cups for years.
I also painted house numbers on the sidewalk down by the curb with Testors paints from my plastic model kits.
I sold, hot, fresh from the bakery, soft pretzels. Huckstering up and down the narrow streets of South Philadelphia, early Saturday mornings. I did all of this before I was twelve years old.
After that I began to work for wages. For two weeks one summer I filled in for a friend at a lumber yard, doing odd jobs out in the yard.
|EXPRESS-TIMES PHOTOS | JIM DEEGAN|
The next year I filled in delivering Philadelphia Evening and Sunday Bulletin newspapers for a different friend.
In the summers during my high school years, I visited a family friend in Vineland, NJ. Vineland was a big egg farming area. On the weekends he worked vaccinating chickens and I sat in his house watching TV. After two weekends, I was offered a job on the crew.
I began at the bottom of the ladder by driving chickens into a portable corral. Then I caught them by their warm, smelly, scaly legs, holding two to four in each hand waiting to give them to the inoculators. Wasn't anyplace to wash up for lunch.
Add to that the lingering smell of burning hair from the red hot blades of the debeaking machine. I lost weight that summer. I couldn't eat chicken for two years.
The first summer catching chickens my pay rate was 50¢/hr. It really didn't seem worth the trouble. I must have impressed them with my chicken catching skills for the next summer I received a 100% raise.
Uncle Willie was a carpet salesman who worked out of a huge carpet warehouse. In the late 60's, he managed to get me summer employment there handling carpet, linoleum and vinyl sheet goods. I think my wages were near $1.50 in that position.
I didn't get rich at any of my early jobs. I do believe my early work experience was a necessary part of building my character.
©Damyon T, Verbo - all rights reserved
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