Feb 28, 2013

Jobs Jobs Jobs

We had some excellent comments on the topic of jobs we had held back in 2004. If you would like to join in the discussions click and join:


Hearing Ron Veenstra talk on the MPHS Forum about his newsstand at 111th St, reminded me of Sunday mornings when I would sell newspapers at 95th and Western, walking up between lines of cars at the stop light, hawking papers in the style of cold beer at Comiskey Park. (my spell checker just tried to change Comiskey to Comdisco. My how times change) I remember how hard I worked to make an extra buck. Even my regular Daily News paper route, 6 days a week, paid only $12 per month - 50 cents a day.

One of my first inside jobs was busing tables at the restaurant in the Evergreen Plaza. I don't remember how much I got paid, but I would have worked for free just to eat the steamed rolls with butter.

I'm wondering what jobs, especially those considered odd by today's standards, the you all might have worked? How about the ones that were considered really good jobs at the time. I remember Bob Hart used to work at County Fair and then did construction during the summer. How much did you earn doing those jobs, Bob?

Will Hepburn, CFP
The Prescott Center for Adaptive Market StrategiesTM

805 Whipple St, Suite C, Prescott, AZ 86301
Voice 928.717.0007, Toll Free 800.778.4610


As a high school kid I had jobs that sucked very similar to the ones that you had, Will. There were the usual lawn mowing jobs. Then I delivered Chicago's American in Mt. Greenwood every afternoon after school - I think it may have been six days a week - for about what you made. I took over the route in January, just after the Christmas tips which the other guy got, and had to learn the route while pushing my bike on foot through the snow. I quit when I started H.S. in the fall of 1963, so I never did get any Christmas tips. Later my mother and I took on a Sunday morning delivery route in her old station wagon, which ended when a drunk guy chased me down the street waving a gun.

Sometime in H.S. I bussed tables at the Martinique Restaurant. Went in right after school and worked till about 11 PM with no breaks of any kind, and no food except for the uneaten rolls that I filched from the roll basket. I can't say the rolls were that fabulous. All this for 65 cents an hour plus 10% of the waitresses' tips, which amounted to about $1.00 an hour. In the week and a half that I lasted I had moved halfway up the busboy seniority list - and there were a LOT of busboys. At that rate, had I lasted another week and a half I might have been one of the head busboys!

Finally, due in part to the fact that my father worked for A&P, I got an after-school and evening job as a stock boy and bagger at the A&P store on 95th Street, somewhere west of Kedzie. That paid somewhere around 2 bucks an hour. Unfortunately, Myron Stevens (Empehi '68 and a baseball player) also got a job there because HIS father also worked for A&P, and Myron worked faster than I did so he got more hours while my hours got cut. I was never much of a "hustler".

Summers while in college brought me work "purging" files in the vast Social Security offices in downtown Chicago, and unloading railroad cars (55,000 - 60,000 lbs./day on average) at the A&P warehouse at 44th and Kildare.

Fortunately, my Ivy League degree finally afforded me such marvellous job opportunities as washing trays in a bakery in Valparaiso Indiana for $1.75 an hour, pumping gas and changing oil in a service station for the same hourly rate (remember full-service stations, where while the gas tank was filling you checked and filled ALL the fluids under the hood, checked and filled the tires, and washed ALL the car's windows? I was a bit of a "hustler" on that job), mowing lawns for a developer under the benign supervision of Keven Westendorf's father for the princely sum of about $3.50 an hour, and exterminating for about $4.00 an hour. By that time - in December 1974, I probably was STILL not making as much as Bob Hart earned working construction in high school.

John W

Marlene Walko could fill a book with all the jobs - odd, interesting or normal - that she has done! How about it, Mar?

Sounds like a fun topic, Will. - I'm anxious to hear the various contributions.....

Marie Stazzone

OK, Marie, I guess I have changed jobs more than a lot of people! When I hear someone say they've worked somewhere for 20-30 years, I'm totally amazed and can't even fathom it! However, a lot of it has to do with working in the travel industry...Lord knows, the changes that industry has faced in the last 10 years, especially after Sept.11, 2001. My longest stint with an airline was with the original Midway Airlines from 1981 til they went out of business in 1991. I would have been happy to retire with them, but unfortunately they went bankrupt!

Since then I've worked for Lufthansa (boy, those Germans were very STIFF and RESERVED compared to the family-type culture of Midway Airlines!), America West Airlines, Auto Europe, Disney, and Spirit Airlines as an Outside Sales Manager calling on travel agencies.

Here's a perfect example of how uncertain the travel industry has been for me...I quit as Regional Sales Manager with America West to take a job with Disney Parks & Resorts. I was happy with both my job and boss at America West, but thought that Disney offered far more stability than an airline! Even my boss at Am. West seemed envious of the great opportunities at Disney when I gave him my notice. Well, a couple days before I started with Disney, I heard on the news that Disney was going to lay off 4000 employees!! That news didn't set too well with me, but I figured I would hope for the best. HA, 3 months after I started with Disney I was laid off! True, they offered me the same Sales Manager position in several other cities, but I figured why move and have the same thing happen again!!

As proof there is SOME continuity in my professional path, I have been working as an Adjunct Instructor of German at Moraine Valley College for 12 yrs. and just started teaching English as a Second Language there as well. I really love it and wish I could do it full-time!

Marie, didn't you work one summer at the Custard Stand across from Mt. Greenwood Park???

Marlene W

yeah, Mar, I worked at Russ's Ranch (the custard stand) - the end of the summer of '71. ... After graduating from DePauw that same summer I went to work in Stowe, Vermont as a waitress in a summer resort - not far from the Von Trapp Family Lodge. Vermont is beautiful but I wasn't happy with some of the people I had to work with - one of the cooks would throw things at me and call me "Wop" -and the maitre d' Walter, was a strange old Austrian with an accent like in those German war films who accused me of stealing the tips guests would give me - (I was supposed to turn them over to him )..so I left and came home. 
I took the Civil Service Exam because I wanted to be a social worker in the Spanish-speaking district of Chicago. I passed the test and was put on the waiting list but took the job at Russ's Ranch to earn something in the meantime. Then in the fall, I moved down to Lafayette, Indiana and started working as assistant psychometrist in the Psychological Testing Lab at Purdue U which is where I met Luciano -

The oddest job I had was the summer I worked as a taster for Nabisco - near Midway Airport - I had to taste all the products BEFORE they were baked - and write down if I liked the color, consistency, smell,... One of my first jobs when I was a kid was selling silk flowers - They were pink, lilac and yellow sweet peas set in white plaster in a white glass pot
... My dad got them from some Chinese man who made them - and I remember loading our wagon and going around the neighborhood door to door - I also remember selling Christmas cards door to door one year-

My big pay job was playing the organ at St. Christina's - 2 masses every Sunday - at $2 a mass, $4 every Sunday, $16 a month! That was big bucks for a teen-ager!

I think Jane Jezuit Grable holds the record for working the longest for one company. Jane started working for US Steel when she turned 18 years old. She just retired from there on December 31, 2003. Way to go Jane!!

Congratulations on your retirement.

Anita Tap

This is amazing. I don't know how anyone could have made it through the downturns, cut backs etc, etc with the steel mills. I worked for Republic Steel for several summers during college and had a great job and still hated it.

What is interesting is that her company bought out my company during the merger era of the 80's. Not good for either one. But in the last two years they US Steel split off Marathon Oil. I was force to sell all my US Steel stock since we were no longer part of parent company.  Well, the low of USS was 10 last year and now is in the 30's as Will can attest to. Would like to wish her the best of retirement and would to know what she did for USS.

Ron Veenstra

Most of these job stories are fascinating and amazing. I can't believe I've been teaching/coaching at the same high school for 30 years. I always thought my short attention span would make it impossible for me to stay in one place so long, but I guess it just kept me unaware that I HAD been working there that long.

Other jobs I've had include working on a wholesale meat truck (when I noticed that dogs were taking quite an interest in me), working in the Peter Pan peanut butter factory on 47th and Christiana (when I realized I was being stalked by squirrels), and bartending at Ed's Olde Times bar on 111th Street (when I became more popular with humans because the owner was never there so we gave away a lot of free drinks).

Marie's mention of dodging things thrown by her Vermont chef reminded me of a mundane job I had that turned into great fun each night.

I was a dishwasher at a restaurant on 95th St, somewhere by Throop street. I don't remember the name. I would drag myself down there after swim practice every day (talk about long days) and wash dishes until about 10 pm. About 9:30 the bus staff would break down the buffet, and a lot of the fruit was over the hill, so we would stand at one end of the kitchen and throw fruit at the stainless steel wall coverings in the dishwashing corner. Huge fun! I can't imagine what the remaining customers thought, because I remember a lot of hooting at the bigger splats.

Another thing I remember was going to a club downtown somewhere, perhaps near North, that had a "frustration room". They would stack their empty bottles of all sorts under the concrete ramp to the upper story parking garage where they had hung a sheet of steel at the other end about 25-30 feet away. On the way out to your car you could stop and throw bottles at the steel. Sanctioned mayhem. I loved it.

Will Hepburn

Ron, as a 17+ year employee of Republic, I can appreciate your statement, "I had a good jod but still hated it". Nastiest job I ever had, and I was management, also with a cushy job. Many of my co-workers went through retraining under JTPA(Job Training Partnership Act) and are working in various careers. Now and then I run across someone in the Loop or on a college campus.

Tom Schildhouse

My first job, when I was 15 in the summer of '63, was as a caddy at Ridge CC. I lived within walking distance and thought it would be fun. WRONG! The "caddy master" (slave master?) was Paul Mucco (sp) a one armed tyrant who picked his favorite caddies for the good rounds and I was one of the invisible caddies he seemed to never see. The pay was low of course and the tips were not too hot usually. I gave it up fairly quickly. Anybody else caddy at Ridge?

Jim Dart

This is the first time I have ever written in. James and I had a
great time at the reunion last year. IT was wonderful.

My first job was at Belmont Foods (or The Institution as Dennis Carlson calls it). My sister Joanne and I were checkout girls along with Linda Rich. Those were the days of the manual cash registers and we worked very hard. It was a busy store. Art Schueneman was the owner and he was one of my families best friends. My Dad, Don Weis owned The Hale Pharmacy across the street from Belmont and Art was his best friend. My brothers Rick and Donnie also worked at Belmont as did Steve Tello. My worst day at Belmont was being held-up at knife-point. Also I always had to work when Morgan Park Football games were going on because Linda Rich was 1/2 of the school mascot Mustang with Karen Speropolus. It was very hard watching the victory parades go by while I was working. Well, that's it. Bye and Hi to everyone.

Jan (Weis) Dart


I have had some strange jobs. I worked on my Uncle's ranch in South Dakota in the summers while at MPHS. Riding horses and tractors, working cattle. It was great. Yippee Yea, Kai Yea!! Bought my hot rod Model A Roadster and drove it back to MPHS.

I worked in the inner city of Norfolk for a year after MPHS in a volunteer social work assignment. All the scoop on that job on the blog:

I then worked for the Marine Corps for 4.4 years. I set one record - I had 100 days of mess duty which I think is a record.

While in the service we worked for a few days in a carnival getting people to throw rings to win prizes. Few people ever won.

I worked for an ambulance company that was owned by a funeral company. We were a full service provider.

No comments:

Post a Comment