First Wages

Do you remember your first job? Where you got actual wages, not a “Thank you” from the neighbor.

Mine was in the summer. It was a “kids” job. But that was fine with me. At age eleven or twelve I was a kid. And I would be part of the crew.

The threshing crew, men and boys I was acquainted with worked the grain harvest. On our farms that was oats. One farmer owned the machine and moved it from farm to farm. All the farmers on the “run” supplied labor for all of the locations. And everyone prayed the harvest would be done before school started in the last days of August. Young men, high school or college did a man’s work for a man’s wage on the crew.

My job was easy. I stayed with the machine and tended the grain wagon. Let me digress for my urban friends. At one end of the threshing machine bundles of grain were forked onto a conveyer and carried inside. Much shaking and cutting and sorting went on behind the metal panels and moving belts. Then the straw was blown out a big, long chute into a large pile. The grain (seeds) came out a smaller chute on the side, released each time enough weight accumulated to trip a lever and send it down.

My job was to aim the grain chute an distribute the grain over the entire container. Our crew alternated a pick-up truck and a narrow, deep, wooden grain wagon.  I did my job adequate but not spectacular.

The next year I was given a different job – driving tractor. I got more hours that year because I worked at all the farms, not just our own. Wages remained the same. Forty cents per hour.

What about your first job? Indoors or outside? For family or others?

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