Thousands of college graduates are beginning or seeking their first "real" job while high schoolers scurry about hunting for part time work and a little extra spending money.
Many have gone before them in a fledgling quest for their place in the world. Mobile Bay Times sought the recollections of a few veterans of the working life.
"My first job was working high school summers at my father's bank in East Texas as a new accounts rep manning the safe deposit box desk. Later I worked up to the teller line.
My second summer I was the ATM machine demonstrator; that was a big deal for our little town of 2,300 with not even a red-light in the center of town! That was my day 'gig.' At night I worked at a tiny little AM Country & Western radio station where they still spun records (discs mind you) on a 1960's era turntable. Patsy Cline, Barbara Mandrell, Ronnie Milsaps etc. I had to turn off the transmitter at night and play the Star Spangled Banner on a little cartridge every night at midnight. Ripped the weather and headlines off an old AP teletype machine -- I'm sounding like Dot Moore -- this was only mid-1980's but boy it sounds archaic now! I loved working in radio, especially doing the news updates.
Big highlight was interviewing George Strait when he came by talking about his new album 'Amarillo By Morning.' I was about 17 and I think he was my first real crush. I'm sure that was a tragic interview, but I definitely was bitten by the 'news' bug at that moment!"
-- Amy Greer Thompson,
public relations professional
"Mine was boring. I worked for a clothing store. My oldest son Judson's was better. I got him a job working on a furniture assembly line spraying varnish on furniture. He worked about half the summer and was the senior member of the assembly line when he quit. I wouldn't let him quit (at the beginning when he wanted to) and it was a real sh---y job. Came home every day covered in varnish. Took hours to wash off. Made the "A" honor role from then on."
-- Larry Chason,
Baldwin County real estate executive
"My first job was as a paper boy. I was living in Des Moines, Iowa. The newspaper was the Des Moines Register and it is still there. It was the early 1960's, and a favorite television show at the time was "The Monkees." I would deliver the morning newspaper from 4:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. as I walked a three-mile route. I also was responsible for collecting money for the paper from my customers, and paying the Des Moines Register for my product. I did it for about four years and was successful with it. I had money in the bank, a nice bicycle, a nice car, and a nice guitar (Gibson Firebird III) with a huge amplifier to show as fruits of my efforts. It was my first experience with collecting money from people for a product or service, and I wish I had mastered it better, because 43 years later there are a lot of folks out there that owe me money."
-- Roy E. Kadel,
You should put an age limit on this 'first job' deal. For example my first job was a paper route for 85 cents a week and I graduated to $1.50 a day picking strawberries. I am really old."
-- Hal Pierce,
U.S. Navy, retired
"My first job I ever got paid for was babysitting. I had several families that I babysat for every Friday and Saturday night. I loved it! Usually 50 cents per hour with snacks and a soda, and I could watch television after the children went to bed. I thought I was making pretty good money.
The first job in which I actually received a pay check and had to go to an office was telephone answering service on a PBX Switchboard. I don't remember my rate of pay, but I think my take home was about $30 per week. The office was about six blocks from my parents' home, and I worked part time the summer I was 17, walking to and from work. That many years ago walking to and from work was safe and I never considered anything wrong with it. Now, I would be afraid to let a 17-year-old girl walk that much for fear of her safety. Sad that our society has become so violent."
-- Pamela Millsaps,
attorney and former juvenile court judge
"Of course my 'first job' was fairly heavy duty work on the farm expected of everyone from the earliest age -- no pay, of course.
But my first real job was the summer of 1948, when I worked in an ice cream plant in Albany, GA, called Dixie Dairies. It was dreary toil and bound to change anyone's taste for ice cream, permanently. I'm sure it paid the minimum wage, which probably was 50 cents an hour at the time.
My purpose was to get together $47 to buy a tuxedo so I could go to fraternity and sorority dances when I went back for my second year at the University of Georgia. I saved that amount, plus another $10 or so for the tux accessories, such as shirt and clip-on bowtie."
-- Ray Jenkins,
"My first job as a 14-year-old was as a bus boy for Sweden House Buffet. Is what I do now poetic justice?"
-- Bob Baumhower,
retired pro football player/restaurateur, Wings & others
"My first job was as a paperboy (hope that description is politically correct) when I was 12-years-old. The job required me to wake up at 4:30 a.m., arrive at my station at 5 a.m., prepare the papers for delivery, and distribute about 200 papers to homes before 7 a.m. in order to get to school on time. My brother would deliver the same number of papers.We did this job for about 1 1/2 years."
-- Willie Huntley,
"My first 'real job' after law school was to be law clerk to Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., the legendary tough and brilliant Federal Judge in Montgomery, in 1973. We had an agreement for the day on which I was to begin work, but no one mentioned a time. To be safe, I figured, I arrived about 7:45 a.m., and Judge Johnson's lovely secretary, Mrs. Dot Perry, greeted me frantically with 'where have you been? The judge has been looking EVERYWHERE for you!'
I never let him beat me to work again that year.
The next year, upon completion of my clerkship, I began work in my second 'real job,' as a young lawyer in the largest Mobile law firm. Remembering my experience with Judge Johnson, I arrived at about 7 a.m. and sought to check in with anybody I could find. Nobody was there but two nice middle-aged lawyers drinking coffee and talking. I tried to report in to them and begin work, but they told me that they were not authorized to accept my reporting in, and that instead I should just sit down and drink coffee with them for a while.
Bottom line: better to be safe than sorry, as always, and be ESPECIALLY safe."
-- David A. Bagwell,
"First job? Interesting request, hadn’t thought about it in a long time.
The summer between graduating from Jesuit High School in New Orleans and entering college was both a summer and my first 'real' job. I was hired as an 'assistant' in the pattern shop at Avondale Shipyards’ foundry. That meant that I swept up the wood shavings and held the other end of the board for someone building the wooden model that would eventually be used to make a mold, from which a metallic object would be cast.
These were hard-working, hard-talking, blue-collar workers, most of whom had served in WW II and been in the business for many years. They tolerated the kid and I enjoyed the simple-minded tasks after six years (I had the dubious pleasure of attending one of the last Jesuit junior highs in the country in Shreveport, LA) of intellectual slavery.
They were also incredible craftsmen. Since it was a subsidiary of a shipyard, there were always huge propellers under construction. The pattern is made one blade at a time and eventually fitted together in the mold. The blade starts with a huge stack of fine 1x4” boards of appropriate length with a steel pipe through one end of the stack holding them in place. The pattern maker then fanned the overlapping boards until the stack approximated the length and width of the single blade.
For some reason I will never forget that he would then drive nails in the overlap area with a single hammer stroke. Obviously this was long before the advent of nail guns. There were a lot of nails and I never saw him miss or use two strokes! Then the 'artist' in him took over because he then used an electric hand router and essentially carved the stack to the precise angle, curvature, and shape specified on the arcane blueprints provided by the naval architect – amazing!
Toward the end of that summer of 1959, the foundry needed some temporary help and I was promoted to timekeeper – a job that I hated with a passion. The timekeeper had to keep the paperwork dealing with specific times that an individual put on a particular contract project, and woe unto the timekeeper that cut a time card short on one of these men! It was tedious, uncomplicated but demanding work that paid me better but not nearly enough for the responsibility that went along with it.
It was with great pleasure that I returned to the cloister of my familiar Jesuit–dominated/demanding environment."
-- Dr. George F. Crozier,
executive director, Dauphin Island Sea Lab