2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 35 (Aug. 26- Sept.01): At Work
I “first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.
If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!
Work was very different for my ancestors verses hubby’s… Mine worked mainly on farms in providing for their families… and pretty much all the men walked behind a plow everyday to feed those families and put a roof over their heads… while his family mostly worked in a business or a factory in providing for their families.
Every census, my ancestors occupations was always the same… Farmer, Farmer, Farmer!
My grandfather, Paul Bryan, was the only one of my ancestors who worked in a mill… although he also farmed, but farming wasn’t his main occupation until after retirement. He did enjoy walking behind his mule… but what I think he enjoyed most on those walks through the dirt, was waiting for his old mule to tire and stop… and that was his time to stop and light his cigar. There was always one in his overalls… just waiting! Granddaddy never went anywhere without a cigar hiding somewhere in a pocket.
In searching through the census, the only time he was without an occupation was at age 6 on the 1910 census. By 1920, times had changed… he was now 16 years old and listed as a laborer on the family farm; his father was also a farmer. In 1930, granddaddy was twenty-five years old… and married with two children… and working at the Union Point Manufacturing Mill; occupation was “picker” at the hosiery mill… and renting a house in the Mill Settlement South East Side for $4 a month. Their two boys were ages 2 and 5… not sure how my grandmother (Evelyn Little) managed to work, but in as there were three plant shifts, maybe they alternated; she was a “looper” at the mill. Possibly another family member might have kept the boys while she worked… as men in those days generally didn’t watch after the children.
Grandaddy Bryan made this walk every day up Binns St. to the mill!
By 1940, there were more workers in the family as grandmama’s half-sister, Louise Gosette, age 16, was now living with them. She worked at the hosiery mill, and also as a “looper”… working twenty-two weeks in 1939… making $77 in income for the year. Granddaddy still worked at the mill, but now his occupation was “machine fixer”, working 52 weeks and grossing $938 for the year. While it sounds like such a pittance compared to what we make today… he only paid $4 dollars a month for housing. Grandmamma was still working, but only worked 28 weeks… earning a yearly salary of $336 dollars.
On the 1940 census, my father (Clayton Bryan) was 11 years old and in the the fourth grade… I’d been told how he hated school, and at that age I’m thinking he might have stayed back once… or even twice! It was always said how granddaddy would take him to school in the morning… to only return home… and find that he had beat him back home. I was surprised to learn how much he actually hated school as I’d always felt he was very smart… especially with numbers. Math was always my weakest subject but he was very proficient in it… doing our yearly income tax; numbers just went over my head, as I wasn’t interested! Daddy would be proud today to see that I prepare our yearly income tax… on a computer, but I still do it. Even though I do our taxes, I still procrastinate in beginning… I always cringe in punching in those numbers…. worrying, will I have to pay? Funny how some people just love numbers!
If the 1950 census was released, it would continue showing grandaddy and grandmamma working at the hosiery mill, but now both boys would be out of the household and married. My father would have already served 4 years in the Navy, where he finally earned his GED… married for three years, and working as a TV technician for Mr. English in Union Point… the very same town where he was born and he and mama now living. Daddy had worked in the electronics field in the Navy… and it became his speciality. He even repaired TV’s at home out of his father’s tool workshed as a side business… although mama said, he had a hard time collecting payments.
Daddy’s love of electronics is what later led him to work at WRAFB (Warner Robins AFB); I would arrive later in 1952. Years later, after I married, Daddy spent a summer in New Hampshire at a base working on special secret electronics for the Air Forces’ new planes…. and still teasing me about secrecy. It seemed whatever he did at the base was always under lock and key… and no matter how often I asked, I received the same answer, “It’s a secret.”
My mother (Helen McKinley) worked a few weeks at the mill after she married, but absolutely hated it. She didn’t return to the working field until I was about twelve. Mama took a cosmetology course to become a beautician… working at Perry Beauty Shop in Perry, Georgia. We had moved to Perry about 1957, just in enough time for me to begin 1st grade. I remember mama often talked about the long hours standing on her feet… hardly making anything. Too bad I can’t view the census years of her working to see what she actually brought home.
I remember my first job… under the table as I remember. I was about 14 years old… working at The Coffee Cup on Saturdays for 50 cents an hour, washing coffee cups at the counter. It was the local coffee hangout for the workers downtown… guess they went through a lot of coffee cups, as I remember a lot of cup washing; coffee was 5-cents a cup with free refills.
My later jobs were at Johnson’s Department Store, but only for a few weeks and later at Eckerd Drugs after I graduated; I have no memory of the hourly wage. I guess it was enough to keep me in gas money as I drove around all weekend in my 65 and 67 Mustang.
The longest employment record for me came after I married… my children were 6 and 3 when I went back to work. I hadn’t planned on going to work, but my husband was newly laid off, had bronchitis and unable to even get to the unemployment office; that was when you actually had to make an appearance at the unemployment office… no show up… no money! It was time for me to find a job… so when I went grocery shopping at Stop and Shop, on a lark, I filled out an application. No sooner upon returning home, hubby told me they had called and wanted to see me for an interview. I was immediately hired… staying with them for 36 years before retiring in 2017 (1981-2017). My beginning wage was $3.37 an hour… quite low compared to what I made upon retirement.
I’ll never forget my interview… as the very job I retired from (file maintenance) in 2017 was the very first job offered me… although it certainly wasn’t as detailed as to when I left. When I inquired as to what it entailed, the manager vaguely said, “oh you just walk around and look at these numbers on the shelf.” It definitely didn’t sound interesting at that time, so I asked, “what else do you have?” I was then offered a meat wrapping job, but after hearing that I would be working in low 30 degree temps, I opted out of that one also. The store manager tried hard in not making me a cashier that day, but that’s the job I asked for. It wasn’t long before I was promoted to an assistant CDH (cash dept head), and later I worked in the cash office, learning how to balance out the days receipts… me who hates figures!
My last job with Stop and Shop had me right back to that very first file maintenance job… the very job that was first offered to me at my interview… and where I remained for over 25 years, going from part-time to eventually full-time. When I think back now as to how many changes transformed through that job… I wonder how I even managed to keep up! My original store was much smaller with only 8 front-end registers… later moving to a much larger store, having over 16 front-end registers, and the store itself almost doubled in size… it truly overwhelmed me! I often wondered how I’d manage to work such a large store, but I managed! I retired from Stop and Shop after spending 36 years with the company… from that one day when I left my application, never did I think I’d spend that much time with one company.
Stay tuned for Week 36: to be announced!
Continue reading 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks over HERE!
To read more Family Stories… click HERE.
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