Alice Blackstone Hafner, Willie Nelson & Josie Blackstone Bailey
Josephine Elizabeth Blackstone Bailey
by Josie Bailey Blackstone 2000
A Lifetime of Work
I want to tell you about all kinds of jobs I have had in my lifetime. We always had things to do at home that were inside the house, but outside was what we really thought of as work. My dad was a dry-land farmer. As all the children (13) grew some were old enough to leave home; some were old enough to work in the fields. I got my share of picking cotton and pulling corn. When we picked cotton we pulled a cotton sack and the rows were about ½ mile long. We did this after school and Saturday. After the corn stalks died we went along beside the wagon and pulled the ears of corn and threw them in the wagon. Both of these jobs were very hard on the hands.
We left Andrews County and moved to Kimble County, Junction, Texas. (This was in the depression years) 1937. My dad had a contract to clear a right-of-way for power-lines. We (Bob, Jim, Dorothy, Alice, Ernest, David, and myself) did anything we could do that had to be done. We stacked brush, stacked cedar posts according to size, stacked cordwood in cords amount. The wood and posts were sold and that was what my Dad got for the work. We got $3.50 a cord for wood and 3 to 5 cents each for posts. According to size and if we could get a semi-truck to come up on the mountain to get them. The cordwood we hauled to town ourselves. We had a truck and sold to the laundry.
In 1938 we moved to Boise, Idaho. When we got there we got a house in exchange for milking 17 cows. We helped with this. The boys helped Papa in the morning, but we girls helped in the evenings. Well, guess what? The prunes and apples were ripe for picking. We went everyday after school and on Saturday. Times were then that people didn't work on Sunday. We went through the rest of fall and spring then school was out for the summer. Mama got a job for her and me and Dorothy picking berries. We had to be in the Berry fields by sunup. I hated getting up so early, but we enjoyed eating berries and taking a swim in the canal on the way home. We had lived out in West Texas and I doubt we had ever tasted berries (of all kinds). He told me and Dorothy we could eat all we wanted and I'm sure his profits were down that summer.
End of summer and back to school. When next spring got there we had a fruit and vegetable stand so we worked in it some days after school, but always on Saturday. Now between all these jobs we had plenty of time for fun. We swam a lot in the canals and hiking in the foothills or across the sagebrush. Lots of horseback riding. In the winter there was sleigh riding when we had snow. Ice skating in the empty canals as there would be 2 or 3 inches of water that would freeze.
My next job was working on Saturday cleaning house or washing windows. I got $1.00 for working 8 to 10 hours. "Time Marches On" I got a job helping care for children and helping with housework. I got $5.00 a week. I had a bedroom but I had one day a week off. Of course, at the end of summer. About one month into the school term I got a job at the 5 & dime store. This paid $5.00 a week for six days. So I just quit school. I didn't ask I just quit. My parents didn't say anything. We needed the money and I'm sure that is why. The country was at war and Papa was not well.
1942 Plans were made to move to Texas. We sold our house and that was enough to get us a car and (that is a whole other story) move to Houston.
My first job there was delivering telegrams on a bicycle. This was in University Place so I was worn out by the time I got there. Some of the deliveries were a long way from the telegraph office. There was a boy (we were about the same age) delivering also and we both had to go for each delivery. We took turns at the door so we both got tips. I can't remember what I got paid for this one.
A job came open in a machine shop. I lied about my age and got hired. I operated a lathe machine. I think I was paid 50 cents an hour. Boy-O-boy here was $20.00 a week. Well, things were going just fine and moving along.
In 1942 A job came open at "Dickson Gun Plant" a division of Hughes Tool. I got a job there. It paid 75 cents an hour and a few cents more when we worked grave yard shifts. My job was welding. I welded a big u-shaped handle on the ends of gun-barrels (the size used in tanks and ships). After it came out of the heat-treatment then I used a cutting torch and took or cut the handle off.
I left that job to get married and start a family. I didn't work again until the war was over. I did work a short time in a department store in down town Houston before the war ended.
Now after time had passed my brother, Ernest put in a dry-cleaning plant. I would go there and help out in exchange to use the sewing machine. It was very hard to find jobs now as so many veterans were back and there were many more people looking for work, than there was available. But with my little experience I got at my brother's I was able to get one at a Dry Cleaning. This paid $30.00 dollars a week for six days. But it was 8-hour days. I left there after about 3 years and was up to $32.00.
In 1949 My next job was in Dallas, Texas in a shoe repair shop. You could get your shoes repaired or a shoeshine while you waited. My job was waiting on these people. It was down town and we were always very busy.
I went to my next job: This was packing canned biscuits: you picked up 10 biscuits (5 in each hand) set them on a square of foil, folded the ends and put them in a container. Now we had to can 250 an hour or else you didn't have a job the next day. Believe me the time went by quickly.
My next job would be in California. This was in a shop that made Christmas decorations for street display for one of the cities in Los Angeles. Well as soon as Christmas was over so was my job.
My next job was in a machine shop. I ran a lathe and a drill press. I was a Texan so the foreman did not like me, so I got my share of the big machine. Sometime when I pulled the lever down on the drill press it would lift me off the floor. I was just as stubborn as he was so I never complained. I worked there until we moved back to Texas.
I cared for 2 or 3 children and also did sewing and alterations. I made uniforms for restaurants and also sewed a lot of uniforms for the Spring Branch Drill Team. I was happy to have work at home.
In 1965 Then we started an upholstery shop at home. We had long hours and good income. We moved to Montana and took the upholstery with us.
In 1971 I moved to Arkansas. I went to work for Levi-Strauss sewing on jeans. This was assembly line work. We had to sew 60 dozen to get out the standard, above that we got more money.
In 1976 My next job was working in a sewing machine shop. I demonstrated, repaired and sold sewing machines. We also did a lot of monogram work.
From there I went to an exclusive dress shop. There I did alterations. I wasn't there but a short time.
I ended up from there at a gas station. To buy gas you had to buy tokens and put them just like a slot machine. However many you put in was how much gasoline you got. This was truly a learning experience.
Things happen so I was back to another "Dress Shop". Here I did alterations. I had this job a long time then I went from there to a jewelry shop.
After a time there it was sold and closed so I worked for the person helping to up keep some apartments and mowed the lawns for one summer.
Then I started a "Day Care". I was registered for 12 children but I usually had about nine. They were a handful, but I loved them all and it was returned in full. Due to circumstances I needed to close out the childcare.
After a period of time I went to work in the WIC office. This was an interesting job but it was only part time so I needed to move on.
I got a job then at a dry cleaning plant. I was to do alterations but I did a little of everything.
When my 70th birthday came I thought it was time to retire (Did I ever get fooled) So I retired.
Then I had a fire-works stand a few times and I still do sewing, alterations, and upholstery, but mostly I do nothing.
Just thought you may find this interesting. I also need to add: the money earned from these jobs was not the only income, it is just about jobs I had in my lifetime.