Jobs My Dad Remembers

On the trip we took with my dad recently, he talked a lot about how things used to be, and one of the things he mentioned was milk.  He talked about its getting delivered to a box on your porch, and then he mentioned that he had delivered milk.  That was something that I never knew.  So I asked if that was one of his summer jobs.  I remember my father working three jobs until he was sixty to support us,  and I appreciate that fact.  I am the middle child, though, and a lot of things happened in the eleven years before I was born.

Delivering milk wasn’t one of Dad’s summer jobs.  He got up for work at 3AM during the school year and delivered milk three days a week.

All I could think of as he was talking was the sacrifice that was for our family.  And that’s what I said.  To which my father responded simply, “It had to be done.”

Which made me respect him all the more.

I watched my husband work hours and hours of overtime that got us through his railroad lay-offs and provided enough for us to raise and educate our children.  I watch my son and my nephew now, both of whom can be called on to work hours far outside of what we think of as a normal work day.  And I have respect for them, too.

I know women whose husbands do not take their duty to their family so seriously.

Anyway,  like I said, I just don’t know a lot of the things that happened before I was born.  I was forty before I found out that Dad had played college football.  When I razzed him a little about it, he just said it never came up in conversation before.  Wouldn’t you think that it would?

So I asked him to make a list of the jobs he remembers.  It’s a pretty long list.  Here goes:

1941-Dad was 16.  He set out tomato plants and did other farm work for a truck gardener, Mr. Loveland,  near  Bridgeton, NJ. Mr. Loveland was a German immigrant.  One specialty of his was cantaloupes.

1941-42-Dad was a clerk in a bond store on Laurel St. in Bridgeton.  It was an old-style grocery store with a meat counter.  Although my dad had no previous experience, he cut pork chops, steaks, and other meat.  This was an after-school job.

1942-Dad had a summer job at Morvay’s Clothing Factory.  He was learning to be a spreader, spreading the cloth on tables before it was cut into pattern pieces and sewn.

Dad and Mom got married in August, 1943.  He had turned 18 in June.  Mom was 18 in July.  He shipped out for the military just days after their marriage.  Dad needed his parents’ permission to marry.  A man in West Virginia at that time had to be 21 to marry, but a woman only had to be 18.  They had a plan to elope if my grandparents said no.

1943-1946-Dad was in the Navy.  He worked as both a general storekeeper and an aviation storekeeper.

My brother was born in 1944.

1946-In the summer, Dad was a service station attendant at a Pure Oil station in Fairmont, WV.  After he told us this, he started washing the windshield when we stopped for gas.  My heart was touched.

1947 (summer)- Dad was a storeroom clerk for Owens-Illinois in Bridgeton.

My sister was born in 1947.

1947-48-Dad was a clerk in the meat department of the A&P in Fairmont, WV.  It was there that he was convinced to eat steak tartare.  Eeeeeew!

1948-1949-Dad taught high school Latin, English and Social Studies in Oakland, MD.

I guess I forgot to mention that despite all these jobs, he managed to get his BA.

1949-1950-Dad was a graduate assistant at West Virginia University while he was working on his MA in English.  He taught freshman English.

1950 (summer) -Dad worked for the Montana Forest Service in the Beaverhead National Forest.  He drove a 2 and a half ton truck.  He loved this job, and he talks about it a LOT.

1950-1951- Dad taught English and Latin at the high school in Dillon, MT. He says my mom didn’t like Montana.  She said it was because of the cold; he thinks it was because she was so far away from her family.  Either way, they moved back East.

Somewhere in here, Dad got his MA in English.

1951-1952- Dad taught English and American History in Welch, WV.

1952-1953- Dad was a methods and standards engineer at Chambers Works, Pennsville, NJ.  He lived in Bridgeton, NJ at the time.  He didn’t like the job because it was to set standard times to get jobs done that workers had to meet.  The workers, he said, didn’t like the standards or the people who made them.

1953-1954-Dad taught English in Bridgeton, NJ.  In the summer, he drove a cement-mixer truck.

1954-1955-Dad taught English in Vineland, NJ.

I was born in 1955.

1955-1956- Dad worked in the accounting department at Owens-Illinois in Bridgeton.

1956-1958-  Dad was a computer programmer for Owens-Illinois in Toledo, OH.  He remembers those computer punch cards well.

1958-1959- Dad taught English at the high school in Swanton, OH and freshman English at the University of Toledo.

Do you know any English teachers?  They fall asleep grading papers.

1959-1991- Dad taught English and Latin at Waite High School.

My youngest sister was born in 1962.  There’s an eighteen year span between his children, and he managed college for all of us.

These are not all his jobs.   I can’t remember a time when he didn’t work day school, night school and summer school, and he always found a different summer job if summer school wasn’t available.  Since he retired, he has delivered newspapers, taught at a Lutheran school and taught Latin over the Internet, which was a unique experience.

I always thought my dad was an intelligent man, and I think part of the reason  is that he has done so very much in his life.  He’s not rich, but we always had enough.  I think I was about eight when he and Mom woke me up to see a $100  bill that they had left over from paying the bills. They were so excited!   The thing that strikes me the most, though, is not the money that he worked for. It’is that he doesn’t see the work he has done as a sacrifice at all.

I do.  And I really appreciate it.

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4 Responses to “Jobs My Dad Remembers”


  1. 1 Carol J. Garvin August 14, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    So many jobs! Your father sounds like a remarkable man.

  2. 2 heartwhispers (Pam) August 17, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    You are blessed! What memories you will cherish of this trip with your Father. My parents are both 85 too (this past July) and I have tried unsuccessfully to get them to record/write/or relate to me family history. I do have some stories, but not written down as you have done. I enjoyed reading…I was born in ’51 and it brought those precious times back to mind! A trip you will NEVER forget!

    • 3 Becky August 21, 2010 at 7:49 am

      Thanks for your kind comments. I try to write Dad’s stories down as he is moved to tell them. Like your parents, he isn’t moved to tell them often. You’re right–I will cherish the memories of this trip.

  3. 4 Beth August 24, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I am enjoying reading stories about grandpa gump. I love learning more and more about the family. The picture of grandpa is a great one.


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