The Great Depression

What did you do for fun, Daddy?

 ... King of the part-time jobs

by Jim Driscoll

Growing up during the depression years of the 1930's in a family of ten children was quite an adventure. As I look back, it was evident that part-time jobs were essential to our survival and my brothers and I had our share of them. Our sisters, of course, kept busy right at home with the housework, ironing, making beds, a never-ending list of chores.

As for brother Bob, I associate him with caddying and Decoste Landscaping, where he worked for years; Jack on the fish piers, at caddy camp, local reporter, park instructor; and Dave at the Eagle Can Company, park instructor, private tutor and long-time clerk at the First National Store (now Johnny's Foodmaster). I left out the usual snow shoveling and lawn mowing jobs that they did. (Except for our own yard, of course.)

As for my own history, I may have been "king of the hill" in terms of number and variety of part-time jobs. Here is a brief listing of them in more or less chronological order, from age 11 until I finished school.

Ages 11 - 13
Mowing lawns, snow shoveling and gardening (weeding sticks in my mind)

Melrose YMCA - did janitorial services to pay for membership; included taking care of the outdoor tennis court (area now replaced by new gymnasium)

Did life guard duty in the "old" Y pool (illegally now that I think of it)

Delivered Shopping News paper on Saturday afternoons
Worked for landscaper putting in new lawns in Meadowview Road area

Ages 13 - 16
Caddied at Mount Hood (one year) and Bellevue Golf Course (3 years)

Worked and lived at the Bellevue one year as dishwasher and go-fer

Day camp assistant for teacher Charlie Law two days a week

Worked one day as food runner at a hotel in Boston - and quit

Ages 16 - 17
Served as baby sitter for a number of parents in area; excellent pay and able to do homework (?)

From ad in paper had a series of odd jobs; chauffeur for elderly couple, moving furniture in nursing home, cleaning kitchens and cellars (with Bob)

Worked at Eagle Shoe Company in Everett as janitor and shipper

Ages 22 - 24
After discharge from Navy, worked for DeCoste Landscaping - the hardest work I ever did

Worked for the late Charlie Divver at the former Jenney Gas Station on Main Street, located across from Montvale Tire Company

Delivered fresh fish on Fridays for Welch's Fish Store which was located where the Casa Mia Restaurant is now operating

A Richer Life

The exercise of compiling the above list reminded me just how important part time jobs are for young men and women. I think fondly of the many friendships that were made during those days. We also learned to work together and adjust to various personalities and talents.

Another factor is time. In looking back at the formative years, I do not recall being bored very often or having much "free" time. Also, I did not miss out on school events or sports activities because of the job schedules.  

And how about the money? These were the depression years and times were difficult for all families, large and small. I don't recall my parents ever complaining or asking us for our earnings. However, we instinctively knew the family's financial straits and automatically turned over our pay to Mother.

Over the years we've talked about this at family gatherings. We have come to the conclusion that the money turned in for the various part time jobs could well have kept the family from bankruptcy in those very trying days.

August 3, 2001


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