After School Job

by Jack Keegan


During the Depression I obtained a job through friends, after school at the James Butler Stores.

The store was located in the Chellis Austin Apartment building on the corner of Oxford Street and Fleming Avenue. The manager was a very friendly fellow of German stock, I believe his name was Mr. Mueller.

I worked there about two years, after school and summers. It was a time when butter came in wooden tubs, sugar in a barrel, cookies in cardboard boxes with hinged glass tops, potatoes came in 100 pound sacks.

When a customer asked for one pound of butter, you took a large knife and cut the desired amount from the tub. After sometime I was able to hit it right on the head in one cut. It was measured in a scale that hung from the ceiling. The amount owed was written in pencil on a brown paper bag. Sugar was dispensed using a scoop, Potatoes were weighted in that same scale and were then placed in those same afore mention bags.

Canned Vegetables, Soups, Cereal in cardboard boxes on higher shelves were retrieved with a device called a reacher. It was pole about three feet long and fitted with two wire claws at one end and an operating lever at the other. You placed the package that you wanted between the claws and squeezed the operating lever until it firmly held that object. No need for step ladders.

All prices were written on those brown paper bags in pencil, added up and told the customer what he or she owed. No computers at this time, it was all done with elementary math.

For which I received Six Dollars, four of which went to my Mother. With the Two Bucks that I kept

I was occasionally able to buy a sandwich and soda (cost 15 cents) at that little luncheonette on Pulaski Street. It also enabled me to have an ice cream sundae, my favorite was chocolate ice cream with cherries. Those were the good old days


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