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.
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
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