sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Retrospection

In this retrospective and introspective season, I thought that it might be useful to share a bit, with a moral to the story.

LL with scoped .22 rifle (age 7)
Growing up in the country there were many little part-time/occasional jobs that kids took. There were other more permanent jobs. Young people today don't seem to have the industry, but then again if we didn't work, we didn't have money. In the epoch of income redistribution, it seems that there is much more trickle-down income for youth.

I lived with retired grandparents who didn't have much. So I learned to do much as the rest of the community did. My grandfather made custom firearms and did a healthy trade. He was dying of cancer and it took him a long time to die because he was tough. Rifles were his part-time job.

Occasional Income

* Soda bottle redemption value. When I was too young for regular employment. We would find them by the side of the road mostly, and if you wanted to buy a bottle of Coke, you had to have sufficient in redemption value to make the purchase. And lest you think that I was the only one, I wasn't. The competition was fierce. At night we caught night crawlers (fishing worms) and sold them. There was a sign on the fence near my driveway that I made. Twenty-five cents per dozen. I did a brisk business while the ground wasn't frozen.

* Sheep and cattle docking/branding - spring

* Turkey catcher (horrible job) - late September.

* Family livestock (horses, Jersey cow - milker, occasional calf being grown for slaughter later) and weeding the family garden. We ate what we grew. - constant demand

* Hay hauling - summer

* Cowboy - two summers

* Root cellar digger - I kept a steady business all year but count it as occasional income.

* Mowing Lawns - The pay was so miserly (we said 'niggardly') back in the days, that I did it when I couldn't find other work.

* Loading Ammunition - Custom loading peaked on the eve of deer season, which meant that evenings were spent loading from August through October.

* Lifeguard at the municipal pool - summer job

* Great West Range and Experiment Station, US Bureau of Land Management - summer job

* Clean the local doctor's office (part-time but lasted for 5 years) after school.

Most of these jobs paid very little, but they paid. The best paying was "turkey catcher" because it was the worst, and they had a difficult time finding people who would do the work. The jobs put money in my pocket and I could buy clothes*, and when I reached 15 and started driving, gasoline. Beginning in Jr. High, we had to buy our own text books at school. It wasn't so bad unless we couldn't re-sell because a teacher moved on to a newer book.
*The poor kids who couldn't buy clothes scavenged at the city dump. It became an issue when richer kids identified the clothing that they'd thrown out. It was particularly hard on girls. Poor people didn't throw away fabric. It ended up on quilts.
Living and working in the country made us strong. The physical strength would come into play later in life and would be an enduring legacy to hard work as a young man. When I worked for the government, later in life, there were strict restrictions on outside employment. I always found that difficult, because as a young man, balancing three or four (smaller) jobs was normal. At night I loaded ammunition on my RCBS press. I bought the press, I bought the components, I factored in my labor and I made a healthy profit. Everyone had night jobs while sitting by the fire or TV. Many young ladies quilted because there was an ongoing demand. Others knitted or crocheted.  Today they watch the Kardashians and dream of being rich parasites.

I recall one rich kid, spoiled, nice looking. His father grieved because he was a complainer and lay-about. He had the kid fill lists for sheep herders and take them food. The kid stole from the herders. He turned out to be as an adult who he was as a young man. A carbuncle on the ass of society. No surprise there. He'd fit in comfortably with the Occupy Wall Street crowd. 

There were rich people (small minority) where I grew up in the Intermountain West but not that many poor people. The reason why is clear when you consider that everyone seemed to work and have many jobs. They figured it out. 

ROK EOD/UDT/SEAL qual badge
When I grew up, joined the US Navy and was assigned briefly to Commander Naval Forces Korea, working with ROK Squadron 56 (ROK EOD/UDT) in Chinhae and ROK 707th Special Mission Btn, I spent some time on walk-about in Korea. In Korea, every single family had a night job. Walking through a Korean neighborhood at night reminded me of walking through mine back home where everyone seemed to have work to do. 

Korean officers and chiefs invited me to their homes from time to time. In the Korean context, it's one of those things where the men are left on one side of the Chinese wall in the one-room house and the women and children were on the other side, working.

Welfare, where I grew up, was a shameful thing. It was a scarlet letter, and a thing to be avoided unless starvation was imminent. There were people on welfare, but everyone knew who they were and their characters were weighed in the balance by the community at large. You never saw them working at night, catching turkeys, hauling hay or digging root cellars.

Times have changed. 

I am a dinosaur.

Modern youth doesn't understand me. My day has passed.

In America, the government prints $18 trillion without much of a second thought. The culture is money for nothing and chicks for free. How is that working out for us?




19 comments:

  1. I, like you, had to (chose to) work from an early age so that I had money to buy my clothes and engage in any activities outside of school...housecleaning $1.10 an hour transition to babysitting at $0.50 an hour. Picking tomatoes in the summer in Vacaville (my dad insisted so we would know what "real work" was). Delivering the Sunday newspaper (L.A. Times)for my brother. I would run up all the stairs because it was too heavy for him to throw. That job was rewarded with $5.00 and a fresh apple fritter from Winchell's in Hermosa Beach. I don't recall resenting any of it. All of us kids knew the score...there were a lot of mouths and not very much money. Ah but it is harder to withhold when you have much...it is the dilemma for most of us these days.

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  2. Pretty much the same thing when I was growing up.

    I got an "allowance", but it was really pay for the jobs I did around the house and yard.

    Mowing grass and weeding, shoveling snow and keeping the gutters clear, hauling trash, and that sort of thing.

    When I got into high-school I got a "real" job through some of the older kids in the high-school Ham Radio club, working in a little local place that made relays and simple solid-state controls.

    Same during College; summer jobs were always in electronics, but these days finding little companies that offer that kind of job just don't exist.

    My son always tells me that I'm "lucky" because every job I've ever had in my adult life has been one that I pretty much enjoyed. The few that I hated I soon left, and was able to find new employment within days, or sometimes the same day.

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  3. Grew up in much the same environment. Somehow passed on the work ethic to my three sons; perhaps my only parenting success.
    Three summers in a row took my sons to the Yakima, WA area where there were fields you could pick yourself. Made the kids pick and then can at home. Wanted them to understand food didn't appear at the supermarket without a lot of hard, sweaty work.

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  4. Scavenged coke bottles, 10 of them got a box of .22. Mowed yards... Mucked out stalls for a Vet (first 'paying' job), worked on my uncle's ranch in the summers... Yeah, we did what we could to pay for what we needed, not just what we 'wanted'...

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  5. Yep, got my first real job at age 12 in a TV store. Before that the usual things - mowing, picking up bottles, raking leaves. I had things a bit easier with a half dozen maiden Aunts that needed muscle - jobs were pretty much within the extended family. Looking back 18 and the military happened in a single heart beat. Tet had a lot to do with that in my particular age group. It was all good . . . hard to learn real value unless you understand exhaustion, spend some blood and sleepless nights - otherwise things begin to become "entitlements" . . .

    As for your day being past - hardly. Age brings true, honest, earned wisdom . . . and the world is sorely lacking in that specific commodity. While things slide more than a little sideways - wisdom and hard work make a difference . . . as do you LL.

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  6. Had a lot of chores around the place, and at my grandparents, it was not a paid thing as I got a roof over my head, a nice bed to sleep in and food on the table. When I wanted 4-H lambs I mucked stalls for a sheepman in exchange for a few bummers, when I wanted pigs for 4-H I caught them in the pig scramble. When I wanted a steer, I saved up. Have always worked at least one job and often two or more.
    Times have changed. Change is the only constant. But I have kids and grandkids (and I'm far from the only one) that know how to work, how to appreciate what they have, and work a lot smarter than I did.
    Your no dinosaur, maybe creep'n up on endangered...
    Modern youth just needs to learn from you, and your day is far from past...
    That you would even say that is just plain sorry. You are at a true teaching point and you back out with that BS.

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  7. Well weren't you a cutie pie. Still are, of course. All these things have made you the hard working, gifted and strong person you are today. I agree with you in that youth today is mostly work shy and finds any excuse to take the easy route. The media don't help with their vanity tactics. Pair of false tits, a waist trainer, arse plumpers and slag about town to see if you make it as an it girl. Kardashian Korruption. Put 'em all in boot camp.

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    1. I'm afraid that if I'd been a woman, I would have simply ended up as an ugly whore. Better a man.

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  8. Good retrospection. Of course everything will be just fine until people wake up and discover there isn't any cash left. It'll be a rude and violent awakening.

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    1. The sink-or-swim mentality has always served me well. It kept me razor sharp because the specter of failure was something that I kept in mind -- and what the price of that failure would be. I never thought of a safety net. I still don't.

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  9. And I thought growing up in Manhattan was tough.

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    1. I didn't have a tough childhood. I simply needed to work.

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  10. I've always looked at you as a source of inspiration.
    Not many years ago, yet I had a rough childhood.
    I think roughness made me, me.
    If I wanted anything, I had to work for it. Found various ways, mostly scholarships. In return, taught kids for free. Still do a lot of legal help, for free.

    These days, despite getting the best job in the country before graduating in the field,I'm chosing to abandon the rat race. I'll go back to my place, help the people, write and teach. I don't know how that'll work out. But even if nothing does, I know something will.

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    1. By the way, I always wanted to say this to you. Isn't a mirage always virtual?

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    2. You said modern youth doesn't understand you, I wish they were smart enough to understand you. They would've realised the privilege that it is.

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    3. All mirages are virtual. ;^) Which means that the blog is generally meaningless.

      Sometimes returning to your roots is the way to find inner peace. Only by giving to others do you find true joy.

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  11. I don't count as youth anymore, but I understand you. I had a version of your childhood, though it wasn't out in the country. But I worked. I helped with younger siblings, saved 50% and tithed on a 50 cent allowance in exchange for lots of chores, took every babysitting opportunity presented, kept yards, pets, part-time jobs in high school and college (full-time in summers)... I've always worked-- the same ethic you learned was instilled in me by parents who worked very hard themselves. The reward for keeping top grades was ice cream when the report cards came out, and my siblings and I earned it almost every single time. I graduated from a good, private college with minimal interest-free debt because I applied for a boatload of scholarships and kept them. It was simply the only way to get through college.

    When I got married and moved across the country, I promptly took 3 part-time jobs that I enjoyed without giving it a second thought. (That is what I knew to do to get our feet under us while we looked for more career-type jobs.) I soon realized the severe error of being charmed by and marrying a guy who was raised with zero work ethic. The entitled, princely types are pretty fun when their Daddy is paying for vacations and fancy dinners and such... Not so much when that game ends...

    Well. You know the rest of that story.
    Suffice it to say, one approach to life is a lot more feasible than the other. I certainly get it.

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    1. Sometimes those spouses are put in a position to find employment and nobody wants to hire a pedantic princeling with an over-inflated opinion of their self worth. Not all people turn out to be what they hoped that the might be. There is a malignancy that naturally follows in their wake. They should be avoided. I think that mirrors what you found with your X.

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    2. Yup. The things I would tell my younger self...

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It's virtual - it's a mirage - it's life