sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


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?