It was single-digits, started in the fields picking green beans (in the days before machine harvestable bush beans), strawberries, blueberries, etc. As soon as I was physically able, I moved irrigation pipe, sacked seed, ran tractors, etc. This was in addition to my chores at home, feeding cattle, chickens (at one time we had 1000+), gathering eggs, fence repair as needed, splitting firewood, etc.
It was years later that I realized my friends “in town” didn’t have chores, and many didn’t have jobs!
I’m eternally grateful for every hour of work I did “in the day”. The work ethic (habit, really) I learned has paid dividends over the years. I’ve always kinda felt sorry for the town kids, they got gypped!
@un4gvn1 I was a “town kid.” My mom grew up on a farm (no boy children so she was doing it all) and she “didn’t want that for me.” I felt gypped, I actually went against her wishes (dad didn’t care if I worked or not) and worked summers during college. (I did have chores and babysat for spending cash, but I don’t count that)
Somehow I think I have a pretty good work ethic (full time job, volunteer at food bank and school, raising 2 kids, helped hubby start his business and still worry I should do more), but I agree that I have a very skewed view of life that did me no favors.
8 yrs old on a 3 block, 1 fire station & 20 apartment paper route. Blocks were easy just cruising on my bike tossing papers in yards. Apartments meant walking down a long hallway on 2 stories. Sundays were a bitch, but the Firemen usually had an extra doughnut for me as I’d hand deliver a couple extra Sunday papers for those guys to share instead of just tossing a daily on their porch. Fun times. I netted about $16 a month after paying for the newspapers and rubber bands. Roughly $.50 a DAY…
I rebuilt Solex carbs for VWs and also cleaned up a repair shop after hours on Saturdays and did parts inventory. 12 years old, I think. It was a family shop. Carls Jr had chicken fried steak sandwiches, and my Aunt would get us lunch every day we worked. Good times even though the cleanup was hard work.
Ah, first tax-paying job/W2? That was in high school, the family running the auto parts store/warehouse was kind of separate from the family running the service garage. I worked Saturdays during school, and 3-4 days/week during summer at family auto parts store/warehouse as a counterman for years. Unlike the cleanup jobs at service, that job got a paycheck with taxes and the whole deal. I worked that part time job through college graduation (BSE) and into the first year of masters classes before I got a full time gig in my field and stopped going to college.
I guess my first job was helping an older neighbor with his paper route – folded papers and helped deliver them from his bike. I still know about 3 different ways of folding a newspaper. He would buy us a soda and candy bar (nickle each?) for my “pay” each day after delivery. I was probably 9 or 10 at this time.
Later, I mowed yards, babysat, pet and house sat, and did errands while in high school. Sure did not get rich, but it gave pocket change. I also picked up soda pop bottles at local apartment construction sites for the deposits. Could make a dollar or even two a day at that, back when that would get you in a movie. Now I watch current kids think nothing of blowing a couple of dollars for a soft drink at a drive-in or vending machine.
First job with a paycheck (and a stub showing deductions – started resenting government back then) at 18, working morning shift (4am - 2pm) at a dairy’s ice cream vault, during summer after my first year of college. Frozen snacks I ate inside were a plus – no withholding for those. (And I could eat a lot – um…, loved those Ice Cream Sandwiches when they were fresh out of production, when the ice cream was still a little soft and before the chocolate wafer cookies got mushy. So much better than the ones from the grocery stores.) Minimum wage plus a fair amount of overtime. But it was still one of my favorite jobs ever. Loved the cold, cold air during the summer. (Overnight temperature was -24 deg F, and it stayed that way for a while after opening up.)
Also built quite a bit of muscle – ice cream is heavy when you are moving 3 to 5 gallons at a time. My supervisor was happy to see me when I came back for the next summer.
Third summer I went to work with an “engineering” crew on apartment and commercial construction and maintenance – a/c, plumbing, etc. Much better pay, more than twice min. wage, but a heck of a lot hotter, most was outside during the Texas summer, or worse, inside before a/c was installed. (I still cringe when I think of my first day on that job; I was sweaty so took my shirt off to install fiberglass insulation around ductwork – lesson learned, the hard way.) And I still have at least one scar from that summer. Made me realize that the pay was not the only thing to consider in a job. But I learned a lot that I still use around my house. I could hang pipe, make a/c ducting, sweat copper, etc.
My first tax-paying job that paid me weekly with a paycheck- age 16, working on a loading dock.
Before that was landscaping jobs after school & weekends. I rigged up tools & an old mower that I could tow with my bicycle before I could drive to ‘extend my range’ of jobs.
Before that, I picked strawberries or beans getting picked up in a very shaky old bus to go to the fields, in the summer.
Before and during that, a major source of money for my childhood essentials (candy, gum, Coke, toys) was to ride around on my bicycle that I put a rack on the back. I picked up soda bottles and cashed them in for real money. I actually rode quite a distance and made pretty good money.
Are we talking first employment with a weekly paycheck and a W2? Or are we talking first steady source of income?
I mowed lawns off and on as a kid (as the neighbors needed), and worked in my uncle’s store for a few stints (also as needed and when I had time). I was probably in the 12-15 range.
As soon as I turned 16, I started working in the kitchen at Sonic Drive-In. That particular location was ranked top in the nation, and a lot of that was due to the manager pushing everyone to be at their best. I hated it at the time, but looking back, It was a great learning experience. I learned a lot about cooking and how much work it is to keep a kitchen properly cleaned. We weren’t allowed to stand around and were required to find something to do all the time.
Any other corn detasselers out there? When I started I was the soft city kid (most of the kids grew up on real farms, but I grew up on a Christmas tree farm). But having long arms helped a lot as I could cover 2 or 3 rows at a time.
Long hours at minimum wage. I was blown away the first check I got for a 60 hour week. I saved that money for years ‘for college’. It made a tiny dent in the cost of the first semester and then it was gone.
First job that went beyond “normal household chores” was driving the tractor on the family farm for many hours per day when I was 7. My pay for that one: “You get to eat, don’t you?”*
First job that paid actual cash: helping with a fireworks stand when I was 13. I did a good enough job that the next year, I ran that stand (and until I moved away from home).
First job that paid by the hour, had withholdings, etc.: lifeguard when I was 15
*Don’t take it from this statement that my parents were in any way abusive or slavedrivers. Times were tight, but they were as generous as they could be - that just didn’t always mean “cash”. With the farm, there were times of plenty and times of … not
@smyle You’ve hit upon a founding concept. You get to eat, and you earn your keep. Doesn’t sound very much like “abuse” to me. My Dad’s big thing was charging for air and the roof–I got to breathe his air under his roof. lol I don’t remember if he ever charged for the doors–except we had to remember to close them all the time : )
@therealjrn Yep. And Dad was right. I did get to eat. Quite well most of the time. I remember uttering the phrase “Not steak again”. (Didn’t take me long out of the house to realize my folly on that one.)
First ‘real’ job was at 15, working at a Baskin Robbins. The owner was a total asshole. Never thought I would would actually get tired of smelling ice cream but it happened pretty quickly. Left there and worked at a Lee’s Hoagie House (used to be a huge chain around Philly) through 11th and 12th grades. As if a 16 year old kid didn’t have to worry enough about bad skin, I mostly worked the grill. Greasy skin and the smell of fried onions was my life for 2+ years. But the owners were totally cool and we used to go to the local bar sometimes after work. At 16/17 I was hanging with the guys, drinking beers in the corner booth. I generally have good memories of that job.
I used to mow neighbor’s lawns for $2 a crack when I was 12-14. I (well, my parents) supplied the lawn mower and I bought the fuel. And these were fairly large suburban lawns that could take an hour or more to finish.
Fast forward to the mid-1990’s: I owned a rental property that had a small lawn. I could unload my mower, mow the grass, clean up and load the mower in a half-hour, start to finish, but I had to drive a half-hour each way to/from the property. So I looked for a neighborhood kid to hire, offering $20 for the half-hour task. No takers.
BTW, inflation calculator says $2 back then equals just under $8 mid-1990’s.
I was 14 and I’ve had a job since then (with some exceptions for a couple of rough semesters in college). Having a job and being able to maintain employment is one of the biggest tells for a person (said by my aunt and it’s held true).
and perhaps unpaid secretarial work? my parents and i were just reminiscing about how in 5th & 6th grade i covered the school secretary on her lunch break. it seemed totally normal then but the older i get of course the younger 10 seems. imagine calling your kid’s school and a baby answering
The answer depends on how you define “job.” In theory my allowance depended on household chores, which were mostly opportunities for my father to teach me household handyman/scientific principles - that takes me back to - I don’t know - 8yo? I also got assigned to help elderly neighbors with grass/leaf/snow removal, for which I was usually tipped. Then I was in Boy Scouts (11yo?) where it was an obligation to go door to door selling Christmas wreaths, but you didn’t get PAYED for that. In high school I discovered that you could make damn good money housecleaning, so my first W2 didn’t happen until I was in college and wanted to work a Summer job with my brother for reasons I no longer recall. This was a fascinating opportunity to discover that PA had a special (lower) minimum wage for Summer workers and to observe the effect of that on the other Summer workers, who were robbing their employer blind.
I’m surprised that I haven’t seen more pizza shop jobs. In 9th grade I would ride along with the owner and I’d carry the pizza to the door for the tip. Circa 1980 I could make $100 bucks a weekend in tips. If I wasn’t out on the delivery I would make and cut dough, shred cheese, mix sauce… but for that I got free pepperoni rolls.
First job with a W-2 was cashier at a catalog showroom (Dahlkempers, a western PA chain) during the Christmas season. They kept me on and moved me to electronic sales, but I really was moved to put together all the cheap entertainment centers. Moved up to computer labs in college.