What Will You Do for a Paycheck?

a true story by Alfred Kinstle

My brother had to come to terms with finding employment.  It was the Great Depression.  There was Federal help – part of the New Deal – including the WPA (Work Progress Administration, later renamed the Work Projects Administration).  Many found work with the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp.)

I remember him taking any job that paid.  Also, as I remember, the pay was about $30 per month.  It was more like being in the Army.  They improved roads, worked on flood control, and built safety barricades on the edge of mountain roads. (Some of those barricades are still there today.)  Just showing up to inquire about work didn’t help; it was important for you to have a willingness to work hard. 

There were an abundance of shysters then, just as there are now. We poured a good-sized house slab, working from 5 p.m. until after midnight.  When the man we’d dealt with came to the finished job, he wrote the check for several hundred dollars less than agreed, said, “divide it up,” got in his car and left.  Sad, but my grandsons have experienced this a few times, losing several hundred of earned pay – work is not always kind. 

My Dad 2005 Ballinger Texas 78 Shovelhead

Once I walked up to the trailer at a construction site and asked for a job.  The boss said, “Go outside, pick some lumber out of the trash pile, and build me a set of sawhorses.  I thanked him, went outside, found some 1 x 6” and 2 x 6” wood along with some scrap plywood, and built a couple of sturdy sawhorses.   The boss liked them and hired me at union wages.  After several months, we finished building a bridge.  With three grandsons in the southern California area, I know it’s not a simple matter to find work.  It’s most important to practice promptness, diligence, and perseverance.  Set a good example and be willing to work hard.

This is the first of many articles I will republish, written by the greatest man I have ever known. My late father and mentor Alfred Emanuel Kinstle
Aug 18, 1929 – Nov 13, 2010