Jun 23 2008
07:18 am
By: WhitesCreek

By Ray Collett

Hello Readers, Looking back on last week's column about our jobs as teens, and Lloyd "Moose" Morris's experience in the handling of a buffer, reminds me of one. When I first was assigned to a ship (John W. Weeks DD 701) while in the Navy, my gunnery officer was Lt. Charles Wilson. Yes, the very same Texas Representative Charles Wilson whom the just released movie (Charlie Wilson's War) starring Tom Hanks was about. We were aboard the same ship for a couple of years and I was once given the task of cleaning his stateroom. Now I had never seen a buffer much less ran one. We were out at sea and to make matters worse the ship was bouncing all over the place. I never knew that a buffer was steered by simply raising and lowering the handle. Nooo...that was too easy, I thought that you had to push it sideways. As you might have guessed, it didn't want to go in the direction I wanted it to. WHAM....right into Lt. Wilson's bunk, down it came and half of the furniture in his room flying all over the room also. After that, no more cleaning staterooms for me. I was much safer down in the boiler room cleaning bilges.

Now Tom Scott, Jr. (Class of 1961) had a much easier job. In an email from Tom, he told me this about his high school jobs. Here is what Tom had to say," While in high school, I worked at Bernard's Department Store on Saturdays. I swept, washed windows, waited on customers, and did any errands such as going to the bank for change, or taking clothing to be altered. The pay was $0.50 per hour and I worked 10 hours (not including lunch and evening breaks). It was hard getting up early on Saturdays, especially after playing in a football game the previous evening, but the $4.85 (net after Social Security withholding) each week, gave me some spending money and something to put in the plate at church. For two summers, I worked as a counselor at Baylor Summer Camp in Chattanooga. That was fun and it helped me get some exercise to prepare for football season." Thanks Tom, the merchants in Rockwood were always willing to help us earn a little extra spending money.

Walter Evans, (Class of 1956) worked during his teens too. He had this to say, " My summers were spent helping work the garden, gathering fruit from trees, picking berries to can, mowing lawns for money to go to the movie on Saturday. This lasted until I was old enough to get a Social Security number and work at the Tennessee Products Company Store. As you can remember from working there, we were expected to do whatever was needed. It could be anything from carrying 100 pound bags of fertilizer, bagging groceries, delivering groceries and furniture, pumping gas into cars, stocking shelves, painting, working cash registers, selling shoes, or sticks of dynamite. You name it, the Company Store carried it. Mr. McCulley was an excellent boss. He would work with me on my schedule during school sessions as I was heavy into sports all four years of high school. I normally only worked on Saturdays during the school year but if we had holidays, he would have us doing some kind of work to make a few extra dollars. I was fortunate to work there for both my Junior and Senior years of high school and enjoyed interacting with all of the other employees and the customers, of which most worked in the steel mill"

"I also carried the Knoxville News Sentinel, Chattanooga Free Press daily for a year or two, and sold the Rockwood Times when it still cost 5 cents. Rockwood had so many ways to spend your time constructively. I can remember one of the hardest things I did in the summer was helping one of my uncles who lived down near Eagle Furnace gather in the tobacco and putting it in the barn to dry. That was hard work. That was before my high school days. Back then, every dime you made was like a $20 bill today. I believe gas was about 18 or 19 cents per gallon, and they had gas wars which knocked it down to 14 or 15 cents for a few days. Do you remember that Kayo or some similar name station they built on Gateway right behind where the Roane Theater and Town Shoppe was located on Rockwood St. (Avenue at the time)? It had a small place for the attendant, (more like the size of a telephone booth) and real cheap gas." Thanks a lot Walter.

I remember the Kayo gas station well. Seems to me like the name was later changed to Fleet. I also worked for Mr. McCulley for a while, a really fine person, and an icon in the history of Rockwood. Next week, we will have more tales of working our first jobs in Rockwood,.....Until next week, Ray

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