There isn’t much that excites me more about this process then finding evidence in these pages of stories she has told me many times. Babu had basically one job in her lifetime and she has talked to me about it many times. She worked for Hitchcock and Company as a secretary. They had offices in Downtown Springfield. She could never really remember what Hitchcock and Company did and I have been having a hard time finding any research on them. I believe that they were tax accountants.
When she tells me stories about working there she tells me how Bay Path helped her get the job. She also, many times, told me about her two bosses. As I remember it, one was large and loud and one was smaller and quieter. She liked both and they were both good to her but she loved to compare and contrast the two very opposite men.
She never talked to me about how nervous she was beginning a new job. I suppose, it was a question I could have asked her and I look forward to sharing these passages with her and taking my chance at asking just that. Reading her journals about this time is so interesting. I feel like I am now getting the full story to something I have been hearing about for a while. All the blanks filled in (I hope!).
The first thing I learned, and I was pleased to find this out, was how quickly she got the job after applying.
Thursday, August 12th, 1937
The Mystery of the Wooden Shoes! Drobe said he didn’t bring them and I can’t figure out how they got on the mailbox. Got a call from Ridell and went on an interview. Took fast dictation and typed. Said he’d let me know. Got home and got a call and I’m hired. Start Monday for 15 dollars at Hitchcock and Company. Jaime was up twice so I’d go to the dogs. I went to Zosh’s. He followed. On the way Frankie Adamczyk and Johnny Lech gave me a rode. Got rid of Jaime and Drobe came. Zosh and he stayed until 11:30.
Yes, this is the same passage you saw in yesterday’s post: The Mystery of the Wooden Shoes. Shift of focus for today.
Then her first day:
Monday, August 16th, 1937
Tried to do good today, but spoiled paper and had to ask questions. The girls are good to me and very helpful. Met Ernie and Ethel, Jennie, and Frannie and we had lunch together at Jackson’s. Ethel is working at Gilbert and Barker’s. Getting over 17. Think I am getting fat so will have to eat more moderately. Listened to “As You Like It.”
She writes that she tried to do good, but it sounds like a successful first day to me! So what? You asked some questions and made some mistakes. I think she’s on her way!
Tuesday, August 17th, 1937
Was a little more efficient at the office today. Ernie met me for lunch. Got my social security no. Francis LaBella and Ernie met me after school and we went over the the “Y” where Fran stays. We had supper out and met Ethel and Ginny and went to see “You Can’t Have Everything” and “Born Reckless.” Ernie says Benny hasn’t been in school so far this week.
I had to turn to my husband and ask a question after reading this. “She didn’t get a social security number until she started working?” Well, news to me! In 1918, when Babu was born, people were not yet given SSNs. It was another thing started during FDR’s presidency. It’s wild to me to think of not being born with a SSN. It’s wild to me to think of a world when you didn’t have to prove yourself with 9 numbers every time you wanted to open a bank account, get a passport, or even pay your cell phone bill over the phone. But yup, here it is, the genesis.
Wednesday, August 18th, 1937
Got into work at one minute to 9. Later found out that we’re supposed to be there at quarter of. Mr. Chives, the tax man, gave me a compliment on my transcriptions, through the secretary. The girls say it means something when he says it, cause he never does. He’s the only bachelor in the place and is bald but has a lovely southern accent.
Well, now that seems like she’s settling right in.
Tuesday, August 24th, 1937
This cold rainy weather is bringing out fall clothes. Kappy dictated a letter today. Fran didn’t show up for lunch so I ate alone. Ernie wrote and she is having a ripping time. Same routine every day (for me.) Work, eat, sleep, practice. And the merry go round goes round. Only not enough sleep.
The same month that she is employed she falls victim to the grind!
Wednesday, August 25th, 1937
Mr. Hitchcock gave me quite a bit of dictation. I don’t catch a word here or there and seldom ask him. Got my first check today. $15 less 30 cents social security. Mother gave me the 70 cents left over. Nothing exciting happens now.
Nothing exciting happens now?! I think it’s so easy to assume that now that she’s working life isn’t so fun. Like my husband says: “It’s work, not happy fun time.” even still, I think her malaise is not over work, she seems to like it there, but rather, she is missing Benny terribly. I think it also doesn’t help that she is in a new place all alone from all of her friends. I’m sure that she’ll be making new ones soon. I hope next month is less dreary!
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So did her mother keep $14 of her pay? – seems a bit harsh!
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Haha I’m betting she kept it to put into the bank!