To Know Me Is To Know My Family: (34) Dad’s struggle with employment in Washington after the war

As we discussed previously in one of my other blogs, when Dad moved us back to Washington after the war, he had high hopes of becoming a berry farmer. He plowed, planted and harvested berries, along with a few vegetables he sold along the roadside or to the Olympia Cannery, but it proved not to be sufficient enough to raise a family of 6. Dad found himself working many jobs, mostly seasonal or part time. This is what I will be writing about today.

When the family first moved to Washington, Dad was able to get a job as a cook in the cafeteria at the Madigan Army Medical Center located on the Fort Lewis Army Base. He was a very good cook and baker. Of course, being a Mess Sargent in the Army was helpful to land the job.  He started the job in December of 1945 and left in October of 1946. I’m not sure why he left the job.

In October of ’46 he started to work at the Olympia Cannery. Dad worked at the Cannery off and on until we moved back to California in 1950. Mom also was employed by the Cannery occasionally as well. He was hired to do seasonal work. He was employed only until February of 1947.

In February of 1947 my Dad started his job on the Pacific Railroad. Dad got his experience doing railroad work while he was employed by the CCC’s, Civilian Conservation Corps. Dad was a Gandy Dancer. His job was to tap the spikes into the ground as they laid railroad track. While working this job, he passed out from becoming dehydrated. He was taken to a local hospital and treated. This job lasted until August of 1947 when all work for that particular part of track was completed.

My Dad is the 4th person from the left in the top row.

It was back to the Cannery for seasonal work again in August of ’47. At this time of employment, he worked until December of ’47.

As you can see, employment was not long term for one reason or the other for my Dad. This seemed to be the way it went for many service men after returning after from World War 2. Dad was unemployed until May of 1948. This was difficult for the family. But we all survived and for us kids we never had any idea that our parents may have been struggling. There was always food on the table and we were always clean, dressed comfortably. We had our love to keep us feeling happy and content.

May of 1948 to December 31st, 1948, Dad was employed for Maritime Company. My family does not have to much memory of his work here. We believe that most likely he was doing janitorial work.

The next Job at Capitol Chevrolet, which began April 11th, 1949 would be his last job in Olympia, Washington. My Dad would work there until leaving to relocate in California. He left this job in December of 1950. During his time there, he was a janitor. One of his jobs was washing the large store front windows, which he would have to do on a ladder to reach the top.

Sense of family and responsibility to help to provide was strong in my Father. Remember as a young teen he also was out helping to bring in money to his family. He and his brother Eddie were literally loaned out to a neighbor who owned a farm to labor on their land. During his months there, his brother and himself slept each night under a wagon. He later became a school wagon driver in order to help provide. My Dad also joined the CCC’s at the age of 16, lying about his age so that he could work with the corps. He would receive $25 a month of which $20 was sent home to his parents. He kept $5 for toiletries and incidentals for the month.

My Father was a very honorable man. He loved his family deeply. There was no job he would not do to support us. My family was very blessed to have him as our Dad.

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