My blog has been changed to make it more appealing for those who have New England ancestors and want to see the area through photos. Things I’ll include are typical white New England churches, libraries showing their genealogical collection, historical societies, cemeteries, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history.

For four years I’ve blogged mostly about my personal genealogy in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. I still will, can’t forget my own roots.

Please check out the labels on the right side for articles. The header tabs at the top are a work in progress.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My First Job -- Father John's Medicine Company

Over the years, I've come to realize how lucky I am to have had certain jobs. Of course at the time, I probably didn't think so.  Imagine these days, going to a building, ringing a doorbell, yes a doorbell in the hallway, and asking for a job.  That is what I did, one cold October Friday afternoon.  The vice-president met with me and gave me an interview, of sorts, no resume or anything.  I was right out of high school. Then his father spoke with me, both having the same name.  I began work the following Monday learning the job from Bessie Wallach who had given her notice that Friday morning.  That would rarely happen these days.  No references, no experience, nothing. And, I stayed over 10 years! What an experience, and for the entire time there, the employees became my family and I was almost always the youngest employee there.


Father John's Medicine Company was in a huge building, with very few employees.  The office where I worked as a secretary had two much older, single women, the president, vice-president and secretary/ treasurer (father and two sons).  Every day for all those years, the job was pretty much the same. It was like working in a museum, my 1943 manual typewriter was my pride and joy. I used carbon paper and learned to type perfectly very quickly.  Each day, after lunch, my boss, the vp, dictated letters to me, which I really enjoyed (I took shorthand in school).  Before I forget, this medicine company was established in 1855 and since the cough medicine was made in the building, I could smell the ingredients, such as cod liver oil, all the time.  You got used to it.

It was the kind of job where there was a lot of flexibility and tons of fun.  I met and dated two guys who worked there, one I am now married to. Yes, it was fun. It was also the kind of job which was impossible to leave.  My regular hours were 8:30 to 4:30 with an hour for lunch.  In the summer it was 9-4, hour for lunch. Same pay, so I could never leave in the summer, since I was only working 30 hours a week. Every Christmas, we received a week's pay as a bonus and received time off for Christmas shopping.  Every July we received a special bonus, depending on sales, it was usually three week's pay. I was stuck there, the benefits were too good.  My friends were talking about Word Processing, with IBM located in a nearby city, and I was using that 1943 typewriter. However, I finally left and went to work in the Purchasing Department of a hospital, called St. John's Hospital. So I went from a Father to a Saint.



The people on the left were on the second floor, doing assembly line work. They began their lives there and ended them there as wwell. And I remember them well, this piece is for them.

Employees shown: Margaret Jones, Anna Maloney, Ray Wylie, Lila Shannon. Missing are Frank Shannon, Theodore "Ted" Villandry, Lucien "Sonny" Villandry, Agnes Mellen, Winnie McKuen? and Tommy Fox. In the office were Helen Mary McNamara and Annette Tartre and myself, plus the Donehue brothers, Gerald and George. Chemist, Thomas Casey, and several men in shipping, Joe Carty being one. After 50 years, I still remember all the names.

6 comments:

Greta Koehl said...

It's lovely when people enjoy the work they do and the people they do it for. So many people these days look at most jobs as stepping stones. And I can remember going from Selectrics to Lanier word processors to some sort of huge terminal connected to a mainframe (forgot the name) and on through variations of PCs. Thanks for sharing this and for the inspiration!

Kathy said...

I see you fixed your header!

Yet another job!? How many did you have? And to think, I have been at the same one now for almost 30 years!

Wendy Hawksley said...

Oh wow, it is so wonderful that you have these photographs of the first place you ever worked! And the fact that you met your husband there makes the memory all the sweeter.

Barbara said...

Thanks Greta, I loved writing this piece and remembering all the people, now long gone. Kathy, I've had quite a few jobs, after all, I'm older than you, and Apple fixed it, what you think know how to do that stuff? Yes Wendy, it was fun working there, you can just imagine.

Sanjay Maharaj said...

It's always wonderful to take time to reflect where you came from and what your history of hard work has been. Your story needs to be told so that this generation will appreciate the value of hard work and dedication and leanr that there are no short cuts in life

Barbara said...

Thanks Sanjay for the comment. The words just poured out of my fingers. It was so easy to write, and to remember.