My first job was a paper route, I think I was 12. My route covered the area from Willow street north to the tracks between Chase and Washington. This neighborhood is an older part of Wheaton, and was always a mixed income neighborhood. Just south of the train tracks you would find students for Wheaton College and some lower income homes and apartments. As you move south away from the tracks the income level grows by each street.
Back in the late 80's when I delivered papers there the neighborhood was mostly older folks, if I had to guess I would say the average age of my customers was about 65. I helped the people on my route; I mowed the lawn for one of my customers, and once I helped another set up their garage sale. I usually got pretty good tips on the holidays, most of my customers lived through the depression so they appreciated the plight of the young paperboy trying to earn a dime.
They weren't all good though, I had one customer spit at me... a grown man spitting at a child. I got hit by a car while riding my bike to deliver papers on halloween when I was in sixth grade, obviously not on purpose. I ended up throwing my last bundle of papers into a vacant house down the street instead of delivering them.
I am not sure how long I had my paper route, couldn't have been more than a year or two. I don't think they really had paper routes for kids too much longer after I had mine. It's kind of weird that no one will be sending their 12 year old a couple of miles away to deliver paper to strangers.... wait that isn't weird anymore is it? What would happen to someone who sent their 12 year old child on a paper route now? Probably get arrested.
That was the first work experience I got payed for.
It was a valuable experience and one that I am glad I was able to have.
When I was a kid we would take a family portrait at least once a year. It was very important to my mom. Olan Mills popularized a style of family portrait that wound up on the walls of almost every home in America in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Every thing had to be just so; the grouping of the people, the placement of a hand, the negative space, the soft gradient background. You didn't need to see the little gold script seal in the corner to know where it was made.
Looking at the pictures now it is interesting to see us as kids, it brings back good memories. The standardized way that Olan Mills worked created an affordable memory, a snap shot in time of you trying to look your best. I remember getting ready for the picture sessions; we all had to get into our Sunday best... if mom was going to take us there and spend the money we were going to look our best. Waiting in the lobby was like waiting for a doctor, there was redeeming value though in getting to see all of the pictures of other people on the walls... I loved looking at those pictures on the wall...
When they were ready for us we would be ushered into the studio. Mom would select the backdrop she wanted and they would set up the boxes and the rugs. The photographer posed everyone, said something stupid to make us smile and snapped the shot. He replaced the film holder and the process started again. A week(?) later mom would go see the proofs and pick out the ones she liked. A couple weeks after that she would pick the prints up and replace the previous portrait in the living room.
Dad was a mechanic for a pump repair company. The pumps that he repaired were not the kind of pumps you have in your basement... he could repair those too but, the companies he worked for serviced power plants, waste treatment plants, water stations, etc.
This is a photograph of the Coffeen power station in Coffeen, Illinois. I am not sure when this photograph was made but I believe that it was the mid nineties. That would have been when he was running a repair facility in Joliet. He would have made this picture while visiting the power station on business. He used his Pentax K1000 35mm camera; when I first started taking pictures I used his camera. In a way this photograph is sort of like corporate art.
I have had this photograph sitting in a frame in the back of my closet for years.