My First Job

Can you remember your first job? I do.
The first real job.

You see, I had done some odd jobs around our town
for just a few people but these only lasted a few
hours or at the most a couple of days.

I remember one time my buddy Robert and I were
asked to go to the feed store in town and unload
a train car. I don’t remember much about it, but I
guess we unloaded dog food, seed, and whatever
else was on the train car.

I also remember our friend Steve’s dad hired a few
of us to go move rock or bust up some rock near
the ferry landing on the Aransas Pass side near
Port Aransas. I just remember that being a hot
summer day.

My First Job

1558599_10151853139576400_1073989602_nI’m a musician. Sometimes I would
rather play music that eat. {more so
when I was young] 🙂

You see in this photo a shot of
me and my friend Bruce playing
music in my garage. I’m pretty sure
this is the summer of 1972.

My dad came home from work one day
and said, “You boys get a job by tomorrow
or else.”

Well, we did. Several of us summer bums
left the comfort and safety of our beds and
our spade playing card games and drove to
Aransas Pass, TX and looked for a job.
Do you know what is in Aransas? or
used to be? Shrimp boats.

Guess what? We went to a shrimp factory AransasPass-hdr
and got hired. Several of us. The only problem
with this story is that they said we had to be at
work at 7:00 the next morning.

I was shocked. I was used to staying up late and
sleeping in late. I was spoiled and enjoying it.
But my life changed the day I went to the
shrimp factory and started

My First Job

So, we arrived at the factory. The boss man
gave us our different assignments. Me and someone
else, maybe Mark, were put in the Heading Room.
Your job is to grab a shrimp in each hand and force
its head off with your thumbs. Sounds easy, right?

shrimpFirst, these shrimp were more like prawns.
They were pretty huge things.
We worked at a long table and
shrimp was dumped on the table. You stood there
taking their heads off and putting the heads in a trash
pile and the headless shrimp in a metal pail.

I think minimum wage was $1.60 back then. Each
filled bucket [pail] was worth 80 cents I believe.
You were supposed to make production to earn
your money.  I had a hard time.

All these older people [white, black, Hispanic] were
showing me up. Some would encourage you and give
you pointers, but most just stared at you.

You know shrimp have this long snout sticking out.
And did you know it hurts to get pierced by it? My
hand and thumbs were so sore the next day it was

So, I survived day one. I showed up the next day
and jumped in with both feet. Either that afternoon
or the third day the Boss Man came by and gave us
the Pink Slip. But, I think we begged him to put us
to work in some other area.

He did.

He let us stay on. He even kinda liked us and would
joke with the fellas. He put us in this fenced area
where we did grunt work. We sat around making
boxes to put the shrimp and ice in. These were
boxes made of 2 foot [or so] lengths of thin wood and
metal wire. It wasn’t that hard to do.

He also gave us the job of cleaning out this shrimp
truck. Oh my. We opened the door to that refrigerated
compartment that was sitting in the summer sun of
south Texas. It also had remnants of decaying shrimp just
laying inside.

None of us had the nerve to go in and clean it out and
hose it down because the extreme amount of ammonia
smell from the rotting shrimp. But, finally, one brave
soul jumped in and started cleaning it out. We all finally

Boss man came by and sent a couple of us over to the boat-759x506
ice house. The ice house produced ice in a small warehouse like building. Not too small, because the ice could get as high as 15 feet or so. Our job was to shovel the ice into
the auger on the floor and it would take ice out to the ship at the dock.

This was a cold, cold job. At first we enjoyed it because we got out of the heat of the summer sun. But after a full day in there I caught a bad cold. I’m not sure I stayed in there more than two days.

So, at some point the Boss Man came by and laid us all
off. That was the end of my first real job. I didn’t like it
that much, but it made my Dad happy that we went out
and tried to get work. After that he didn’t bother us and
Bruce and I ended up painting the outside of our house.
We used to play the radio loudly as we worked. We probably
were two of the slowest painters in history because we
were listening to Steely Dan sing “Reelin’ in the Years.”

Bruce and I did a “good job,” but I don’t think we ever
really finished it because we never painted the high part
of the gable roof. I think Dad finished it for us.
Then,it was time for me to go to college.
That’s a whole other story. Stay tuned.

Thank you.
Chuck Whetstone

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