Wednesday, April 30, 2008


When I was a kid, my dad would pay us to put together the mailings for his company.

One of my earliest memories is sitting on the floor of the den, in my night gown, sealing envelopes with a sponge-topped water bottle. I think I was five.

Daddy would pay us a penny a motion. So, folding the press releases counted as two motions (one for each fold), sealing the envelope was a motion, stuffing the paper into the envelope was a motion and stamping it was a motion. Five cents a piece if one person did it all. The jobs were always shared with my older sister so neither of us ever got all five cents for a piece. We did get lots of IOUs for tiny amounts of money that we periodically swapped back to Daddy for real money.

Later, as teens, we would work for an actual hourly wage, but the work was essentially the same -- fold, stuff, seal, stamp. Honestly, and I'll check with them, I do not think that my youngest siblings ever got paid for piece work. By the time they came along we older siblings had already transitioned from piece workers to hourly employees so I suspect that they were probably always paid by the hour.

During my junior high school years my dad had an account with a company that put out monthly updates of, I think, metals prices. The first mailing was a binder with lots of card-stock pages. After that, we sent out the monthly updates in specially sized envelopes. This was in the late 70s, early 80s when small notebooks were "the thing" with my school age set but these binders were slightly smaller then those and only fit the special cards printed for them. Each month there would be extra cards and for years we used those cards as scrap paper. I think Daddy still had a stock of them when I graduated college.

As a high school student I transitioned from assembling the mailings to typing the labels for them. I still remember typing labels addressed to the "Container Port of Wilmington Delaware." For the life of me, I cannot tell you why we sent mailings to various Container ports but I'm sure my Dad could.

I was reminiscing about this very topic to my secretary this morning and lo and behold what should need to be done this afternoon? Labeling envelopes. Piecework! I could have let others do the work but after reveling in the memories, I just had to jump right in.

1 comment:

knitseashore said...

Your post made me smile. It reminded me of times when I was little, and I sorted screws and nails from the bucket for my dad (a carpenter) or buttons and zippers for my mom who sewed. I love that "piecework" adults my sister and I now say, "the kids today don't know what they are missing!" I guess that makes us old?! Anyway, thank you for sharing your memories with us. Are you going to have Squidette and Little Squid do some piecework for you, to carry on that family tradition?? :)