JA19 web - Page 50



I have nothing against recreation (I played baseball,
football and basketball), but I learned more from my
early work experiences than these play ones. When I
was very young, (12 to 14), I mowed lawns for the public.
Unfortunately there’s probably not much of this work
available for young people today, even if the government would allow it. Power mowers and riding mowers
killed this market for young boys.
My brother David and I boiled and sold peanuts on
the streets and in the downtown stores of Perry on
Saturdays “in season.” We’d sell 100 bags at 10 cents a
bag, and it wouldn’t take us long to do it. We learned a
lot about commerce, saving, people and even politics.
Today, the city would probably require a business license
and the Health Department would likely get involved.
Meaningful work for young people is hard to come by.
I helped pack peaches at Tabor’s packing shed on
U.S. 41 in Peach County. The rst year, 65 cents an hour,
and the second year 85 cents an hour. I picked cotton
(by hand of course) two years at daddy’s farm, every day
for several weeks. I despised it. “It” was good for me
even at 5 cents a pound.
I helped haul chicken feed to hot, stinky chicken
houses in the summer. I weighed 135 pounds and the
sacks, which had to be carried to the back of the houses,
50
JAMES
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 9
weighed 100 pounds. There was an odor in those houses
that couldn’t be helped by OdoBan!
I worked at Billy Bledsoe’s Swank Shop in downtown
Perry. It was a men’s clothing store (very nice). I learned
lots from Billy about matching, wrapping, style and how
to talk (as if I needed any training in the talking category!). Work for young people in retail mercantile businesses would be hard to come by today.
Then there was work in a steel mill in Fort Worth,
Texas. It was hot, loud, dangerous and scary. Four of us
left Perry as boys and returned home as men, fully educated in much about life.
I can read very well because of good schools and
great teachers. But it was my work experiences that
taught me about responsibility: having to show up on
time, staying until closing time, being nice to the customers, saving money, giving some of my money to others, how to deal with unreasonable as well as nice people, etc. The work experiences in many ways were
equivalent to my college education and, in most
instances, made me realize that I wanted an education.
Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry. He served 32 years in the
General Assembly and served on the University System Board of Regents.
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 9
51

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