Where did all the jobs go

We were in the process of one of our spirited discussions over at v7n.com/forums about where all the jobs in American went. The usual suspects were mentioned, greedy corporations, NAFTA, the Washington weenies and the list continued. I went to bed and then in the quite of night it hit and hit me hard. All of those things are to blame but there are two more critical things that killed jobs in the last 25 years of the 20th century. Come take a trip down memory lane with me and see if we can answer what they were.

It is a Saturday in the summer of 1961. I am 10 years old and it is almost time for the weekly shopping trip to the nearest town, Georgetown, Kentucky. I need to hurry if I am going to get my pop bottles loaded in time for the trip. I have saved my weekly bottle collection to trade for one big cash infusion because this is the week that all the new DC comics hit the stands. During the week I scavenged 25 bottles from the side of the road; they will earn me fifty cents, enough money to buy all my favorites, a bag of chips and a large coke.

We finally got started and made the 7 mile trip into town. As were drove by the new gas station I noticed 4 busy men checking oil and pumping gas into the waiting cars while the customers sat and waited. I thought maybe that would be a good after school job when I turned 16. They were always busy as they had the best regular prices in the county at 24.9 cents per gallon.

The A & P store would hardly be called a super market by modern standards. It was only a few thousand square feet ; hardy larger than a modern convenience store. We parked on Main Street right in front of the A & P. I grabbed a stray cart and loaded my bottles to take inside and check in where the bottle clerk gave me a receipt that could be used like cash or exchanged for cash. When his over-sized cart was full he would roll it to the back room where the soft drink people would pick up the bottles and return them to the bottling plant where they would be washed and refilled.

As I was walking to the front I noticed the stock clerk busy stamping prices on can goods and placing them on the shelves. The butcher and his 3 helpers were busy stocking the meat counter. It took extra helpers on the busy week end days to keep the meat cases stocked. The manager was busy taking an inventory of his shelves. I suppose he was getting ready to phone in an order for next weeks goods.

As I stood in line to get my bottle money I noticed 3 busy cashiers working as fast as they could to ring up the individual prices of each item. The clatter of the mechanical cash registers was a little loud today. The older, more experienced cashiers knew most of the prices on a lot of items so they only needed to enter price and slide the item down the belt to the bag boy who also assisted customers to their car. There were 4 bag boys working today and they could barely keep up since they also had to retrieve the carts that some customers left in the parking lot.

I needed to make my rounds and get my comic books; that 50 cents was burning a hole in my pocket. There were two drugstores about 2 blocks away that sold comic books and even though the both sold the DC line they stocked different issues for some reason.

At that time Georgetown had free street parking with a one hour limit. As I walked downtown I notice the two policemen making their rounds and marking chalk marks on tires at the 6 o'clock position. When they came back by in an hour if the car was still there it got a parking ticket.

The street sweeper was busy with his broom and there was a trusty from the jail picking up trash and empting the trash cans. Another policeman was directing traffic at the courthouse crosswalk.

Hamilton Drugs had the best magazine and comic book selection. It was also popular because it also had a soda fountain counter where at least two employees could always be found making sodas, ice cream cones, shakes and that unbelievable banana split they made with the real whipped cream and cherries on top. There was also a kitchen in the back where hamburgers, fries and all the other fast food staples could be made. I spent a little over half my money there buying 5 comics.

I then crossed the street to the other drug store where I found three more comics I wanted but I settled for two since I wanted to drop in at the other soda fountain up the street and have a bag of Fritos and a coke while I read my new treasures for the first time.

Now my friends I ask you this; how many people in this story had jobs that no longer exist? Some of them may have been marginal jobs paying minimum wage but they were working and earning money. Money they in turn spent in the local community for things they wanted or needed. The process was continuous, repeating over and over again.

Let's skip to the bottling plant where those dirty bottles I sold were inspected, sorted by brand, inspected, washed sanitized, probably inspected again and finally filled then to be returned to the store to begin the cycle all over again. How many good paying jobs were lost when we moved to disposable everything?

How many good paying cashier jobs were lost to bar code scanners?
Goods are no longer priced; often they are sold from boxes.
When was the last time you saw a bag boy?
Traffic lights replaced policemen.
Parking meters reduced the number of policemen needed.
When was the last time you saw a street sweeper using a broom?

IBM in Lexington was churning out Selectric typewriters. Cowden made jeans in several plants across Kentucky. Fruit of the Loom underwear was also made in several plants within the state. All this money recycled within the state, people got paid, spent their wages and the process continued. Some of these jobs became obsolete like the ones above; others were moved to foreign countries with lower pollution standards and cheaper workers.

I hope I made you think; that surely was my intention.

More in Memory Lane :

An unwelcome chance for redemption .........Read More
The first death.........Read More

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Jermajesty posted    Posted:  01-27-2013
I'm gtraeful you made the post. It's cleared the air for me.
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