My First Jobs in Hanover, PA
by Carolyn Clausen Harrell


During WWII, my father served in the Navy, and my Mother worked in a Lobell's Ladies Dress Store as a Saleslady.  In those times when you went to any store to buy clothes you had your own individual saleslady who waited on you.  She helped you select the clothes that you tried on.  She went with you in to the dressing room area, and she assisted you in undressing and trying on the clothes.  If they didn't fit or suit your tastes, she would take them out of the dressing room, and return with another selection.  For all these efforts she would receive a commission on the total amount of the sale, added on to her small salary.   My Mother loved her job, and had a large following of regular customers who would wait for her to help them.


I would go into the store after the movies, and I'd spend time waiting with the ladies in the alteration department, or just "being good" sitting on a chair in the store. 


It was then that I was put to work...... folding dress and coat boxes.  I took this job seriously. At the end of the day, I received a little brown envelope with 2 quarters in it.  I still have one of those envelopes with my name printed on the outside.  My Mother had saved it in a drawer all those years, and I discovered it when I had to settle her estate upon her death.


When I was 16, I was old enough to legally be employed.  I was 16 in October, and I went to the local 5&10 cents store where most people could get a ‘first' job.  Each counter was in a rectangular shape with the clerk standing in the center where she could approach the customers, and work the cash register.  I thought I was hot stuff- in charge of a counter!  I worked there after school, but mostly on weekends- Friday nights and Saturday all day.  You see stores were never open on Sundays. 


Recordings were played all the time over loud speakers.  You could purchase these 78 and later 45 size records at the record counter.  By Christmas I was so sick of hearing, "All's I want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth"! (the popular song that came out that year. 1952.)  When I went home the night before Christmas, my Dad was so happy to surprise me with a new recording - you guessed it- "All's I want for Christmas is my 2 front teeth."  I remember screaming - "Oh, No"....  When Daddy heard the story, he found it funny, and wasn't' hurt that I didn't appreciate his present.


Later on through high school and college, I worked at a ladies dress shop, next to where my Mother worked- The Leader Store.  I never enjoyed being a saleslady, convincing someone that they should buy something.  To me, it is so nice as we do today, to let someone pick out clothes and try them on themselves.  The only annoying part now is- you have to get dressed in order to go out and find another size or another article to try on. I was placed in the coat department, and the dress department.  I really wanted to be behind the hose counter.  It was so easy to find the right size pair of nylon stockings which were labeled and placed 3 pair to a box.  (no panty hose in those days!)


I also like to work at the blouse and skirt counter.  It seemed to me, it was easier to fit and please a lady with these garments, than to find them a dress or coat.  In the summer, I would help out with bathing suits.  It always surprised me when men would want to see their wives in the suit before they bought one.  Some women would be shy about coming out of the dressing room to show their husband in front of other people in the store.  Some husbands wanted to step inside the dressing room to view their wife.  That wasn't allowed.


If I had my very own choice, I would have so liked to be the window and display dresser.  I use to help the dresser at times, especially in the summer.  Boy were those windows hot to work in as we dressed the mannequins and pinned in the clothes so they would fit the mannequins.


I also even preferred to work down in the basement, unpacking the new clothes that came in.  The way the stock looked when it was brought up to the floor was important.  No wrinkles, and hung neatly on hangers with price tags showing.   It was always fun to try on the mannequin's wigs. One time the stock boy and I were trying on the wigs and laughing unbeknownst that the store manager was listening in from upstairs on the 2 way system.  There were no customers in at the time, and we were entertaining the other clerks.  We were so embarrassed to be caught horsing around when we were suppose to be unpacking.


After working in the store, I wanted to find another job that I would really like to do during summers home from college- and I did.  For 2 or 3 summers I was a playground supervisor.
I had to plan the day's activities, and games, and crafts.  I loved doing that, and I really loved the kids who came regularly to my playground. 


In college I earned money as a waitress in the college cafeteria at the evening meal.  We had to carry very large and heavy trays laden with family style bowels of vegetables and platters of meat.  The worst part of that job was being stuck waiting on the animal tables- that is the athletes.  They were allowed to have extra food and they were "pigs" and teased the waitresses unbearably.  How I ever ended up marrying one of them, I'll never know!  


I married after college and my full time job became a housewife and mother of 3 until my youngest was in Kindergarten around 1965- then I got my teaching degree. I had majored in Social Work in the YWCA at Gettysburg but at that time on Long Island there were no Y's on Long Island.  Thus the career change. I entered college to get my teaching credits at the age of 29.  It took me a year or two to get the degree, and then I went on to get my Masters Degree which is mandated in NY state, and after that 75 more credits.  It was work, both the teaching and getting the credits, but it was so rewarding.


During my 24 year career as a grade school teacher, I taught 4th grade mainly, with two years in third grade, and 5 years in 2nd grade.  I loved that career.