A Lagniappe Of Family Stories

"Two Dollars A Week"

   Got a job in the grocery store, and I was making two dollars a week. (laughter) (Robyn, and that was a lot of money for back then wasn't it.) Yeah, two dollars a week (laughing) and I think later years when Vic was that age working, going to school. He was making at the National store in Long Beach, $75 and $80 dollars a week, stock boy, and I told him one time I worked for two dollars a week doin' what you did. I delivered groceries, waited on the customers. In those days you didn't have serve yourself groceries. We had a counter, (Robyn, and you had to get what they wanted) And they had the shelves behind, with all the stuff way up and you had to reach to get them, alot of stores had these uh, (Robyn, grabber things) Yeah, grabbers you'd put it over a can and bring it down. People say I want one of those number one cans, number two cans(laugh). And let me tell you Robyn, and uh, Michelle, Uh, back then, well,, mama could tell you, her daddy had a store in New Orleans. At that time when I'm talking about. And back then everyting came in,,, uh, you'd get pickles in a little keg, you'd get spare ribs and all good things to eat. Peanut butter, y'know everything, in little tubs, and uh, so,, (Robyn, where did the food come from did you order it like from a warehouse or did people make it?) No, they'd see the salesman. You know what they called the salesmen? Drummers, I heard that on the t.v. one day, a drummer, and I thought, boy I hadn't heard that (in a long time). It was telling (the t.v. show) about the old times, y'know. And that's what they called 'em. They had a drummer that'd come from Swift's in Gulfport, Armour's drummer would come. And HG Coggins drummer, come to Waveland, y'see. Uh, Schwegmann's from New Orleans. Clocks and Breweries and Bakeries, we'd get the uh, mama could tell you. Her daddy had the same thing. The store, they had a square box, metal, about twelve by twelve, and they had a glass front. With the different cakes. Oh, boy, they had good cakes y'know. And crackers. All this came by train y'see. Now, when Swift and Armour drummer came, they'd ship it by express, they had a train that ran from Ocean Springs to New Orleans. We called it the three o'clock train (laugh). It would leave Ocean Spring and turn around in Ocean Springs. But it; Armour and Swift would put their meats, the hams, and whatever we ordered, and come to Waveland and I'd be at the depot waiting for it, y'see. We had to get it on refrigeration, we had a great big ice box, it wasn't no electric box. A great big box that would hold couple hundred pounds of ice y' know. And anyway, we had a little market of salt meat that we didn't put that on ice y'know. And the lard would come in great big barrels, wooden barrels. White lard, thats all the people used back then, they didn't have all this, well, they had canned Crisco or something. But poor people couldn't afford all that, y'see. They used the pure white lard. And they had scoops y'see, cardboard. And we had a wooden paddle we'd have to reach in that lard and put it the scoop and put it on the scale. So look when it got way down I'd have to put my hand to keep from getting lard all up over me (laughs) when you got down to the bottom (laughing) That was something!

All Rights Reserved Copyright ©2004 Michelle Saucier Ladner

"Learning to Drive"

   But, so, to get back when we left Gulfport in 1923. I had learned to drive a Model T truck in Handsboro, Dr. Martinolich's daddy, Andrew, just died here about three or four weeks ago, Andrew, he was living in Waveland, he was 90 something years old. Mr. Andrew taught me how to drive a car. But what happened, see, after the war ended the shipyard closed and old man Martinolich said to papa, "Don't ya'll move now I've got some; I got some carpenter work for ya'll to do now. I want ya'll to build a garage on the beach for Andrew." See, for repairs; a garage. And that was the first commercial building on the beach in Mississippi City. And I was twelve years old. And I went with them everyday. I'd hand stuff to them up on the scaffolding, I'd hand them lumber, and whatever they'd tell me to hand them, y'know. So riding in that truck, that shipyard truck, we'd pull up in the yard and go next door to our house to eat, and come back. So we come back and papa said, "Did you want to drive the truck?" and I said, "Yeah" He said, "Get it all ready and I'll crank it." So I fixed it and papa cranked it, and I backed up, pulled up, backed up, and had it ready to go out. So Andy come running when he heard the motor start, so when he came out, papa said,,, I believe they called him Bully back then, "Bully, I want ya to teach Vic how to drive." He said, "I don't have to teach him how to drive! He just turned the truck around and backed it up!" (laughing) He said, "Get behind the wheel." I drove the car all the way to Mississippi City down Teagarden Rd. (Laughing) Come back at dinner. Boy, I'd of worked my legs off just to drive that truck, boy!

All Rights Reserved Copyright ©2004 Michelle Saucier Ladner

"Delivering Groceries in a Model T Truck"

   So when I went back to Waveland they had a horse and wagon delivery and a truck. Two or three stores had that. They had a Model T truck and a wagon. And they had the sides with canvas and their names in gold leaf. I drove one like that, see. So, some days I used the horse and other days I'd use the truck. But when I first went there, I was working for Herman Mazarakis daddy, the first job I had, uh,,, Aurelie's daddy. You know Aurelie? (Robyn, yeah, Buck and Aurelie) He and a couple other Greeks, had a big store in Waveland. So I went, and he said, "You know how to drive a truck?" and I said, "Yes sir!" He said, "Well go get that truck back there." I went and got it, I started it and backed it out. (Robyn, that was the crank?) Crank, boy! I cranked a many a one. But you had to know! Alot of people got their arm broken, if you didn't know how to hold that crank, if you grabbed it like this... You see they kicked back. It'd jerk your arm, it'd break your arm.See, I was taught how hold it. You put it in your hand this way.. you don't put your thumb over it this way.. you put your thumb on the side, and crank it, it'd kick back and jerk out of your hand, see. (Robyn, how many times did you have to crank it?) Ohh, sometimes I cranked till I was blue in the face! Spin it ! Boy, that's where I got my strength too! I'd crank that thing. And in the winter, you know how we started it? We jacked up the back wheel, and pour hot water in the radiator. Get a pot of water, and all that, just to get it started in cold weather!(Robyn, Yeah you didn't have antifreeze, laughing) Boy, and I'll tell you back then you had to be careful a lot of men got ran over. You see you had a clutch, with the middle pedal as reverse, and your right pedal was the break, and you had to put it in and out of gear on the side. You had a ratchet, that as you pulled it back it would catch, but alot of times that ratchet would wear out and the vibration when it started would slam it down and throw it in gear. Alot of people got ran over by their own Model T. So I had to tie up the tire, we had a thing to loop around the tire so if it slipped I wouldn't get run over, y'see. But I had to one time, just jump out of the way! (laughing) But, when I think about those times you have to laugh, y'know! So let me tell you what, I was delivering groceries, and see our grocery was up on Courbin Ave. Let's see, Waveland Ave was the other end. That's where the depot used to be. So I road by the depot and ran out of gas. In those days everybody, (Robyn, how much was gas then?) Oh, I believe it was about fifteen cents a gallon. But anyway, back then the kerosene,,, everybody had a gallon can when I delivered groceries. Everybody had lamps, y'see. So I'd go out with six or seven cans, with each order. So I get by the depot, and run out of gas. I had always been told that a Model T would run of of kerosene. Well, here's where I find out, right now! So when it stopped, (laugh) they said don't let all the gas run out, keep a little in the carberator. Boy, when I got out, here's where I made my mistake, I poured the whole gallon in! I should of just put in enough to make it back to the store. It started! But it popped and spit and popped, but it got me back to the store, y'know. But back then, the kerosene was much stronger than it is today, today you've got to coax it, you can take a match, and pour some on something, you gotta hold it there. But back then you put it there and it went up like gasoline, so that's why these Model T's would run on kerosene. But it had to be started with gasoline, y'see. There was enough gas in the carberator, so I said I'm getting back to the store. Sure enough not gonna walk back! So when I put in that gallon of oil and started her, she took off! ( laughing) So I told Martin, he said, "You outta not run out. We've got two tanks out in front of the store!" (laughs) And back then you had to pump your gas, you had a tank, a glass, a round glass, that holds five gallons at the top, you had a lever, If somebody wanted one gallon. You'd raise it to set it. You'd pump, and gas would come up in that bowl. That was it, da da da da. Its fun! I look back at all that, and think it was fun, y'know.
All Rights Reserved Copyright ©2004 Michelle Saucier Ladner

"Building the Edgewater Gulf Motel"

   Then we came back, like I said in '26. After papa died. We came back to Gulfport. I had to, because at that time I was 19 years old and only making seven dollars a week! I couldn't feed Mama and them on seven dollars a week. So I told Mr. Mitchell, who I was working for then. He said, "If you got to go, you got to go, but I hate for you to go." But I said, "Yeah but I can't feed mama and them on seven dollars a week." So they were building the Edgewater Gulf Hotel. My cousin Edgar Knight was a brick layer. His mama was papa's sister y'see, Aunt Lillie. (Robyn, Oh thats where Diana's family comes in) I stayed with Aunt Lillie and Edgar, he had a brand new Model T Ford. I stayed with them until I could get mama and them with me, about a month after papa died, they had to stay in Waveland. And I worked up at Edgewater. Hard! Edgar's the one who got me the job, talked to the manager, and told him about my daddy and that I had a big family. And he said bring him, and I'll give him a job. It was hard! I was rolling wheel... I was only about a hundred and thirty pounds, 'bout like Roger, skinny. I was rolling them big wheel barrels, not these little things. Rolling with mortar on them, up planks about that wide, y'see. They were pouring the floor about that time and I'm rolling them big wheel barrels with those big strapping husky men. I told Edgar, man, this is killing me! He said, "I'm going to get you a better job." And he did! First he got me a job with the brick layers, he talked to his boss. And all I had to do was carry bricks where they wanted them, you know up on the scaffolding, hand them bricks. And kept them supplied. That was much easier. Then I was making twenty-five dollars a week, and that was good, I mean from seven! Well, so my cousin went and talked to the manager from New York who was putting in the refrigeration. He told him about me. "Bring him to me" he said, "I'll give him a job, that way he'll make more money." (Edgar) He said, "Well he needs it!" "Well I'll give it to him!" So he says, "Now son, I'm going to put you down here," They were putting down big angle irons for the shelves, in the big refrigerator. As big as this room. And I had to cut the... an angle iron is shaped like this...they had a concrete floor, it was already down. And I had to take a star drill, they called it, and you hit,.. it was a round piece of iron about as round as your finger, and on the end was grooves, cut like a star. And you tap, He told me in the evening when he was leaving, "Now you can work, I'm not going to be here, I'm going home, but you can work till six, seven, nine o'clock as long as you wnat to work and I'll pay you over time." So I said okay, and I worked till nine o'clock, after working all day! And he'd put the mark, and I'd come along to that mark and I'd take the hammer and hit, turn, hit, and turn it. Until you got a little hole about this deep. You kept on till you got all the way around it. You had to dig, I think it was an inch or more in that concrete, and it had to be right! Where those marks were. And then they came with that angle iron see, and they put them in there and cemented around them. And one of the first weeks I worked with that man, I made fifty-six dollars! I was thrilled to death! And he was too. And he even wanted me to go to New York when they finished the job, he said, "Son," It was the Loyal Llyod Refrigeration Co. from New Jersey. "Son, you come back, and go home with me. I'll get you a job in the plant, where they make all these refrigerators." He was one of the bosses from that plant y'see. But I told him,"Man, I've got my mama and nine children, sisters and brothers." He said, "Well you come, you come and work and make enough money. And send to your Mother and them." he said, "And you can also make enough that later, you can move them up here." And I thought, Dang! New Jersey from here? Eww, that's too far from the Gulf Coast for me! Boy, (laughing)! So, I said, "No, I think I'm going to stick around here. I don't think I'm coming." But anyway, he really wanted me to go, he said, "I'll help you everyway I can." He sure was a nice man! He helped me too! I guarantee ya! But let me tell ya, So we worked there until the opening night, see. It might have been the New Year, if I'm not mistaken. So that evening, see we got off at four o'clock, and they gave all the workers, painters, carpenters, electritions, laborours, and they said. "Look we have to get all this paint off these windows, we're opening tonight and we've got to get these windows clean." So they said, "If ya'll work on it, we'll feed you." So they fed us two or three times that night from the kitchen. We went into the dining room and ate! Y'hear. So we up on about the fifth floor and we're cleaning the windows, see. And the guys are working with me and one was sitting in the window, he put the sash down and he'd hold on and wash the outside, and I washed the inside. So this fella said, "Ladner, your turn to get outside." I said, "Like hell!" (laughing) I said, "This guy'll go home, I'm not sticking myself outside that window! Five, six stories up in the air! (laughing), Uh Uh, noo way!" But he got outside, that, sonofa" ( laughing) We had to wash windows all night. They were paying the mechanics to do that labor and work. Their wages, y'see. But they had to have the place ready. So we went a couple of times that night and ate. Boy, I mean they fed us too! So I worked all day and all night. And I made more money, that I made in a whole week, in that day and night. They paid us over time that night.

All Rights Reserved Copyright ©2004 Michelle Saucier Ladner

"Buying the House in Gulfport"

   But.., I had already moved mama and them here, see, while all this was taking place. So we had bought that house. Aunt Lillie had got Mr. Rose, he was selling real estate. Inez Bass, you remember Phillip Bass, Inez? But anyway, I went to school with them when we lived here before. And her daddy got this house for us for a thousand dollars! And Papa had a thousand dollar insurance, the 26th. And his funeral was two hundred. I went and borrowed two hundred dollars at the bank. I had to pay ten dollars a month back. I was making that extra money and I was saving it. In case, y'know. And I paid that house off. So we had a place to live, a roof over our head, one thing y'know.(laugh)

All Rights Reserved Copyright ©2004 Michelle Saucier Ladner

"Working for Fourteen Years"

   So, when the thing closed, I was outta work for about a month, I think. But you know what? That's the only time I've been outta work in my entire life! I've worked steady all my life! (Robyn, you have Paw Paw, you have) I have never been outta of a job. I went from one job to the other. And I stayed fourteen years,,, let's see I worked for the gas company for fourteen years, at the shipyard fourteen years, but before the shipyard I worked seven years at Bond, seven years at Colonial. Fourteen years in the bread business, y'see. And I go to the shipyard, and worked fourteen years, came back, took three months vacation when I retired. First of the year I went to work at the court house, and been there ever since. Eighteen years is the longest job I've ever had in my life; that I worked in one place. (Robyn, And after you retired too! laugh) (Paw Paw laughs) After I retired! I've been eighteen years and still going. Still working, so that's something to think about! So I've worked all my life. That's one thing I didn't have to depend on my children. For support. I made my own way. My own! (Robyn, Thats true and there's not alot of people your age that can say that.) No, I can truthfully say I worked for almost fifty(something) years. When I retired at the shipyard, you have to retire when your sixty five, but, they can get you an extension, you can work five more years. So I could've worked til I was seventy, and they wanted me too! (Robyn, How come you didn't?) Hell, after your working fifty years? Fifty years is long enough!(laughing) So I was sixty five y'see, and I said, "Man, I went to work when I was fifteen!" He said, "Well, why don't you finish the year out." They said the first of October. "So when your birthday comes, what the 29th of September."So on the first they sent me a notice. So they called me in the office, They Wanted Me To Stay! Cause I was working on the submarines and they, needed,.. I had been working on the submarines for about seven years, y'see. And the chief wanted me to stay. He said, "Man, your experienced." And I said,"Yeah, but I have to retire, how do you.." and he said, "Man, we'll get you a sixth month extension, and every six months we can renew it." He said, "Til your seventy years, you could work."Phhh, I'm gone! He said, "Well finish the year out.These three months." and I said, "Nah uh, I'm gone. I'm gone!"(laughing) No, I intended to work, but not like that! I'd go fourty miles each day one way, y'see. And I was tired, y'see. But what I wanted was a job, like I got, something easy. Y'know. But, I enjoy it! I told Judge Stewart one day, I said you know, this is the only job I ever had in my life, that I enjoy coming to work. And he said, "Me too!" ( Robyn laughs) He said, 'I'm the same way." I said, "Well I enjoy every minute. Coming up here everyday!" Still do! (Robyn, Well it's interesting if nothing else, it's very interesting.) Well, so one of them said, one of the guys that I hired at the shipyard that same day. You see they hired ex- deputies, constables, men who had experience, as a guard out there. At first we were called Ingall's police. See, that was on our badge, Ingall's police. I've got a badge over there at home. Anyway, so one of the guards was from Biloxi police, there was two of them, hired there the same day. But one of them's son is a deputy right now, so one day he says, "My daddy says when the heck are you going to retire?" I said, "I'm not!" (laughs) I told somebody this is good therapy, man! Coming up here everyday. He said, "That's what kept you alive, kept you going."

All Rights Reserved Copyright ©2004 Michelle Saucier Ladner

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