Wednesday, May 25, 2005


(Originally run 11/24/03 on the old site)

Anita Hart Fuller

I have a little Birdseye story: Judy Rice and I applied to work there, and NOT being 18 just yet, lied about our age on our application. But we were hired, and spent graduation night -- while everyone else was out partying, etc. -- working the graveyard shift at Birdseye. I absolutely HATED it, and would get soooo sleepy before all the spinach or whatever it was we were "putting up" would finally run out. (It was Kale, but close enough. –tlp-) I was on the weighing line, and I was at the end of the line. For the most part, I never got a box to weigh because all the other women would get them before me ... but when they would stack up: you guessed it, they would ALL come back to where I was. We would weigh the box and either put in or take out....

I always thought it funny that the most "prestigious" job was "sorting" -- which meant picking out the rocks, frogs, snake pieces (YES), sticks -- whatever - given to the ladies with seniority - which mean the older ladies whose eyesight and reflexes to grab that stuff out was not the best. One night, I got sent over there and, I can tell you, we picked out lots of whatever, but we also let lots pass by. For years I wouldn't eat any Birdseye "greens," and I told all my friends not to do so, either.

I didn't last very long: I needed my rest, but Judy Rice kept on long after I quit and made "lots" of money, for those days.

Dear Old Mom a.k.a. Marcella Pry

For what it's worth … in the 50’s …

The people in the stores made 50 cents an hour. They didn't make that to start out. At J.C. Penny, the manager of the dress department, who’d been there 20 years, only made 50 cents an hour. Do you remember that little restaurant that Cookie (my late sister, Roberta) worked at on the Courthouse square? She finally got up to $15.00 a week before she went out to Merritt's truck stop, where she could get extra hours.

Out at the Fairgrounds (at Birdseye), we started out at 50 cents an hour, and the men 75 cents an hour.

A gal sued Clary over "they didn't keep their promise" to start paying more. (They had mentioned in letters they sent out to people that they would pay more). Eventually, they got rid of her … but we started making a dollar an hour, and the men $1.25. (The men made more because they had a family to support, as if the women were working to pass the time, or to get a new set of slip covers for their couch).

Originally, I went to the Shoe Factory and put in for a job. They sent me home for my pay stub from Chicago. I made a special trip home for it. After the woman saw it, she told me I wouldn't be happy there. (And I wouldn't have been). That's why we borrowed money from the Searcy Bank to buy supplies for the Red River Eat Shop. (Located at the site of the present Searcy VFW, which was directly across the river, at that time). Later, we upgraded to the Oasis. By the time White County went dry, I had already taken the test for Clary. The Employment Office gave the test at the Legion Hut. They said I made the highest score of anyone.

I was young then.

Clary opening up here is why I always said the best thing that Orval Faubus did as Governor was to make Win Rockefeller head of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission.


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