I was welcomed into the Dexter Shoe Shop like any woman was greeted in the 60s! The interview process was not intensive, there was no internet to speak of, and real people interviewed you in a room. I was “trained” to run an industrial overlock machine. This was not rocket science; the training consisted of showing me the machine. And the racks of Ice Skates, Bowling Shoes, Golf Shoes, and various other “shoes” needed the backs sewn together. I had been sewing since I was 8, so it was not an alien attempt.
The racks were about 7 feet tall, with enough shelves to hold a case of 32 pairs of shoes. I would start at the bottom, take a row if possible, and put them on the right side of my machine. I would stitch down the back of the first pair, run the overlock thread out about 2 or three inches, add the next pair, stitch them together. This continued until I had the entire case sewed.
I would then move the case rack out of the way and bring another rack to my bench. This continued every day, 5 days a week. I think I mentioned that I “repaired” the machine to keep the “Mechanics” from wasting my time waiting for them to get to my machine. All they had to do was loosen a screw, put a new wire on, and tighten it. This consistently took 30 minutes. Once I talked them out of a dozen wires, it was done in 5 minutes.
I worked on piecework, so time was important to me. I might have mentioned that I am ambidextrous and very fast with my hands. I was asking for more money, but guess what? They didn’t was a mere woman to make money, so it was met with resistance. The foreman they sent to check my time was not the sharpest tool in the shed. He stood behind me and clocked my speed. While he was standing behind me, I did a lot of moving, but not a lot of backs got sewed until he left, and I sped up.
I was battling anemia and did nothing but work and sleep for the first year home. When I felt better, I started hankering for a horse. And eventually found one.
I was constantly asked out by a guy from Canada, and I constantly said no. You gotta give him credit for grit. One day I was walking down the main street, and who should be standing on the side next to a parking meter, but Joe. Standing next to him was this guy! He was about 6 ft tall, slim with blue eyes and nearly blonde hair.
Joe asked me out again, and I said yes, but you have to come down to the farm and meet my parents. I’ll be darned if they both came, and the funny thing is, my mother knew Shirley’s parents. They lived near each other. And Shirley used to deliver the newspaper to our house.
The best summer of my life started with that short meeting! We double-dated Joe and I and Shirl (he shortened Shirley to Shirl) with one of his many girlfriends. We did a lot of sightseeing during the daytime and were at the Bar-L nearly every Saturday night.
The Bar-L was an old barn converted into a Dance Hall! No alcohol was served inside; it was consumed outside! Shirl did not drink then and has never had a drink; however, Joe drank when he was not with Shirl.
Joe was a little jealous of any of Shirl’s attention to me. One time Shirl got stung by a bee on his lip. I was just joking, I kissed his bee sting, and Joe and the girl Shirl was dating were pissed at both of us. Later that day, we cemented the dislike.
We were just relaxing parked by a stream when the girl had a brilliant idea. We each picked a Maple leaf from a nearby tree, and we all four dropped them in the stream. The leaves that Joe and Judy’s leaves went a little way and stopped on opposite edges of the stream. Shirl’s and my leaf met in the middle, hooked together, and traveled down the stream out of sight!
Stay tuned; I will be back with more adventures in dating in the 60s.