Thursday, June 25, 2009

Working at the elevator

My first job was at the Elevator during Harvest. Now, working at the Elevator is a short term job, because wheat harvest lasts 2-3 weeks usually. Short term, but long hours. I'd been looking forward to being able to work for a very long time. My plan was to work there the summer between my 8th grade and Freshman year, when I was 14.

You had to be 14 to work at the Elevator, and all a 14 year old could do there was roll tarps, but it was a job, and jobs were scarce in Big E. Unfortunately, the Federal Government stepped in that year and changed the law. No one under the age of 16 could work at an Elevator, and you had to be 18 to work in the Elevator.

Instead of working at the elevator that summer, I painted window trim for some friends and my grandparents.

But, the year I turned 16, I worked at the Elevator.

My job that first summer was to write out the tickets that we gave to the truck drivers. They'd pull on the scales, get weighed, and go on to the elevator. After being dumped, we'd weigh them again and figure the number of pounds of wheat they had, and figure the number of bushels. Another gal weighed the trucks (using a bar scale), she had her scale tickets, and I had the other tickets--the official tickets. We'd check our numbers with each other to make sure we matched and then I'd run my ticket out to the driver. My ticket also had the account name on them. Since several farmers leased ground, or farmed on shares, I'd have to change the names on tickets as they changed fields.

We took wheat from farmers for miles around, some from the Ditch Valley area of Oklahoma, some from the Mennonite settlement, and some from the northern part of the county. There were lots of names to remember. And, I did pretty well. Except, I did make one lady very angry.

One of the trucks came in and I ran out to find out who's wheat it was. The lady in the cab said it was "Minnow F.......'s wheat." Minnow? Who on earth would name their poor kid Minnow? But, I went inside and wrote Minnow's name on the ticket, we dumped the truck, I gave the driver the ticket, and she drove off --normal procedure.

But on their next trip to town, the driver came storming into the office, madder than a wet hen. She was furious. She stormed into the office where my Mother, who was also my Boss, was posting tickets from the night before. We gals didn't know what went wrong, so we quietly went about our work. The lady left, somewhat calmer. Mom came over and said, "Shell, you made a mistake on Mr. F.......'s ticket. Minnow is spelled M E N N O, after the founder of the Mennonites. Mrs. F....... thought you did it on purpose, but we got it straighted out, so from now on, make sure you get it spelled right." And then, she laughed, and Bob, the manager laughed and thumped me on the back.

O my. I felt awful, and I was so embarrassed. But, how was I to know that Menno wasn't Minnow?

Every year after that, Mom and Bob would come in each time the F.......'s came in and checked to see if I had spelled "Menno" correctly, and then they'd laugh. Real comedians...

But, I never miss-spelled it again.

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