Carr, Adams and Collier/Caradco, 1948 to 1960, Sash 24
I started at Caradco when I was eighteen years old. I didn’t even have a Social Security number. I was born and raised in Lansing and right after high school I got a job with a church decorator, but I didn’t like walking on those planks forty foot in the air, so I quit and migrated to Dubuque. I lived in a rooming house on South Locust Street. After three or four weeks I still didn’t have a job and I was putting off paying the landlady because I didn’t have any money. One day I went out to John Deere and they said they would hire me but they’d have to wait a week ‘cause of my not having a Social Security number. So I hitchhiked back to Dubuque and I ran into some young guy who said, “Well, Caradco is hiring so why don’t you go down there.” I went down there and they sent me up to Central High School to get a work permit and I started the next day. I started at eighty-eight cents an hour, two cents more than John Deere was paying at the time.
I tell you one thing, I got married after I started working there and I had nine kids. I was renting and I wanted to buy a house. With all them kids it was like trying to pull a tooth with a marshmallow. I had five hundred dollars, but I needed another five hundred to make a thousand dollar down payment. Somebody suggested I go to the Dubuque Building and Loan Association. So one Saturday I got up enough gumption and I went in and seen this secretary and she said, “Well, have a seat and we’ll let you talk to the president in a couple of minutes.” So I sat there a few minutes and then they called me in and I talked to this guy and I gave him all the information—I had this wife and all these kids and I needed a house and I needed one thousand dollars but I only had five hundred and I would like to borrow five hundred dollars. He got to talking and asking me more questions and finally he said, “I’m going to have to deny you the loan.” And I said, “Well, why is that?” And he said, “Well I’m president of Carr, Adams and Collier and we don’t pay you enough money to buy a house.” So I vacated that joint. Then on Monday when I went to work, one of the guys said, “Well why don’t you go down and join the Credit Union. Do you have five dollars on you?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “It only costs five dollars to join. Give them the five dollars, join the Credit Union and tell them you need five hundred dollars for a down payment on a house. So I went down at noon and I joined the Credit Union. I worked on the third floor and the Credit Union was on the second floor. I went down and joined and I applied for a five hundred dollar loan and that night when I was leaving one of the guys from the Credit Union was standing in the stairway and said, “Hey, did you forget about your five hundred dollars?” So I got my five hundred dollars and went home and bought a house.
I had a lot of fun working at Caradco and I made friends there that I still call to this day. It didn’t pay very well, though. That’s one of the reasons I quit. I’d worked there twelve years and I was making $1.61 an hour. I went out to John Deere in 1960 and started for $2.61 and a half.