A Career from Casual Labor

Daddy always remembered Mr. Elmer as a kind man; he must have been quite a modern businessman as well since he constructed the town’s first cement swimming pool. Daddy did odd jobs for Mr. Elmer. After the death of Grandfather, it was one of the Elmer sons who purchased the house that Daddy grew up in.

Daddy finished high school at age 16 and during the next six years, he spent part of his time helping Grandfather in the veterinary business. In addition, he pieced together a lot of odd jobs and seasonal work. He worked the summer wheat harvests, delivered ice, was projector operator for a picture show, ran a farm produce store which sold eggs, butter, cream, chickens, lunch meats, cheese, pickles, etc., worked as a section hand on the railroad, painted houses, mixed and carried mortar for bricklayers and plasterers, was a carpenter’s helper, worked at a soda fountain, ran a pool hall for short periods as relief for the owner, served as an extra police officer on special occasions, and did cement work, helping to lay many of the cement sidewalks in Indianola, most of which are still there. He also worked a few months for Burlington Railroad Company, traveling from town to town with the crew in equipped box cars, painting depots and signals.

The town of Indianola held annual elections to decide whether it would be dry or wet. During the wet years, the town saloon flourished and during the dry years, the bootleggers had a heyday. One of the early policemen was named Murrg (an Irishman) who used Daddy on occasion to help make arrests. On one occasion he was trying to put a Major in jail when Dad came along and asked if he needed help. The next day he handed Daddy a dollar for assisting in the arrest.

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