Matt’s and Nana’s employees tended to be mostly male between the ages of 16 and 20. For most, it was a temporary job to earn some extra money for family or college. Growing up there required getting along with these young men. Their attitude toward me ranged from indulgent to wary. Once I told Matt when I saw one of the boys abusing a pony. The boy was fired.
Matt always had a foreman or lieutenant who knew the machinery. He was usually older and gnarly. A lot of men smoked in those days, including Matt. I remember the damp, oily, stale tobacco odors of the workshop.
‘The boys’ as they were called, were paid .75 per hour. I remember when the minimum wage came in at $1.25, my grandfather was in shock. He solved the problem by hiring only boys who were under 18!! For years I worked at Tiny Town after school and on weekends. I made $.25 per hour and that was a fortune for kid back then. Matt said I was his most trusted employee, and indeed I could do a lot of the jobs, from strapping kids on the ponies to painting rides to counting money.
Some of the boys remain in memory as especially kind or witty. Naturally I had crushes on one or two from time to time. Longer-time employees such as Jim Glass, Kenneth Eckhardt, Frank Williams and others, became family friends. Several remained helpful and loyal to my grandmother for as long as she lived in the Compton area. Where are they now?
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