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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Tales from the old-timer

The 1929 Economic Depression and the ”Government Job”

My dad had a good job with the Kissel Kar Company of Hartford during World War I when the firm was busy with building trucks for the US Army. By 1920 things had slacked off and the Ford Motor Company, with its assembly line methods dominated the car manufacturing industry. Dad was the Purchasing Agent for the company and when he noticed that the Kissel company was having trouble paying its bills, he sniffed out a job with Ford at their Kingsford, Mich. plant. They moved to Kingsford and I was born at the Iron Mountain General Hospital on May 4, 1925.

The 1929 stock market crash affected the car market, and things slowed down at the Kingsford plant by 1930. They had retooled to produce the Model A Ford, which slowed things down. Dad’s work week went from 5 days a week to 4 days, then 3 days and then 2 days a week, and he was unable to make his home mortgage payment of $50 a month.

Hundreds of families had the same problem, and the banks didn’t even bother to foreclose on the mortgages, dad recalled years later.

My mother died at age 32 on July 4, 1932 of a strep throat infection, easily cured today with modern medicines.

I lit my firecrackers that day, as the full extent of the tragedy slowly settled on our family.

We moved to Peshtigo in 1932 and lived with Grandma and Grandpa for a couple of months, then bought a house on Cranberry Ave. Dad got only $50 from the subsequent sale of our house at 312 Harrison Ave. in Kingsford.

Dad had taken an exam for a federal job with the Department of the Interior which had to do with patrolling our border with Mexico. He did well on the test, and the monthly report on hiring offered hope. Dad promised us kids each a $1 a week allowance when he got the job, but the World War I veterans had 5 or 10 points added to their test scores, and he got edged out. He had gotten a draft deferment because of his job, which he later regretted.

Dad got hired by Badger Paper Mills in Peshtigo and worked up to be the Shipping Clerk before long.

I never forgot dad’s unsuccessful efforts to get that “Government Job,” and when my turn came about 1952 I had a University degree and good test writing ability and I got a job teaching school, then after 4 years took the exam for Social Worker, and scored well. That brought my family’s move from Illinois to Marinette for my long career with the Marinette County Department of Social Services.

Though holders of “Government Jobs” don’t rate very high in today’s Wisconsin Government, I believe I did a good and necessary job, and my conscience is clear that I was not a bloodsucker, leech and parasite upon the taxpayers of this great state!


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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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