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The joy of working

September 11, 2011
By DON WILLIAMS , For The Leader Herald

I do not know when "work" became a negative, when it was to be avoided at all costs, especially by some of the young folks. When my great aunt Bessie Galusha was 99 years old she tried to hire the neighborhood boys to shovel the snow off of her porch roof. She offered to pay them well, but they all said "it is too much work!" So she climbed out the upstairs window and did the job herself.

In my estimation, work is something that can be enjoyed. Selecting a career which brings joy has long been known to contribute to good health; I can attest to that. Those who find joy in their work are those who put something into it - the more that you put into something, the more you get out of it. Work can be rewarding.

In my upbringing, "work" was a necessary part of every day. The cows had to be watered, fed, and milked. Chickens had to be "cooped" and "de-cooped," fed, and the eggs collected. We had to "slop" the hogs and feed the dogs and cats. Dad had a fulltime job and depended upon the kids to get the work done.

Our garden covered some three acres. Planting, weeding, watering and harvesting required work and, if we wanted to eat, it had to be done. Thus, work was an accepted part of growing up and never questioned. Play always came after the work was done.

There is a certain satisfaction that comes with work. Simply mowing the lawn and seeing the neat results brings joy. Painting buildings and equipment can be a source of pride. Harvesting fruits and vegetables from the results of your own labor makes all the work worthwhile. If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well; another source of joy and satisfaction.

My formal work began early; one job I enjoyed was going through the glove shops selling my "wares." Shop owners were good to kids and let us go along behind the chairs of the glove workers and sell them the products of that day. We sold garden seeds for the fifth grade, peanut brittle for the church, and Cloverine Salve for ourselves. We sometimes sold chances on those small punch cards for a chance to win a cuckoo clock. The kind shop ladies supported our sales.

The peanut brittle sales opened the door for my next step in the job market. The Methodist Youth Fellowship was selling the candy to raise funds for the church and our advisor, Gordon Mosher, was supplying the product from his general store. I was anxious to sell and went to the store every day until the candy came in. Mr. Mosher offered me a "store boy" job, which I kept for the next eight years. I was only 13 so I worked "informally" until I turned 14 and got my working papers. I have been working steady in the formal job market for 64 years. Some of the $13 per week I earned was taken out for Social Security. Interestingly, when I officially retired, they did not count those years of work; I could have used that money at that time. That store job got me through college along with working in the college dishwashing room, the snack bar, in the book store, washing dishes at the Elks Club before the days of dishwashing machines and keeping the beer cooler stocked in a Plattsburgh convenience store.

Once in my teacher/principal education career, I always found a summer job when needed. Slicing bread in the bakery paid more than my teaching job. Running summer programs and guiding kept me with the kids. Some say it keeps you young to surround yourself with young people.

Today I am "retired!" Much like Regis, I am really "moving on:" retirement is probably a misnomer, it does not exist if you like to work. I work on my three acres and my big house; they require a lot of attention. One of my dreams is to open an "Adirondack Gateway Museum" of Adirondack artifacts, rustic furniture, vintage tools, and artistic Adirondack burls; working on a dream is time-consuming and another source of joy. I just finished my sixth book since "retiring", another Arcadia Image of America book, "The Adirondacks-People and Places." I guess in the long run, a little work never hurt me.



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