How I Earned My First Dollar
A series of pen sketches describing how some of Medford's well-known citizens climbed the first rung.
John W. Johnson"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, August 30, 1921, page 3
The first dollar I ever earned was for winning a footrace in Medford when this town was only a burg of 500. The finish was about where my store is now, and when I crossed the line ahead of 15 other small boys, a man slipped me a dollar as I went by. I never stopped running till I got to my home on Griffin Creek. I showed it to my mother, and ran back to town, and bought candy and firecrackers. Incidentally, I set the whole south end of town afire. It was covered with grass about two feet high and one of my firecrackers caused everybody to quit celebrating and begin fighting fire.
JOHN W. JOHNSON
Charles Talent"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, August 31, 1921, page 5
The first dollar I ever earned was for running an errand for Wah Lee, the Chinaman that just went up the street. He was our cook when we lived in Ashland, and he sent me downtown after a pail of lard, and I came back with three Mason fruit jars. This made Lee mad, and he threw a mouthful of Chinese at me, and grabbed a butcher knife like he was going to cut my throat. This scared the daylights out of me and I ran to my mother, and told her Lee was going to kill me. She went into the kitchen and had a talk with Lee, and he said he was just fooling. Half an hour afterwards Lee called me into the kitchen and said:
"You ketchum lard, me givum dollah. Heep good bloy."
I took the dollar, and got the lard, and though that was 25 years ago Lee always tells me about it when he sees me, and it's quite often.
R. F. (Dick) Antle"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 1, 1921, page 3
When I was nine years old I earned my first dollar. My uncle ran a grocery store, and I kept bothering him for a job, until finally he said:
"How much do you want?"
"I will take six bits a week, and all the gingersnaps I can eat."
My uncle said: "All right. Start in today on the delivery wagon, and I don't want any fooling."
The first day I ate eight pounds of gingersnaps, and have never been able to bear the sight of one since. The last day of the week the horse ran away, and threw me out, and my uncle paid me off, and said you go home and stay there before your mother skins me for breaking your neck.
Wah Kim"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 2, 1921, page 11
Me come from China fitte fo' ylears ago, workee laundlee, blow um water on shirtee. One month catchum hap dollar, no glood, workee Jeff heard, catchum dollah dlay, heap good.
----The hardest dollar I ever earned was the first one. I worked a week chopping wood to get it. The pile of wood I cut was the size of the Western Union telegraph station. I sure gave value received for my pay. That dollar was the biggest thing I ever saw, and for three days I would not speak to anybody.
Bill Jones"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 3, 1921, page 3
My first hog dollar was earned fighting another boy in Evansville, Indiana, when we were both about the size of Sonny Austin. A man named Jack Winkler said he would give a dollar to the one that whipped, and we went at it on the main street, with a pair of old boxing gloves. We fought all afternoon, and about 3000 people saw it. Finally the sun went down and Jack gave us both a dollar. I went home and my mammy gave me another licking for not hoeing the corn. I don't know what I did with the dollar, except that it didn't linger any longer than they do now.
Chris Ulrich of Jacksonville"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 5, 1921, page 4
I worked three days driving a straw horse on a threshing machine for my first dollar. I was about the size of a minute, and all I had to do was work from sunup to sundown, driving an old horse hooked onto a fence rail. I saw I wasn't going to get rich at this, so I went to work for an Irishman by the name of Fehely. It was another fine job, the hours being as long as you had strength enough to wiggle. Fehely had a couple of daughters who came right out in the brickyard and worked alongside the boys. They were good looking and good workers.
A. O. (Dick) Bennett"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 6, 1921, page 4
I got my first dollar pitching oats on an Indiana farm. A neighbor ran out of hired hands, and I went over to help him. I retained possession of my first dollar for six months, which is longer than I have been able to do since.
----It took me a week hoeing for Dick Dailey out at Eagle Point to get ahold of my first dollar, and when I did I went right downtown and spent it for candy. You could get a lot of candy for a dollar in those days, and I ate so much it made me sick, and to tell you the truth I ain't been feeling right since.
Wilbur (Wig) Ashpole
"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 7, 1921, page 4
John Goodrich"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 8, 1921, page 4
I should say so! Well do I remember the first dollar I ever earned. What did I do? I sawed wood on a rainy day. Yes sir, I sawed two cords of wood at fifty cents a cord back in Duluth, Minn. The weather was all right when I started but pretty soon it started to rain and I thought that the two cords of wood was the biggest pile of wood I had ever seen, but I wanted the dollar pretty badly so I went ahead and after the longest day I have ever lived through I got it.
David Rosenberg"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 9, 1921, page 4
The first dollar I ever earned was as a cash boy in a dry goods store. I was to get a dollar a week. I started in, and the first afternoon I went to sleep in the back room, and the boss caught me. He gave me a lecture and a dollar and told me I would never amount to much.
Geo. T. Collins"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 10, 1921, page 4
The first dollar I ever earned was selling newspapers in a New England city. The paper sold for a cent and cost me one-half cent. Regular customers were charged five cents a week for six issues and as most of my customers lived in apartment houses I had to climb three or four flights of stairs to deliver.
The price of a haircut in those days was fifteen cents, so I had to climb from one hundred to one hundred and fifty flights of stairs to earn the price of one, which is one of the reasons I got rid of my hair. It was too expensive; I couldn't afford to keep it.
Bill Gates"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 12, 1921, page 4
One day I was standing in the post office at Peoria, and a fellow said to me:
"Willie, you steal old man Filfe's cane, and I'll give you a dollar."
I started on a criminal career right then and there. Mr. Filfe told my father, and when I got home with my first dollar I got my first licking, and both seemed big.
A. W. Hubbs"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 13, 1921, page 4
I earned my first dollar piling and cutting wood. I got so anxious about it that I didn't go home for dinner or supper, and when I did arrive a warm reception awaited me. Since then I have never let anything stop me when mealtime comes. The glory of earning money and my first was dimmed by not being home when I was supposed to be there.
Mike Womack"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 14, 1921, page 4
The first dollar I ever earned was fighting roosters with Jakey Smith on the Applegate in 1886. I bet him a dollar that my rooster could whip his'n. It did. Up to that time my raising had all been on cornbread. I walked 16 miles to Jacksonville and ate 11 loaves of white bread.
George W. Nichols, Sr."How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 15, 1921, page 10
About 64 years ago, a cowman came to our house on Butte Creek, and stayed for a week. When he got ready to go my pa refused to take any money for his keep so he up and gave me $2.50 for feeding his horse. I was six years old, and running around the ranch with one gallus. I was feeling so good with so much money that I went out and played in the straw stack. The money dropped out of my britches and the next spring we found it all but fifty cents. It is still there, and one of these days I am going back to look for it.
Mayor C. E. GatesOne Christmas me and my oldest brother, when we were about 10 years old, pestered our father until he gave us a dollar each for Christmas. When we got up, we found a sack of candy and a dollar in our socks, and we went right downtown and proceeded to spend it. About noon we showed up at home, and then came the bluest Christmas I had ever known. I had spent my dollar and had no toys to play with. I managed to get through the day all right, but after that I did not dictate what I was going to get from Santa Claus.
"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 16, 1921, page 4
William Bates"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 17, 1921, page 4
I earned my first dollar pitching hay in Iowa, and believe me, before I got through I knew the value of a dollar. In those days, people had a day's work done before they get up now, and they hung people for staying in bed after the sun came up. The hay pitchers got up at 3:30 in the morning, so they would be sure to get an early start. A train went by every morning at nine o'clock, and the hired men then figured it was getting close to noon. The man I worked for was kindhearted and allowed a half hour for noon. We came in for supper when it got so dark you couldn't see a pitchfork in front of you, and milked a few cows to work up an appetite for supper. Yes sir, a man don't know what a dollar amounts to until he pitches hay in Iowa with the thermometer at 120 in the shade, and no shade.
Vernon Vawter"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 19, 1921, page 4
The first dollar I ever earned was keeping books for the Central Point bank at a dollar a day. I made the trip on a wheel, and used the Southern Pacific tracks. The first day I failed to ride over a cow guard and received quite a shaking up. I was so put out that I nearly gave up the job before I started.
O. C. Boggs"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 20, 1921, page 4
My first dollar was earned packing water for a contractor, who was plastering a school or a church, I have forgotten which. I had to work harder to get the dollar out of him than I did packing the water.
Edgar Wight"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 21, 1921, page 4
The first dollar which I ever earned was back in Iowa. Near the town of Hawarden runs a slow, shallow river named the Big Sioux. We kids would sit all day on the dam and fish for bullheads. Ten pounds would sell for one dollar by peddling them among several customers. The dollar was well earned but would buy most anything a boy wanted in those days.
Tom Collins"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 22, 1921, page 4
I made my first dollar on the Platte River in '59. Another fellow and I found a sore-footed calf together and I sold him my interest in it for two dollars. A chum of mine owned a worthless pepperbox pistol with revolving barrels and I gave him the $2 for it. Upon reaching home my older brother and my mother learned of my purchase of the worthless pistol and told me that a fool and his money were soon separated. This remark made me feel so blue that I took my $2 pistol and threw it in the Platte River.
Ed White"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 23, 1921, page 4
I have forgotten whether I earned my first dollar turning an ice cream freezer in a restaurant in Nashville, Iowa, or killing and dressing fat hens for my mother, and selling them to traveling shows. When I worked in the restaurant, I received 25 cents per day, and all I could eat. I worked and ate very hard. Whenever a show came to town, I would decapitate a couple of the fattest hens we had, pick and clean them, and sell them to the actors, who were fond of chickens then as now. If it was a minstrel show, I nearly cleaned out the henhouse.
W. H. (Dad) Meeker"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 24, 1921, page 4
I have a dim recollection of when I earned my first dollar, and a dimmer one about when I earned my last one. All I know about my first dollar is that it had something to do with a pitchfork. I am not sure, but I think that one of the neighbors ran out of hired hands, and I was drafted to help him out.
W. N. (Bill) Campbell"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 26, 1921, page 4
The first dollar I ever earned was driving a sulky rake over a 100-acre wheat field in Wisconsin, gathering up the wheat. It was a good proposition, and I got all the wheat I raked up. My father gave it to me, also the use of a team and the rake. It was not very hard work, and I got 40 bushels of wheat, which I sold at a good profit. I was about 12 years old.
Attorney Fred W. Mears"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 27, 1921, page 4
The first dollar I ever corralled was for packing wood and water, sweeping out, and doing general work around a schoolhouse in Massachusetts where I was born. I received a dollar a week, and the directors admitted that I was overpaid, and hated like sin to let go of the salary, which was considered wonderful in those days. I always built the fire for the school ma'am, and at noon brought in a fresh drink. The next job I got was waiting table at college.
J. W. Dressler"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 28, 1921, page 4
I earned my first dollar like Fred Mears--building fires in a schoolhouse. I got six bits a week, but the schoolma'am was good looking. I was 12 years old. I would wade through a Kansas blizzard in my cowhide boots, and build the fire, and then take off my boots and dump the snow out of them. It would get colder than blazes, but I would have the schoolhouse like a bake oven by the time the teacher arrived. The fires were built out of coal and corncobs.
Joe Brown"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 29, 1921, page 3
When I was a boy about 12 years old in the big woods of Minnesota I happened upon my first dollar. I was a barefooted boy, and every night I went out into the timber and drove home the cows. I was going down the road, kicking up the dust, when I found a dollar bill. I picked it up and put it in my pocket, and before I could get home I lost it. I never found it, and I've never felt so bad about anything since. I was a man with whiskers and voting the Democratic ticket before I have a distinct recollection of getting ahold of another one.
Fred L. McNeff"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, September 30, 1921, page 7
When I was a boy of six the county in which we were living was overrun with ground squirrels, on which there was a bounty of one cent paid for each squirrel, the tail being presented as proof of the deceased. The principal method used for catching them was to drown them out when irrigating; as my two uncles were running water over a large tract of land all that remained for me to do was to provide a short-handled shovel and go to work.
All through the heat of the summer, and it gets some hot at Fresno, Cal., I worked, with the help of a dog who would run down those that I would miss with the shovel as they came out of the hole. I managed to kill a large number over a period of several months. At one time I made a rather serious mistake, for I had turned the water into what looked to be a very promising hole and in due course of time out walked a very indignant black-striped skunk who seemed to blame me for his recent wetting, and according to his beliefs and inclinations he proceeded to give me a truly good shower of his only means of defense before I had time to get out of the way.
At the end of the irrigating season I cashed in the tails that I had collected and found that I had 121, which was $1.21. I kept the dollar for a long time before finally spending it.
Sam Richardson"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, October 3, 1921, page 4
The first dollar I ever earned was driving a buck rake in Missouri, when I was about 12 years of age. I was working for a neighbor who ran out of hired men, and he gave me 50 cents a day. A boy did more work than a man but got less pay, because it as considered a bad example. After he got through he had to knock it out of his employer. All I had to do was to get up at four o'clock in the morning, slop the hogs, milk the cows, get in the wood, harness the mules, feed the chickens, and sharpen scythes before breakfast. After breakfast, while waiting for the dew to get off the grass I chopped some wood and washed the breakfast dishes. We worked all day, and as long as we were able to see the haystack. After supper, I did everything I did before breakfast. By stepping around lively I was able to get to bed by midnight. The farmer came out and woke me up at half past three and always wanted to know if I was going to stay in bed till noon. I worked till I had $7.50, and then spent the rest of the winter xxx the half dollars I was xxx
John A. Westerlund"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, October 4, 1921, page 4
I earned my first dollar in that awful winter of '81, when we had that terrible snowstorm. I was 16 years old, and had lived on a farm and didn't need the money. The snow fell four feet deep, and the Union Pacific was blocked, so was the Rock Island and Peoria, and everybody, men and boys, got out and shoveled snow so the people could get the Chicago papers. It was awful cold, and we wrapped gunnysacks around our feet and went out into the blizzard and shoveled snow till we had icicles on our eyebrows. The railroad ran through my Pa's backyard, and the engineer of the work train would stop right there so I could get off, after he let me ride in the cab. I liked him very much for doing that, and thought I was a big man.
Frank P. Farrell"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, October 5, 1921, page 4
The first dollar I ever earned was selling papers and fruit in Los Angeles. We would sell two papers for a nickel that cost a penny, and make a good profit. For selling fruit I got two bits a day, and all I could eat. This early training developed lung power, for my present legal career, and [I] find it invaluable. Both consisted chiefly of yelling.
Jerry Jerome"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, October 7, 1921, page 4
The first dollar I ever earned was picking pie cherries in Illinois at a cent per pound. The pounds were large and the cherries small. By getting up at four a.m. a boy could pick 25 pounds a day, and I stayed with it till I had enough to buy a tin-plated watch. I was only 12 years old, and all the kids in town were my competitors.
A. C. (Dad) Howlett"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, October 8, 1921, page 4
The first dollar I ever earned was stripping tobacco for my father back in Missouri. That was 79 years ago, when I was a boy of 10 years. The dollar was applied to a suit of clothes. Us boys did no fooling, and when we got ahold of a dollar we knew how and where we got it. We did not spend our money foolishly, but always spent it for something worthwhile. Our father made us work hard, so we would learn the value of money, and it did us no harm that I can see.
Ed G. Brown"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, October 10, 1921, page 4
The first dollar I ever earned was pulling weeds in a garden in Missouri when I was about 10 years old. I had a contract to do it, and it was a long hard job. In those days we had no fancy candy. I bought a dollar's worth of old-fashioned brown sugar, and liked to kill myself overeating.
William Budge"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, October 11, 1921, page 4
I earned my first dollar hoeing turnips on the Isle of Man, in the Orkney Islands, and received ten cents a day. I was eight years old, and all a man received then was a quarter a day if he was exceptionally strong and a hard worker. Four dollars a month was a big salary. Well, I hoped turnips one whole summer, and showed up in the fall broke. I spent my salary foolishly for candy and knickknacks, and my folks had no faith in me, for being such a spendthrift. The wind blows so hard in the Orkneys that if you are not careful it will blow money right out of your inside pocket.
O. L. (Dave) Davidson"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, October 12, 1921, page 4
The first dollar I ever earned was helping to load a Great Lakes ship with copper, and I sure did earn it. After we dumped the ore in the ship we had to go into the hold and level off the cargo. When we got this done, I was so tired I could not climb up the ladder, and the bunch of Swedes I was working with went off and would have left me there if I had not put up an awful yell. This experience came close to breaking me of hard work.
Alexander Austin"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, October 13, 1921, page 4
When I was about the age of mah boy Sonny, I went to work on a farm in Kansas, and got my dollar. In them days they didn't know anything about working eight hours, and I worked 15 to 18 hours a day and even washed the dishes for the hired girl, they was so 'fraid I might not be busy all the time. I fed 75 cows before breakfast. Sunday was a day of rest. I got up at four o'clock in the morning instead of three. I don't know what I did with the dollar, but I ain't got it now.
Carl Y. Tengwald"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, October 14, 1921, page 4
The first dollar I ever earned was selling papers on the streets of Chicago when I was a very small boy. I howled in the bitter cold all day and the louder I yelled the fewer I sold. I finally wandered down into the "Loop district" and disposed of my wares at a good price. I bought candy with my profits.
John J. Buchter"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, October 18, 1921, page 3
When I was 14 years old I went to work for a hard-boiled Connecticut farmer, with chin whiskers. All I got out of him was my board and room, but a circus came to town, and he gave me permission to pick blackberries for a neighbor to earn enough to go. I got a dollar from my neighbor, and when I got back my boss said:
"How much did you get?"
I told him a dollar. He then took it away from me, and bought himself a new pair of overalls. I was pretty mad about it at the time.
John Moffett"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, October 19, 1921, page 4
When I was 11 or 12 years old, I earned my first dollar running all over town looking for a left-handed monkey wrench that a bunch of village barbers wanted. I gave up the search, and a kind old man engaged me to find a No. 12 posthole. I also fell down on this job and lost all faith in mankind when they had me searching for doughnut holes. The miserable wretches after pestering me all afternoon were troubled with their consciences and took up a collection which netted me $1, the first one I ever got ahold of.
J. Court Hall"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, October 20, 1921, page 4
When I was a boy in Ohio I earned my first dollar. I ran away from home to come to Oregon and was going to peddle my way here. I had fifty cents. I bought four pair of nickel socks and some suspenders and started out. I doubled my money on the transaction. I stocked up again and started out anew, but grew homesick in a couple of days, and went back home at Troy, Ohio, to get something to eat, and start right for Oregon. I started out with my Sunday clothes under my arm, and when a mile or two from home took off my everyday clothes and hid them. I was never able to find them again. I was warmly welcomed on my return. I really think that most of the rheumatism I have every winter is nothing but lingering pain from it.
John Wilkinson"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, October 21, 1921, page 4
The first dollar I ever earned was driving a hay derrick for my dad right here in the valley. I remember I got $4.50 together, and went to Roseburg. I spent $3.90 for a baseball mitt, but was still in as bad shape as I had no ball to catch in it. I went back to the hay derrick to eradicate this deficiency.