Bridging Generations

Ancestors and descendents of Joyce Verla Pratt and Mark Richard Berrett

A working man

Iva Compton Pratt

Iva Compton Pratt – in front of a car similar to what Frank worked on at the GM factory

Continuing in Pop’s own words:
“I started working at General Motors when I quit school when I was 16.  I had to go back and finish the 10th grade before they would give me a job.  At that time I worked in the body shop for 40 cents an hour.  That was fair wages.  My job was to haul a body out of an oven.  We put varnish on the cars; we didn’t put paint on them.  We used clear varnish over a green or black undercoat.  We had those two colors.  They would send the bodies in these long lines, and it would take so many hours to dry.  It was my job to go down into the oven and haul the bodies out when they were dry and take them to the man who did the striping.  He put the stripes along the sides of the cars with a little sword brush, as they called it.  Today they use tape [for the stripes.]  I had to haul them out of the oven to him.  The oven was about 180 degrees, and we perspired freely!”

“That was my job for about two years.  Then GM decided no more varnish.  The varnish men all said, no way, they wouldn’t use a spray gun; they would quit.  Every varnish man quit!  So they told all of us kids – you are going to be a sprayer and paint bodies.  The bodies would come down the line, and I would spray the front half and one side, and another guy would paint the back half and the other side.  Another guy would spray the top and around the windows.  We made real good money.  We got 12 cents a body – the four of us.  We could get about 60 bodies in an hour if we hurried.  If we got behind, we would speed the (??) until we got caught up.  We took a ticket off every body that went by us, and we would turn in the tickets at the end of the shift.  That determined the money.  We made big money – $7.00 an hour, split four ways.  But we could only turn in 1.25 an hour.  So we had to save the extra until 7 or 8 at night when we could turn in all the tickets. ”

It sounds like Pop figured out a way to work the system from the time he was a teenager!


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