The first paycheck I ever earned was signed by my uncle T. J. Thompson and payable for $2.00. It was written on Corydon State Bank, wages for an afternoon spent riding a bumpy seed cart, keeping the hopper filled with soybeans. I hadn’t done it for pay. “Making yourself useful” was simply part of country culture. But I still recall the thrill of understanding that my time and attention to detail had been transformed into something tangible.

At 16, I traded 40 hours of summertime week for $15 for watching two children, washing, ironing and regularly cooking a noontime meal for “hired hands.” At 20, I worked the graveyard crew producing Butterball turkey bags in Centerville’s Union Carbide plant. The first experience taught me I was not designed to be a farm wife; the latter gave me great respect for the resiliency of shift workers.

Every job I have ever held has taught me something. About others; about myself. But today, on Labor Day 2011, it is the doing, itself, that has me pondering. I am so grateful to have come from people who considered an honest day’s work to be as Godly an expression of being as existed. To recall scent memories planted in my mind when I was Lily’s age of field sweat on my dad’s bibbed overalls makes me misty. To recount, with my mom, the many years when early September meant cellar shelves ribboned with jars of purple beets, green beans, red tomatoes and sweet blackberries makes us laugh. For they didn’t get there by themselves.

To those who taught us to work those yesterdays, thanks.

To those who find themselves in a job outside their expectations, just breathe.

To those searching for work today, Godspeed.

“Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.”


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