When I was a kid, my mother worked at various jobs. She worked as a cook in a small, busy, restaurant, as a clerk in a hardware store, and at different times, as a clerk in two different grocery stores. Later she worked for a small manufacturing business, assembling some kind of small parts. My dad worked full time at the Co-Op Creamery, keeping the furnaces going and as the machanic keeping the milk trucks running. If he was lucky, he occasionally worked overtime hours to bring in much-needed extra money for our family.
Because it still wasn't usual for wives and mothers to work outside the home when I was a kid, my mother was one of the few who wasn't at home when school let out. This gave us even more freedom then most kids had during the week. On Saturdays after our chores were done, we were completely free. But we had more responsibilities then most other town kids.
At least that was true for my sister and me. My two brothers weren't expected to do housework. Apparently their physical equipment somehow excluded them for that sort of work. Putting childhood resentment aside, and to be fair to them, during their teen years both held full-time, or almost full-time jobs, and paid most of their own expenses.
Before we earned money as teen-agers at real paying jobs, my sister and I were put to work at home. We shared the cleaning chores. My sister was taught to cook and was in put charge of preparing some of our meals.
My special job was, at first, washing all the white painted woodwork in the house. Not just the window sills and frames, but also the baseboards, (we called them mopboards). Soon, in addition to the window sills and frames, I graduated to washing the linoleum floors, on my hands and knees. On my hands and knees, because I couldn't be expected to see if the floor was clean enough if I used a mop. I can see the wisdom of that now.
We recieved a sort of allowance/pay, for taking over the household chores so that our mother could work and bring in extra money to help keep our bills paid.
I worked as a waitress when I was fifteen. I was hired because I'd had the foresight to apply for a Social Security card, and already had a Social Security number.
I landed a job at one of the two drug stores in town when I was sixteen.
I marvel now at how clueless I was when I was a kid. One night at just about closing time at the drugstore, I was cleaning the soda fountain area. The pharmacist was working in the back, and the lights at the front of the store had been turned off to discourge anyone coming in at the last minute.
But, a man did come in. He wandered about, looking at this and that, leafing through several magazines, and he finally approached me. He asked, "do you have a mail clerk?" I answered him, "no, we don't have one."
The man wandered about a while longer. He looked a bit nervous, and I began to worry. Then he approaced me again. This time I was standing behind the cash register, at the back of the store, on the other side of the wall that separated me from the area behind, where my boss was quietly working.
The man asked me again, "Are you sure you don't have a mail clerk?"
"No," I said, "but I pass the train depot on the way home and they have a mail box there. If you want, I can drop your letters in the box for you."
At that, my boss, who had been silent up until then, burst out laughing like a crazy man, came out from behind the wall, and told me I could go home.
As it turned out, the man was in the drug store to buy condoms, something my boss realized from the beginning. He let me flounder around in my innocence.
It took me days to figure out what had happened.
That's the way it was, when I was a kid.