I had a brief career in the honey industry. It was the end of the school year in 1950 and I was 13 and would be 14 in August. As I recall, back then school let out around May 20th to the 25th. I was scheduled to spend the summer in Arizona with my Grand-dad but wouldn’t be leaving until the middle of June. I wanted to find a job so I could have some pocket money while on vacation. I mentioned this to my great Aunt, Rachel Peebler, and she suggested that Mr. Small might be able to use me in his honey business. She said he hired a few kids every summer to help him.
Arthur V. Small and his wife, Jesse, were good friends of my Aunt Rachel and Uncle Dave. Mr. Small was a retired chemical engineer or petroleum engineer at our local Socony-Vacuum (later Mobil) refinery. Mrs. Small was a member of Eastern Star and other clubs with Aunt Rachel. Over the years, Aunt Rachel had taken me with her a number of times to their home at the corner of Harrington and Henry Streets.
Aunt Rachel drove me up to the Small’s house and I told Mrs. Small I needed a job for about 3 weeks and wondered if they could use me. She said Mr. Small had just recently brought in a bunch of hives and there was a lot of work to do. She told me to show up the next morning at 8:00 AM and there would be plenty of work for me.
When I reported for work I was surprised to find 6 or 8 kids there that I knew. Some of them said it was their second or third year on the job. They loved it and I soon found out why. Mr. Small spent a few minutes telling about the job and the work that was being done. He had organized the work crew as a full-fledged organization with a chain of command, job titles, and job descriptions. It’s been so long ago I don’t remember any titles except Expeditor, Chief Expeditor, and Inspector. Everyone had an important sounding title and a job description telling them exactly what their job entailed. I remember a kid named Bob Hamilton was Chief Expeditor. He was two years older than me and had worked there for a couple of summers. I was the lowliest of the low and my job was to scrape the wax residue of the honeycombs out of the hives and then give them a fresh coat of white paint. I don’t remember my title but it wouldn’t have been anything as common and mundane as “Beehive Scraper” or “Laborer”. It would surely have been something like “Habitat Renovator”.
The Small’s house was built on the side of a hill and around in back there was a door and you could walk straight into the basement. That’s where the people worked that handled the jars and labels and honey. I have no idea what the output of the shop was but I imagine that the Smalls did all right with their business. You could go into every neighborhood grocery store in town and find jars of AVS Honey on the shelf.
I really enjoyed the three weeks or so that I worked there. Having an opportunity to learn about the workplace from a wise, older couple like Mr. and Mrs. Small was good for every kid they trained.
April 12, 2015