Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Save Your Stuff

Coming up soon, April 27-May 3, libraries and organizations across the U.S. will celebrate Preservation Week.  The American Library Association- ALCTS has created a fantastic website with basic tips on how to store and handle your family's treasures. Check it out and help save treasures of all types for your family and the history of our community: Quick Tips to Save Your Stuff

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Working Woman: Part II-- Revolt

Fans of PBS Masterpiece shows such as Mr. Selfridge and The Paradise may be interested in these excerpts from local ladies who experienced the ins and outs of being department store employees here in the U.S.

From a transcript of the March 16, 1980 meeting of the Historical Society of Upper St. Clair: Helen and Nellie Currie speaking on "The Working Woman, Then and Now."

After working in Toledo for a while, Helen and Nellie Currie found jobs in a new location.  Helen continued to work in millinery and Nellie went to work in a baby department.  Nellie continues her narrative:
She [Nellie's boss] had been to Baltimore for one year working, and she acquired the southern speech; and if she didn't keep us girls on our toes, she was yelling at us all the time with that accent.  There was a stockgirl and I.  We were the youngest.  She'd [Nellie's boss] take my pretty decorations in my baby department and change them all around, which was too much, you know, after all my work.  She would not allow us to leave the floor to get our coats until all the tables were set up.  So we had to do that after the lights went out, and we'd stand there with our arms folded waiting for a customer to come in, and we weren't allowed to touch the tables.  So, all of the girls were married but me.  So, I said, "Girls, if you stand by me, I'll do the talking, but we're not going to do tables tonight."  So they said, "Oh, yes, they didn't want to do tables, they wanted to go out."  So, the lights went out, and I came out with my hat and coat and umbrella.  She came running over, "What goes on here?"  The girls all came out, and I said, "We're going home."  She hurried out of there and got the owner of the store, Mr. Rosenbaum.  He said, "What goes on here?"  So I said, "If we can't do the tables before the lights go off, we are not going to do the tables."  "We'll do them in the morning when we come in."  So he said, "Well, Mrs. Cunningham is the boss here and you will have to do as she says."  So I said, "All right, then she does it right now, but I'm not staying."  "And, I won't be back tomorrow."  Everybody came back the next day, but me.

After Nellie Currie's revolt, a manager visited Nellie's sister, Helen, to see what could be done.
Helen said, "If you're telling me about my sister and that woman she worked for over there, forget about it, it doesn't matter how long I worked here, I wouldn't have worked for her as long as Nellie did."

Nellie didn't go back, but she received the full week's pay.  She took another department store job at Gimbels in Pittsburgh.  Nellie continued to have a successful career in sales with several stores in the Pittsburgh area and even was able to travel as part of her sales position.  More about the twin's travel travails another time!