Sunday, February 15, 2009

'Tis Sweet to Remember

In my hometown of Hoisington, Kansas there was a drug store on the south end of Main Street, on the west side, that sold DeCoursey Ice Cream. I think their headquarters was in Wichita, but don’t think I have ever tasted any ice cream as good and delicious as DeCoursey. It was RICH and MOUTH WATERING.

When I started work at Thies Packing Co in 1942, I started with a wage of $17.50 a WEEK. There were no time clocks at that time, and no OVERTIME PAY. After a while my wages went to $37.50 a WEEK. Again no overtime, B-U-T I was drafted into the Army July 9, 1942 and while I was in the Army, Thies had a Wage and Hour audit, and had to pay some back wages. I don’t remember what my check was but I did received a check for back wages.

When I returned to Thies in 1945, they had time cards & clocks, etc. My job was a little different than when I left. Our bank deposits were in two parts: one was Customer checks and Money, and the other was MEAT POINTS. Yes, the plant had to collect paper POINTS from the stores we sold meat to and make a deposit at the American State Bank, with MEAT POINTS. Our price books had two columns, one for $/cents per pound and another was the number of POINTS for each meat item. Also with our purchase of livestock, the plant received a subsidy payment from the government on certain weights of cattle, mostly the lighter weight cattle like calves, etc. (Subsidy amounts were contingent on cattle WEIGHTS.) So we had to do bookkeeping on all live cattle purchases. After the war we had a government IRS audit. Oh what a mess that was. We had to go through a lot of cattle purchase records (boxes full of purchase invoices, and purchase books) for the auditors. I got in on that chore also. It was a MESS.

Sugar was also rationed during WW 2, so we had to account for all the POUNDS of cured hams we processed to justify our sugar purchases. The plant also did Custom Curing for farmers that butchered at home. They would bring us their fresh hams and we would cure and smoke them for the farmers, B-U-T we had to weigh the hams and the farmers had to bring us enough sugar as calculated to their ham weight, etc. I remember in our plant we had Sugar Bins, and Salt Bins. We office people had to be CAREFUL not to dump the farmers sugar into the SALT BIN.

My, my, how office chores have changed since those days. Bookkeeping naturally was all HAND WRITTEN, double entry (Debit/Credit); we used fountain pens, or straight pen with INK WELLS, (remember them?). We had heavy books, General Ledger, Accounts Receivable, Disbursement Journal, Accounts Payable and a General Journal for CLOSING entries. For a time we had a VOUCHER system, You booked transactions before they actually occured. Also a record called COST OF GOODS SOLD, to calculate inventories with sales, etc. to determine that part of the Statement of Income. This was a lengthy process with categories like Materials and Supplies, Livestock, Raw Material, Work In Process, Finished Goods. Since we were on 13 four week periods in our fiscal accounting periods, we had another record called AMORTIZING (or Amortization) of fixed expenses. (Sometimes contingent upon Budgeted Figures) and “Accruals”. Bookkeeping in those days was BOOKKEEPING in its RAW FORM. Today they call it ACCOUNTING.

The things we older ones can remember from the way we did things before computers. For taking dictation, I was one of the office guys that took short hand in school, so I took dictation from the boss on writing up pasture leases, etc. Now they have dictation machines to tape their dictation and the leases or letters can be typed from an earpiece listening to a tape recording. At that time, dictation was HAND WRITTEN in Gregg’s Short Hand by a secretary (me). When I took Bookkeeping, Short Hand, and Typing in Hoisington High School, I NEVER DREAMED I would be making my living the rest of my life using those studies.
See ‘ya all.
Ernie

1 comment:

Greta Koehl said...

I have to tell you, Ernie, that I am in awe of anyone who can do Gregg's Short Hand. When I used to work as a secretary during the summer in my college and graduate years (late 70s, early 80s), I knew a couple of secretaries who could do it, and they were the "creme de la creme."