One of the Highest Wage Earners in 1940

Another entry in my Labor Day photo series…

One of the interesting things about going through the 1940 census is seeing how much money my relatives were earning in 1939.  For the most part, my relatives were earning between $500 and $1500 a year.  So, I was surprised to see that my great uncle Joe Smith (Jose Pacheco) was making $2,300 a year in 1939, according to the 1940 census.

They were one of the few in the family who held on to their home during the Depression.  It was valued at $4,500 in 1940.  They also owned a piano.  They made trips to back and forth to Hawaii.  I’m going to have to say they were doing pretty well for themselves coming out of the Depression.

Up until 1937, Joe worked on the Spreckels Sugar Beet Farm like so many of my Portuguese relatives.  He and Minnie had lived in Salinas since they were married sometime right after World War I.  While most of the Pacheco’s and their cousins had moved back to Oakland for work, Joe and Minnie stayed.

Sometime around 1936-1937, Joe left the sugar beet farms behind.  He became a mechanic for Farmers Mercantile Inc.  From what I  gather from the little research I’ve done, Farmers Mercantile was a sort of farm equipment supply/hardware store.  Joe was a mechanic who worked on farming equipment.  The pay was good compared to others in the family who were still struggling to get their footing after the Depression.

This is a photo of Joe at work ca 1943.  Notice the tie under his mechanic’s coveralls.


My Grandma Was a Working Woman

Long before women burned their bras, my Grandma Shellabarger was a working woman.  In fact, she worked most of her life.  At first it was because her family couldn’t survive during the Depression on the 33 cents an hour my Grandfather made.  After their divorce it was necessity.  She needed to feed herself and her two children.

While she was married to husband number 1 (Joao Pacheco Smith) she did everything from clean houses to sweep floors. This photo was taken around 1936.  It was taken in in front of the beauty shop in Salinas where she swept the floors.  She was just about to start her work day.  She took my Mom with her to work at the beauty shop and when she cleaned houses.   She got better pay than my grandfather at 34 1/2 cents an hour which was a contentious issue between them.

My grandma never did finish school.  She got pregnant in 1928 and had to get married.  She was one year shy of graduation.

It fascinates me because my grandma was an educated woman none-the-less.  She was well read.  I remember that she was always reading and doing puzzles.  She had a paperback collection of classic books, numerous novels, and Reader’s Digest condensed volumes on her bookshelf.  She wrote well and had beautiful penmanship.  Somehow in between dropping out of school and getting a divorce, she got the training necessary to hold office jobs.  Most likely it was on the job training.  You could get a job that way back in the 40s and 50s.

I found some documents while going through the family safe deposit box that listed my grandmother’s occupations.  It’s a long list!  She was never one to let the dust settle under her feet.

1945-1949 Ediphone Operator and Clerk for a Mail Order House

1949-1950 Ediphone Operator and Audit Clerk at Yellow Manufacturing Co.

1950 Sound Scriber Operator at the Health Dept. in Oakland

All these positions were at the Supply Center in Oakland

1950-1956 Clerk Typist and Expeditor

1956-1957 Clerk Typist

1957-1964 Fiscal Account Clerk

1964-1967 Clerk Typist

1967-1968 Accounts Maintenance Clerk at the Naval Regional Finance Center, Oakland

1968-1972 Supply Clerk at the Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diego

This photo was taken in 1960. It must have been taken at the Supply Center in Oakland.  She was 48 at the time.  (See the note of Anna on the photo to find my grandma.)

This last photo was taken 9 Jun 1972 and has the note “Receiving Office” on the back.  It was taken when Grandma lived in Chula Vista and was working for the Naval Station.  Right after this she ended up in the hospital diagnosed with heart troubles.  She retired and moved up to Santa Cruz to be closer to us.

In 1974, she woke up one night paralyzed in her leg.  She was in surgery that night to remove a brain tumor.  You can see from her life she was a fighter and she persevered.  They gave her 5 years maximum to live after the surgery.  Anna (Jackson) Shellabarger died in 2006 at the age of 92.  I’d say she proved them wrong!


Before He Became a Painter and Writer

Another entry in my Labor Day photo series…

Frank Milton Shellabarger was my grandmother’s third husband.  My software’s relationship calculator says that we are not related by blood. I will always know him as Grandpa Frank even though he died when I was 1 year old.

When my grandma met him in the late 1950s, he was painter–of houses and of paintings.  We have one of his landscapes.  He had a small claim to fame as a house painter for Zelinksy and Sons.  Before Phyllis Diller became famous, he painted her house.

I found leaflets and pamphlets that he wrote in the 1950s.  These had to do with being a successful man and marketing yourself. The leaflets lead me to believe he might have given lectures on the topic.  One of the leaflets was titled “The Powder of Success” by F.M. Shellabarger, California Representative of Art Instruction Inc.

As a house painter, he invented a special device to hold paint cans.  I found paperwork that he had filled out where he was going to apply for a patent.  He died in 1965 before he got to pursue that dream.

Frank was born in Mount Pleasant, Iowa in 1908.  Before he set out to do all these things, he found himself working in Yellowstone National Park for the Summer.

I found these two photos in my grandmother’s collection.  They are dated “Summer 1930″.  Frank would have been 22.  Both photos have notes on the back.  The second was in Frank’s handwriting.  The first was not, nor is it my grandmothers.  It may have been his first wife’s writing.

The first has written on the back “Frank feeding the bears in Yellowstone park, Summer 1930.  Note Frank was chef.”

The second one says “Just a friend I made while in Yellowstone Park.”

People found work where they could during the Depression.  For Grandpa Frank it was Yellowstone National Park.