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LIVING 60+: Langley seniors recall their first paid jobs

From culling green weiners in a meat plant to selling grapes at Woodwards
Mary Dunne

The Langley Advance Times asked some local residents what they remember about their first paid jobs.


Anne Krikorian

Anne completed a program in preschool education and then took a job in the field.

“I graduated in 1958.”

A highlight for her – “the joy of learning to work with children… And to be getting a paycheque, my very, very own money.”

“One of the first things I learned about was what a union was.”


Mary Dunne

Mary went to work at the Woodward’s store in Edmonton in 1942.

“I was 16 when I started, and I started in the grocery department.”

She said the store owners were great people to work for. The store was so big, she and other staff were stationed at the grape table, selling then-exotic fruit to customers.

“It was just so sticky behind the counter.”

Her shoes used to get stuck to the floor and a heel came off one time.

Her highlight was staff were “allowed to buy stockings” despite wartime scarcities.


Christa Deck

Christa had the yummiest first paid job. She apprenticed in a bakery and sweets shop/cafe in Germany.

“I started my apprenticeship at 15.”

This was around 1957 and the apprenticeship, which dealt with sales and food skills including making chocolates, typically lasted about 3.5 years. She worked there for four years before going to work in the hospitality and hotel industry.

Every day, cakes and candies had to be removed from the shop and taken to the cool basement to preserve freshness. That sometimes resulted in happy accidents.

“And when you dropped them, [they could not be served to customers] and you took them home.”


Evelyn Fraser

Evelyn went to work in a meat plant in Saskatchewan when she was 19. It helped bring in some money right after she finished teachers’ college to pay off her tuition.

“I worked with skinning machines for wieners.”

After wieners were smoked, they had to be removed from long rows of casing. She had to feed long ropes of wieners into machines to remove the skins. She had to keep up to three machines humming while still deftly cutting out any wieners that had turned green.

“We played cards on our lunch breaks, canasta.”


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Christa Deck
Evelyn Fraser

Heather Colpitts

About the Author: Heather Colpitts

Since starting in the news industry in 1992, my passion for sharing stories has taken me around Western Canada.
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