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When A High-Paying Job Was $10,000 Per Year.

Remember back when I wrote about inheriting my grandfathers’ old tools? Well, this past weekend I finally got around to taking every tool out of every toolbox, arranging them all over my workbench and the floor in order to clearly see what I had on my hands. Turns out it was quite a lot – so many, in fact, that I am actually going to be giving away a bunch of them. My grandfather saved everything! I think this might be because he grew up during the Depression, so there were lots of broken and “extra” tools in his toolboxes. I snapped this picture of my workbench when I had finished laying them all out for examination:


When it was all said and done, I had put everything away neatly and organized so I know where to find whatever I need whenever I need it. But really, my main point of this post was to talk about something entirely different than these tools — it was to talk about something else I had found in one of those boxes…a matchbook from a very, very long time ago.


See, my grandfather was an electrician who was born in 1912. So by 1930 at 18 years old he was already working full time helping to support his mom and all his siblings right as the Depression was reaching its stride. Sometime well after he was already an electrician is when I imagine he acquired this book of matches advertising a job opportunity where you could learn about electricity at home and then in one year’s time, start earning $10,000 per year. On the other side of the cover it said “Learn by doing with famous Industrial Training Institute. They’ll teach you electricity at home in spare time with simple, fascinating experimental kits. In about a year from now you can be ready for the kind of career-position that now pays many men $10,000 a year and more. Send for FREE BOOK. No obligation.” It’s funny that we still see offers like this in the back of magazines many, many years later!

Unfortunately the matches don’t have a year on the cover, which would have been cool to see when that $10,000 was such a high-paying job. I bet he found that book of matches and laughed after reading the back, seeing as how he had been an electrician for so many years already, learning it the correct way — through apprenticeships and very hard work. That’s probably why he kept it, because even now in 2009 I laughed when I found it. If only he was still alive so I could ask him what he thought about “electricity at home in spare time” for $10,000 per year!


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Comments (4)

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  1. Craig says:

    Times are changing, $10,000 a year is way below poor and the minimum wage now.

  2. Ron says:

    We learned in grad school that the reason you still see advertisements like that is that they work!

    Great set of tools. My dad still has many of his father’s tools. My grandfather, a blacksmith and farrier, died when my father was only 13.

  3. David says:

    I guess you are right Ron, otherwise those ads wouldnt still be around! 🙂 Oooh a blacksmith grandfather – must be a great collection of tools!

  4. David says:

    This could be a little off-topic, but your post made me think of something.

    My parents, both retired, live in a very nice house on the water in Florida. They are completely set for the rest of their lives and live very comfortably.

    My father never made more than $40K in any one year, and my mother never even worked until all the children were grown.

    My point is this–my parents knew how to get by on less, and after doing this for a lifetime, are now able to enjoy retirement to its fullest. They are probably living the retirement of a couple who made twice the money they did during their working days just because of their ability to get by on less.

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