Elaine Charkow: Working during the Depression

Posted by jyuhasz

Gerry Biely (right) and Elaine Charkow (left)
Rights - JMABC
Charkow, Elaine
Vancouver, BC
Wednesday, February 5, 1986
Digital audio recording #: 19.86-02
Interviewers: Irene Dodek & Sally Tobe
EC:         And so when I left, when I was finished with high school I was lucky to get a job at a firm called Parsons, Brown, and Winkler. The firm is still, it’s called Parsons, Brown.
[ID]:       Is that an accountants firm?
EC:         No, that’s an insurance company. And the Browns are, what’s his name, the wheeler dealer today.
[ID]:       Peter?
EC:         Peter Brown is the son of Ralph Brown, the youngest son of Ralph Brown who still lives in the area.
[ID]:       What sort of work did you do, Elaine?
EC:         I was, the, what would you call it, I think they just sort of used me to file and then I used to do the switchboard. Wait ‘til I tell you what they paid in those days. At noon I took over the switchboard when the regular person went to lunch. I tried to save the money when things got very bad...See, I graduated in 1931 and I was lucky to get a job that paid $25 a month.
[ID]:       This was during the Depression.
EC:         During the Depression and my father was sick and my mother had these boys rooming with us. And the next year things were so bad everybody had to take a 10% cut and my salary became 22.50. But you know the streetcar there was five cents each way, I took a brown bag lunch and I think I went to work as my sister went to school, we probably each had two skirts and a couple of blouses, and a sweater, and a coat, and a black pair of shoes for winter and a white one for summer.

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