.jump-link{ display:none }

Sunday, 17 April 2016

A-Z: I Remember......Occupations

I Remember When......
Recalling Memories of My Childhood & Beyond

Were you often asked as a child "What do you want to be when you grow up? 

So what OCCUPATION did you follow in your working life?

 When I started sHigh Schooll, my parents attended a parent's evening  and came back asking if I had any idea of what I wanted to do when I grew up - I had no strong views,  so said a Librarian as that's  what came into my head, plus it was a way of getting my parents off my back!

My father was keen for me to go into a bank, as he thought that was a good job for a girl (it was the 1950's!),  As I was  hopeless at maths, I knew this would not be for me. I also knew I could never be a nurse, (a popular career choice at the time),   as I had a great fear of anything to do with hospitals.  

I read all the gamut of career fiction  and articles in "Girl" magazine  - Sue Barton District Nurse, Angela Air Hostess, Belle of the Ballet, Kay from "the Courier", Claudia of the Circus etc.

Becoming an Air Hostess was regarded as the glamour job of the day  and I rather fancied the idea of travel - but realistically I knew,  even at that age, I did not fit the image - being child who wore glasses and had straight hair in plaits and later a pony tail.

Later on, going into the Civil Service was a career path suggested to me - but no-one would actually tell me  what would I be doing in  the Civil Service?  Teaching was an obvious easy career option for a girl, and I did toy with the idea - I liked young children and played the piano (an asset in those days)  but my aunt, an infant head, was not exactly encouraging.  

So what did I become?  A  Librarian - and yes I did conform a bit to the stereotyped image - the glasses did it!   

What was my working life really like?
  My employment history could be summed up as "Fish Girl to Family Historian"

Fish Girl - My first job the summer I left school was helping out at a fishmonger's owned by a friend's father who was looking for some one to fill in for staff on holiday. It was totally out of character for me, but I stuck it out gutting some fish (for making herring rolls, I think), washing down the slabs and I managed somehow to cope with the cash side - maths was never my strong point and this was before the days of electronic tills. At home we ate healthily from the left over stocks of fish I took back to Mum.

Shop Girl for Cakes, Books & Tartan Trash -  For future summer and Christmas jobs, I opted for a less messy side of retail life, ranging from a busy bakery counter (dreaded having to make up the cardboard cake boxes in a hurry as I was all thumbs) to selling what we called "tartan trash" to tourists on Princes Street in Edinburgh - think garish red tasteless Stewart tartan souvenirs. 

My favourite was a bookshop where I enjoyed tidying the shelves and making sure everything was in order from the Pan and Penguin paperbacks in their familiar white and orange covers to the Classics, bound in mock midnight blue leather.     One Christmas I worked in a major stationery  store that sold calculators and was clueless when facing questions such as "Why was this one more expensive and what did it do?" 

I can't recollect receiving anything that could be called "training" - you were just expected to turn up on time, wear an often ugly uniform (my first evening was always spent taking up the hem),  pick up procedures, work hard, have plenty of stamina to be on your feet all day, be respectful to superiors, especially if there was the dreaded visit from Head Office, get on with the job - and sink or swim. Life could  be  boring if there were not many customers around, but if the shop was busy,  it became a good source of anecdotes when I met up with fellow students,  as we exchanged horror stories of our holiday jobs. 

As for my life as a Librarian - that ranged from a year in the USA as a trainee, voluntary work at my Daugherty's school and the local Citizen's Advice Bureau, helping visitors in tourist information centres, working in the  Local Studies Dept. at Library HQ  and finally being the Family History Researcher in the Scottish Borders  Archive Centre.

 In Hawick Tourist Information  Centre, Scottish Borders, c.1978
Note - no computers then! 


  1. Jobs I had before being grown included babysitting for my small cousin one summer, working at my uncle's printing plant, working in a hospital pharmacy (when I decided I never wanted to work in a hospital), art editor for the student newspaper,and as a salesperson during the Christmas season at a big downtown department store. Oh, and at the University library doing filing and pasting pockets in books.

    Finding Eliza

  2. I can't imagine a better place to be than in a library.

  3. I would have loved to be a librarian. I really had no idea what I wanted to do and just drifted in and out of jobs. Actually, I did know. I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I did that for 16 years... best job ever!

  4. I've been considering becoming a library technician for a few years now, but I still don't know what I wanted to be. It's frustrating. I have high hopes I'll land on my feet eventually (until then my head is in the clouds).

  5. I started to write about the occupation projects we had to do in junior high. The idea was to get us thinking about a career and what classes we would need to take in high school. I knew I was going to be a teacher, but as part of the project we had to send away for materials and describe education for the career, salary, benefits, etc. That was going to end up being a lot of stuff, so I did my project on careers that would result in getting less information to wade through. One year I did Stewardess (now known as Flight Attendant) and the next year I did fashion designer. Now that last one is a riot. Your fish job --ICK!

  6. I can relate to the comment "good job for a girl". It sort-of put me off thinking about being a teacher, but reality set in. If I wanted to go to university, I needed a teaching studentship to pay for it!


Thank you for your comment which will appear on screen after moderation.