When I was back in Vancouver, I went to see Mr. Garrison at the CC Store. Sure enough he needed a combination janitor and stock boy. Thanks to Mr. Marshall’s letter I promptly got the job for twelve dollars a week. Richard had gone to Cheney for the fall term at EWCE so I had the large upstairs front bedroom at home to myself and plenty of the old Chevy.
The CC Store (originally Carter and Carter), Vancouver’s largest men’s and women’s clothing store, was an anachronism even back there in 1939. The main floor was a high-ceilinged space with men’s clothes on one side and women’s on the other. Shoe departments and restrooms were in the back. Over near the dress goods and bedding, a wide stairway led down to the bargain basement where all the unsold odds and ends wound up and where the stockroom was located.
The main floor of the CC Store looked like something from around the turn of the century [19th] , which I guess it was. There was a mezzanine balcony across the front of the store that held both Garrison’s office and the central cash register. The cashier sat up there with a commanding fiew of the entire main floor.
On the floor there were about six clerk stations from each of which a steel cable ran on a slant upward to the cashier. When a sale was made, the clerk put the money and the sales slip into a wooden canister that hooked onto a little wheeled trolley on the cable, gave a yank on a cory, and the trolley went whizzing up the wire to the cahier. Soon the trolley came coasting down with the receipt and the change. The cashier was a very pretty and personable little blonde whom I liked, but I never tried to date her because she was so much older than me—she was at least in her middle twenties.
During the months I spent at the CC Store, I did quite a bit of everything. First of all, I was the janitor who swept the floors daily although the clerks, three middle-aged women, were responsible for keeping the merchandize neat on the racks and dusting the counters. I also had to clean the restrooms. That unpleasant duty convinced me that women are not very neat in someone else’s toilet. The Men’s room was not too bad, but the Ladies was something else. [This is the opposite of my own experience]
The big stockroom at one side of the basement was my domain. When I first went to work, it was an unorganized mess and I had trouble finding things. I got the store manager to let me in one Sunday when the store was closed, hauled everything out of there, and re-organized the place. Mr. Garrison made not of that, I guess, and some of the other things I did because a month after I went to work there he gave me a raise to fourteen dollars a week.
Each week, it was one of my chores to wash the big plate glass display windows that were on the Main Street and 8th Street sides of the CC Store. The manager, a dapper and whimpish fellow in his early thirties, usually did the arranging of the displays. I thought they were a bit haphazard and not very imaginative. On one occasion I made a suggestion to him about a display. The next thing I knew, I was in charge of window displays. He had not liked crawling around in there changing displays (we had no curtains to drop) with people walking by. I did not mind—I could wave at girls I knew as they passed.
My age was a problem when I began to clerk part time. The clerks all had to belong to a union and I was underage. Once in a while, usually each month, a union steward would drop in unannounced to check on things and talk to the clerks. We worked out a system so I would not get caught.
The cashier, who had full surveillance of the main floor, had a little bell that she would ding twice to alert everyone if she thought she saw a shoplifter in the store. If she saw a union steward come in, she would ding the bell three times so I could drop whatever I was doing and disappear to the stockroom until a clerk came and gave me the all clear. It worked as I never got caught during the time I worked there.
Those months at the CC Store were a good period in my young life. I gave little thought to the future and just enjoyed life. I gave little thought to the future and just enjoyed life. I should have been putting money in the bank but I did not. Instead, I spent my wages on some clothes and gasoline for dates since I had practically full use of the car with Richard away at Cheney.
I did not have a “steady girlfriend”. I dated a different girl every week or so. I usually just took them to a first-run movie at the Broadway in Portland and would then stop at Waddles on the way home for hamburgers and cokes. None of my dates ever went any further than some harmless necking in the car and a tentative goodnight kiss.