Tuesday, April 8, 2014


When I was a teenager one of the best paying jobs was to be on a detasseling crew. I think they paid $6 - $8 per hour over 35 years ago. It was pretty hard work as you would typically be reaching over your head to pull out the tassels on the corn. I did this for a number of years and got pretty good at it.

The crews would work for 4-6 weeks in the summer. You would get up before dawn and go the county seat (about 15 miles away). They picked us up in buses and would drive another 15 miles to the fields. We'd work in the cool of the day and be done in the early afternoon. At which time we were ready for a nap.

When I was a senior in high school I could set-up a contract to detassel several acres at a fixed price per acre. I could then detassel myself and hire my own workers. I think I had 10 acres the first year and I hired my siblings and several friends. It was good money and we were able to get through it all.

The next year I also contract 10 acres and it rained so much we could not get through it in the allotted time. We could work in the rain, but we couldn't work when it was lightninging. So the seed corn company sent an automated detasselor thorough the field. This was a machine that pulled out the tassels. Then all we had to do is to clean up the tassels they missed.

I was able to clear several thousand dollars after paying my help which was almost enough to pay for a year of college. I had three jobs that summer and I would go detassel after working 8 hours at my regular job. I apprenticed with an electrician who built all the wiring harnesses for a manufacturer of hog confinement houses.

The next summer I worked for a guy who rebuilt tractor parts and wholesaled parts for heavy equipment. I completely redid his warehouse and inventory system.

Most teens these days aren't interested in jobs like this that are hot and require real work. But I guess we were thankful we could get good work. I had enough money saved in high school to pay for four years of college. True college costs were not as inflated as they are today, so that isn't that big of a deal, but still I worked hard and didn't mind it one bit.

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