Bonnie Shell's Life Stories

What were your bosses like?

I got my first job when I was 15 years old. My High School recommended me and four other girls to work at a local florist. My boss could have been more friendly. He hired us to work from Easter to Mother's Day.

I was not well suited for this job because the only flowers I knew were roses and dandelions. For instance, I didn't know that those big puffy flowers they sold at Eastertime were Hydrangeas. So when they put me on the sales floor, and a man wanted to buy a Hydrangea, my response was, "Let me go in the back and see if we have any," as I tripped over the hundreds of Hydrangea plants all over the floor.

Then, they decided I would be better off on the phone taking orders. That worked fine until I got a call from a man wanting to talk to Bob. I only knew the boss as Mr. Dunn, so I paged that there was a call for Bob. He stormed into the office and said, "I'm Mr. Dunn to you!"

He knew we were all Catholic, so on the Saturday before Mother's Day, he told us he wanted us all to start work at 6 o'clock on Sunday. We told him we had to go to church on Sunday morning but could start a little later. He fired us all.

My next job was also a referral from school. It was a company named Guardian Electric. I had a nice boss there. His name was Carl. Carl's desk was always a mess.

We were supposed to work on a particular Saturday. Unfortunately, Carl went home on Friday, sat in his recliner to have a drink with his wife before dinner, and died of a heart attack. We had quite a time figuring out what he was working on.

From that day on, I always left my desk in order with notes about my unfinished work. I worked there for about three years. Then, the neighborhood was getting dangerous, so when the recession hit and we went on a four-day week, I used my off day to look for another job.

That's when I got my job at A. B. Dick Co. My boss here was Hugh. He was the nicest person. I worked there for thirteen years. This job is where I met my best friend, Marge, and a whole group of lifetime friends.

I worked in the accounting department, and I loved the work I was doing. It was a very social company. I bowled and golfed, and there was always a party for something.

I have had many promotions through the years. Hugh got promoted to the Production Control Dept. and asked me if I would like to work for him as a supervisor of a few people. There was a big pay hike, so of course, I accepted.

The Human Resources Dept. was trying to block the move because they believed you could only move up a step at a time, and this was a considerable upgrade. Hugh fought for me, and the promotion went through.

When I left A. B. Dick, I bought a fabric shop and sold it when I married. I worked for two years at a scientific company. Two years later, we moved to Wisconsin, and I worked for Safe-T-Guard. The boss there was a womanizer. I left there when I got pregnant with Andrew.

During the next ten years, I stayed home to raise a family, and I did sewing and data entry at home.

After being home for so long, I had difficulty finding a job. I finally went to an agency that tested me and found that my brain did not die. So I got a job with Wisconsin Kenworth and left after about nine years because of being overworked.

I stayed home for two years and got a part-time job at an insurance office. Then, I left there to retire.

In all the years I worked, I met a lot of people. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't change a thing. I got a lot of life experience.