Sweat Shop

When I was growing up, my parents were self-employed.

Well, actually they still are but that’s beside the point.

Anywho, while some of you are thinking how great it sounds to be your own boss, to set you own hours and to not work for “the man”, the reality is that you work all the bloomin’ time, you have no money and you ARE “the man”!!!

When Daddy first left Rand McNally to start his own printing business, McLean Printing, he and mom were the only two employees.

The only “paid” employees.

{Of course, nobody was really getting paid in those early days so I guess I’m playing fast and loose with that statement.}

Eventually, the business was able to make enough money to hire another person, my Uncle Raymond (or Big R).

Side bar:  Uncle Big R was the one who originally called me Mishy-Moshy.  It actually went “Mishy-Moshy-Mishy-Moshy-Mishy-Moshy-Mishy”!!  So thankful Belle shorted it to “Mish”!!!

And then many years later Dad bought out Robert’s Printing and gained a lot of new employees (like Old Man Jackson) that he actually paid.

But even with all those people, when it was crunch time, his kids were the ones at the shop working our little fingers to the bone.

We were the ones who couldn’t leave for vacation until the job was done.

We were the ones slaving away on a Saturday afternoon.

We were the ones who made a thousand trips around the pool table at home collating a magazine or book.

We were also the ones who swore we would never EVER be self-employed!

Back in the olden days when it was just Mom and Dad at the little shop on Versailles Road, us kids had no choice but to be there too.

McLean Printing was in the back half of the building and Betty’s Beauty Shop was in the front.

This is what it looked like at the time (the back half anyway):

McLean Printing vintage

Sometimes we would take our bikes with us and ride around in the parking lot.  Sometimes we would make up games to play in the office while they were working in the press/layout/everything else room.

But always we were together.

And always it was hot!

That little building didn’t have a/c and with all that equipment running, it was miserable sometimes.  Sure, we would open the windows but it didn’t help much.

And there was always one of us who would complain loud and long about the scorching temp.

I’ll let you figure out which one!  🙂

One summer (I think it was in the late 70’s) there was a group of boys in our town who formed a gang.

They called themselves the “Midnight Heads”.

Sounds ominous, right?

Now before you think they were a bunch of hoodlums, well, they were but not your typical hoodlums.  Turns out they were a bunch of rich kids who were bored and decided to cause some trouble.

These “Heads” would put pillow cases over their heads so they must have been some ugly rich kids!

One steamy night we were all at the shop, per usual, and all the windows were open.  It was pretty dark out so it must have been late though I don’t really remember.  I do know that Burger Queen was still open next door.

Does anybody remember Queenie Bee???



All of a sudden there were a couple of hooded guys standing at the open window looking in at us.

Let me tell you, for a girl who is scared of her own shadow, this just about scared me to absolute death!!!

Daddy yelled at them to “get on outta here” and they took off.  We were all pretty shaken up and stuck close by Dad until we headed home that night.

The next morning, when Dad got to the shop, there on the side of the building in big black letters was painted “MIDNIGHT HEADS”.

We had been tagged!

We found out later that they had also spray painted a cop car on the next street over.

Bunch of punks!!

The police did eventually bust those hooded thugs but I can’t help but wonder how many of these boys grew up to be doctors or lawyers or politicians.

{I’m putting my money on politician!}



2 thoughts on “Sweat Shop

  1. As usual, partly true and partly clouded by time and embellishment by the author.
    Actually, Uncle Big “R” was hired after we acquired Roberts Printing.
    Actually, there was NO sweat shop and no fingers were worked to the bone except for mine and Grace’s, more mine than hers.
    Actually, it should be noted that every 4 or 5 minutes one of the kids would call out for a break and it was ALWAYS the same one. Anyone care to make a guess as to which one that was???????
    Actually, we should be thanked by our kids for instilling in them a good work ethic and a sense of responsibility.

    • Actually I was just a wee child at the time and actually it was DEFINITELY a sweat shop……….I was sweating!!!! And actually we are deeply grateful (now, not at the time) for the lessons learned.

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