Cats and clicks

One of Nellie's first and most aloof bosses.

 

In the spring of 1951 when my wonderful friend Nellie was a freshman in college at Indiana State, she heard that a professor on campus was looking for a student to pet sit his cats.

You see, the professor and his wife had two Siamese cats that were averse to being left alone. Nellie was paid to talk to this feline mother and daughter pair when conversation between them lagged. Okay, maybe those weren’t the professor’s exact instructions, but nonetheless her major job task was to keep them company.

The problem was the cats did not find Nellie to be good company, and spent most of their time reinforcing their dislike by hissing and batting their paws at her. Nellie recalls that they were also extremely fond of surprise attacks and spent a great deal of time leaping into the air with the goal of attaching themselves to the back of any chair in which she happened to be seated.

The job did allow Nellie to earn money while studying – with interruptions – three hours, twice a week, for three months until she found another job that offered an increase in salary and hours, and bosses, who were a little less, well, catty. 

Our namesake.

 
One of the most unusual jobs I held was as a click girl at Petries, a very popular junior clothing store. I shared my position with a girl named Karen; we sat at a little table in the back among the new clothing arrivals – a good thing since that gave us first dibs and we had a 30% discount. 
 
Our prime but dingy location also gave us time to chat with each other and for us to get to know the ready-wear manager, Ms. Jezewski, an interesting, kind, never-married, “older” woman (probably my age, now), who had once been a train-riding, white-gloved, New York buyer and still carried herself as such. We also got to spend time with Clarice a street-wise, traveling, window-dresser, whose talent and eye for display and whose outlook on career and life impressed me. These women were my mentors before I knew what the word “mentor” meant.

As click girls, our main responsibilities were to categorize and count the teeny, tiny tickets stubs torn from each item’s sales tag when it was processed at the register. We were inventory control, circa 1970 or so – tear, sort, count.  No computers – no mechanized tracking reports, just two teenage girls in the backroom of the store separating, recording and tallying the amount and price of each item sold.  

Why the name click girls? We held little plastic counters in our hands that went click, click as we counted.

Do you have any odd or interesting jobs, assignments, experiences, or interesting bosses or mentors you met along the way that you would like to share? Comment away – we would love to hear about them.

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