First job ever (1 Viewer)


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Was it really at Sears & Roebuck? I was just listening to a tape from the mid-late 1970s where says his first job was at Union Pacific Railway, and that this mother got him the job through a friend. Then he goes on to say his second job was at S&R, making 65 cents an hour --"a good pay in those days," he says.

It's been a while since I read all the bios, but I can't recall anyone mentioning this job. Maybe he made it up?

Although I have to say his memory is quite sharp: somewhere else on the tape he talks about his early stories, and he recalls quite vividly many details about his baseball story in Matrix, and he even pronounces the title of one of the other stories in Matrix, "Cacoethes Scribendi."
Union Pacific certainly ran trains through Los Angeles, and they had a switching yard here (from what I've just read), but Southern Pacific had a maintenance yard (or more precisely, a yard where they did "inspection, repair, and storage of freight cars on the Southern Pacific Fruit Express line"). He has said that his job was washing the train cars, and it seems like that is more likely to have happened in that kind of yard, as opposed to a switching yard, where the trains were just rerouted. (Google can you an expert on train yards in mere minutes!)

Not that Union Pacific didn't possibly wash or maintain cars here too, but going with the more likely scenario I'd have to stay with Southern Pacific. Which has always been listed as his second job in the timeline, so I guess that needs to change. Along with the $0.65 hourly pay at Sears, which was always written as $0.55 when I've seen it in print.

What is the source of the tape you heard?
The photograph that appears in The Days Run Away and Mockingbird (it's two versions of the same photo; one signed, one not - I realize that the photo in The Days Run Away is cropped, but the prospectus has the wide-angle shot with no signature...) shows him on the ladder of a Southern Pacific boxcar, if that matters at all. Maybe he wanted to make a connection or maybe there were just more Southern Pacific boxcars around that day.
I always understood the photo in The Days Run Away on the ladder of the boxcar should symbolize Bukowskis boxcar riding hobo days, which, as far as we know, never existed in this form.
What is the source of the tape you heard?

The Pleasants' tapes. I'm reviewing them now. Some interesting stuff, like when he's talking about the "Nazi trip" in LACC.

I tried to upload a short mp3 clip but I was told the extension was not allowed or somesuch...
going with the more likely scenario I'd have to stay with Southern Pacific.
Oddly enough, when I searched all of the books, Southern Pacific didn't come up at all, and Union Pacific only twice, and that was in two versions of the same poem (and both posthumous: First Day, First Job and The Novice).

Maybe he talks about it in some books we don't have scanned, but if you'd asked me yesterday how many times he mentions the Union Pacific or Southern Pacific railroads, I would have said, "Oh, probably a dozen." Don't know why that is, but there you go.
Turns out Union Pacific took control of Southern Pacific in 1901, but everyone continued to call the lines and yards near downtown Southern Pacific. So it's essentially the same company. If you worked for SP you worked for UP. So I changed Southern Pacific in the timeline to Union Pacific/Southern Pacific.

Is that enough Pacifics for you? It is for me.

Also changed the year of his first job to 1941 based on the recording.
Well, there's On the Train to Del Mar (from The Days Run Away...) and The Yards (and Train Station) in Legs, Hips and Behind.
And that nice piece on going east in a barcar from More Notes of a Dirty Old Man.
There's also a train ride in I Been Working on the Railroad (Beauti-Ful & Other Long Poems)

This one is also unpublished.

P.S. There are probably more train/railroad-related poems, I just made a quick search.
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