First jobs and disappointments

Eric writes:



After graduation from High School and getting back from California, I went to work for the Denver Public Library as a custodian. I worked as a floater for a while until a position opened for a full time custodian at the Bear Valley Branch Library. I did that for four years. While working there I learned to juggle and ride a unicycle. Since I was not going to college, my mother decided I needed to learn a trade and taught me to do furniture upholstery.

In 1979, I moved back to Jamestown, North Dakota, where I was born. I went to work for the North Dakota Farmers Union as a custodian and started my own business as an upholsterer. Eventually, I quit working at the NDFU to devote my full time to the upholstery business. I also became a volunteer fire fighter for the Jamestown Fire Department. That was a lot of fun.

When the economy went bad in North Dakota, I had to quit my business and went to work for Dodgson Furniture and Appliance as a deliveryman and did some upholstery work there. I was also still with the fire department. Eventually, I got laid off and we moved to Helena, Montana because there was no work to be found in Jamestown. I am really glad I was able to take care of Grandma Fanny for her last years.

I applied and tested for a position with the Helena Fire Department. I placed 4th out of 150 applicants. The first three were hired. I was promised the next position that came open. In the mean time, I got a job working for Montana State Prison as an Industries Shop Supervisor. There, I taught inmates furniture manufacturing and upholstery. I also became a volunteer fire fighter for the East Helena Volunteer Fire Department. I also started doing community service work at that time. I became an Advanced First Aid and CPR instructor for the Red Cross.

We stayed in Helena for two years. A position never did open up at the Fire Department. The stress finally got to me at the prison so I had to quit.

— Eric H

One thought on “First jobs and disappointments

  1. Thanks for posting, I enjoyed reading about your early work history. I didn’t realize you spent time in Montana. Very interesting! I wonder what was so stressful about teaching in the Prison?


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