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Welcome to my story blog. I will post one new story here every day. You are welcome to comment on any or all of them. Enjoy!
                   --Lee Pound

Day 5 - My Dad, a Job, and the Depression

My dad, Ray Pound, graduated from UC Berkeley with a political science major in the summer of 1936, at the height of the Great Depression.

Jobs were scarce and applicants usually swamped the few that did open up.

He knew that every year, new graduates searched for months before they landed a job and many times that job was not in their specialty.

So the day after he accepted his diploma and tossed his cap high in the air along with hundreds of other graduates, he woke up to the reality and having to make money to support himself.

Time to hunt for a job.

He put on his best suit, tie and hat and took the ferry across San Francisco Bay and into downtown San Francisco, admiring the almost completed Oakland Bay Bridge looming a few miles away.

He arrived just one minute early for his appointment with the employment agent.

He walked in and closed the door. He was in a small office. A man whose most prominent feature was a frown sat at the one desk.

My dad removed is hat and said, “Hello, I’m Ray Pound, I have an appointment with you.”

The man waved to a chair. “Sit down.”

“I came to talk about a job.” He handed the agent his resume.

The agent read it. His frown deepened. “Political science? Whatever possessed you …”

My dad’s thoughts raced. He knew political science was a non-starter in this economy and he’d been fully prepared to accept a job as a dishwasher if necessary. But hidden deep in his innermost thoughts, that passion he’d pursued since childhood lurked. Was this the time?

“Look, that’s what I studied,” he said, “but that’s not the job I want.”

“What do you want?”

“The job I want has to involve photography.”

The frown deepened even more. “Now wait a minute. I don’t…”

“And it has to include travel.”

“Young man, they don’t list jobs like that here.”

My dad stood, hat in hand and edged back toward the office door. Should have gone for dishwasher, he thought. He grasped the doorknob.

He saw an odd expression cross the agent’s face. Then came the words. “Young man, wait.” He opened his top desk drawer, reached way back into the drawer and pulled out a business card. “This one came in a week ago,” he said. “Such an odd request. I shook my head and forgot about it. Nobody’s asked for anything like this until you.” He handed my dad the card. “Go see this man.”

My dad looked at the card, grinned and took the next trolley car down to the port, to the docks where the cruise ships landed, to the offices of the Dollar Shipping Lines, which ran cruise ships to Japan, the Philippines, China and Hong Kong.

The handwritten note at the top of the card read, “need a ship’s photographer.”

A week later, at the height of the Great Depression, when jobs were scarce and unemployment averaged 17 percent, Ray Pound walked up the gangplank of the SS President Hoover followed by a trunk of camera equipment and clothing, to start his new job, filled with photography and filled with travel.

Imagine what might have never happened had he not opened his mouth and asked for the job he wanted, even when the odds were thousands to one against him.

Have you opened your mouth and asked for what you want?

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