About six months after he left Sears, Chuck Hanna called me up and asked me if I’d come work with him at Spiegel’s. He said, “Look, you get $37.50 a week to start.” I was making $23. He said, “It won’t be long before you’re making more than that.”
So I went over there to talk to Mr. McDonald. I talked to Chuck first, and he said, “Now, don’t give him any business about how you want to advance and that sort of thing. Tell him you want to make money. That’s why you’d leave Sears to come here–because they’d pay you for it. He doesn’t like any of this guff. And sometimes he talks in circles to see if you’re listening. So pay attention. If he says something you don’t understand, tell him you don’t know what he’s talking about.”
And that’s how it went. So anyway, I got the job. I’d been at Sears ten and a half years. A lot of people thought I was very foolish to leave, because after ten years you got three dollars in profit sharing for every dollar you earned.
This one girl in the accounting division–I went around saying good-bye to people–she said, “You know, I think you’re so smart to be leaving, because every year they give you a little more profit sharing–and then you stay because you can’t do any better.” She said, “Are you really going to make $37.50 a week?”
I said, “Yes.”
She said, “How long have you been here?”
I told her, “Ten and a half years.”
“How much do you make?”
“$23 a week.”
She said, “I’ve been here 20 years, and I make $22.”
Isn’t that awful?
But she got the profit sharing later on. I went to a wake one day, and there was a whole row of these women that had been at Sears for years and years. Somebody said, “There’s a lot of gold in dem dere hills.” And there was. They ended up with a lot of money eventually.
My life would have been so different if I’d stayed at Sears. I might be rich, but I wouldn’t have anything else.
I’ve still got a book that was given to me the day I left. It’s dated April 16, 1941, and there’s a stamp on the flyleaf, NO LONGER NO PAYMENT/OKAY TO REFILE. This was a stamp we would put on our cases once they made a payment. Then we would send it off to the regular collection department.
Under the stamp my friend Irv Melamed wrote, “I’m awfully sorry about that.”