Payday and Showers

My first payday was not on Friday, but a day later. We worked five and a half hours that day and eight and a half from Mondays to Fridays making it a forty-eight hour workweek.

The hourly rate was was laid down in a contract starting at age fifteen at the lowest age and reaching the maximum at age twenty-two. I was then sixteen.

We walked to the rear door of the contractor's house with our hands held out , in which he put our wages for the week. In cash. We said a friendly 'thank you' and went home with a pocket full of money, so to speak. I was the youngest and therefore the last on the line.

When it was my turn to hold up my hands the boss eyed me and asked not unkindly

“What do you want boy?”

I cleared my throat and ever so humbly mentioned something about getting my wages.

His eyes looked straight in mine now, then lifted his hat to scratch behind his ear as if he were suddenly puzzled about something and asked

“Wages? For what did you want wages boy?”

I stuttered some more about the workers that he had paid before me just a moment ago..

“You mean Abele, my foreman for almost thirty years and old Wybo. And the Klomp brothers, see boy, they all are seasoned people, they know what they're doing.”

I did not get a penny from him.

Not then, but at the end of the next week he said that I was a boy that didn't give up easy, and told me to see him after work with the others. He gave me a raise of 10%, from 20 to 22 cents per hour, one whole guilder more a week. That was then, and it made me as proud as a peacock to give my mother ten guilders while keeping the one dollar raise myself.

This week I received a golf putter from an old friend, a good one according to Bas, the boss. A neighbor gave me a golf-ball, so I can putt er at our own new new golf-course at will, which I am sure going to do.

I promised to inform friends and and relatives if any changes were to happen to my health to let you know. Something has come up, which was to be expected, for some time I forget to take my pills. Not once but quite regularly. I talked to the doctor about it and he gave me a requisition that, as he put it, 'this individual needs help', so tomorrow a lady is going will call to give me an interview how they can address this.

At the same time I will talk to her about having help with getting a shower, because I lost my confidence in the bath tub shower. I have no fear to slip but every move I make is a cause for me to fall. I wonder what will happen, especially with the showering help, since I have known three or four nurses in my building doing this kind of work and there is going to be some anxiety about it I am sure.

I did not have a shower until I was about eighteen or nineteen while working far from home in Limburg in the deep south of the Netherlands. The reason I never had a a shower before is simply because there were no showers showers at one time in my birthplace which is hard to imagine today, but then a fact. My first shower was not in the privacy of a home but in a public building, where either got a bath or a shower for 25 cents, once a week.

Since it was my very first time I to be baptized into this new new technology, I was given a young lady to assist me who, she told me, was doing this for the first time as well.

Her supervisor, a large no-nonsense woman was watching in the doorway.

My granted assistance started drawing warm water into the tub, hinting for me to undress, to which I complied with my backside toward the no-nonsense supervisor.

The young woman tested the water with her fingers and nudged me into the water filled tub She told me her name which I have forgotten, what I remember was her dark hair and long fingers, and that she mentioned that it was her seventeenth birthday that day before she started scrubbing me, not rough but thoroughly.

“Happy birthday,” I said, uttering her name.

If this is the kind of care awaiting me, getting old will not be too bad.