Minnesota's Greatest Generation

Robert D. Hill: Work at an Early Age

Robert D. Hill held several different jobs during the Great Depression years, beginning at the tender age of 7. In his reminiscence, "Work In My Youth," he briefly recalled his early employment. .

Reminiscence Excerpts

I began work at an early age. I was but about 7 years old when I began delivering the Minneapolis Star [and] Tribune to the School addition on south Clark Street. I delivered the evening and Sunday newspaper. I recall the Sunday newspaper delivery was exceptionally difficult because of the weight and my small size. In winter when the snow was deep; I had a very difficult time walking with the heavy paper bag over my shoulder.

Robert eventually grew into the job.

Later, while in High School, I purchased the paper route of my brother, Myron. It was the local Albert Lea Tribune that I delivered down Fountain Street. My route started at the Bonner Photo Studio... & ended at the last house on Fountain. Total papers delivered each day was between 90-100. I would leave school after the last class & go to the Tribune office to pick up the papers - then to the start of my route... I lived somewhat at the end of the route so that was conveniant.

And, eventually, he grew out of the job.

After the newspaper job I worked for the Unique Cleaners located then at the corner of Main & Clark St. as a truck driver deliverer and a Dry Cleaner Machine Operator. I worked there until shortly before entering the military service.

Another popular job with depression-era boys was pinsetting in the local bowling alley. Robert Hill remembered the hazards of this behind-the-scenes job:

I worked for several years as a pin setter at a Bowling Alley on the North end of Water St. I remember one night during league bowling when I absent-mindedly jumped into the pit just before the ball struck the pins. Luckily the ball sailed between my legs with the pins bouncing off me from my abdomine to my feet. Had the ball struck one of my legs it would have shattered it. How lucky I was.

See hand-written reminiscences


Hill, Robert Darwin Reminiscences and Genealogical Charts, 1974-1997. Minnesota Historical Society Manuscripts Collection, 2006.