Earning money wasn’t easy, especially if you were working in New Iberia over 40 years ago.
For some, a first job was a rite of passage — a chance to finally earn a few spending dollars.
It was their first chance of independence, a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
It was a simple question posed by Richelle Long: “How much did your first job in New Iberia, LA pay?”
The question first asked on the Facebook Group “Back in Time in New Iberia,” generated a great response. Some of the answers ranged from 50 cents an hour to even $1.25 an hour for Merlin-Charlene Kern, who worked for Howard Brothers.
According to an inflation calculator, Kern’s $1.25, if earned in say the 1960s, for example, would come out to $10.89 in 2020.
For Kern and others, it gave true meaning to the term “hard-earned buck,” just like John Boudreaux who earned $2 an hour at what was Davis Delcambre Motors on Main Street, where he washed cars in 1975.
Though he’s retired, Boudreaux still remembers the job and to him, it didn’t matter that he only earned $2 — the minimum wage at that time..
“It didn’t matter at all because I didn’t have a car at the time,” Boudreaux said. “I remember saving a car and buying a car for $500.”
Boudreaux said it took over two months to buy his first car and if it wasn’t for his first job washing cars at Davis Delcambre Motors, he wouldn’t have had the same work ethic he did for years before he retired.
Boudreaux had always had an interest in working on cars and he eventually was able to become a helper in the shop, and turned into a career, going to McMahon Musson, now Musson-Patout Automotive Group, and then to Service Chevrolet in 1982. He worked for 37 years, first as an air conditioning technician for 16 years before moving into a shop foreman role the last 20-plus years.
Boudreaux then retired in December of 2018.
“In the end, I was making decent money,” Boudreaux said.