Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Lifetime's Worth of Pay Stubs

I recently received the following email from PermaRec reader Jim Wooley, who grew up in Manitoba, Canada:

Both my parents have recently passed away (Mom in May 2014 and Dad last week). Mom was 85, Dad 88. Due to poor health, my Dad had been in a care home for the past two years. Mom was able to be on her own and lived in their condo until she passed last year.

Mom was always a bit of a hoarder but in the past few years she started giving things away to anyone who was interested. She gave me some really cool things, including a box full of old pay stubs. My Dad was a zinc and copper miner and worked for the same mining company from 1947 to 1985. They kept every single pay stub he earned during that time [see above], bunched together by year. According to the first pay stub, he earned 94.5 cents per hour.

Interesting. Much like cancelled checks and savings passbooks, which we examined last week, pay stubs are, for many people, a bygone relic from another age. Most of us are now paid via direct deposit, and even the corresponding stub is often delivered electronically.

Jim examined his father's stubs and found that the mining company used four distinct stub formats or designs during his father's 38 years with the company. Those designs are shown on the following four stubs, which date back to (from top to bottom) 1947, 1951, 1965, and 1970:

1947 1951 1965 1970

I love that the company was called the Hudson Bay Mining Mining and Smelting Co. There's something about the word "Smelting" that sounds very old-school industrial, no? The company still exists today, although its name is now far less satisfying: HudBay Minerals.

Other notes:

• The first two stubs are watermarked, while the latter two are not. Feels like a downgrade.

• Similarly, the shift from purple type to black type somehow makes the latter two stubs feel less "official" than the first two.

• I've always wondered why British- and Commonwealth-associated corporations use "Limited" instead of "Incorporated." Could anyone give me a decent explanation, in layman's terms?

Jim later followed up with a photo of his dad, taken on his last day at work. Everyone says mining is a rough job for tough people, and there's certainly nothing in this photo to refute that (click to enlarge):

Garnet Wooley

(Huge thanks to Jim Wooley for sharing these interesting artifacts, especially during such a difficult time for him and his family.)


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