The Local Job Market

Hey, young man or young lady, what do you want to become when you grow up? That was a common question when I was growing up here in Frisco in the early 1930s, and our answers were limited by our sparse knowledge of what job opportunities the world was offering.

A popular answer to the question from the girls was that they wanted to be nurses or teachers, while the boys might want to be firemen or policemen. Why? Because those sounded much more exciting than any of the more mundane occupations we could see in the businesses up and down Frisco’s Main Street at the time. Ours was a narrow world.

Let me explain. The 1930 Census showed Frisco’s population to be only 618 people. This was a farming community with few connections to the outside world. We had the railroad that gave Frisco its name, but roads to neighboring cities and towns were not easy to travel. Preston Road, our way to Dallas, was a 27-mile-long gravel road with nine 90-degree turns (it followed the farmers’ fence lines) and 14 one-way wooden bridges. That was a slow journey in the Model Ts of that day. Roads to McKinney and Denton were no better, so you see that connections to our neighbors were very limited.  

We were not only physically separated from the rest of the world, but our written and spoken connections also suffered. You must remember this was before television and radio had its limits in the early thirties. We did have telephones (party lines) and that was only in town in those early years. An occasional newspaper was all many of us saw to tell us of the opportunities beyond our borders, so when we were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, Frisco’s businesses were about all we knew.

Since Frisco existed primarily to support the surrounding farming community, one might expect our young people to have farming in their ambitions. Not so. To own a farm was beyond our financial dreams. However, we could easily work as a “farm hand.” Most of us tried that and chose otherwise. In fact, working on a farm helped me decide to go to college.

Come with me as we look at what old Main Street had to offer. First, a look at my dad’s barber shop. I enjoyed visiting there, but saw no future in cutting hair and shaving men’s faces the rest of my life. Next door to the shop was “Frog” Sapp’s cleaners. I worked there as a teenager, but was not interested in making that my life’s work either. Up the street was the Ford dealership. We could be a car salesman or mechanic, but on Model Ts? Nah. Further down the street was Sam Lane’s Texaco service station, a good place to learn to be an attendant. 

Across the street was the picture show, which was open only on Friday nights and Saturdays – fun to go to, but not much of a job. Next, was Hays Café, then Carter’s Meat Market and Carter’s Cash and Carry Grocery Store. Further down was the First State Bank (not a bad idea) and then was Curtsinger’s Drug Store. I worked there as a “soda jerk” and learned a lot about how to serve the public. The drug store held two possible futures, that of a pharmacist or, like Dr. Saye, who had his office in the back, we could choose to be a doctor if we wanted to spend years in training.

Moving on, there was Martin’s Dry Goods and Claude Rogers’ International Harvester dealership, followed by Wall’s Drug Store. Across the street was Gaby’s Blacksmith Shop. There, we could learn to shoe horses and sharpen plowshares, if that appealed to us. That brings us to the railroad depot where Station Master Harold Bacchus stayed until the job’s end.

So, what about today? Thank goodness there are now opportunities galore. In fact, more jobs than workers. Today’s so-called computer age or electronic age has created vocations with boundless opportunities.

Us here at Parkview in Frisco were recently treated with the opportunity of mentoring some Frisco high school students. I was pleased to find today’s students eager and well-prepared to be the kind of citizens our country needs. They are ambitious and most seemed to have an occupation in mind.

I am pretty satisfied that our future is in good hands!