Minnesota 1934 to 1935, a little work and some school…

Dunwoody Institute in 1928

Dunwoody Institute in 1928

Keith’s military service was not continuous and after being discharged from the 64th Service Squadron, he headed to Minneapolis and entered the Dunwoody Technical Institute.  He enrolled in several courses and was awarded certificates for his efforts.

He writes that he took courses in the Auto Mechanics Department:  Batteries, Ignition, Chassis, Lubrication, Welding which totaled four months of education.

This Certificate covered Automotive: Chassis, Batteries and Ignition, awarded in February of 1935.

Dunwoody February 1935

Dunwoody February 1935

This certificate was awarded in May of 1935 and covered car lubrication and general welding.

May1935 Dunwoody

So sometime in March of 1935 he succeeded in getting work at the Ford Motor Company.

Miriam's Notes - Keith

Miriam’s Notes – Keith

He writes: July 1934 to Aug 1935 – Ford Motor Co., St. Paul., Minnesota, Auto Body Assembly, Title: Paddle Solderman & Welder, $5.00/day. Duties: Welded parts of 1935 Ford V8 Bodies, Soldered, filled in dents, at body joint seams, Straw boss last station. Laid off – reduction in force.

The following is from the Lehman Brothers Collection at Harvard University regarding the Ford Motor Company:  

The company survived the Depression years, though it was with losses of as much as $68 million per year. By 1932 Ford Motor was forced to reduce its minimum wage to $4 per day. In 1935, after the hard years of the Depression, the company raised its minimum wage to $6 per day. Despite his advances in human resources, Henry Ford discouraged workers from unionizing.


1935 Ford Minnesota Assembly Line

1935 Ford Minnesota Assembly Line

About Henry Ford:  https://www.thehenryford.org/exhibits/hf/

Yahoo Answers from 5 years ago in 2010, this article describes Henry Ford:  

He was slight of build. He was a curmudgeon, and very rarely offered a genuine smile. Rather he tended to be serious and did not tolerate fools or laziness.

Henry Ford did not have much compassion for the average factory worker. He did not increase his employees’ wages out of the kindness of his heart. Ford did nothing out of the kindness of his heart. He instituted the first $5 a day wage in 1914 for the company’s benefit rather than for his employees’ benefit.

Specifically, the turnover rate of employees on Ford’s assembly line was extremely high. Because of the low pay, hard work and long hours, many workers would quit, some in a month, others in weeks or days. This was a HUGE problem as, in 1914, the demand for the Model T was peaking. This adversely affected production, i.e., the daily production could not keep up with the insatiable demand for the Model T.

Ford knew he could sell more cars and he could only sell more cars by limiting turnover and keeping employees on the assembly line. Ford’s duplicitous $5 a day strategy worked although the general public was duped, or at the very least erroneously inferred, it was a magnanimous gesture by Ford. Applicants were lined up daily outside the Ford plant for months after this wage was implemented.

As an anecdote, Ford once, when touring his factory, saw what he thought was an employee goofing off sitting on a soapbox. Ford promptly ran over to him, kicked the soapbox out from underneath him and yelled, ‘You’re FIRED!” The worker slowly got up and brushed himself off and told Ford, “You can’t fire me! I work for Michigan Power & Light.”

In short, Ford was a great industrialist, but he was not an endearing person.

My Dad was impressed with the assembly line concept but I am not sure he liked Ford. From this we see that he was learning auto mechanics and expanding his knowledge base and skills by working during the day and attending night school.  He had positioned himself to be nearer to his next step which was Chanute Field an Air Corps Technical School. It would start in August of 1935.

Keith did other things like visited his Uncle Alex (his father’s brother) and brother Gordon while in Minnesota.  Alex lived in International Falls and Gordon was probably working there.

Keith, Gordon, Uncle Alex

Keith, Gordon, Uncle Alex

About BJ MacDonald

Interested in travel, really into genealogy and researching my family history, classic novels and movies, fantasy and science fiction, photography, history and more... Here is a tip. Make sure you are commenting on the blog you were visiting and the post you were interested in. My blogs are listed by hovering over my pictures and clicking. Clicking one of them will take you back to the correct blog. You can try me here: bjmcdonell@gmail.com
This entry was posted in Alexander McDonald, Gordon McDonald, Illinois, Keith B. MacDonald, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Minnesota 1934 to 1935, a little work and some school…

  1. Byrna Klavano says:

    Very interesting! $5 a day!! can’t imagine that.


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