Leaders reveal surprising jobs

It’s been a lot of fun finding out about some of the people in our community, and what kind of jobs they had before settling in to a career.

When it comes to unique jobs, I think the “blue hamster” that Marty Fredrickson, Marion City’s street director and building inspector, talked about rates high on the list.

Fredrickson said he worked for a man who raised hamsters and mice to sell to pet stores, and he started helping make crates for the hamsters.

The owner’s goal was to raise a blue hamster, and the last year Fredrickson said he worked for the man, the blue hamster arrived.

Fredrickson said it was the coolest thing he had ever seen, and it was called a blue teddy bear hamster.

Tina Spencer, Marion County clerk, said she was a remote encoder for the U.S. Postal Service.

For that position, Spencer said she would look at images of mail on a computer monitor and type in the address and/or zip code information. It was part of the process of the mail being marked with a bar code and routed correctly.

She said she thought it was a fun job. But even more impressive was that Spencer said she had nine more jobs after the postal job.

Something that impressed me about Roger Holter, Marion city administrator, was how his grandfather liked to teach with sayings.

Some of those are well-known to many of us, like: “Something worth doing should be done with pride for all to see.”

Or the saying about haste making waste.

Marion County Commissioner Kent Becker said he had seven jobs in less than a year, but one of the oddest things he did was cleaning flood-damaged property from a Dolly Madison plant in the eastern U.S.

At the end of the January column, I teased everyone just a little by asking if anyone could guess which commissioner owned an auto parts store and drag racing repair shop, and which commissioner shoved manure on a hog farm for their first job.

In case you haven’t figured it out, Dianne Novak, commission chair, was the owner of the auto parts store and repair shop, leaving Commissioner Randy Dallke as the guy who shoveled manure on the hog farm.

Dallke said he was a city boy and the manure job was the first time he had ever experienced anything like that.

Depending on time of year, he said, “We would scoop it up and haul it to the field.

“Hog manure is very stinky,” he added, “and it stays with you for a long time.”

As a way of combatting the smell, Dallke said he would wear his hog clothes when he went home, but would change out of them before going in the house.

It was Dallke’s first job in the summer.

Besides bucking bales, which was something most Marion County boys did, Becker said it was also a great way for boys to get in shape.

“We didn’t have weight training equipment, so this was our conditioning for football season, and we got paid, too.”

Novak said she purchased and owned the auto parts store in Junction City.

“My husband was in the military, which is what brought us here,” she said.

The shop was on Grand Avenue, and it was owned by an Indian family, but the father was ill, so they went back to the reservation.

Unfortunately, Novak said it was a failing business with five years owing in back taxes, outstanding bills and delinquent accounts.

“When I told my father about it, he said, ‘You did what?’”

Novak said she was about 26 when she bought the store and she had two young daughters at the time.

“I worked as the secretary for about a year at the store, but when I acquired the business I started taking home books every night to learn about auto parts,” she said.

Novak said she hired someone to handle the counter, and she worked in the repair shop.

“I was behind the scenes, covered in grease at the solvent tank and cleaning pistons, heads, valves, timing chains and camshafts,” she said.

Novak said she had a lot to learn, but she had three race cars of her own: a Barracuda with a hemi engine, an AMX with big block Chevy and a small box Chevy Malibu.

That’s all the unique jobs I was able to gather, but if anyone has one they would like to share with readers, let me know.

Patty Decker writes news and features for the Free Press. you can reach her at patty@hillsborofreepress.com