, Newburyport, MA


January 9, 2013

Recalling the days of snowshoveling in Port


When completing that job I’d go to the freight yards up by the mall. They had rail switches to clean out, to keep them from freezing. It wasn’t a big job but paid well. I remember later in life looking to see if I had any Social Security credit from the railroad. I was quite impressed that they had a record of me.

One big job that was available to older high school kids was shoveling for the city of Newburyport. In those days they didn’t own big equipment to handle the snow. All the work had to be done during the evening hours when cars were not on the road downtown. Guys looking for work would show up at the city barn about 6 p.m. There were so many fellows looking for work that it got quite crowded.

The boss would come into the room and point to chosen fellows and say, “Get in the truck.” It was such a pleasure if you were pointed out. You’d get on the back of that open truck with your shovel and head for downtown. We’d shovel off State Street first. The trucks would back up to the curb. The shovelers on both sides of the truck would begin throwing shovelful after shovelful into the truck. When the truck got full, it would pull out and another would pull in. That system continued from Market Square up through Pleasant Street. We would work all night until daybreak. Depending on the storm, it could take a couple of nights to complete the streets.

I don’t see kids today going around the neighborhoods with a shovel looking to earn money. I don’t wish for those days to return; however, as I get older, I certainly would welcome a young lad knocking on my door. Times have certainly changed!


Robert “Boots” Chouinard lives in Salisbury.

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