This video contains a half-hour rough cut of the program "It's A Living: Paper Wagon." The focus is on a group of newspaper and railroad workers who share their personal thoughts about their jobs, dreams, and hopes for the future. There is also a brief interview with Studs Terkel towards the end of the tape. Terkel's book "Working" was the inspiration for the "It's A Living" television series.
00:00Copy video clip URL This tape begins with a blue screen.
00:28Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of a few employees on the job in the newspaper factory. We watch as one of the crews unloads a truck full of Chicago Daily Newspapers. The sound quality is a little rough through this portion of the tape.
02:31Copy video clip URL The videomakers speak with an employee who states that he dislikes his job working at the train depot. He explains that he’s been in the business for twenty-five years and that he’s hated every day of it. Another employee says that he likes his job. “See, I figured it out. Anybody that will work here forty years there’s gotta be something wrong with them.” The other man goes on to talk about his reasons for disliking his work. “There is no good job in the world. I don’t care what kind of job you got. If you gotta get up and go to work in the morning, no job is good.” He then states that his only reasons for working are his four children.
03:38Copy video clip URL The men quietly and efficiently load off stack after stack of newspapers on to a few carts. One of the men talks about their daily tasks. He goes on to talk about his up and coming retirement later that year. When asked about what he plans to do with his spare time, the man states that he’ll be spending a lot of time on his farm.
06:28Copy video clip URL While sitting atop a newspaper cart, videomaker Bart Friedman continues to speak with one of the men about his negative view of work. “You see, most people stay in a job because it’s essential and they just have no opinion on it. They come and go with robots… Me, I’m different. I don’t like it. I never did like it. I doubt if I ever will like it.” The man goes on to say that the only thing he likes about his job is the people he works with. He also talks about his feeling of being “stuck” in the newspaper industry. The man goes on to talk about his having to condition himself to forget about work when he’s not there. He talks about previously owning a business and the amount of stress it caused for him. For hating working so much, the mans seems fairly content with the normal forty hour work week.
08:56Copy video clip URL When asked about his plans for the future, the man states that he doesn’t want to retire and hopes that his kids receive a good education due to the fruits of his labor. He goes on to talk about his children and how they bettered his life. “My kids have made my life better. There’s no sacrifice involved. First of all, they didn’t ask to be born. We brought them into the world, my wife and I, you understand–because we wanted them, not because we had to or anything else.” The man then talks about his belief that everyone should have children. “It’s like an extension of yourself. It really is–only with a different mind. You can really see what you would do if you were a different person because they’re just like you.” The man then talks about how he plans to support his children through college. Eventually, the man and one of his fellow employees discuss the subject of retirement and the qualities a business owner must have in order to succeed. The disenchanted man states that there is a lot more worry that comes along with being self-employed. He also talks about the negatives of working for a big company.
13:17Copy video clip URL Friedman says he likes his work and is able to get by okay. The man then talks about the responsibilities that that come about once a person has a family. Friedman goes on to talk about his mission in life. “I have a mission in life–to change television–to give more people an opportunity to use it, to be a part of it, and be on it, instead of just three networks.” The man then talks about his television intake. “There’s nothing television can give me for entertainment. I see it all here every day.” The man talks about the daily craziness he experiences on the job. This lasts for several minutes.
15:32Copy video clip URL Friedman and the other man speak with another employee about his work. The employee says he enjoys his work. He also talks about his experience getting into the job market in the midst of the Depression. “Factories were going down and I was a little kid and just watching all that stuff, and what’s the use of furthering an education if there are no jobs to be had? College graduates were in the unemployment line.” He then talks about starting to work at ten years old. He goes on to state that he gets paid better than many college graduates.
17:24Copy video clip URL When asked about his dream job, the man talks about his time spent in the air force. The man honestly opens up about his feeling on the subject, both good and bad. “Well, I’ll tell you I thoroughly enjoyed the air force when I was in the air force. That was something else. That was a beautiful thing. Except there were moments of lonesomeness, moments of danger, moments of sadness, but when you picture it out, it was a heck of a different story from what I’m used to now.” He goes on to talk about his duty as truck driver in a squadron.
18:24Copy video clip URL The manager of the factory talks about the newspaper business and how it has provided him with a healthy living. The manager, employee, and Friedman briefly discuss how the newspaper business has changed over the years. This is followed by footage of the factory employees hard at work. This lasts for several minutes.
21:42Copy video clip URL The videomakers follow a man as he takes an elevator up to a train platform to offload a cart of newspapers. This lasts for several minutes.
23:37Copy video clip URL Friedman speaks with an employee about his technique for stacking newspapers. We then watch as a train arrives. Hordes of commuters file on to the train. The newspaper employees then work hard to load as many newspapers onto the train before it departs to its next destination. Videomaker Nancy Cain is then approached by a law enforcement official who questions her about the crew shooting at the facility. Officer O’Connor eventually talks about his job as a police officer. The tape then fades out.
28:20Copy video clip URL Cut to footage of Studs Terkel as he leaves WFMT. The videomakers follow him as he makes his way over to a restaurant for a sandwich. Terkel talks about some of his interview subjects for his book “Working.” For this project, the videomakers interviewed and gathered footage of some of the characters included in the book. Terkel shares his thoughts about hard-working people. “See, one thing about people, hard working people, particularly from Appalachia or black people, is when they talk it’s very specific. It’s not abstract. It’s the day–what’s your day like? Bang, it’s every little detail, and that’s what I call literature.” Terkel continues to talk about the subject with the videomakers before arriving at the restaurant. He briefly talks about the original restaurant owner.
33:17Copy video clip URL Tape ends.