Story by Virginia Slusher, photos from her collection
Editor’s note: Virginia Slusher, who lives near Kansas City, contacted us to share these recollections and photos. We have previously written about The Office, part of the old Anheuser-Bush brewery on Jones Street, which served as Tillotson Construction’s headquarters in the 1950s.
Beginning in the fall of 1951, I worked for Mike (Reginald) and Mary Tillotson for seven years. I was the “office girl”–some bookkeeping, receptionist, et cetera.
I went to Commercial Extension School of Commerce, and Johnny Hassman was my date for our graduation party. He was in the office quite often. I think Johnny helped with sales.
One morning I arrived first, and the safe was hanging open. Because of the burglary, I immediately ran down to the gas station on the corner. The thief took the petty cash they kept in the safe. I don’t think he bothered anything else. The police came to investigate.
I loved working there; they were so good to me.
The three guys and I would sit up on the balcony and play cards sometimes when Mary was gone. It was a raised area where Wayne and Ted, the two engineers, sat. Bob the bookkeeper sat just below.
I loved the guys. They took me out for my first legal drink when I turned 21 years old. They teased me unmercifully but were so good to me.
I remember typing about 2000 W-4s at the end of the year. Men would work for one or two days and quit. I also sent all the “give us your business” cards to the small towns in multiple states.
The other woman–I can’t remember her name–was working there when I started.
They had a huge NCR bookkeeping machine that she taught me how to operate. Shortly after I started there, the company sold it to, I think, China.
Mary was different to say the least. She had an ugly Boxer that came to work with her sometimes. He would slobber on me; therefore, I did not like him!
She used to tape a St. Christopher medal on her desk. We joked that we wondered if the desk would take her somewhere.
She was very good to me, gave me nice bonuses at the end of the year, not quite as big as the three guys. But very good for the ’50s. I received $1000 to $15oo. The men usually around $10,000. Very large amount for the times.
Mike (Reginald) was funny, not in the office much. I had to write the checks to pay the family bills.
I was still Virginia Engel but married William Slusher while working there, 60 years now, and they were very nice to us.
When the company closed, Mary found a new job for me at Power District credit union.
What an endearing story of one woman’s life… Virginia writes so friendly-like and you end up feeling you met her. Adorable photos, too.
Thank Koji. Are you part of the Tillotson family? I was hoping I didn’t sound too hokey! Now I am showing my age.
Oh, no, I am not. ☺ It was a wonderful story!! Thank you for sharing.