Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Selling Lightning Rods

Posted November 3, 2008

What is the most interesting job you or someone in your family has held? Let’s make that our Carolina Conversations blog topic today.

A wonderful conversation I had over the weekend prompted this question. During a book signing at Barnes & Noble – Crabtree Valley Saturday a delightful couple approached me and said how much they enjoyed this blog. The husband began to tell me about his father’s job. He worked as a lightning rod salesman in the western part of North Carolina. It was back in the days when folks had time to talk and spend an hour or two discussing the pros and cons of Ben Franklin’s famous invention. This salesman even survived a lightning strike while on the job peddling his products. If I ever write a novel I think I will start with a plot about a lightning rod salesman.

My first job was sweeping floors at my parent’s store in downtown Morganton for 45 cents an hour. My salary mushroomed to $2.00 an hour after I mastered the skills of picture framing. Later I became a bag boy at the Colonial Grocery Store in Morganton. The next summer I drove a van and made home deliveries for Jones Drug Store in Morganton. My radio career came next with a summer stint at WKGX in Lenoir where I played country hits as the “Tall Man” and recorded commercials for septic tank aroma bars for a local supermarket. At that point I decided to take a more sophisticated approach to broadcasting and made the move to journalism at WTOB in Winston-Salem where I worked with famous DJ and close friend Rick Dees. Radio ruled my life until 1984 when I won a Peabody Award and John Greene invited me to work at WRAL Television. I’ve been here ever since and it’s been a blast!

What about you? What was your most interesting job? Let’s have fun with this.


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  • pmw Nov 4, 2008

    I made lens for eyeglasses at one time during my working history....that was interesting and challenging.

  • Historian snuck back in Nov 4, 2008

    I was a gigilo, but due to no clients I had to switch careers. I'm now a fairly successful professional predictor.

  • Southern Fried Yankee Nov 4, 2008

    Y'all are going to snicker....My most interesting job was being a Machinst Mate in the Navy. I got to work on great machinery, learned a trade, got paid relatively well since room and board was provided (I always had at least $200 in my pocket for incidentals like beer and candy bars), got to travel, and literally saw the world. I considered myself a paid tourist whose cruise ship just happened to be painted grey.

    Oh, yeah....I grew up, too.

  • open2debate Nov 3, 2008

    My son worked for our local radio station when he was 14yrs.. old and I would drive him to work and go back after him. It was quite an experience for both of us and a lot of good memories. It was an ongoing joke with us as to whether his paycheck would bounce or not. Many times he would have to tell his boss the bank wouldn't cash the check and then he would be paid in cash. The equipment kept breaking down and he was the only one at the station but he always seemed to know what to do. We have a lot of fun memories from there and the experience he got was worth more than money could buy.

  • tvhartrick Nov 3, 2008

    25 years ago in college I had the wonderful opportunity of (by accident) being the Public Address Announcer for the men's hockey team, during the season the team went on to win the NCAA Div II National Championship. Met lots of interesting people and players, and had a complete blast.

  • moonchild Nov 3, 2008

    My very first real paying job was packing tobacco. It was great fun. Met lots of interesting characters and got the best home cooked country meal at lunch time. I later became a telephone operator. That was an experience trying to put the right plug in the right hole... I felt like Sarah on Andy Griffith. I also baby sat alot for .50 an hour - kids now get $10.

  • tennispro Nov 3, 2008

    My Mom also had an interesting job. She was a sorority house director for the Alpha Delta Pi Sorority house at UNC Chapel Hill for 25 years. They called her "Hub". Her daughter and three grandaughters are all in that sorority also.

  • tennispro Nov 3, 2008

    One of my most interesting jobs was a summer job while still at college. We live on the Virginia border in Henderson. My dad suggested I try getting a job at the NC Welcome Center a few miles away on the interstate. I got the job and my hardest task was learnig to read a map upside down and using a yellow marker to chart directions for tourists on the map with me behind the counter. I did enjoy passing out the free cokes and peanuts to all the travelers. Fun summer job!!

  • ladybugs-mom Nov 3, 2008

    My most interesting job came as an adult. I worked with a group called Poetry Alive. Pairs of us traveled all around the eastern part of the country performing poetry for schools, libraries and other organizations. We would "act out" poems like "Casey at the Bat" and got kids to help us as actors. They particularly loved "Jabberwocky." It was probably the hardest job I've ever had...the traveling to a new place & constant hotels was grueling. But so rewarding.

  • tarhillmom Nov 3, 2008

    As a farm girl my first jobs revolved around raising tobacco. My dad was wise! He gave an acre field to my sister and me. He kept all that crop separated the entire season...all the way to market and we got to keep the profits. I remember going to the warehouse and sitting on my pile of the golden leaf as the graders and buyers came by! I think the intent was to use childish charm to add value. I think working on the farm taught us lots of great lessons.




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Bill Leslie