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Answer Man: Thanksgiving shift means extra pay for many workers

Dear Answer Man, I think it's reprehensible that big corporations force people to work on Thanksgiving, just so Black Friday can start early. How can companies like Macy's force people to work on a national holiday?

Hold on, cowpoke. You assume the sales clerks, cooks, restaurant servers, warehouse workers and everyone else who worked yesterday didn't want to. It's a big world and some didn't; others were eager to volunteer for those shifts because they wanted extra hours, extra pay and extra tips. Many of the bigger retailers ask for volunteers for those holiday shifts, according to many sources, and they generally get more volunteers than they need.

"The sales associates in stores like Macy's are there because they want to be, they like the energy and they like the extra pay, which is sometimes double-time or double-time-and-a-half," said a Rochester retail expert who should know but asked not to be identified. At Macy's, I'm told they offered four different options for volunteers for those "gray Thursday" hours.

According to an NBC News story , "Most retailers are offering holiday pay, even for seasonal workers. Walmart is offering that, along with a traditional Thanksgiving meal for all shifts, and an added employee discount for the day."

Everyone who worked Thursday didn't get holiday pay, and some didn't want to be there. But by and large, I assume most people are grateful on Thanksgiving to have a job they enjoy and that pays the bills. Pass along your thoughts on this and I'll add them to the record on Monday.


Judging by the number of people in the stores last night, it appears people like the idea of being able to shop on Thanksgiving night.

Wild about Harry's house

Several readers have checked in recently about Harry Blackmun's legacy in Rochester. That legacy includes a house in what's sometimes called the Sunny Slopes neighborhood.

Do you know where Sunny Slopes is? Neither did I, before checking all this out. So you're about to learn more about Harry's house and Sunny Slopes.

Blackmun was a Supreme Court justice from 1972 to 1994, but back in the '50s he was just another guy who worked for Mayo Clinic -- if they had blue name badges in those days, he might have worn one, as the clinic's legal counsel -- and in the 1960s, he continued to live here while serving on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a column a few weeks ago , I noted that Blackmun's court chambers here were in the Rochester Towers building on Second Street Southwest, and he and family lived in a house that he helped design in southwest Rochester.

CPW, from Kasson, sent this note: "Hi, Answer Man. Just thought you'd like a little more info as to where Justice Blackmun lived in Rochester. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, I rode the same school bus as two of his daughters, Nancy and Sally. At that time, the family lived on Skyline Drive Southwest, which is on the hill behind Edina Realty. The school bus took us to Central Junior High, where the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center now stands."

Henry Oots, of Rochester, describes himself as "an old retired mailman," and he sent this: "I used to deliver his mail and packages when he lived at 207 Fifth Ave. I had a special spot at the underground parking area where I parked my postal vehicle. I would then go up to his apartment to get his signature on any registered mail and drop off special packages that would come for him at Christmas time."


Then I heard from Al DeBoer, who told me something else I didn't know: "My wife and I happen to live in 'his' home on Skyline Drive. This contemporary home is a replica of the home he and Dottie built in Golden Valley just before Harry accepted a job as general counsel in Rochester. The story is that Dottie was very reluctant to leave her new 'dream' home.

"The architect that did the Golden Valley home was hired (at the expense of Mayo, I am told) to replicate the home in Rochester. With this inducement, an appropriate lot was found and Dottie agreed that she and Harry would move to Rochester. That was 1951, and we have the architect's plans."

Finally, I received this:

"Dear Answer Man, you probably have gotten this information already from any number of people, but just in case: We lived on Damon Court at the Homestead in 1951 while our house was being built on Sunny Slopes. Our address there was 38 Skyline Drive."

She shared a few other details as well, and the letter writer was Nancy Blackmun, the justice's daughter, who lives in Massachusetts.

OK, the last history lesson for today: Where did the name Sunny Slopes come from? I believe from a house in that area that was designed in 1937 by Harold Crawford, built by Dr. Edward Rynearson and called by that name. I can't assure you that the slopes are always sunny, but it's nice to believe they are.

Isn't it amazing how much you learn from this column?

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