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The Summer Girls – Jimmie Price

Section of a black and white photo of three young women sitting on the grass.

Summer Girls Bea Smorden, Joyce Bell, and Jimmie Price, 1947

In the summer of 1947, several more summer girls arrived to work at the Okanagan Centre packinghouse. Eleanor “Jimmie” Price, along with the twin sisters Joyce and Jean Bell, came from Red Deer, Alberta. Joyce traveled by train while Jimmie and Jean hitchhiked part of the way.

The girls first lived in a cabin at the Okanagan Valley Land Company’s camp where they met Bea Smorden and quickly became friends. When the harvest began, the girls moved to Okanagan Centre where they lived in a dorm owned by the Okanagan Valley Land Company. A dozen or more girls shared the dorm, living in small rooms with bunk beds. They shared a sitting room, a tiny kitchen, one bathroom, and a wringer washer and clothesline for laundry. Usually the girls ate their meals at the cafe nearby. Mrs. Gleed kept an eye on the girls and held to a strict “no boys” policy.

Black and white photo of an old car in front of a wooden house.

Okanagan Centre, 1948

Jimmie, Joyce, and Bea all worked as stampers. As boxes rolled down the conveyor belt, the three-person stamping crew quickly stamped each box with the details for the checkers and their tally sheets.  As a box whisked by, the first girl would stamp the grower’s number and date with one hand and the variety with the other. The second girl would stamp the grade and the number of apples in each box. By reading the pack, she would quickly calculate the number of apples, calling out “Three-two-five-five-125”. The third girl stamped the box with the grade stamps of “Cee”, Fancy, and Extra Fancy. The stampers were paid 45¢ an hour and usually worked a ten hour day.

Jimmie and Joyce also stayed in Okanagan Centre and married local men.

View this video with a transcript: Jimmie Price Kobayashi Medvedeff