I began working on weekends and summers before I was in elementary school. Not steadily, but whenever we would drive the 8 miles from my hometown of Okmulgee, Oklahoma to stay with family. I remember being shorter than counter height in the café owned by my grandparents. I also remember being placed on an apple crate to help with dish washing duties in my grandparent’s small cafe in  Morris, Oklahoma. I was rewarded not with money but with all my favorite mashed potatoes and gravy I could eat, and one Grapette pop per work experience.

Where I worked as a child ; happily there were no child labor laws back then.

Where I learned to work as a child ; happily there were no child labor laws back then and my grandparents were the owners. I gladly worked with my “side-kicks” sister Trula (age 8) and “Aunt” Danita a close age 6. At the tender age of 5 I stood on apple or orange crates to reach the deep sinks for dishwashing and rinsing.



Rhoda and Arthur Marrs:   my maternal grandparents of Morris, Oklahoma.


3 muskateers

L) Trula Ann Godwin (sister)  M)  Joyce Marie Godwin (Me)  R)  Danita Marrs ( Maternal Aunt and more like our sister as our ages were so close. She is 11 months older than I am.) We always referred to her as the 3rd sister.)

I seemed destined to always be needing money and was determined to earn my own, even at a young age. This holiday motivated me to  reflect on just a few of the jobs I did before the “real ” careers of my life came along. As an adult I always worked more than one job,  so I held many part time jobs along the way.  (I wouldn’t want you to think I kept being fired and thus had so many jobs to account for.

This story covers a work history of 66 years of uninterrupted employment.  As the numbers grow, just remember these are covering 66 years and as a Type A? multitasker,  and somehow I lived through it.  Some jobs were full time, some part time and some contracted projects with time limits.  From 1948-2015 and not all in order, as every time I thought I was through documenting these jobs, another one popped into my mind. (Not professional  to not go back and edit it, but at 72, My Rules, My Story)

  1. Dishwasher (child, teen and adult)
  2. Baby Sitter Extraordinaire’
  3. Lifeguard-College  I graduated from high school early (17)
  4. Recreation Director at an orphanage (college summer job)
    Joyce as lifeguard senior year and college

    My lifeguarding days, but actually taken on my day off down at the Buffalo, Iowa sand pits.

    During my life guarding gig, but this was at the sand pits in Buffalo Iowa on a day off. Swimming had been my saving grace from age six through high school and freshman year of college.

  5. Retail women’s clothing salesperson at 16. (First time was Klein’s at the Village Shopping Center, Davenport, Iowa. I used all my pay to buy clothes. Ugh)
  6. Hearing Aid salesperson (I was good but no cigar.)
  7. Telemarketer (while in 9th grade on weekends. Hated it and learned some words from boss thatI used before I fully knew what they meant; shocked my parents when I reeled off some of it.)Joyce 18
  8. Food Sample Demonstrator in Grocery Store in high school on weekends.
  9. Sold Tupperware in home parties after marriage as stay at home mom. (Probably still have some of it, I know my folks did and they never threw away anything.
  10. Managed Community Dance/bar facility, for Non Profit Organization
  11. Waitress (over and over from childhood, to college, to adult).
  12. Receptionist (Again, several different kinds of office settings in 3 states for dentist and doctors).
  13. Secretary Chiropractic office.
  14. Property Management (Passed Real Estate Agent tests in Iowa on the first try) 
  15. Also worked at re-habbing and property maintenance for non-profits. 
  16. Non-Profit founder for housing special need people (Project FINISH- the acronym for Furnishing Independent Needs in Special Housing.):  ie. Mentally ill, homeless, judicially compromised, and those in need of a guardian. The project started with three houses ( A men’s, women’s and Co-ed house) and ended up with 104 apartments within the first year in two states.Diana Award 001
  17. Advocate Counselor for Domestic Violence and Rape Sexual Assault

    Domestic Violence Logo

    I wore this to most of my talks, book signings and still have the actual pin by my computer.

  18. Crisis Line worker covering two states.
  19. Advocate for the Homeless and working with housing.

    Bag Lady Pin

    I PROUDLY WORE THIS DURING MY YEARS AS AN ADVOCATE FOR THE HOMELESS AND STILL HAVE IT ON DISPLAY NEAR MY COMPUTER.  I always told everyone “I was just a paycheck away from making this a reality.”

  20. Domestic Violence Shelter Worker/counselor in Confidential Shelter 
  21. Nurse’s aide ( at nursing homes as a 14 year old teen and adult, before doing home care before becoming a nurse)
  22. Nurse (hospital, office, and psychiatric facilities for adults (Davenport IA) and for children (Des Moines, IA).
  23. Also for 16 years I took care of last stage terminally ill patients as a part time job in addition to my full time jobs. It was such an honor to serve as one of the forerunners to hospice care before it was officially established.)

    Grubbs family Christmas 1960 fixed

    This was taken the day I graduated from nursing school .

  24. Established the first ♪♪♫singing telegram business♫♫♪♫  in our area with a friend; We catered and planned special parties and events. Known as VIP VIP it stood for Visiting In Person, Very Important People.
  25. Stop Smoking Facilitator for the American Cancer Society and developed a teen smoking cessation program at my workplace at a children’s’ psychiatric facility. Of course it also meant I quit smoking after my “on and off habit” which I would quit during pregnancies and “good behavior” tee hee.
  26. Massage Therapist and owner of my own “Wellness Complex” business with a beauty shop, gift shop, light therapy room and a doctor who practiced Biofeedback.) Five Points Wellness Complex, Moline, IL. Happiest years of my life.5 Points door

    complex was complex

    The waiting room at the Five Points Wellness Complex and a client pictured with her refreshments after her massage. Fresh flowers, music, a library, aquarium, chess game set up for play, and quiet conversation with others before and after. A gift shop, full service salon, light therapy room for S.A.D., and biofeedback therapy room.  

  27. Volunteer Coordinator for bi-state non-profit domestic violence organization training, and doing certification qualifications.
  28. Founder of Underground Domestic Violence Relocation Organization  through the Trula Godwin Project. The project was started as a posthumous way to honor Trula who was a victim/survivor of domestic violence, rape/sexual assault, and a die hard supporter of supporting the victims until they became survivors, then victors.

    Complex 15

    Trula shown her swearing-in day as she went on the Davenport Police Department. The picture of me was on the day of her funeral and I had pneumonia.

  29. Organizer and coordinator of the national Underground Mail System for victim/survivors of domestic violence and rape/sexual assault providing nationwide connections. (Part of the Trula Godwin Project) mail boxes
  30. Host Site Program Developer for religious nonprofit Food Program (Share Iowa) developing host sites in three states.
  31. Flood Recovery Organizer in 22 South East counties for the Diocese of Davenport (IA) following the 1993 Iowa floods.
  32. Constituent responder for Iowa State Representative (my son was elected to the Iowa House and could utilize my general knowledge and experience to serve his constituents.)
  33. Administrative Assistant  full time for General Sales Manager over four divisions at, a diversified company with international internet sales.
  34. I became a “budding author” who at age 60 had decided to seek publication for novels championing victim/survivors and being their voices in a creative fiction style writing that protects their identities, those of the workers who help them, and the true locations of the events. These are real cases given  a format of adventures in suspense which tell their stories and help you understand, why they leave, why they go, and why sometimes their lives change the readers lives as you “walk on the wild side” in the Greyhound Lady Walking suspense series. glw Fifth wheel of suspense plain redo cover kdp
  35. I became a freelance photo journalist and won an Editor’s Choice Award in pic
  36. Now at 72 I have had a few years of mentoring “wanna be” authors to avoid the pitfalls of unscrupulous editors, marketing schemers and those who would take advantage of the struggling writers. Advocating for victims via the Facebook connections and continuing to serve as an independent advocate available for consultation and “connections.”
  37. Some called me “retired” but in truth I am REFIRED and in my internet “work” on social media, I have been able to intervene in  suicides, help laymen find the resources they need for a variety of needs including homelessness, abuse, medical and health care resources, and a sharing of more than 40+ years of experience as a hands on advocate.
  38. I continued to be a content reader (pro-bono) for many authors who are now established and “on their way. I proudly practiced the literary ethic of “paying it forward.”

It is true volumes could be written on the stories evolving from these jobs. Who knows, if time allows ( I am only 72 after all) I may have the opportunity to follow up in other modes of journalism to continue to provide the voices for those who can finally “tell” but need help coherently sharing their story.

For now, I just bask in the sweat equity of this legacy of strong work ethic left for my family.

PS  Now in 2016  I am 72 1/2  and a published author of 15 novels, and have written a total of 17 books  and an additional two ghost written books as well as  a collection of 66  private legacy stories which I have declined to allow for publication.   Who said I talk too much?

The “take away” is not how many jobs I had, nor howorange book pic 2  much work I have as part of my life’s story. The “take away” is that there is never a reason not to be contributing to life and the lives around you. Even a few hours a week or month can be used effectively if you are willing.

It is not about the degrees you have, it is about a willingness to make every minute count for something “more” and for those times when you go to bed too tired to think, and pull the cover up and settle against your pillow, and hear your own  faint, un-traceable voice saying, “Well done, well done.” Those are the nights you will not lie awake and toss and turn. Those are the nights my friends, that will make you feel that if you didn’t awaken in the morning to face another day, you could certainly smile and in your own un-traceable inner voice say, “It is well with my soul.”

May Labor Day be a day you recognize the work ethic you have to thrive, and the work ethic you give that others may thrive as well.


I leave you with the novel I wrote that encompasses parts of my life and heritage secreted into the plot-line of the story. The rail-road picture is actually taken where you crossed the railroad tracks to reach the “wrong side of the tracks” where our family’s three rented houses stood on a dirt road that was a dead end. I lived there in the 1940’s as a child during a time that our town of Okmulgee, Ok.  was still segregated and where realizing that, you would understand that the fact we rented from a black (colored) landlord, was an automatic identification in those days that we were poor and on the “wrong side of the tracks”. Our landlord was a successful, black dentist and a wonderful and kind family man, but never-the-less, in that culture and circumstance, we were labeled. This novel created a special outcome to the mystery that helped me make “something beautiful” out of that memory.

IT ALSO GAVE ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO REMIND YOU THAT IT IS NOT WHERE YOU COME FROM BUT WHERE YOU TAKE YOURSELF THAT COUNTS. Like it says on the novel cover, “There is a wrong side of the tracks, a wrong side of town, wrong family, culture, religion, circumstances. MAKING IT THE STRONG SIDE IS A CHOICE.

GLW Tracks 2


About joycegodwingrubbs2

Some call me retired: I am RE-FIRED. I have written 15 books, plus 3 written as a "ghost writer". I no longer offer the novels as printed books, having them only available as Kindle Ebooks since my retirement as a novelist. Twelve books are on Kindle eBooks: collectively they are known as The Greyhound Lady Walking suspense series.They are real cases fictionalized into suspense stories to protect identities..( no victim/survivor names were compromised, and workers and locations were protected.) I also co-authored a non-fiction book: Footsteps Out of Darkness: The Annabelle Kindig Story . It is available on Amazon under the name of Annabelle Kindig. I have traveled, written from the heart, and found an audience that appreciates my "platform". The catalyst to writing the novels was the realization that if I died, I would take all my amazing experiences in these real cases with me; and believe me few have lived 5 lives in one. It would "silence the voices" of the victim/survivors whose triumphs are written into these novels. The suspense series was written in part with the collaboration of police woman and sex crime expert Trula Ann Godwin. In addition to the novels, I have written as a ghost writer for a World War II veteran who fought in the South Pacific aboard the USS Maryland in all the major battles. I have also written a non-fiction book recording oral history stories of my family members beginning with the 1930's to present. There are sixty-six "legacy" stories with pictures. It was recently published as a private printing for family and close associates only. I am a published photo journalist having won the 2009 Editor's Choice Award for internet freelance news articles and pictures of the Cedar Rapid's Iowa flood victim accounts and their personal struggles.. My husband and I are in our 52nd year together (only one blip on the marital radar together), and we have adopted three greyhounds; Dex, Big Buddy and Baby Doll. These were the inspirations in the Greyhound Lady Walking suspense series We have eleven grandchildren, 7 grandsons and 4 granddaughters. My three children live in Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio.
This entry was posted in domestic violence, Labor Day reflections, Life goals, segregation, WORK ETHIC, Work History and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Michelle, thanks. It is true that when I retired (I prefer refired) this old Type A personality would have floundered if it wasn’t for writing. When the body refuses to “go” you have to travel in your mind and heart. Thank God for Facebook and the internet.

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