STERLING, IL—Saying it was the furthest thing from his mind when he clocked in each day at the Northwestern Steel and Wire factory in the 1950s, retired laborer Henry Mitchell, 84, told reporters Monday that he had absolutely no idea his earnings from six decades ago would have to support the next three generations of his family. “Back then, I knew I needed the money I was making on the production line to feed and clothe my kids, but I really had no clue that my grandkids and even their kids would still rely on it all these years later,” said Mitchell, noting that, had he realized his wages operating a metal rolling machine during the middle of the previous century would eventually be called upon to provide for 11 separate family members, he would have done a better job budgeting his weekly salary of $65. “At this point, I’ve pretty much run through my savings paying off my son’s mortgage. And, no matter how I cut it, my pension dollars just aren’t going to stretch much farther, not with [grandchildren] Tom and Karen still out of work and five great-grandchildren who will one day need to go to college. Boy, I wish I’d gotten that promotion to furnace operator sooner.” Mitchell then lamented to reporters that things could have been better for his descendants if only he hadn’t taken his wife on that expensive cross-country honeymoon railroad trip in 1951.
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