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> Issue 37 > Page 4 - Women in the Steel Plant, World War 2

Page 4 - Women in the Steel Plant, World War 2

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1984/8/1 (607 reads)

for me, and that. You know, the wheelbar? row filled with mud, which wasn't very light. If he was off on his lunch hour, he'd do that for me. (I understand the job was an hour on and an hour off.) Because you see, it's all hot, hot as the devil. I mean, you couldn't work it right through, you couldn't. It was too hard. You'd flop. Oh, it was a real tough job. Dorothy Dobranski: My father and all my uncles had always been part of the steel plant. My grandfather was J. C. Mackley. He was the general superintendent of the blast furnace for years and years and years. And then, all my uncles worked. My father was the general foreman for the e- lectrical department. And then one time my uncle, George Mackley, was master mechanic up at the coke ovens. The Mackleys have al? ways held good positions in the plant. No doubt it was through them, through my fa? ther mostly, that we knew there was a pos? sibility. I have an idea that my father must have approached somebody in the lab at first. But I had graduated from college as a home economics teacher. I had taught at Holy Angels High School for a year, and then in the rural areas for another year, and then on this circuit from Sydney River to St. Peters. So it was very interesting to me to get a job, to be able to stay home. And besides that, I had always liked chemistry, and it was a chance to do lab work. I was interested in doing that. The teaching jobs were not available. The plant wasn't that foreign to me, be? cause I had often been back and forth with my father. Not exactly in the area that I went to, in the chem lab up at the coke ov? ens. But it was so very much like a chem lab in college that it wasn't scary at all. And we were given a lot of instruction. We spent two weeks, I believe it was, with the men on the j ob. And then they were moved down to the big lab, down to the main lab. And we were left alone after two weeks. They had one girl on each shift. We were analyzing the products of the distillation plant--what they called the benzol plant. We did mostly fractional distillations. The operation there in the benzol was a huge big still, where they were taking off the by-products of the oil. And in order to do that, they have to separate the dif? ferent substances by their boiling point. They would bring a sample in to us, and we would have to put it on the distillation apparatus and get the boiling point--the first drop would come over at a certain point. That temperature was very, very im? portant to the man who was operating the still. He would know whether he would have to change tanks of where the solution was running. Then, when they would fill a tank, we would have to analyze that again. That's what fractional distillation is-- it's separating all the different sub? stances within the liquids that come off the by-products of coal. (Was it dangerous work?) Well, we didn't think so at the time. There were a lot of precautions we had to take. We had to real? ize we were working with inflammable liq? uid at all times. And nobody was allowed to come in the lab at all. There were three shifts operating. On dayshift, peo? ple would be around. But on the middle shift and the backshift, we were just by ourselves in the lab. And the samples were brought in to us, and passed in through the door. We would analyze them, and put the results out on a paper for the opera? tor in the plant. So we were quite on our own. When I was there, one of the men died, be? cause he was overcome by fumes, when one of the big huge stills overflowed. There would be just one man looking after that end, and one man looking after the other small still. And they wouldn't see one an? other that much during the night. And when I came out to work this morning, all the commotion that was going on because he had been found dead. So, I went through that. It was rather scary. It made us realize that the fumes of the product we were work? ing at, if in quantity and inhaled under J.A.Young&Son; fk want to be vour travel agent. Tor all your travel needs??. American Express Travel Service J.A.Young&Son; Insurance &Travel; Agent 181 Charlotte Street Sydney, N.S. 539-'00 >Xfe're the all-around travel?gent • with hundreds of American Express Company, subsidiary and Representative Iravel Service offices to help you here and all around the world. And with an all-around package of services no one else can match: • Book i'ne tickets • Ami'e complete vacations • Sell, cash or refund American Express* Thvtltn Qteques 9 Offer complete business travel service • Help at destination • Reserve hotel space • Provide rental can and limounnes • Provide American Express paylatcr plans (for American Express* Cardmembc') • A uniouc combination of ivd financial Dont leave home wiltiout us.** (4)
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