Page 10 - Women in the Steel Plant, World War 2
ISSUE : Issue 37
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1984/8/1
work in 4 hours.) Well, it was July when I was there, and oh, my God, it was hot, without that old hot coke. I said, if any? body ever took a fainting spell and fell into one of those coke cars, they'd never find you. I knew I wasn't going to stay there, I'll tell you that. But I was trying to get something else. So, I said I'd try to get in the yard. 'Cause you saw the men down below, after the coke cars went down to the upper plant with the coke--you saw the men down on the tracks with the little tiny wooden wheelbarrows, cleaning off the coke that had spilled out of the cars--it ' was cool by now--cleaning that up. Well, they were yardmen. So Dorothy's husband, John Armstrong, spoke to someone, "Why can't you put the girls in the yard?" And they said, "No, there's no room. The men all have their jobs in the yard. Well, of course, we can't put them out." And you couldn't get a job down to the upper plant. So I told my friend Dorothy, "You fellows can stay here and kill yourselves. I'm not." (And you lasted how long?) About a week, I think. Got a payday, an57way. I still have my cheque number someplace. I always saved it; I said, I must give that to my grandchildren. (To show that you worked on the plant.) Yeah. Kay Henrich: Look, I enjoyed it so much. The men were all older, and they had known my father, because he too worked there. He was superintendent of carpenters within the mechanical department--and they all knew him. My father used to take us--we were three girls--used to take us Sundays after mass--over to his shop and show us all around. We were quite familiar with the plant. I felt very secure there. It wasn't strange to me. I was 16 when my father died. And they be? came very protective of me--they immediate? ly became fathers and guardians to me. And then, I was so young when I went to work-- I was 17. There was one man, he used to come over every morning. Every morning he'd come o- ver to my machine and talk to me, just to say hello. He knew my father so well, and used to check in and see if everything was all right, and everything I needed. They were so nice to me, very protective, as I say. Nobody ever passed the machine where I was working without stopping and saying hello, nobody. And at lunchtime, the man I worked with, he'd go down--they had this little store at Number 1 gate--he'd always come back and bring me an ice cream or something. They were so nice to me. Get? ting all the goodies. They were nice to all the women in the shop. I felt like a queen the whole time. I was never allowed to lift anything. (Do you remember your first day at work?) Oh, my dear, I was never so nervous in my life. I must have gotten up about 5 o'clock to catch the 6:30 bus. I caught the 6 o'clock bus by mistake, I was so a- fraid I'd miss the 6:30. I got on the bus, and the bus driver said, "Are you out at the plant?" I said, "Yes." "Well, you'd better go home and wait for the next bus, when the work crowd arrives!" So I came back home. So, I watched impatiently. I " could see the bus going at the bottom of the street, and it would come around the comer, and I'd duck out to catch it at the top. So, I got on-the bus, and all these--faces, didn't know a soul. I think I was the only girl on the bus, only fe? male on the bus at that hour in the morn? ing, at 6:30 in the morning. Everybody looking at me, and I felt so small and in? significant, with the lunch can under my arm. So, I arrived at Number 4 gate and found my way down to the machine shop. And I came in, and everybody--oh, all eyes were on me--this little kid coming in to work--what was she doing here. Quickly I CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE Take Home A Bit Of Cape Breton Culture! Lhviversity College of Cape ]&'tcM Press Cape Breton is renowned not only for its rugged beauty but also for its coal mines, steel mills, its fiddlers, good humour and high spirits. The University College of Cape Breton Press has captured much of the flavour of the island in its original recordings and books of Cape Breton. While touring the island this summer look for the following records and books: RECORDS: . Rita MacNeil's "I'm Not What I Seem" • The Rise and Follies of Cape Breton Island (1977, 1980, 1981) . Glendale • Cape Breton's Greatest Hits BOOKS: . The Cape Breton Fiddler . Songs & Stories • Cape Breton Historical Essays from Deep Cove • Patterson's History of Victoria County • Still Standing NEW RELEASES: • Mining Photographs and Other Pictures by Leslie Shedden • The Well-Watered Garden: The Presbyterian Church in Cape Breton, 1798-1860 by Laurie Stanley In book & record outlets & most island craft stores, or send to: UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF CAPE BRETON PRESS, P. 0. BOX 5300, SYDNEY, N. S. BIP 6L2 (10)
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