Page 13 - Women in the Steel Plant, World War 2
ISSUE : Issue 37
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1984/8/1
you go." I don't think it was that I was such a good worker. I think that they all liked, you know, having women around. And I was the first to go, because I was the last hired on. He said, "If I were you, I wouldn't do a stitch of work today." He said, "You let that machine just run all day and pretend you're working." He said, "To hell with them." So I said, "Oh no, no, I'll finish out the day." I said, "I knew when I came here that there'd be a day when I'd have to leave." But I was very, very blue about it. And after I was work? ing at the general office for awhile, I went back on several occasions to visit them at the shop. And oh, my dear, they were gloving me so much I was a mess of gljpase when I came out. They were all hug? ging me and everything, the older men. Mary Kelly: I worked at the Isle Royale Ho- tel in the dining room, and I had 6 chil? dren. I worked long hours, and I was a wid? ow. And when I heard that they were taking women on, I went over and applied for the job, and I got it. I preferred working day shift because I wanted to be home in the evening with the children. Whereas, at the hotel, I had to work until 9 and 10 o'clock at night. Sometimes the children'd be in bed when I got home at night. (When you worked at the Isle Royale?) I wouldn't see them in the morning, or even then in the night. That went on for years. But, there was no other work. Then I got at the safety department at the steel plant. And there was no night work-- I had all day shift. The pay wasn't better. Our pay at the hotel was very poor, but our tips would amount to about the same. So, the reason was the shorter hours. (Would you have to come home from the steel plant and do a day's work?) Oh, yeah. Wash by hand. But I was young, see, you didn't mind it. Didn't mind it at all. I had longer hours at the hotel. I didn't e- ven mind that. I started in the safety department. (What would be required of you?) Well, I had to cover the whole place, wherever the women were working, to see that they wore safety shoes, and their hair was tied up. They had to wear a bandana. Some of the women didn't like to cover their hair, you know. And they were provided with nets. But they didn't like it. Some of them wouldn't. I'd have to report that to the boss. And no rings, no jewelry, that would get caught in anything. And gloves, like the men. Slacks weren't very prominent then, but a lot of them wore just the men's overalls, you know, for working. They weren't al? lowed to wear skirts. And I also put safety posters up, pertain? ing to different hazards. Like a step: "Watch Your Step." And around lathes, you know, the picture of a man not wearing gog? gles --where he should have been wearing safety goggles. Every department had their own kind of a poster. I didn't mind it a bit. And I liked going out around. I went all over the plant, eve? ry part of the plant. Right down from the docks right up to what they call the marsh dump--it was where they used to dump the old coal or something. Oh, I walked. I didn't do that every day. I'd take one sec? tion one day, and another section, another, and so on. 'n?ien I was outside, I was real? ly my own boss. Then I had to come back and, of course, give a report. If I saw any hazards, you know, any tripping haz? ards or anything like that. Oh, it was really a nice job. (You'd go through the plant every day?) Every day, yeah. And then after that, they took another man on, and I went in the store, selling safety equipment, all the goggles. Most of them were issued by the plant for safety purposes. Safety goggles and gloves. But they bought their safety boots. The boots--they had to buy them. (So, you stayed on the plant after the war.) Oh, yes. When the women left, I went in the store. Then I stayed on till I had a heart attack in 1967. I was the only wom? an that was inside the plant. With the ex? ception of a couple stenographers, you know. I was with DOSCO for 24% years. (Did you think you were going to lose your job when the war ended?) Oh yes, I wasn't assured that that job, that I could have it after, at all. But I stuck it out, any? way. And then, when women left, they said, "Well, she can keep her job, 'cause it's only like any store,"--you know, store clerk. Bell Buoy Ftestaurant Seafood * Steaks * Poultry * Sandwiches Fully Licensed * Luncheon & Children's Menus Baddeck, N.S. 295-2581 (13)
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