Page 14 - Women in the Steel Plant, World War 2
ISSUE : Issue 37
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1984/8/1
Kit: Falconer: We worked right up till the end, you know, when the men started coming back and the war was over. (For a number of years, you got a really good paycheque.) Not really. The money wasn't high. No. Not like it is now. (Was it better than house? work?) Oh, yeah. It was a lot better than housework. Oh, my--$3 a week for housework. Lots of places, yeah. A whole week. I should say 6 days, because one day you'd get off. For $3 a week I'd wash clothes, cook, bake. (Floors?) Everything. For $3-- big deal, wasn't it? But still, that was a lot,of money to us then. That's quite a few years ago. (So, whatever you got at the steel plant was....) Oh, God, it was like you were in heaven. It was better than working housework. (But you didn't fight to stay in the plant.) Well, I don't think that would be right. You know, men coming back, after all, giving up their job to go. They didn't all come back. (And if a job was left open, why not hire a woman to fill that?) Maybe, but it didn't interest me at all. (You didn't want to make your career in the bar mill?) Indeed not. Chris McGrady: (After the experience at the plant, did you see yourself as differ? ent from other women?) No, why should we be different?... The steel plant was just like another factory. We were only going earning our daily bread, so to speak, so why would we be different? I think it was just another job, and we did it. It had to be done, somebody had to do it. Weren't e- nough men around to do it. And what was left here was either too young or too old. So it was left to us. Selina Hollohan: But they don't make them like us today. The women of today, they can't do half of what we used to do. When you think of what we used to do--my God! I raised 7 children, and I used to do all my own work and pack my kids and walk down to my father's--my mother was dead--and I used to do his work. And bring my kids back home, and be home for supper, have my husband's supper ready. Today, they don't do things like that. I don't think so. May? be there are some around, but I doubt it. We did what men were supposed to be doing. Ordinarily, you'd never get on, if there was no war. And the men were all gone, so somebody had to hold up this end. I mean, maybe we didn't do a whole lot, but we held up our end at the plant, kept the plant going. (14) This article was edited from in? terviews by Florence Smith, New Waterford, and Cape Breton's Maga? zine. Our thanks to Ms. Smith for permission to draw from her tapes and sources, and to Dr. Brian Jo? seph, Director, "Women in Hard Hats" Research Project at U.C.C.B., who told us about her work. Photo of workers on page 8 courtesy Kit Falconer, and those on pages 3 and 14 courtesy Mrs. R. A. Shelley (Minnie Paruch). All other photos of the steel plant are courtesy Sydney Steel Corporation. Our thanks to Harvey MacLeod, Public Relations Officer, for locating those pictures.
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