Page 16 - Frank Murphy and the Open Hearth
ISSUE : Issue 52
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1989/8/1
I was there for--I was years. 9 days short of 45 (When we went in the Open Hearth yesterday, there was one furnace....) In operation. When I was there, there were 12. (And you could look the length of that and there'd be all these men working at the....) At their furnace. Every one, different times, they'd be tapping out. Each fellow would be doing something different in that time. And you knew every one of them, and you know what they were--you knew what their family '-they'd come and tell you their family troubles and everything else, you know. They had trouble with their boy, or they're not getting along with their wife. You'd get all this, you know. That' was one of our big downfalls here, you know, was this being a family plant. It didn't make any difference (whether) you could do your job, if you were a son of so-and-so. (Is that right?) Oh, yeah, you got a job. If you didn't fit in on that job, they put you somewhere else. But if you were in Hamilton or Algoma, they'd fire you. You couldn't do it. But here, they just moved you somewhere else. Well, you see, we were born with the steel plant in our, back door. Look out in the morning and you'd see the smoke come out of the stacks. And you'd go to school-- school was right up here, the convent was right up here--the steel plant. Every kid going to school knowing when the Blast Furnace was dumping or charging. Then at nighttime when they used to dump the slag in the water, the sky'd all light up, eve? ryone would know. So everybody knew what the steel plant was. There were 27 men worked with me in the Open Hearth--we were all born in the same year. And if we had all stayed till we were 65 years of age, they would have lost 27 Same Old Gift Shop I Located on the Cabot Trail (Cheticamp, N. S. 902-224-2916) I OPEN: 9 A.M. to 9 P.M. June 2 to October 251 ALL CAPE BRETON HANDCRAFTS * Handmade Quilts * Hooked Rugs * Ice Cream * Souvenirs * Film * Ice U. S. Currency at Bank Rate * All Major Credit Cards Accepted See the Head Bones of the Great Fin Whale Inquire here about Horserides men off of the furnaces in one year. If we all had gone our limit. All 1914 babies.... Went to wakes and weddings and everything, together. We went in a group. We'd leave the plant at 11 o'clock in the night and go to a fellow's house. The wakes were all in the houses then, you know. If one of our men died, everybody went in and knelt down and said the rosary, no matter if he was Catholic, Protestant, or what he was. Eve? rybody knelt down and said their prayers. That was common. Common thing. And they'd all go to the funeral. If he was on our shift, that died, we'd all change the whole shift to go to the funeral. (And what about paying for the funeral?) Well, we always took a collection up. And anyone who was off sick, the men took up a collection. You could get anything from $2000 down to $50. (Does that depend on the time, or whether the guy was liked?) No, it would depend on the man himself, mostly. You know, if you were well liked. And anyone that was joining the priesthood or becoming a minister or anything, they took up a collection for him, to send him away. Say, for instance, if I had a son who wanted to study for the ministry. Well, they'd take up a collection and give him maybe 100 or 150 dollars. The men would all chip in. (The men on the Open Hearth.) Yes. On the Open Hearth. (I bet if someone was getting married....) They'd do the same thing. Everybody got a wedding present from the shift. No matter who died, there was always a mass card if he was a Catholic, got flowers if he was a Protestant, we sent the flowers. That was organized. We had our own little mutual benefit, in our own time. We paid 25C a week into it. And if you were off sick, you got $10 every week for 13 weeks, from our department. But that was our own self- organization. We did that on our own. (It wasn't the union.) Oh, no, no, no, just the men themselves. In fact, I was presi? dent of ours. (What about construction of homes?) Well, if you worked in the Open Hearth and you were building a house--we had 35 or 40 men up there that worked on the back shift. And there was no such thing as a cement mixer. We'd have 4 big boards going, and mix it all by hand, and build a founda- 1' Environment Environnement Canada Canada Canadian Parks Service canadien ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK No Admission Charge 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Year Round 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. July 1 to Sept. 30 Open 7 Days a Week BADDECK, N. S. 75 km. west of Sydney on Route 105 Children Can Build & Fly a Bell Kite Special Evening Presentations Inquire 295-2069 for Times BELL THE MAN * BELL THE EXPERIMENTER * HYDROFOIL HALL Beautiful, Intelligent and Peaceful CanadS
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