Since this blog is about flanging I’ve posted mostly about flanger operators. In fairness, I should mention a few press operators and other non-essential people. Roy C. and Jim W. were two press operators in their forties at the time I came onto first shift. I’ve already mentioned Roy C. He was the one who tried to put out the shed fire with a bucket of solvent. He was tall and lean and, despite his lack of prowess at fire fighting, a very good press operator. When Brighton acquired a hydraulic press to form small thin heads he was the operator who helped set it up and get it going. He also helped set up the boring mill to machine these small heads. He designed the chucks used to secure the heads while they were being trimmed on the mill. This was the job he was doing at the time he retired. Away from work, he was an avid sportsman. He often brought in his compound bow to target shoot at lunch break.
Jim W. was another press operator about the same age as Roy, and he was just as skilled. Since he was short and portly, the two made a good Mutt and Jeff. They were inseparable at work. Away from work Jim enjoyed scavenging. He drove a pick-up truck around on garbage night to collect gems people were discarding, then took his finds to flea markets to sell. I don’t know how much money he made doing this, but he provided a useful service, keeping still-functional items from clogging up landfills. Both Jim and Roy were easy-going and always ready to share their knowledge of pressing heads with newer employees. What I remember most about the two was that they didn’t rush, they would press a head smooth and true no matter how much time was allowed on the job. Heads they pressed would always be to a good radius, free of flat spots and humps and wrinkles.
Felan R. wasn’t a press operator, but he always hung with Roy and Jim. Felan was a forklift operator of about the same age. He was full of colorful aphorisms. He is the one who advised, when I was having trouble loading a head into my machine with a forklift, “to put a little hair around the hole” to make it easier to find. Another saying of his, in reference to whether what he was eating tasted good or not, was that “it’ll make a turd.” I’m sure there were other sayings, Felan was full of them, but those are the ones I remember.
The three of them retired sometime in the 90’s. Roy and Jim came out of retirement to help Jeff Hock. Several years after Trinity bought Brighton in 1987 – I’ll get into the details of that soon – Jeff Hock started up a new head shop as a department of Enerfab, a much larger company based on Spring Grove Avenue in Cincinnati. He talked Roy and Jim out of retirement to train his employees on presses. He also hired Leotis W, (aka Badeye), to train his new flanger operators. We understood Badeye doing this, he had been fired by Brighton. But Roy and Jim doing this was like a stab in the back. At the time we considered Enerfab to be a competitor, there was a constant drone from the office that we needed to drive them out of business. And here Roy and Jim were helping them out, to our detriment and the detriment of the company they had spent their lives working for. Roy came by for someone’s retirement dinner and told us we had nothing to worry about, that the new head shop at Enerfab was neither big enough nor skilled enough to harm us. But he never came back, he knew how we resented him and Jim doing what they had done.
Felan R. died of heart failure not long after retiring. He was overweight, and had some serious health issues before he retired. Jim W. is alive, if not very well. He slipped on the ice while shoveling his driveway one winter and seriously injured his back. I heard he was nearly paralyzed. But I’ve also heard he has somewhat recovered and is walking again. Roy C. I haven’t heard about since that retirement dinner he attended. Since no news is good news, I assume he is doing well and enjoying his retirement.