flanging 57

Another press operator at the time was Harold P.  He was younger than Roy C. or Jim W.  He wasn’t as concerned with quality as either of them.  He adhered to Badeye’s philosophy: don’t try to make the heads perfect, just make them good enough and set them out.  Another difference was Harold didn’t care much about helping out new employees.  In fact he had a devilish streak.  One time we had a new employee on a forklift loading machines.  Harold was stack-pressing three plates.  In order to do three plates at once, they had to be lined up evenly.  The way forklift operators do this is by nudging the plates against a support column.  But Harold told this new guy that the plates were so big and heavy he needed to get a running start and slam them into the post.  Which is what the new employee did.  So when the guy slammed the circles of steel into the post he flew up over the steering wheel and nearly came off the forklift.  Newbies have always been treated terribly, but that was one of the worst instances.

Away from work, Harold was a horse race enthusiast.  He claimed to have won small fortunes betting on the horses.  But then he made a lot of claims.  I wasn’t there, but I heard he was in Tommy’s one night and struck up a conversation with a vet who had fought in Viet Nam.  Harold told the guy so many war stories the vet bought him drinks all night.  The only problem was that Harold not only had never served in Viet Nam, but was never even in the military.  He had to stay out of that bar for a while because he heard the vet had learned he had been lied to and was looking for him

Harold lived in Mason, as I did, and we rode to work together for years.  He went along when I drove my sleepy five-year old son to the babysitter at 6 in the morning.  She was a lifesaver.  She was the wife of the best man at my wedding.  She had three sons and watched several other young children, so my son had plenty of children to play with and was watched by someone I trusted.  My son would be sitting up in the back seat in a daze when Harold got in the car.  He tried to talk to him, but my son wasn’t much of a conversationalist at 6 a.m.  But Harold didn’t seem to mind the detour to my babysitter’s house on the way to work.

Harold P. was a Mason (as in Masonic Lodge, not the city we both lived in).  The Hocks had all been Masons, so most people working in the office, such as Elmer D. and Charlie F. and Joe H. also joined.  And some workers in the shop, such as Harold and Charlie D. and Badeye, joined, too.  I don’t know why.  Maybe the workers in the shop were trying to impress their betters.  If that was the case, it didn’t work.  Charlie D. quit, Badeye was fired, and Harold retired while still running a press.  Maybe they genuinely enjoyed being Masons.  For Harold it might have been a status issue.  He used to tell me he went to the same restaurants and nightclubs Jeff Hock frequented.  But then Harold also went to the same bar I frequented while I was single, the Hoot Owl Saloon, which definitely was low-class.  But the bar he frequented the most was Tommy’s.

A quick side note about Tommy’s.  This bar is close to Brighton and so has been frequented by many employees over the years.  The man who established the business passed it on to his son, also named Tommy.  The younger Tommy was a hot head, but everyone seemed to like him, including Harold.  He told me he and Tommy went to the horse tracks and bet on the races together a lot.  Until one evening when his ex-wife came into the bar with her boyfriend.  She knew this would upset Tommy.  Apparently the guy was all over her, right in front of Tommy.  He flew into a rage and threw the two of them out of his bar.  Then he grabbed the gun he kept under the bar and ran out after them.  They were already in their car when Tommy came up to the driver side and leaned in through the open window and shot the guy’s genitals off.  Blew them completely away.  Tommy went to jail for two years, and since he had committed a felony he could no longer own a bar.  He sold the place and moved away.  Whoever bought it renamed it ‘Show Place and Win’.  Lately I noticed the name has been shortened to ‘The Show’.  But that poor guy Tommy shot suffered a lot worse.  You really shouldn’t needlessly antagonize any ex-spouses.

Harold always talked about retiring young.  So when Enerfab bought Brighton from Trinity in 2002, Harold declined to be re-hired.  At the time he was 55, so he did get out early.  He moved to Kentucky to some property he owned on Cumberland Lake.  I haven’t seen him since he left Brighton.  I hope he is doing well.

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