There have been very few women work at Brighton. We’ve all seen images of Rosie the Riveter and Wendy the Welder, popularized during Word War Two and in the movie ‘Flashdance’, but in actuality there are very few women in those trades. We haven’t even had that many women in the office. Cheryl K. took over as personnel manager when Bob E. retired. Everybody was so happy to see Bob go that she was welcomed with open arms. Then there was Linda. I don’t know what she did in the office, some kind of secretary I suppose. I had no dealings with her. I heard she was extremely vulgar. Maybe she tried too hard to fit in with the boys club in the office. But she certainly wasn’t stupid. When the company finally got tired of her and tried to fire her, she filed a sexual harassment charge against them. Seems the first shift foreman, Tom H., had written some insinuating letters to her, and she had kept them. If they actually ever had an affair, I don’t know. But she had the letters. So the company made an out of court settlement with her. I don’t know how much money she actually got, but she went away. Somehow Tom H. kept his job. It wasn’t long after that his heart started failing. He was taken off the floor and given an office job, doing what I have no idea. Brent C. was promoted to first shift foreman. Tom filed for a disability, but the company fought it. They kept him sitting at a desk in the office until he couldn’t even do that any longer. He was in line for a heart transplant, but he never made it to the front of that line. He died not long after he stopped working in the office. After the trouble with Linda, we had meetings on sexual harassment. Since there were no women working on the floor at the time, the meetings were kind of useless. It was a while before there was another woman even in the office.
There have been a few women who worked in the shop. We had a young woman operate a flanging machine for a while. Ron H. trained her. They had to find a step for her to stand on, she was so short. She was quiet and kept to herself. She lasted about a year. Also, a sister of someone who worked there was hired. She was a helper for a short time. She was agreeable and never bothered anyone, and since she was somebody’s sister nobody bothered her.
Then there was Rose. Not a riveter, but her name actually was Rose. She was hard as nails. She was a helper, which meant much of her time was spent cleaning heads after they were finished. We had just gotten pressure washers to clean with, a big improvement over the mop and solvent in a bucket and water hose we had always used. But we learned the hard way how to use them. Rose was washing a head with one when she shot her foot. The pressure was so high the water cut through her rubber boot and her leather work boot and forced some rubber into her foot. Needless to say, the pressure was cut way down on all the pressure washers. And Rose wasn’t off work all that much, if at all. She was tough. And she wasn’t shy. Once while I was committeeman on first shift, she came to me with an injury. Something had struck her in the shoulder, a head or a clamp, I forget what. So she pulled up her sweatshirt to show me the large bruise. She was wearing a bra, but it still seemed strange that she would do that. So I went with her into the office to report the injury. Everyone assumed she was gay, with her being so butch. And she was. When she worked on second shift her girlfriend often came by at lunch break to eat with her. But that didn’t keep this one dumbass from propositioning her. He offered her a hundred dollars. He was lucky she didn’t knock the shit out of him, I’m sure she could have. Instead, she reported him to the office, and he was reprimanded and disciplined. He didn’t lose his job, but I think he got some time off. Geoff L. must have been holding his breath, anticipating another sexual harassment lawsuit. But Rose didn’t file one. That wasn’t her style. She worked there longer than any other woman who worked on the floor, and by all accounts she was a good worker. She eventually quit, I don’t remember the reason why.
Now, in 2016, Katie works in the office. She is the daughter of a long time employee, so everyone treats her nicely. And since we all work with her father, she treats us nicely.
Those are the only women I can think of who have worked at Brighton. Not very many, considering I’ve worked there 43 years.