From painting I was taught Blacksmithing. I became an apprentice to an older fellow who was about to retire. The work consisted of preparing tool steel after the machine shop finished cutting and shaping the tool. A piece of special steel not much more than a foot in length might represent a few thousand dollars by the time it reached me. We worked with ovens free of contamination that heated to 17000 and 20000 degrees. After the steel air cooled, it would be drawn and tempered. A sample piece of the same material was put in the oven with the tool. By breaking the sample and observing the molecule arrangement under a microscope, we could determine if we accomplished our objective.
Case hardening of other parts were done with oven heat and submerging the part for a prolonged period of time in a barrel of liquid cyanide. Again the sample showed the depth of case hardening. Heat treating, as it was called, instilled a feeling of self confidence and assurance of a lasting profession. However, nothing is forever and so it was with heat treating.
The typewriter production was moved the Lexington, Kentucky. This move was miraculously made in one week with numerous freight cars, multitudes of laborers and previous months of careful preparation. I was offered the opportunity to go with the typewriters with all expenses paid. I did not find the move appealing though many people did prospered by it. Looking back I am so thankful for that decision ; for later I expanded my education and took advantage of greater opportunities.
Typewriter production was replaced with computer assembly. Although computers were still in their infancy, they were already serving multiple tasks in the outer defense of the country through a system called the DEW LINE where military computers alerted authorities of any incoming aircraft from abroad. Our work encompassed the development of an advance system to replace the now obsolete computers. I was responsible for teaching a group of women a new method of soldering. People, especially women, are reluctant to change, They will fight it verbally and emotionally. They were giving work benches and all the associated tools necessary to practice new method. For a week I became their teacher, their father image and sometimes their consoling mother for they would break down and cry believing they were not capable of the task. As their skills emerged, my need to buy encouraging coffee breaks diminished. The most satisfying aspect of teaching is watching the student emerge from the depth of despair to the realization of capability.
GO TO the next chapter in my life
RETURN to the table of contents
RETURN to the home page