Frank Behum

“I started at the Steel in 1965. Everybody worked at the Steel going back to my grandfather. I am a fourth generation steelworker. I grew up in South Bethlehem. The first day I walked into Bethlehem Steel, I took one look at the hot bars slithering across the ground and I said to the guy in charge, a guy by the name 'Pinky' who was like a safety man, I said to him, I says, 'My God,' I says, 'Am I going to have to work there?' He said 'Son, don’t worry about it. Only the sacred cows work in that area.' And I turned around to the guy behind me and I said, 'What’s a sacred cow?' It was the first time I ever heard the term. And he to me, he says, 'Well Frank,' he says, 'A sacred cow is a guy that’s been around so long, that nobody questions anything that he says.' He says, 'These guys have whiskers!' I says, 'They have what?' He says, 'They got seniority.' He says, 'Everything works by seniority down here at this Bethlehem Plant unless you’re a member of management.'

I was in awe. More because of the noise and the activity more than anything else. I walked in there and the first thing that hit me was the noise. It wasn’t so bad, the heat or anything like that, or, you know, the cold, the dampness. But it really struck me. You know I started in the winter, and when I saw those operations I said to myself, could I even do something like that.”