John Babirak

“I started at the blast furnace. I came from Hungary, born December 7th, 1905. A friend of mine come from the same village. He told me, hell, he said you could go there and within a half of year, I was in the United States. I started there, like I say, at the blast furnaces. There was one welder there, because only one person is not allowed to work there alone, so I had to be there with him. In the mean time, I learned how to weld from this guy, but not good enough so they sent me to welding school. And then I started as a welder at the riggers gang. They needed somebody, a small one, to get into tough places, so I came out of welding school. I was nineteen. I had no problem with nobody. I had a lot of friends. We worked in all kind of weather, up and down, rain and nighttime. Rigging is all kind of jobs 'cause, like welder, they pick a small guy to get in, like what I was talking about, to go through that tank, you know. I was the size they needed. I had to lie on my back and weld lying on my back. I got tired a lot of the time, on midnight shifts and all, up and down.

Welding foreman in the steel said, “'Hey John, they need a welder in the welding shop.' I said oh, this is a good job. Then you don’t have to go up and down in the tanks you know. Better pay! I worked there until 1969.”