Richie Check

“I started in the Steel February 14th, Valentines Day, 1951. I was seventeen and one half years old. Why do I say that I was seventeen and one half years old? 'Cause I was a senior in high school going to the vocational school. The Steel was lookin' for machinists at the time. And I got an interview with them. They hired me! At that particular time in life if you did not go to college, you worked for Bethlehem Steel or Mac Motors in Allentown. Very few went to college. If your parents had money, you went. If not, you worked at Bethlehem Steel. My father started in 1912 working for Bethlehem Steel. Starting with my oldest brother, and all the way down, seven of my brothers worked with my father in the blast furnace department. It was scary, scary! I mean just walking from the main gate to number two shop took about fifteen minute, but it was scary. You know you looked around and you're thinkin' to yourself, you know. What am I doin' here? You learn, you’ve got a job. You can have money in your pocket! You’re a snot nosed kid still in your teens yet and you’re working for a corporation like Bethlehem Steel. It was scary!

There was so many dangerous things, every day while you’re workin'. The potential was always there. You had to watch yourself especially in an area where an overhead crane would be going by. Now, most of the time, if the crane was carrying a load, he would not go over your head. If he had to go over your head, everybody just stopped working and you got out of the way, let the crane man go by and you went back to work. You’d rather do that than let something happen. That happened many a time. Somebody always watching somebody. That was what was the idea. Kept everybody safe and alive! You get hurt, somebody got hurt by it, the company hurts by it, you hurt by it, your family hurts by it. Everybody hurts by it!”