Russ Pacala

“In 1944, as a laborer, you did all kinds of laboring work. They had girls doing that type of work too at that time. They had the women working down there. They did most of the sweeping up and we did all the other work shoveling the scale, shoveling, cleaning up. That’s all I can remember. In 1944, maybe there had to be 12,000 in our local. There were a lot of people down there. Most of them were Spanish people. Almost all the Slovaks worked down there in these hand mills. Well, I never had a problem working with these people because I’m just one of those guys that can mix with everybody. In fact, I met some of my neighbors that worked down there. And then they would take care of you. They would help you. They would tell you how to watch yourself so you don’t get hurt and things like that. You teach 'em what you know and you try to teach 'em to work safely so none gets hurt. You always look out for each other. You can’t see everything. Sometimes you warn somebody when he gets in a bad position. I had one of my friends that couldn’t climb. He was deeply afraid to climb up on the roll racks. I would do that. I’d say, you stay on the floor, I’ll go and do that. I'd rather do it that way rather than see somebody get hurt. The new guys’ coming in respected me. I tried to be good to all of 'em. I was never an enemy to any of them. You get people you dislike but you still have to work with them and take care of them. I was one of the fortunate guys that could stay awake on night shift. And when you work with someone that can’t stay awake, it’s really a headache. You got to keep that guy awake all night. I pitied those people that couldn’t work the night shifts. I really did! I worked with some guys; we had so much fun, like putting in a six-hour shift on night shift. We made it fun. We got production going.”