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Mill cards surface after 60 years

April 4, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
Maybe it’s a good omen that my tour of duty in the newsroom resumes with my dad’s signature on my desk. Yes, he’s been gone since 2007. But thanks to a kind man by the name of Jim Johnson who was a Weirton Steel rookie when my dad had about 30 years in the mill, I’ve got some interesting memorabilia on hand.

Johnson found a file cabinet of index cards in the old blast furnace superintendent’s office of a trip back through the closed section of the mill. He said he remembered my dad and a number of other guys on the furnaces back when he started in mill in the mid-1970s.

He went looking through the old wooden cabinet, which he described as kind of resembling a library card catalog (before computers, remember, when index cards were the guide to the universe of knowledge?) and were the last things in the office.

He grabbed my dad’s cards, as well as some others for people whom he knew might want the memorabilia or who had relatives still in the area. He figured he’d get some more another time, but on a return trip, the card file was gone. The cards don’t contain any personal information, just some interesting indications of blue-collar working, and office and clerical tracking of the thousands of men who once worked in the mill.

The most interesting card simply lists my dad’s badge number, then says, “H. Giannamore, troughman, hired 3/1/43. New Man.” It lists his birthdate, that he was single (the mill came before Mom, but enabled Dad to have an income he deemed worthy of marrying her), and his verification date. Two others detail his requests for time off, one for about half of April 1953 for “operation on nose at Gill Memorial (Hospital).” Dad talked a lot about the operation he had as a young man to repair a deviated septum, about having his nose packed for awhile with gauze and cotton and that it generally was uncomfortable and not all that effective. He still snored like, well, a blast furnace at least on hot idle. The other requested time off in July 1953 for “out of town.” All I can figure is that it was when my aunt, one of my mother’s six sisters, who was a nun at what is now Ohio Dominican, died in Columbus. My parents never, ever, vacationed, selecting saving money for the education of their children. And at that time, they were still a few years away from buying their first and only house in the West End of Steubenville, so that was about the only "out of town" there could have been. I was a decade away from being born, so I'm not sure.

My father’s signature is right there, preserved in pencil somehow, for 60 years.

And it reminds me that he became “Henry” Giannamore when he went to the mill. People who knew him before that called him Enrico, his given name (and thus the nickname of my PT Cruiser, which was his last car). Johnson said some of the cards included comments about employees that today might have been considered more than politically incorrect, references to nationality that no longer are acceptable in the workplace. But in 1943, Enricos became Henrys, the New Man. Literally.

 
 

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