The huge factory of the Warner & Swasey Company extends along Carnegie Avenue, which is the auto "speedway" leading downtown. For years I was fascinated by the bluish-white lights - like a city within a city - and wondered what it was like inside. To be admitted would be like being admitted to Aladdin's fairyland. Now I know it to be a strange land, where great black giants roar and gnash their teeth, and clamp down with relentless jaws. Some of them howl like the timber wolf. Three of us women inspectors are on the third floor - in the burr file department. The other night our boss sent me down to the second floor tool room for a special tap gauge. The man there sent me on down to the first floor; there I had to walk through "acres" of these huge machines - all going at full speed. Great cranes were moving along, suspended from over-head tracks, carrying their big black burdens. Really, it was rather terrifying; or perhaps the tingle up and down the spine was just the thrill of being a part of this great war work. This job of inspecting reminds me of the story that Ellis read aloud from "The Practical Farmer" - a-many years ago. A hobo stopped at a farmhouse, asking for a night's lodging and a little sustenance. The farmer bargained with him, and gave him a job to earn his board. He set him to sorting apples in a huge bin in the cellar. Some of the apples were rotten, while some had only little specks of "badness." The farmer came down an hour later - to find his new "hired man" perspiring as if at heavy labor. "What's the matter, Bo?" asked the farmer. "Surely this isn't hard work." "Brother, replied the hobo, "It's tarnation hard on the judgment."
Going to work in a factory - especially after 23 years of a completely sheltered life - is real discipline. And I might add, very good for the soul. It seems strange to start and stop with a bell. You are allowed two minutes of grace before you are counted tardy. At 3 minutes you are docked a half hour. You see some things going on that you do not approve of, and may have to work with some one who drives you "nuts." But even in a month's time you learn to go in the even tenor of your way - and just mind your own business. All reforms have to be very subtle. I made the mistake of telling some that I am an ex-school teacher. They are wary of school teachers. Too didactic by nature. Think they're somebody! Self-preservation is the first law of life - so says some great scientist. You would believe it if you could see the women swarm around the lunch wagon that comes up to our floor at 3:45 A.M. The chief inspector of our department is a prince - and treats us three "girls" with the greatest courtesy and consideration. He will tell us to quit and wash our hands ahead of the "milling mob." The other night I was first at the lunch wagon, but turned to greet one of my favorite people. I was about the tenth to get to my coffee and the last woman to get my soup. A tall forceful woman pushed in ahead of me in the soup line, jostling my poor cup of coffee. As she stepped back with her bowl of soup, she and a meek little man collided, and her soup went all over the place. Her exclamation of dismay was restrained, but she looked daggers at the innocent man - to his embarrassment. I told him - well within her hearing - that it was no fault of his. He was so grateful for the "defense counsel", and the woman and I were off to a beautiful belligerence. At the end of the night's work, someone who had heard me say I had driven that night asked me if I would take this woman home, as it was pouring rain. What could I say? And so my incipient enemy and I rode home together. It was a good chance for character study. A childless woman, with a most indulgent husband, she has grown selfish through the years. But she certainly has her good points.
That very morning something made me pick up last April's issue of the Reader's Digest, my faithful companion when I lie down to rest or sleep. My eyes fell on the title "The Awful Truth About War Work," by Arnold Bennett. Among other priceless axioms he offers this one: "The most valorous and morally valuable war work is that of working with impossible people." That article should sustain and fortify every war worker.
Too much space has been given, I fear, to Friction. And what of fellowship and fun? Factory workers are people - and, it seems to me, in this case, exceptionally fine people. Many a woman down there wears one or two blue stars on her coat lapel. Several of them wear the bronze or silver badge that belongs to the blood donor (silver for three donations). I feel very small and insignificant in the presence of a woman who has given her heart's dearest treasure and then works to give him the tools with which to fight. Would that I could find words to convey the sympathy that I feel for Mr. and Mrs. Simon Hine in the loss of their manly son, Lieut. Thomas Hine. Mr. Carson's tribute to him is beautiful indeed; and may that exquisite poem at the beginning of the "In Memoriam" soothe the aching hearts, and fill them with great pride. How deeply grateful the rest of us are to these families who make the supreme sacrifice! Oh, let us pledge ourselves anew to be worthy of these gallant lads who are willing to give their lives that the rest of us may live in security and peace. These precious boys - God's anointed - He has taken unto Himself.
Yours in sorrow, and consecration to the task before us.
Florence B. Taylor
4501 Lilac Road, South Euclid, Ohio
Next - 12/17/42 - Visit to Santa
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