My second New Year Greeting was quite tardy, since my last letter must have fallen by the wayside - and didn't get to the Press office in time. Better luck this week. Now that you are past the two policemen in the entrance to Plant 3 of Warner & Swasey, shall we climb the two fancy flights of stairs to the third floor? But let us pause first, and take a fleeting glimpse at the huge turret lathes in the process of making and of assembly. (I forgot about first floor in my last letter.) Here the pieces are so large that they have to be moved with cranes. There are two planers. The table of one is forty feet long, and the sliding planer is twenty feet long. There are giant drill presses. Two girls operate internal grinding machines. It looks like messy work, but they love it. Let's go up to second floor, past the class rooms where our inspection class was cramming, two short months ago. (And now some more poor souls are cramming - and wondering what's ahead of them) There's Jim Fisher in the office, with his feet up on the desk. In ten minutes he'll stroll nonchalantly into a classroom, but he will have that class on their mental toes in no time, and rarin' to work for Uncle Sam. In the office, too, is our jolly supervisor, Mrs. L. She may be chasing Jim around the office in a minute - for some joke he has played on her. But not while the superintendent is looking. Jim's friendly "Hi!" gives your spirits a life.
Now, if you are getting as old and puffy as I am, store up plenty of breath for that second long flight. Those young whippersnappers, about 18 or 19, make fun of me because I am practically breathless when we reach third floor. There's handsome young Johnny, jack of all trades, who does just as little work as possible, and rides the dolly (hand truck) like a scooter. His pal in restlessness and general dislike for overwork is Don, our "Mountain Boy" - tall, gangling, who speaks two languages - English, and profane. He has an adolescent's aversion to women - unless they be the old, motherly type to whom he can confide his awful headaches with these women operators. Don spent all his Christmas bonus on a St. Bernard puppy, and had him shipped here from the east. How he loves that dog! His other hobby is a little greenhouse, that he and his father built last summer. I like Don. The girls are all back in the women's rest room, getting into their uniforms. I'll introduce you to the most interesting girls later. But now I want you to meet Shelby. Shelby Coffman is one of the nicest, most unspoiled boys in this world. He happens to be my immediate boss, but claims he is only my advisor. If you hear someone come whistling up the back stairs, that is sure to be Shelby. If you hear someone yodeling from the remote corners of the stockroom, that is Shelby. If you hear a nice baritone voice, singing everything from "Red Wing" on down to the latest popular song, that will be Shelby, too. Tall, slender, clean-cut, with raven-black hair and green eyes, he narrowly misses (as Aunt Daisy would say) being a handsome man. Only twenty-three, he has all the poise and aplomb of a man of forty. The scion of an aristocratic southern family, he has all the marks of good breeding. I have never seen him make one phony gesture. Never rude, he holds his ground against all indignant foremen who get mad when he won't pass their work. He has a way of smoothing their ruffled feathers, without compromise. When relations become a bit strained, or someone is quite disgruntled, Shelby bursts into song - some ridiculous song - and goes right on with his inspection job. No one can stay sore at a fellow like that. And, down in their hearts, they respect a man who sets a high standard of workmanship, who won't accept any other. Being a man's man, he is tremendously popular with all the other men. The girls like him, too, but stand a bit in awe of him, though he is always gracious and courteous. He has been married a year, but, with a fine reserve, never discusses his wife, except to brag on her cooking. I don't even know her first name. He is a genius with tools, but he never boasts about his achievements. He can work some days for hours without talking. He will just whistle and sing. But the imp in him crops out every now and then, and he does his best to mix me up when I am counting. (We have to count all our pieces in an order, and record them). When another young fellow named Ben comes over from the main plant, to help out when our work piles up, those two really go to town. They get to laughing so that Ben has to roll in the aisle, so to speak. Shelby will surreptitiously put blue paint on the German foreman's telephone receiver; and Karl, instead of getting sore, sees to it that Shelby's shop coat sleeves are wired tight, and his outdoor jacket all sewed up. There are plenty of gay patches in the tapestry of our day's work.
Now, I must close. But next time I must tell you about Karl - and Tookie - and Jane. You will soon understand why I love working at Warner & Swasey.
Florence B. Taylor
Next - 2/11/43 - "Will there be fishing in Heaven?"
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