Thursday, June 29, 2006

1972. Longview, Texas.

Hi, Internets. Thought you might find this little treasure from Karla May's Never-ending Collection of Crap from her Past interesting.

It's the text to an article--artfully crafted by one Jimmy Brown--from a 1972 edition of the Longview News-Journal. All of the crappy writing, crummy punctuation and other fuckups are Jimmy's, not mine. Apparently the News-Journal was lacking a copy editor when this story made the paper.

Turning out highly precision aircraft parts on a complex, incredibly difficult to operate turret lathe where tolerances are figured in thousands of an inch taxes any trained machinist's skill. But one Gladewater grandmother earns $3.89 an hour while putting in a five-day week at LTV's Gregg County Plant, located adjacent to the Gregg County Airport near here.

Mrs. Ruth Melton, who lives with her family at 607 N. Wood Street is described by her foreman, James C. [my dad--K.M.], as the equal of any male machinist in LTV's immaculate, air conditioned machine shop.

What's more, her male workmates give her the respect she has earned the hard way--by her ability to produce near flawless machined parts. This is no mean feat; each part is subject to stringent and exhaustive quality control inspection before acceptance.

Mrs. Melton, the mother of four including James, 20; Cathy, 18; Freddie, 14, and also seven year-old Angela also manages to keep house and assist her husband, James in his roofing business. The two eldest are married and have twice made her a grandmother.

She has worked for LTV for the past four years but learned her highly skilled trade in California. She has a total of some eight years experience as a machinist since she was first hired on as a trainee in a California shop. Al her experience she learned on the job. A Gladewater native and a 1950 Union Grove High School graduate, she says and her family enjoy living in her home town after some years in California.

But she enjoys her work even more. "I love my work," she says, "I get treated like a lady. LTV hired me when no one else would."

The huge Dallas-based firm which makes A-7 and S3-A submarine hunter aircraft for the Navy and other hardware for the space program has a program stressing equal opportunity. The Gregg County Plant employs about 145 machinists and other precision machine tool operators and turns out finished machined parts for several types of aircraft.

Mrs. Melton says she is never troubled by men looking down on her and her work.. [Yes, there were two periods at the end of that sentence in the printed version of this.--K.M.] She insists she is treated as a skilled worker on the job and has never experienced any male predjudice.

Her foreman agrees. "She works right along with the best of them," he said, adding that she reads complicated blueprints and "sets up" her lathe without any assistance.

She takes an extremely dim view of womens liberation movement, emphatically disclaiming any sympathy for the movement's aims.

Mrs. Melton, long active in her local union served as union recording secretary and lately was elected by fellow members as the only woman serving on the board of trustees.

Okay, so many things freak me out about this article.

1) This was written only 34 years ago, but this thing sounds like it was written in 1950. Right? I mean, this was during my lifetime. Crazy.

2) $3.89 an hour. Jesus Christ. AND she had to take care of the two kids were still living at home and I'm sure her husband as well. But does she support the Women's Lib movement? Oh no... Wow.

3) The condescending tone of this thing is just nauseating.

4) Can you believe all the personal stuff about her they put in there? Her address? Her family members' names and ages? I'm surprised it didn't include her phone number and weight in the article. It really WAS a different world back then...

5) It bugged the SHIT out of me that it constantly referred to her as "MRS. Ruth Melton" instead of just "Ruth Melton."

6) That's one of the few pictures I have of my dad without his 70s porn star moustache that he kept waaaaaaaaaaay after the 70s.


Susan said...

Regarding point 5: The New York Times' style has journalists referring to article subjects as Mrs., Mr., Miss, or Ms on occurances after their introduction in the article. Maybe the author inadvertently stumbled upon the New York Times style guide (while ignoring all punctuation and general writing guidelines for the rest of his article)?

Jules said...

What about James, 20 and whatsherface, 18 that are already married and have made her a grandmother!

There's no way mine are getting married at 18 and/or 20.

Millardman said...

Have you translated it to Jive yet?

Mommygoth said...

Excuse me while I throw up in my mouth. This is so scary!