Joe: His Work and his Businesses Part I

power plant

Joe worked at the West Springfield Power Plant for 4 decades. He was a first class stationary engineer, a highly skilled and paid position. He worked the rotary shift, which means he worked 7 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. one week [2 days off], then 3:00 p.m. to 11 p.m. the next week [2 days off], and then 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following week [4 days off]. He didn’t seem to mind it, but Mare said it was hard. She said it was hard to keep the children quiet while Joe was sleeping during the day and to keep household noises to an absolute minimum.

Joe was always reliable, dependable and when he worked ‘maintenance duty’ which was double shifts he earned extra money. When he retired, his supervisor said that Joe never called in sick except when his horse was sick [more about that later].

He was a member of a union called the I.B.E.W. [International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers]. He was part of the successful unionization effort as conditions at the plant were unsafe and hiring practices were unfair [jobs were not posted or relatives were hired and promoted over seasoned workers].

He was the shop steward and he was a negotiator for the unionized workers. Joe was rough around the edges, but you would want someone like him negotiation your wages, benefits, and working conditions.

After one particularly contentious negotiation in which the union prevailed in all the ways that were crucial for them, Joe telephoned Mare to join him and others on the team as well as management for a celebratory drink at The Schine Inn where the negotiation meetings took place. Of course, at that time, mid 60’s, Mare did not have her own car and Joe suggested she call Barbara, a pretty young woman who lived next door who had a car.


Mare got all dressed up and she and Barbara went to the Schine Inn for drinks with Joe and the other men. She must have felt this was a special occasion as she ordered a Martini which she had never had before.  She said when she and Joe got home and she was in their bedroom undressing, she could not unzip her own dress. Joe had to unzip it for her. She said the room was spinning around her. I bet it was!



Lesson Learned~ Never order a Martini unless you know you can handle it.

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