Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Birthday Letter - Workday Wednesday

On February 24, 1956, D. G. Baxter, General Superintendent of Copperweld Steel in Warren, Ohio, sent my father, Lee Doyle, a birthday letter.  Dad had been an employee of Copperweld for 15 or more years.  On February 27 that year Dad turned 43.  Did the superintendent send all employees birthday letters?  Considering that the greeting is not personalized I think it's possible.  It still surprises me that my mother saved both the letter and the envelope.

It reads,
Dear Copperwelder:

As we advance in age I would like to pass along my formula for life which is to keep busy so that the years go by unnoticed.  To despise nothing except selfishness, meanness and corruption; Covet nothing that is my neighbor's except his kindness of heart and his gentleness of spirit; Think many times of my friends and seldom of my enemies.  So long as I can work and enjoy the kind words of approval of my associates and the warm handclasp of the younger generation, I see no reason why everyday should not be as much of a challenge to a man of ninety as to a man of thirty.  As I see it, age is not a question of is a state of mind.  You are as young as your faith.

On this birthday may I add my personal wish for your health, long life and happiness.

The letter makes me wonder how old D. G. Baxter was.

This is nearly the end of the Copperweld posts.  Floating around somewhere are several photographs of my father with some of his coworkers.  When I can put my hands on them (or my mouse), I'll post those.


Copyright © 2009-2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Farmer's Wife Magazine

If you have farmers in your family between the late 1800s and about 1939, you probably also have farm wives in your family.  And if you happen to be interested in social history and learning more about the lives those grandmothers of yours lived and the challenges they faced, you may be happy to know that you can view 399 issues of The Farmer's Wife Magazine, made available through Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections.  Of course, there's no way of knowing if one of your farmers' wives read the magazine but with over a million subscribers, it seems possible.

The magazine changed through the years to keep up with society, inventions, etc., but each issue has articles that cover a variety of topics.  For example, the November, 1915, issue has the following articles.
  • As A Background:  Restful Treatment of Walls Needed in Every Home (home decorating)
  • Imitating Sunlight:  Up-to-date Farm Lighting Adds Cheer on Winter Evenings
  • Mother-Wisdom:  Life-long Health and Efficiency Are in the Balance (pregnancy and childbirth)
  • Table Talk:  All Hands Unite in Preparing the Thanksgiving Feast (recipes)
  • Our Home Circle:  Friendly Advice from the Circle's Members (challenges some of the readers faced and how they handled them)
  • Rural Recreation:  Celebrating Thanksgiving Day in Church and School
  • Contemplation Corner:  Mother Obeys Every Day of Her life (mothering and child development)
  • Some Simple Styles:  Fashions Fancy Still Clings to Serviceable One-Piece Frocks (fashion)
  • Keeping Customers:  How to Hold a Steady Trade in Sweet Butter and Cream Cheeses
  • Poultry Pointers:  In Healthful Winter Quarters, Hens Will Lay Eggs
  • In the Diary:  Matchless Care of Good Utensils Essential to Profits in Butter Making
  • Our Young Folks:  Thanksgiving is a Good Time To Help Someone Smile!

Other issues include articles about managing money, needlework and crafts (called "fancy work"), music, and the perennial topics of gardening and poultry and dairy management, among other topics.  Of course, no magazine is complete without advertisements which give an indication of interests of the readers and costs of items for purchase.

Choose the issue you'd like to view from a calendar or from a list of publication dates.  When the issue you've chosen comes onto the screen, you'll see a list of all the articles in that issue on the left side of  your screen. 

Click on one of the articles to go to the page with the article on it.  You'll be able to view the image of the page and enlarge it.  The article will also be transcribed on the left side of the screen.  The transcription will not be perfect and, in some cases, may seem more like gibberish than English.  (Not a problem because you can read it or download it as a pdf for better reading.) 

The Farmer's Wife Magazine had beautifully illustrated covers that reflected the time period in which they were created.  The Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection presents them only as black and white images.

I'm most interested in reading the November 1912 issue of The Farmer's Wife Magazine.  My grandmother was a farmer's wife, pregnant with my father.  It was her last Thanksgiving alive.  She may or may not have read the magazine but it will be interesting to learn what topics were presented for the ladies to read.

I know this won't help you find one of your ancestors (unless he/she was an advertiser or writer) but it may help you place an ancestor in the context of her environment.

Happy reading!


Copyright © 2009-2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Now I Understand

It wasn't about the photographs -- all those blurry, out of focus, too-light, too-dark, poorly-framed snapshots in my mother's photo album.  It wasn't about the photos at all though we, her descendants, would like to think so.  No, she preserved and cherished the photographs for another reason.  Now I understand.

A few weeks ago my daughters and both grandchildren were home for a few days' visit.  We had occasional upsets and accidents during their visit, as most families may have, and much of the time we were busy going and doing.  But there was one precious, glorious afternoon when we were all home together, all happy and content in our activities and with each other.   It was a time I hold dear in my memory. 

While Older Daughter took some much-needed leisurely time for herself, Younger Daughter and I took the "babies" for their first ride in the wagon.

When we returned my husband was cleaning Older Daughter's car.  (Look closely.)

Younger Daughter cleared out some brush behind the garage while Older Daughter and the babies sat on the swing, blew bubbles, and played.

There's little left of that precious afternoon when M. was busy being a boy, playing and teasing; when little O. was being her sweet little girl self with her baby-round cheeks; when our daughters were so close my husband and I could speak to them face to face.  That day's gone.  The babies are a month older with more skills, new words, different interests.  And time will go on.  All that's left are these poor, out-of-focus, too-light, too-dark, poorly-framed snapshots.  And my memories of the day.  Not in a hundred years would I think these photographs worth saving except they speak to my heart of a sweet time, a few precious hours, with my dearest loved ones.  Looking at them and remembering that time brings tears to my eyes again.

Now I understand.  Even poor photographs are better than only the memories of a wonderful time. 


Copyright © 2009-2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dale Carnegie Course at Copperweld Steel - Workday Wednesday

A Dale Carnegie course was offered at Copperweld Steel while my father, Lee Doyle, worked there.  Dad attended but I don't know if received an invitation or if he was mandated to attend.  I do remember discussion about the course at home, including ways to remember people's names and some talk about Dad giving a speech. 

My father is seated in the second row from the back, second from the left (with the light glinting off his glasses).  The only other person I know in the photo is Gene Haas, standing in the back row, fourth from the left.

From the sign in the front we can tell the names of some of those who attended the class.  Click to enlarge the image to read it better.

My father's name appears twice.  First under "No. 2 Best Speech" and again in "No. 3 Achievement."  I know no details.

I still have the book he used for the course.  It's title is, of course, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Dad finished this course in December, 1966, the same month and year he received a certificate in Management Development.  It's likely the Carnegie course was part of the management development course.

His certificate reads
Dale Carnegie Courses
This certifies that
Lee Doyle
has successfully completed the
Dale Carnegie Course
in Effective Speaking
and Human Relations

In Witness Whereof this certificate
is issued under our hands and seal
this 7th day of December, 1966

Dorothy Carnegie
Warren H. Knox

It's fun to see a photo of Dad in a classroom setting with the other students, however, my father was a lifelong learner (as we say these days) whether at work or taking courses at the mill, and more often at home while making repairs around the house, learning the new skills of woodworking and clock building, or reading the newspaper. 


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Days Go By Too Fast

Sometimes the days pass too fast for me and before I accomplish everything I hope to do the day is gone.  That happened last month and I missed writing two posts on time, both for "holidays."  I recently wrote the posts, dated them to the commemorative dates, and published them.  If you read my blog here or in a reader, you probably wouldn't see them.  I'm alerting you to them because I wouldn't want you to miss any of my blogging goodness.  (Imagine a wink and teasing smile on my face.)

The first post is Dear Teddy, written for National Teddy Bear Day on September 9.

The second post is Centenarian Brendice Kathryn Gerner Davis written for National Centenarian's Day on September 22.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. I appreciate it.


Copyright © 2009-2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Courses at Copperweld Steel - Workday Wednesday

My father, Lee Doyle, took several courses at Copperweld Steel during the time he  worked there.  The first two were from the the Metals Engineering Institute.  The certificates are dated June 22 and October 15, 1959.  Dad would would have been working at Copperweld for about 18 years by that time.  I assume he took the courses after he became a foreman.

The first course was "Elements of Metallurgy" and the second was "Heat Treatment of Steel."  I could find no information about the courses themselves.  I believe they were offered in the offices of Copperweld and that he went early to work or stayed late.  I don't remember him studying a textbook at home but it's possible he did, or studied at work.

The Metals Engineering Institute was (and still is) a division of the American Society for Metals, currently known as ASM International.  Internet research tells me that the ASM was created in 1913.  Its headquarters are in Metals Park or Materials Park (depending on which resource one uses), Ohio.  The Park is home to the world's largest open-air geodesic dome.

ASM International's website is thorough but doesn't have information about the Metals Engineering Institute's courses in 1959.  Further information about ASM can be found in Scientific, Technical, and Related Societies of the United States at Google Books.

Another course my father took in 1966 was "Management Development."  It was offered through the Industrial Information Institute, Inc., and The Human Engineering Institute, Inc.  At this link is a little information about the Industrial Information Institute, Inc.  It seems to have been an organization local to Mahoning and surrounding counties.  I was unable to find reliable information about The Human Engineering Institute, Inc.  (With so much information available on the internet I am often surprised that, when researching my ancestors, I'm unable to locate information.  So it goes.)

There in one other course my father took at Copperweld Steel.  I'll leave that for a separate post.


Copyright © 2009-2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.Copyright © 2009-2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Father with Daughters - Sepia Saturday

By the time I knew my grandfather, William Carl Robert "Bob" Meinzen, I thought he was an old man who was disinterested in us grandchildren.  To my child's eyes he went to work, ate meals, smoked his pipe, sat in his chair to watch TV, and then went to bed.  Because I had trouble imagining him interacting with his own little girls I was excited to find this photograph in which he looks pleased to be with two of his little ones.

My grandparents had four daughters.  My mother, Audrey, the oldest, is standing beside Grampa.  Mom was born in 1915 and looks to be about four so I estimate the date of this photo to be about 1919.

At first I thought Grampa was holding his third daughter, born in 1921.  But when I considered ages and birth dates of both girls I realized the baby in his arms is his second daughter, Geraldine, born in 1918.

It's easy to imagine that Grampa, a barber, cut Mom's hair and that Gramma attempted to soften the cut with that huge bow.

Notice that Geraldine's dress has beautiful lace adorning the hem.  Gramma was an excellent crocheter and it's likely she made the lace.  My grandmother also sewed and it's possible she made both of the girls' dresses.

Grampa wears a bow tie and sports a (slightly grown-out) "butch."  I must research whether both popular in 1919.  He also seems to be wearing what I think of as old-style jodhpurs, as in another photograph.  Horsemen generally wore them but I have no oral history suggesting the Grampa rode horses.  Perhaps they were popular in 1919, too.

The photograph is old, faded, and in poor condition.  It needed a little darkening to be able to see the image.  Despite all, I'm grateful to see the pleasure evident in my grandfather's face as he was photographed with his daughters.  (You can click on the image to enlarge it and see details since I'm not using Lightbox.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This post is a contribution to Sepia Saturday 300.  I invite you to click through to see what posts others are contributing for this milestone event.

I first discovered Sepia Saturday in May, 2010, only a few months after it began.  I wrote a post to highlight the blog on May 1 and submitted my first Sepia Saturday post on May 8, 2010.  In those early days we participants posted a variety of sepia photographs and each week Alan Burnett, Sepia Saturday host, highlighted one of them as the introduction for the next week's call to participants.  There was such a wonderful variety of posts in those early days:  it was a delight to visit each participant's blog because one never knew what the subject of the photograph would be.  When, toward the end of the first year, the calls evolved to themes my interest diminished and so did my contributions.  I now participate occasionally but not as regularly as in the early days.  Still, I'd like to congratulate Alan, a dedicated host, and the rest of the participants for keeping Sepia Saturday alive for more than five years.  Thank you.


Copyright © 2009-2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Daughter's View of Her Father's Work - Workday Wednesday

From before the time I was born my father, Lee Doyle, worked at Copperweld Steel Company's mill in Warren, Ohio.  He began working there in 1940 or soon after, a few years before the photo at right was taken.  He'd been there about 10 years by the time I was born and longer from the time my memories begin.

Dad worked what we called "turns."  These days it's called swing shift.  He worked five days then was off two.  After the two days off, he switched turns:  from days, to afternoons, to nights.  It sounds simple and seems like he would have been able to keep a straight Monday-through-Friday schedule, but it didn't work that way.  Between some turns there was really only a day and a half off.  At the end of a round of turns (that is, after he'd worked all three) he had three or four days off.  That work schedule must have been a nightmare for my father, with no regular sleep schedule and probably little sleep when he worked night-turn with children at home during the day.  I know it was hard for my mom when it came to meal preparation.  She always served a hearty evening meal but when Dad worked afternoons, she had to serve it 5 hours earlier -- and then hold it over or reheat it for those of us who were in school.  As hard as that might have been for my mom, I think it was much worse for my father.

Working turns presented an added challenge when one realizes we were a one-car family living in a small community some distance from a city.  Mom had to carefully plan and coordinate her use of the car for any appointments, errands, and/or piano lessons.  Emergencies were out of the question.

I remember rare times that my mother asked my grandparents to borrow their car.  Still rare, but more common, were times when Mom drove Dad to work so she could have the car. 

Copperweld was located at 4000 Mahoning Avenue NW in Warren.  The drive from home to the mill was nearly 11 miles and, in those days, took 30 to 45 minutes.  It always seemed like such a trek.  We drove back roads except through a section of the city that wasn't particularly safe.  (My father kept a hammer under the seat of the car.  Never, he said, as a weapon, but should he need it for that purpose, it was there.)  The driveway from the road to the mill, left, was long, too.

It wasn't until I was eight or 10 years old that my parents bought a second car.  It made all the difference for my mom.  She was no longer limited to having a car only when Dad wasn't working.

I don't know what year Dad became a foreman but at least by the time I was 10.  He must have been pleased to know his employer thought him capable of the work and also happy to have the increased pay but I remember many days when he worked 12-hour shifts, sometimes for days on end.  Being a foreman meant that as a salaried employee his pay was the same no matter how many hours he worked.  And he was no longer a union member.  He and the men he had previously worked with were on different sides of the union line.  I remember him talking about how difficult it was to motivate the union men to do the work they were being paid to do.  I think that was frustrating for him.

Dad wore steel-toed boots to work.  It was not mandated by law until 1975 but he must have realized the importance of protecting his feet in an environment with heavy materials and equipment.  I know the mill was very large and required a lot of walking and standing with very little time, if any, to sit.  I think his feet often hurt though he never said so to me.  In addition to steel-toed boots his work clothes consisted of pants, shirt, and jacket.  He insisted on shirts with two pockets.  Mom mended and patched his work clothes until they were suited only for cleaning cloths or to be ripped into strips for rag rugs. 

When I was a child Copperweld offered tours to employees' family members.  I desperately wanted to go but was told I was too young.  When I was old enough they were no longer giving tours.  I suppose safety laws came into effect preventing non-employees from being in the work area. 

Copperweld is now being torn down, but it was in disuse for a decade.  There are a few photos of the mill at Rust Wire and at this pinterest board.

My images and knowledge of work at a steel mill come primarily from the links are below.  The adjectives that come to mind when I think of work there are hot, hard, dangerous, and that mills are monstrous large.

Dad was a life-long believer in American-made steel.  He would not buy a foreign-made car, no matter how highly it may have been rated.  American steel gave American men jobs to provide for their families.  He was still alive when Japanese- and German-made car became common and he never had a good work for buying them.

Dad retired from Copperweld Steel in the late 1970s after working there nearly 35 years.  If I could guess at his opinion about it, he'd say it was none too soon.

Copperweld closed in 2001.


Copyright © 2009-2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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