Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Block Plant


Growing up, I always felt really proud that my father worked at a block plant. I'm not sure I've ever mentioned that to him, but I think part of what I liked about it was that I had a great place for exploring. Now, I wasn't given too much freedom to explore...this is the kind of place that men lose fingers and crush limbs.

It started when I was really young. I may have been the only kid I knew to climb to the top of a giant sand pile. At the time, it seemed to be as big
as the factory...huge. I doubt it was all that I'd imagined it to be.

As I grew older, I pictured myself working there...carrying a lunch pail, my mom packing an insulated canteen with warm soup, a hard hat with my last name on it, light blue chambray buttoned down shirt with my name embroidered on the pocket, dusty shoes at night. Even though my dad works in an office crunching numbers, he still gets plenty of time to wander around the machinery if he chooses.

During one summer while I was in college I actually worked there for a bit. My memory is a little sketchy, I can't remember how long I was there or if I did a good job (or really what I did for that matter...I know I was at a desk), but it felt good to be a part of it.

Did I mention my grandfather and godfather build the plant? It always felt like a family legacy. Even after they sold to a larger operation, my dad stayed on, and the new company still felt like family...most of them had known me as a small child. The company is small, but it allows for moving up the ladder in surprising ways. This last year, my dad passed a couple tests to elevate him to quite a skilled level in his field.

Anyway, the whole point of this post is that I got to do something that I've always wanted to do, and always thought I would do at some time...I took some pictures in the plant. My dad was showing around The Boyfriend, explaining the different processes, and I moved around snapping black and whites with my camera. There were so many cool angles and variances in lighting. Most of the pictures are uninteresting...but some are really stunning to me.

Stunning might be a strong word for it, but for me, the photos represent adventures in my childhood.

6 Comments:

Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

My family owns an upholstering shop, and I have similar memories of it from my childhood. I used to hide in the shelves of fabric, just lying there in the dark for long periods of time.

(Why? I dunno; kids are just weird, I guess!)

I can still vividly recall the smell of dusty upholstery fabric. It's funny what evokes nostalgia.

My Dad, who ought to have retired ten years ago, still goes out and pokes around in "the shop" at about 5:00 a.m., most days, doing odd jobs.

5:51 AM  
Blogger elanflux said...

My Mom has worked at US Ringbinder for as long as I can remember. She's in the office now, but for years she worked in the factory. I thought I was THE COOLEST! I loved to explore to! The huge factory with lots of metal cutting, squishing, bending, pushing, lifting machinery and was a dirty filthy warehouse, filled with clunk, thunk, swoosh, and bangs. My favorite thing, sadly enough, was the huge round 'community sink'. I'd say 10 people would stand around this thing, that expelled a fountain of water when you pushed a lever with your foot, and comfortably washed their hands with that stinky pink soap...I can even remember the pink powder soap!

11:37 PM  
Blogger elanflux said...

wow, that barely made sense! Well you get what I mean!

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Pusher said...

It is interesting what memories we all keep from our youth. My father was a handy man. The images of that garage are vivid to this day. I wonder,if we could all go back,how true these images would be. Carolyn, again, good job with the writing and the picture taking.

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Bubba said...

Damn, those pictures ROCK!!!! I love black and white photos. You could have an exhibit with those pics. My grandpa built a few ice cream stores, which my uncle later bought, so I have childhood memories of the smell of ice cream and sounds of the machines working and my gramps in his white shirt and little white cap (kind of like steak and shakes caps) I also worked there for 8 years while working my way through college. Thanks for taking me back!

10:33 AM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

I had a lot of special feelings while I wrote that post and published those photos, but the best part of this post has been the comments that came from other people sharing their childhood memories. I got a little fuzzy feeling reading everyone's own version of what I wrote. Thanks for sharing!

10:42 AM  

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