Settling in Gary

“So my dad said, ‘Well, you know what, I don’t have to live here.’”

Edited by Nick Ladeau.

Transcript for Settling in Gary

My dad left, he ran away from his father, at the age of thirteen. He left Mexico and worked on a tramp steamer. A tramp steamer was a boat, I think, that left Mexico and used to hit ports all along the eastern coast of the United States. And he was like a busboy. You know, they hired him to be a busboy. So he wound up in Canada. Then in 1919, he came from Canada and settled in Gary. And that was his story.

I never met my grandfather [excuse me] but my grandfather was even meaner than my dad if that’s at all possible because my grandfather had a dairy. And the kids would have to get up in the morning, milk the cows, put the milk in containers, and then go out and deliver it. And so my dad said, “You know, I don’t want to do this.” And the guy said, my grandfather said, “Well, you’ll either do that or you’ll starve.” You know, and so my dad said, “Well, you know what, I don’t have to live here.” And so he left.

He had a Mexican bakery on 17th and Washington, and he lost that during the Depression. So he worked in the mill, the steel mill. And then during the Depression, he said they would have to line up outside the gates of US Steel. And the foreman would say, “I’ll take you and I’ll take you and I’ll take you.” And the rest said, “You’re out of luck.” Okay, so he wound up spending 35 years at US Steel. He was a millwright. And I guess millwrights fix mill equipment when it breaks down. They probably don’t do much other than fix stuff, and if stuff is working, they sit around and, you know, chew the fat, or they do something else, but the millwright definitely fixes stuff.

I do remember when I was in, I think, third grade. He came home all of a sudden, and we wondered why. And even though he was only five foot six, he had a terrible temper, really, a bad temper. And so evidently somebody at the mill had done something to him and he took a pick and hit the guy with a pick. So he got sent home. And so he was home for two or three weeks with no income. And then he got called back, and he finished out his career at US Steel. I think he retired in ’63 and was pensioned until 1995. So he spent about 30 years in retirement.

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