The factory where I spent 25 years of my working life is now a pile of rubble. Controls, as it was always known locally, was a manufacturer of appliance timers for many major companies: Whirlpool and GE were usually our biggest customers. The plant originally was a division of the Singer Corporation, and opened its doors in 1959. Over the years, the plant changed hands several times, sometimes in quick succession. With changes of ownership came management and engineering changes, and not usually for the better. Gradually more of our products were being manufactured in other countries. Those of us on the floor could see the beginning of the end. The facility was closed in 2005 and was razed this month. Now it is only a memory.
I have lots of fond memories of my time spent at Controls. I began working there at the age of 20. It wasn’t my original intention to spend more than a few years there, but sometimes life gets in the way of other plans. Many of the people I began working with were still there to the end.
At the time I was pregnant with my son, in 1981, there was a total of 14 women who were either expecting or on maternity leave. Having children so close in age, we were able to give each other moral support, always having an understanding ear to listen as we went through night feedings, toilet training, and other child-rearing issues together. The older women, who had already raised their families, gave us advice when we needed it. In a way, we were like a large extended family of sisters, mothers, grandmothers and aunts.
I spent most of my time there on the final assembly lines. Doing routine assembly work can be dull and monotonous, but the camaraderie we shared made the time go by more quickly. We worked as a team and took pride in our work. Of course, there were the occasional spats and squabbles, but for the most part we all enjoyed each other’s company and got along well. Most of assembly workers were women, although we had a few guys there, too. Most of the men worked in the molding and punch press departments, so I didn’t get to know many of them very well. But when I did work with them they behaved like gentlemen and were always willing to lend a hand when I need one.
I value the many friendships that I made during the years I spent at Controls. My parents both worked there for over 30 years; my mother in the personnel department (until it became “human resources”) and my dad in the molding department and then in quality control. My brother and sister also spent a little time working there. In a way, I grew up with Controls as a major part of my life. I am thankful for the steady employment that it gave me, the good wage that I received, and for the opportunity to spend time with people I truly cared about. I hope that some of you are reading this! You deserve much of the credit for helping me to grow into the person I am today.
Many of my former co-workers have found employment in other industries in the area. Some are furthering their education, perhaps to fulfill dreams they had when they were younger. As for me, I am enjoying my new occupations as a second-hand goods merchant and writer. Being free to set my own schedule gives me more time to spend with my family and help care for the grandchildren, who are popping out of the woodwork! One part of our lives has ended, but a new adventure is just beginning!