Jerome “Jerry” Roling
Carr, Adams and Collier/Caradco and Jeld-Wen
I started working here on July 15th, 1941. The starting rate was a dollar thirty-two an hour and after three months I got a dollar thirty-five. I was 19 and I didn’t know nobody down here at all. Well, I was from the farm but my dad passed away in ’36. He got appendicitis and we couldn’t get him to the hospital because of a snowstorm. After that I kind of shifted around.
I started as a helper. It was tough at first because all the older people they didn’t want you to learn how to run their machines. They were pretty proud of what they done and didn’t want you to learn their techniques. But anyway, you learned the best you could. Eventually I could run pert near every machine in the factory.
The shaper was the only machine in the factory I didn’t run. I wanted to bid on it but I lost a finger when I first started working here and there was one fella that said, “You can’t hold it.” So I never ran the shapers. They were very dangerous machines. They made stair turns, circles and stuff like that. But I was glad afterwards that I didn’t get it, because this one fellow in the door department, he was running the shaper and anyhow he didn’t have the knives tightened in there. He started it up and one of the knives flew out and hit him in the stomach and killed him. They were dangerous machines.
It ended up I was the head saw sharpener. The old fella who did it before me, he didn’t think anyone else could do it. One day he got perturbed at one of the supervisors and he up and quit so I had to I prove to ‘em that I could do it. Oh, I had a lot of trouble. There was one guy who run the biggest band saw we had which was 17 foot. Every time I worked on that blade this guy would say, “It don’t run.” So finally my supervisor gave him one of my blades but told him it was one that the old fella before me had sharpened. Well this guy put it on and they ran it and said it worked good. So my supervisor took me and this guy out to the dock and says: “Jerry sharpened that blade, so don’t you ever, ever tell another person that he can’t sharpen saws.” I really got onto the trick of sharpening saws.