My Kaiser Steel, Plate Fab. Memories.
By Jerold (Jerry) Jay Whiting
I started working at Kaiser Steel, Plate Fab., fontana, Ca. in December, 1966 as a "B" Electrician. Soon, I made "A" Electrician. I usually did and preferred Electrical Construction, even though I was in the Maintenance department. During my 12 years of service with Kaiser, they had an "Open house" one year. Between 1994-1996, I again worked at this plant, then it was owned and run by Ameron, a company that makes large diameter pipe for water projects. It was TOTALLY a different place then, Yeah, the buildings were the same, but ALL of the people that I had worked with before were gone. The new management was hard ass and uncaring for a person that knew the old plant well. One day, when I was looking for something in the old tool room, I found these photos in an old, abandoned file cabinet. The roof was leaking where the file cabinet was, and many photos were ruined. Being that I was the only person in the plant that had worked there during the times that these photos were taken, I felt that if I did not take them then, they would have been destroyed by water in a couple of years more. I believe that there were many more photos in that old file cabinet, but someone else had found them before me, and may have taken them just for their funny old faces or something like that. So, I took these undamaged one's and I have been in possession of them ever sense.
I am pretty sure, that this photo was taken in the North bay building, looking East, in front of the huge 40 foot long Hydraulic Plate Forming Press, rated at 340,000 TONS. Do you remember the Year of this open house?
Do you know any of the names of these People?
The only person that I can identify is Sandra Monk, in the white shorts.
This photo was taken on the Main east/west interior plant road, in front of the air compressor/warehouse building, looking east. The Maintenance shop is the last building in the row of buildings in the right hand part of this photo, where I worked. The main attraction, is the home made (inside this plant) sand buggy, built by Richard (Butch) Monk.
Do you know any of the names of these People?
This Sand buggy was given away shortly after this photo was taken in a company raffle.
In this photo looking Northeast towards the North Bay building and the tool room (far right), Richard (Butch) Monk, the builder, reminisces about his project. From what I remember, It took butch several hundred hours to build this car. I did the wiring in this car.
In this photo, Richard (Butch) Monk, the builder appears to be operating something on the dash of the sand buggy. The ultimate part to this story, is that the wife of a new hire won the sand buggy, and he quit shortly after that, and no one ever saw the car again!
This photo, is taken at one of Kaiser Steel, Plate Fab's Christmas parties. I don't remember any of these guy's names. I think that the guy on the left worked in the layout department, and the guy in the center worked in the personal department. His wife is on the right. Do you know any of the names of these People?
In this Christmas party photo, the old guy, smiling in the foreground is Neal Daniel's, the superintendent of the Maintenance Department, where I worked. The tall, slim women in White is Neal's new wife. His previous wife died of cancer about a year before this party. Do you know any of the names of the other people in this photo?
In this Christmas party photo, There are 2 people that I can definitely recognize. The Maintenance Department's Electrical leadman, with the striped shirt, is James (Jim) Harrell. To his right, is James's wife, Bobby. The man setting in the foreground with his back toward the camera may be Tom Shifferton, the plant superintendent at the time. Can you ID anyone else?
In this Christmas party photo, are 2 people that I have no trouble identifying. That's me setting the furthest away from the camera, and my wife (then) Doris. The girl in the foreground is Brownie's Daughter. The Year, maybe 1969?
Looking at the cup layout, this photo was taken at the same table as the last photo, just a little closer to the end. That's "Browny" Brownlow and his wife in the foreground. He was the machinist in our Maintenance shop.
This may be a Christmas party photo, but it surely was not taken in the main hall. This is "Stud" and his wife, and they are holding their twins. "Stud" was a maintenance Mechanic in our Maintenance shop.
In this photo, I have labeled as a Christmas party photo, but looking at it closer, I believe it was taken the same day as the Sand buggy day. Here again, is The Maintenance Department's Electrical leadman, James (Jim) Harrell, his wife, Bobby, and their 3 children.
Here is another view of Jim Harrell and his family. This is looking Northwest, and the plant lunchroom is in the background.
In this Photo, Jim Harrell is in the foreground, and Doris & I are seated behind Jim. Doris is Pregnant, and this is Christmas time, so she may be pregnant with our 3rd. or 4th. child. This photo is later then 1969, because it is a color photo.
Anyone know who these people are? What year?
That guy was a welder, but I don't remember his name.
Well folks, that is all there is. This plant is now gone now & has been replaced with a new plant sometime in 2017. I have heard that a big, Mexican firm bought this old plant becaause of it's large pipe making ability & moved it to somewhere in Mexico. I worked at this plant between 1966 & 1978, working every day there at 13032 Slover Ave., Fontana, Ca. The buildings is gone, as are many, if not most of the guys. I have these photos & the memories that go with them, but soon all of this will be gone.
So, what did I do with myself after I left Kaiser plate fab.?
Read on, if you care to.
In 1978, I was bored with Kaiser plate fab., and it was becoming obvious that kaiser was not maintaining their plants and things were starting to look bad for the future and there was a lot of outside construction going on, so I knew that it was time to make a change. I quit in February of 1978. Being that I was in the boilermakers union for 12 years, I was able to go out immediately as a Boiler Maker into local construction. During this time, Doris and I separated. Being that I had been an Electrician for 12 years, I didn't like the Boilermaker work much, so after a few boilermaker jobs, I went into Electrical Construction. In 1980, I got a job as a Maintenance Electrician at Miller Brewing Co. in Irwindale, Ca. At Miller Brewing, I got my first taste of computer controlled automated machinery. I learned a LOT about automation and programmable controllers while I worked at Miller. That same year, I bought a 32 foot, 2 year old travel trailer and began to live in that. In 1982, I married Socorro Navarrete Del Rio, a 32 year old virgin women from Guadalajara, Mexico. In 1983, we bought a 2½ acre lot in a rural area 6½ miles Southwest of the city of Perris, Ca. In 1985, there was a strike at Miller, so during that time, I got hired at Golden California Cheese Co. in Corona, Ca. as a Maintenance Electrician. GCCC had even more automation and computer control then Miller had, so I learned even more about these subjects at GCCC. In 1986, I heard about a small mountain with 60 acres for $30K nearby, it took 2 years to get everything together, but we bought that land in 1988, and moved there in early 1989. The bad part about GCCC, was that the pay was lousy, so when I heard about an opening at Stevedoring Services of America in Long Beach, Ca. that plaid $26 an hour, I went there and got hired as a Crane Mechanic in 1989. Although I really liked the money, making over $70K in each of my last 2 years there, working on the docks 6 PM to 3 AM sucked, and most of the work was cold and extremely repetitive and boring, and most of the time, you worked at the 100' level in a container crane hanging over the ocean. I was driving 80 miles one way every day, and that was not fun ether. In 1991, I hurt my back twice, I went out on disability with the second injury, and never returned to working at the docks. In 1993, my Disability ran out, so I had to find something to do. I found a job making Electrical control panels for a Company in Corona, Ca. who made Printed circuit production machines. Another boring job, I guess that my many years working in maintenance had made me hate production work. In 1994, I went to work for Ameron, which was the Kaiser plant in Fontana that I had worked for between 1966 -1978. The Electrical leadman, an old, fat bastard, always had me doing the shit jobs, so I was not happy there. I knew every inch of that old plant, but the bosses there had NO respect for that, I was just another worker to them. I hung in there until 1996, when I saw an add for a Maintenance Electrician in Perris, Ca. They didn't offer much more money then the Ameron Plant, but I now had a short drive AND I was going to be my own boss, as this Plant had only one Maintenance Electrician, and I was going to be that person! I still work there, at J&R Concrete products in Perris. I'm a do all now, because there is only me to perform the maintenance on this plant. Welding, steel Fabrication, Plumbing, Electrical, Telephones, Computers and programming are sometimes all in a days work here. Recently, the owner of the plant has approached about building some Automated machinery to handle the output of a fast producing Automated concrete casting machine. So that evolves studding the problem forming ideas on how the machine should be constructed, cutting, fitting and welding together the machine's structure, mounting valves, solenoids, cylinders, chains, sprockets, etc. etc to make the machine do a job. Monitoring the machine's movements are Electric eyes and proximity switches, which give inputs to a small industrial computer called a PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) A program, specifically written for this application (I write them) controls the movements of motors and cylinders, which make the product run through the machine automatically. I am currently building a stacker and de stacker, and later I will be building a palletizer and automatic stretch wrap machine. it's fun to build these machines, and watch them come alive and do their thing. In 2006, Socorro, my wife of 24 years served me with divorce papers. We had 2 daughters, one mine and one adopted. In 2007, I married a lovely young women from the Philippines. Jelim has a small daughter from a previous relationship, and in 24 of May, 2008, Jelim gave birth to our daughter, here in our home. So, here I am 65 years old, and the father of a one year old! Got to Stay Young!