When I was a child, I could look out our back windows, and see fire leap into the night sky, as the stench of sulphur permeated the air. Sometimes, an explosion would rock the area, as superheated slag would come into contact with standing water. Nothing scary...indeed, a sign of security. We lived near the steel mill.
The mill's still there, I dunno what it's called these days-it was U.S. Steel when I was little, and the old folks called it the National Tube. My grandfather worked there at one time, as did my Uncle Eddie, and the fathers of almost everyone I knew. My brother Mike worked there at the end of the Seventies, until the massive layoffs of the Eighties.
The mill seemed an act of nature, as permanent as the lake...most of my friends saw their futures etched in the red dust from the stacks, spending their Thursday nights perched on stools in shot-and-beer bars, bitching about the heat, and the danger, but loving the money...just like Dad.
As I said, it's still there, but a shadow of its former self. At least it's there....today, no one clocks in at Ford Motor, Thew Shovel, Fruehauf, or American Shipbuilding, as they once did.
FTR, I never worked there, and never wanted to. The fire, noise, and big machines were okay at a distance, but there's no way I could've stood it day after day, no matter what the money.
A phantom boilermaker I raise to those who could, and do.