Audio Recording "When I first started working at Wideman it was a closed shop."

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"When I first started working at Wideman it was a closed shop."
Contributor Names
Jones, Leonard (Narrator)
Levitas, Susan, 1961- (Interviewer)
Created / Published
Subject Headings
-  Vocational education
-  African Americans
-  Oral history
-  Interviews
-  Sound recordings
-  Work processes
-  Ethnicity and occupation
-  Industrial facilities
-  Wire industry
-  Ethnography
-  United States -- New Jersey -- Paterson
-  Interview with Leonard Jones, urban gardener, hardware store worker, motorcycle club member.
-  Summary of audio segment: A lot of Spanish worked in plant; a few blacks. Most were foreign; he didn't work in a big plant; just ten men; two Russians, an Argentinean and four "Americans," regular boys, and two blacks including myself. At first,Wideman was a closed shop with skilled workmen and not too many blacks. It was hard to get in, because no one wanted to teach you. A friend of mine, a Filipino showed me. "I guess the boss didn't care what you were as long as you got the work done, so he gave me a set of machines." That was at American Wire Corps and he took that to Universal and they hired him; took him a year to master it; could string up to forty-gauge wire -- as fine as hair. The trick is to keep it moving, because the oven is hot and it will melt; it's tiresome and hot and there were seven ovens and fourteen machines you'd run, with ten spools per machine; sometimes they'd run the fine wire for three days straight for twenty-four hours a day. I liked it; I always had it in my mind that I'm not going to work no place that I'm not happy, because you can't do the best work and you'd become irritable because you don't want to be there, and you don't want to do what you're doing. Why should I live miserable? I only work when I like what I'm doing and I do my best.
Digital Audio Tape
Call Number/Physical Location
AFC 1995/028: WIP-SL-A017
Source Collection
Working in Paterson Project Collection (AFC 1995/028)
American Folklife Center
Digital Id
Online Format

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Credit line

Working in Paterson Project collection, 1993-2002 (AFC 1995/028), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Jones, Leonard, and Susan Levitas. "When I first started working at Wideman it was a closed shop.". -08-19, 1994. Audio.

APA citation style:

Jones, L. & Levitas, S. (1994) "When I first started working at Wideman it was a closed shop.". -08-19. [Audio] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Jones, Leonard, and Susan Levitas. "When I first started working at Wideman it was a closed shop.". -08-19, 1994. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.