Interview, April 21, 2006
It is Friday, April 21st, 2006.
Steve, tell us a little bit about where you grew up.
I come in the United States in
1947, November 1947 from
. Come to
live here in Highlandtown.
Where were you living in
. That's a
beautiful island, and from
come here. In the
beginning when I come in, I was working in the
restaurant for a few years, and '55, 1955 I started
working down at Point, down at Sparrows Point.
How old were you then?
Oh, I was about 22, 23 years
Why did you come to the United
I come in to
get better myself, you know, because we have the war,
the second war, and you know everybody -- you know it
was poor, you know. I don't have no job, everybody was
pretty bad, so I come in here so I can get better
What made you go to work at
Money, and lot of friends, lot
of friends who was working at the Point, in Sparrows
Point, and he told me Sparrows Point get good money,
better than the restaurant. I remember I make it in the
restaurant five dollars a week when I come in 1947 and
I worked seven days in the restaurant. So I started
working at Sparrows Point and I'm making better money,
and that's why I joined the Point, the Sparrows Point.
I worked 22 years in the Sparrows Point and six months.
What was it like your first day
at Sparrows Point?
Well, just like anything else.
In the first day, you know, everybody was working, I
mean everybody was friend to me, and it was pretty
good. I mean the foremen, the superintendents,
everybody, it pretty good.
Was it a big place?
Yeah, it was a big place.
They call them 56 hot strip, you make the steel, you
put them in the furnace, and it come out and you put
them under the rolls and you make the tin, big rolls.
I was working and I put the bend in the roll and it
would go on the conveyor. Every five, every ten
minutes one big roll come out and I have to put the
bend. It was pretty hard, but I had relief for 15, 20
minutes, you know, somebody else take my job and come
back again. And I remember lot of guys from
Highlandtown was working in the Sparrows Point, because
Sparrows Point you had a lot of departments. It was
the tin mill, it was the hot strip, it was a lot of
places, you know. And I remember exactly when I
started at Sparrows Point it was working about 47,000
people. I believe from Highlandtown, the most people
live in Highlandtown working in the Sparrows Point
because I meet fill-ins (?), I meet Italian people,
Greek people, all kind people. So all these years
since I come in the
I live on this place,
in Highlandtown since 1947.
How did you get to Highlandtown?
Did you have family here?
I had a cousin, he live in
, 700 block in Parker
Street, and I would stay with him. About maybe five,
ten years I was living with him, and after I was living
by myself. I was a bachelor all these years, and six
years I got married. This is my wife, Athena, and we
How did you get to work? Did you
take the street car, the Red Rocket?
Yes, I ride with the street
car. In the beginning it was the street car, and after
they removed the street car and put the buses and I
remember exactly I catch the bus right on Packer
Street, number ten, and go all the way to the Sparrows
Point, and I never missed one day. One I quit, my
superintendent come here and he asked me why I quit
because I was enjoying in the business, this is my
place, I had about 25 years to go, I bought them, and I
figure, you know, I don't want to work down at the
Point if I run this kind of business, and my
superintendent, he like me and he come a couple of
times here and he asked me why you quit, I said I can't
work in two jobs. He say you can take a furlough, we
will give you a furlough, and you don't have to lose
all your time because I had a 26 years in the Point.
And at that time you could retire
with 30 years?
Well, I retire, but to be
honest with you I never get no pension from the
Sparrows Point because I quit myself, and at that time
you had some type of agreement with the company with
the union and I don't get advice from the union and I
lost all my seniority.
Well, that's too bad.
I know, I know. All these
years I have been working down there, you know I was
expecting to get something from the company, you know,
but I never get a penny from the company.
Well, when you started in the hot
strip mill, what else did do you, what other kind of
jobs down there?
Well, everybody had a post,
some people it was put a bend in the steel, you know,
some people it was working in different places. My job
it was a permanent for eight hours just to put the
bends in the coil of the steel. That's my job.
How long did you do that?
Maybe ten years. After then I
was working on the shears, cut the tin on different
sizes on it. You had a big pile of steel, and two
people, me and another people, they put them on the
shears and cut them off.
Was that a better job?
Well, it was a better job. It
was not too hot like the furnace, because in the
beginning I would start to put the bends in the coil,
it was too hot. It was right on the furnace and it was
very, very hot, especially in the summertime.
Well, did you work shift work?
Yes, yes. That's 8:00 to
4:00, 4:00 to 12:00 and 12:00 to 8:00.
What was it like working shift
Well, I always like the
daylight, daytime shift, and midnight, it was pretty
rough. I mean you know -- not the job, but it take
long to get daylight. That's the way you know I was
Well, when you were off work, was
there a community of steel workers around this area in
Yes. When I quit the Point, I
was start on this kind of business. In the beginning
when I bought this place, it was the drugstore and I
have it for awhile as a drugstore and selling a lot of
American things on it, school supplies, pet medicines,
things like them. After then, I put all Greek things,
music and gifts and things, and also I was having the
radio, Greek radio station for 49 years. But then last
April, last April it was the session it was closed and
I had it for 49 years the radio station, WBMD every
Sunday 1:00 to 2:00 in the afternoon.
Did you do that while you were
working at Sparrows Point also?
What was that like?
Well, I was enjoying myself.
What was the radio program like;
Music or news?
The radio program advertise a
lot of places, business, play music and bringing news
of the community and news from
Was there a large Greek
population, immigrant population at Sparrows Point?
Did you all work together or ride
We have a lot of Greek
population. From 1952 to '59, a lot of Greek people
. In fact, this place over here, the
Highlandtown, it was 90 percent Greek people. Every
place you go you meet one Greek people. It was a lot
of stores, lot of groceries, almost -- it was a Greek
place. That's why you call them Greek town they call
it right now.
So would you often ride the
street car and the bus together, all of you?
Yeah. Well, some had cars,
some of it you ride the buses. The reason I never
drive the car, I ride the bus and I was living here and
I don't have to walk too long, so it was a convenience
for me to ride the bus than to have a car.
Well, we talked about when you
started work there in 1955. You then had to go through
the 1959 strike?
Yes. We have a big strike in
1959, which was almost three months, and of course I
don't do nothing on it. I had a lot of money in the
bank and it hold me. After three months you know we
come back to work and everything be normal again.
Do you remember any of the issues
in the strike?
Well, it was quiet strike. I
was in the line.
What was that like, picketing?
Picketing outside the Point?
Outside the Sparrows Point?
We don't let nobody go inside,
we watch them. Nobody go inside, except we let them
go, the foremen and the superintendents, not working
men. We stay up there on different places four, five
guys, you know, and the president from the union, you
know, representative, he bring us sandwiches, coffee,
things like them.
You don't remember who the
president was then?
No, I don't. I don't. I
remember one Greek guy, his name Chris Lucas from
, he was the president for a long time in the
Did you ever know him?
Because I have a friend who is
trying to get some information about where --
I know Chris Lucas very well,
and also his brother, he was working with the GMC, his
brother, and also he was the president of the union
over there, too.
What was Chris Lucas like?
Chris Lucas, he was a good
man, he was good for us, he was good for the union.
Did he live in Greek town?
No, he is not living in Greek
town, but he had relatives who lived on the same block
I was living in the 600 block on
relatives up there, cousins. Chris, I think he live a
little further from Highlandtown, a suburb, but I see
him -- he used to be in the community, used to be
president in the community, too. When we started to
build up the Greek church, he was the president. He
was very active in the community.
Even though he didn't live here?
Did he ever talk to you about why
Well, he lived in
come to working here in the Sparrows Point for I guess
for a better job. He was a very educated man because
he was president for a long time, and I remember all
the people liked him. He was a very smart guy and a
very good man, too.
Is he still alive?
No, he died. He died.
I wonder if he has any children
I don't remember. I don't
remember if he had children, but I know him very well,
So what was the strike you
just -- do you remember what the issues were in the
strike or what was --
Well, just like every strike,
I mean it was better benefits, better money, things
like that. Of course every strike you can't get
everything. You get some, but a lot of people told me
it was the long strike in
was the 1959, the long strike.
That was the longest strike?
Were you ever laid off from
Yes, I was laid off a few
times for a week, a month, and he called me back again,
Were you ever at all involved in
the union? Did you ever go to union meetings?
Yes. Every time you had a
meeting at the union he notify us. The local was over
Which local were you?
The United Steel.
Do you remember 2609 or 2610?
I think it's 26.
26, all right. Did you ever
participate in any union activities?
No. I never be as an officer
or anything like them.
During the 1950's there were some
controversial areas which you may have heard about.
There was in the 1956 and '57 questions about Communism
in the local and in the plant. Were you ever familiar
with that at all?
Nothing involving any of the guys
And then in the late '60s or
early '70s there was questions about black steel
workers and changing the contract and stuff. Were you
aware of that at all?
Well, I mean it was -- I
remember when I started it was separated, the toilet,
white people and colored people, but after you join all
together, colored people and white people go on the
same, you know, place.
How did you feel about that?
It was pretty good. I mean it
don't -- nobody bothered me, everybody was friendly and
everybody you call a brother, each one.
Did you ever have any experience
with women working down there?
No, not in the place. You had
women working in the office, not on the steel.
Because there was a woman who's a
Greek woman named Eddy Papadakis, her family worked
down there. Did you ever know her?
I know a man Papadakis, I know
a man, but he worked on different place, not on the hot
strip one I was working. He died a long time ago. He
used to live in
, his name Papadakis, but
he was not in my department. He was far away from me,
the place he worked.
So you never knew that he had a
No, I don't.
Because she had worked down
there, her uncle worked there and her father worked
there, and she was one of the first women. She's
probably in her late '50s. She has been there for 30
It's a lot of people. Of
course I don't know everybody, but I do know a lot of
Greek people like I say before who was working up there
35, 40 years in the Sparrows Point. I know a guy from
Edgemere who is named Nick Moschus, he was working a
long time. In fact, he was one of the first man that
started working up in Sparrows Point.
Well, when you were in
did anybody ever come back and say there are jobs in
the steel industry?
It was just you get to the United
States and come to
and then kind of see what
, come in to
, yes, and this is the only place I have been
living since 1947, the same neighbor over here and
almost the same house I live in since 1950.
And have you seen then in the
time that you worked at Sparrows Point the Greek people
move out of the community?
Well, a lot of them of course
move from here from this community, some went back to
, some of them die. The young generation go to
the suburb, but we still a lot of community -- I mean a
lot of people here on this community. We still got a
Anybody else around here who is
retired from Sparrows Point?
I used to know a lot of
people, but everybody die.
I guess the question is if you
had to do it again, would you work at Sparrows Point?
Of course. I was happy. I
mean I was -- of course. I don't get no pension from
Sparrows Point, but I had a good job, and I was liking
my job. I never missing a date. I never missing -- I
mean I was a steady man up there, and the foreman, he
was dependable on me.
Did you work a lot of overtime if
it was available?
Well, to be honest with you I
never asked for overtime. A lot of people worked
overtime. I know guys that worked 16 hours straight,
but to me I never asked for overtime because I was a
single man, and I don't want to make more.
And you were basically making a
Well, when you were working down
there, what did you do in the community? Were there
clubs that the steel workers all went to or
restaurants? Tell us a little bit about the Greek
community that the Sparrows Point people --
The people working down at
Sparrows Point when they was off from Sparrows Point
live over here. Some of them go to the coffee house,
stay for awhile. Some go to the Greek restaurants and
pass the time.
Was Greek town then open 24 hours
Yes, some of them. I remember
the next block they call them
restaurant, now it
is the Ikaros Restaurant. That place, it was open 24
hours a day,
restaurant, and a lot of places
And there was a bus stop right in
front of it?
A little bit up right on the
corner. I remember since I come in always I remember
the bus stop up there.
So people could take the bus
Take a bus.
Come right in and eat, drink or
whatever they wanted to do?
Because there was a whole
community when Sparrows Point was much bigger of clubs
and bars all down on
North Point Road
Oh, yes. It had a lot of
place down there on North Point. We stop in North
Point, we cash the checks up there and a lot of people
stop over there and they cash the checks and drink a
beer, you know, eat hot dogs and things like that.
Did you ever do that?
Once in awhile. I would stop
once in awhile with friends.
And then come up here?
Every time I have a ride
because the bus don't go to that North Point. It would
go to the different place, but every time I have a
ride, if some friend of mine, he bring me here in
Highlandtown, we stop up there and we cash the check,
we drink a beer, eat a hot dog and come back.
Have you followed Bethlehem Steel
in the last few years, the bankruptcy at all?
Because a lot of the people blame
the steel workers for the problems that the company
I know. I don't blame -- I
mean of course right now I don't know how many people
work up at there in Sparrows Point. Somebody told me
not more than a couple thousand people.
That's exactly right.
And you compare the number I
was giving to you in the beginning, 37,000, that's a
lot of people.
Yes, it is.
Now, who I blame? I don't. I
What was it like going to work
with 37,000 people, parking lots and lunch rooms?
Well, it had a big parking
lot, had a big parking lot, and in the morning when you
change the shifts you see a lot of people back and
forth, back and forth, back and forth. That's three
shifts like I say before, 8:00 to 4:00, 4:00 to 12:00
and 12:00 to 8:00.
So you pretty much stayed in the
hot strip mill all your --
Yes. I was started in the hot
strip and I was quit from the hot strip.
How did you get to the hot strip
mill? Did you know --
Well, I was work -- because
the bus don't go inside to the plant, it was from here
I say to that
under the pass.
Well, how did you get the job in
the hot strip mill?
Well, a friend of mine take me
up there, friend of mine told me. He was working up
there, and he take me to the Sparrows Point and we fill
out the applications, and I take an examination and he
told me you can start working tomorrow if you want to.
That particular time, they was hiring a lot of people,
and he told me, he say this is the best time for you to
How was your English at that
It was broke, not very well,
not very well.
And the company didn't care?
No, the company don't care.
Were there people around who
could translate for you?
Well, I mean yes, of course.
I mean the job he give it to me, it was a simple job,
you know, just to put the bend. You know you don't
write anything or you don't need a very high educate to
do that kind of job.
And so it was a great opportunity
for a lot of people?
Sure, it was a great
opportunity. Of course, yes.
Is it too bad that the jobs like
that are not around any more, you know for --
Well, I mean of course. I
don't know what's happening to all these people, I mean
what happened. Of course like I told you before look
some of them retire, some of them die, but it was a
good thing, the Sparrows Point, to have a lot of people
to work up there. It was one of the best place.
Did you then have friends that
you brought down to work there?
And you all would come together?
All come together, go
Eat lunch together?
Lunch, the same, yeah, sit
down together, we eat lunch together, yes.
And when you were at work, did
you speak Greek or English with your friends?
Well, if it was American, I
would say a few words in American. If it was a Greek,
we speak a Greek language.
And while you were working there,
did you ever go back to
I was back to
since I come in here in the
Did any of the rest of your
family come over?
My father was here. I don't
exactly -- I don't remember the year, but he was over
here for a long time, and I remember when I come in,
the immigration, he called me to give me the American
citizen papers, because my father, he was American
citizen before I was born, and absolutely the children
get American citizen papers, and I remember them. When
I come in, immigration send me a letter. He say you
can come in to get your American papers. The only
thing I have to take a couple witness to certify my
father's name, you know, and I was his son, that's all.
Very good. Any other memories,
Well, memories, a lot just
like anybody, you know, bad memories, good memories,
Well, what are some of your good
Well, the good memories, I
was -- when I started the radio station, you know, I
had enjoyed myself.
Tell us about how you started the
Well, one day I was figure,
you know, if I can join the radio station, if I can
come up. So I went to the radio station and I asked
them if I can buy one hour, you know. They say yeah,
you can buy it, and then I went to the different
places, I asked if they want to advertise.
When was this, what year was
this; do you remember?
So you had worked at Sparrows
Point about two years?
Yes, I work two years in the
And so then you ran the radio
station every Sunday afternoon?
Every Sunday, 1:00 to 2:00
Did you ever get called into work
No, I never work on Sundays.
Always just worked Monday through
Yeah, Monday through Friday,
Monday to Friday. Very seldom to work on Saturdays
just like I told you, a lot of times the foreman, he
asked me do you want to work tomorrow? I say no, I
don't. That's up to you. He say I cannot force you to
work six days. Five days, that's all right.
So did all the people you work
with listen to your radio program?
Yeah, I have a lot of
listeners, I have a lot listeners, because the stations
I was broadcasting you go to not only to
you go to
. Cover up to
you cover up all the way to Wildwood,
And it was the only Greek program
He had another one. He had
another one, 4:00 to 5:00. I was 1:00 to 2:00, he had
another one, and just like I told you I was enjoying
because I bring you the news from the community. I
tell the people what's going on in the community, who
die, who get married, who engaged, when we're going to
have a festival, when we're going to have a dance, all
these community news I was broadcasting. And also
bringing news from
, what's going on in
so everybody, you know, likes to listen to know what's
Were there some bad memories?
No. It was good memories.
Did you ever see any accidents at
Not big one accidents, no, no.
Sometime you scratch your hands or scratch your feet,
but not big accidents, no, I never seen one.
Because the hot strip mill was
not that dangerous. Some of the other areas were --
No, it was not dangerous.
Did you ever hear about accidents
in other parts of the mill?
Well, I appreciate your time.
Thank you very much.
Anything else you can remember
about working down there?
Well, I don't remember
Did they have any like activities
that you played like softball or baseball?
No, we don't play up there.
We used to have a team here in Highlandtown. We play
soccer team for a long time every Sunday, you know. We
go to the different places, different fields with the
different teams and we play -- it be the Italian team,
different countries. We had a
, had different
teams, and we play every Sunday. We have the name of
the soccer team we have them here we call them
Olibiata, and we have it for a long time.
Did they ever have parties inside
the plant for retirement or birthdays?
Yeah, they had the parties.
Did you make friends down there
who were not from the community?
Yes, yes, of course.
Do you ever see any of them or
hear of them, do they ever come by?
Sometime it was pass by from
here, but lately like I say I lost the contact every
one I used to remember.
Okay. All right. Well, I want
to thank you. Anything else you can remember about
It's a shame that the Sparrows
Point it closed down and every one lost the jobs. It
was a good place for the people to work up there, and
right now, he only had maybe a couple thousand people.
Let me ask you one other
question. Did you ever go to the town of
You just would take the bus in
and the street car in and then come back out?
Just take the bus, go to my
job, come back from there to the Highlandtown.
Never shopped there?
No, I never.
All right. Good. Thank you very much.