Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Copperweld, Dad, and the War Years - Workday Wednesday

In 1939 and 1940 my father, Lee Doyle, worked at the Niles Rolling Mill but sometime after June, 1940, he began work at Copperweld Steel Company in Warren, Ohio.  The parent Copperweld Steel Company was in Pennsylvania but this mill in Warren was new.  It had just opened in 1939.  As I understand it, a friend recommended my father for a job there.

I believe the badge, right, is the one created for my father when he first began work at Copperweld.  It is the only badge he used during his 34 years of employment there.  (Those who know my father will recognize his (contained) expression of satisfaction.)

By October, 1940, Copperweld had increased production to 24-hour days, seven days per week.  It had been a successful first year.  The Pittsburgh Press's October 31, 1940, article "Copperweld Steel Co. Building New Furnaces," reported,
Copperweld Steel Co., today declared a dividend of 20 cents on its common stock and the regular quarterly dividend of 61½ cents on its cumulative convertible preferred 5 per cent series.  Both dividends are payable Dec. 10 to stockholders of record Dec. 1.
     President S. E. Bramer announced that construction is well under way on one 25-ton and one 10-ton top charging electric furnaces at the Warren, O., alloys steel plant.
     The company recently added two additional heat-treating furnaces, bringing the total heat-treating capacity of the company to 12,000 tons a month; and two additional annealing furnaces which increased the annealing capacity of the company to 3000 tons a month.

In the years before the United States' involvement in World War II, Americans had an isolationist view.  But there must have been some Americans who imagined that the war in Europe would expand to involve the United States.  When France fell to Germany in June, 1940, Americans began to worry that Great Britain wasn't strong enough to defeat Germany without help.  Citizens and leaders, both political and business, must have sensed the changes that would come to an America at war.  As hard as the war made life for many, the production of steel mills -- including Copperweld -- increased and the mills thrived.

With the possibility of the nation's involvement in the war, a draft was initiated.  The National World War II Museum website informs that the United States required all men between the ages of 21 and 45 to register for the draft beginning on September 16, 1940.  Having been born in February, 1913, my father was 27 years old and would have been in one of the first groups to register.  However, because he worked in a steel mill involved in war production he would have been classified as either II-A or II-B and was exempt from military service.  I've been unable to find a World War II Draft Registration Card for my father because the only images currently available online (to my knowledge) are for the fourth registration, for men over the age of 45.  It's a high calling to serve one's country in the Armed Forces and I'm grateful to those who do.  I'm also grateful that my father served at home.

Copperweld Steel's high-grade alloy steel was essential for the war effort and the company had government contracts.  The Youngstown Vindicator reported on Jun 9, 1942,
The big steel producers here [in Youngstown] are turning virtually 100 percent of their output to the war effort.  So is the rapidly-expanding Copperweld Steel Co. of Warren which is becoming one of the nation's largest high-quality steel producers, although its Warren plant was built only a few years ago. . . .  Most of the larger fabricating concerns are entirely or in part on war work already. . . .

Copperweld Steel Company may have done well even without the war but there is no doubt in my mind that World War II helped the company grow.  The war years were good to Copperweld.

You can read the previous post about Copperweld Steel and my father's association with the company here.

--Nancy.

Copyright © 2009-2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

2 comments:

  1. It's interesting to read how the war years impacted families in different ways. In my family, many left the mountains of Virginia for government jobs in Baltimore, Washington DC, and Portsmouth, VA. Serve at home -- that's a good way to put it.

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    1. Yes, it is, Wendy. So often we hear of the mothers at home with stars in their windows waiting to hear about their sons; about Victory Gardens; and about women taking jobs that in different non-war circumstances they wouldn't have done. There were so many ways families were touched by the war, and perhaps it's different for each family.

      Serve at home.... My father never talked about working at the mill during the war but I suspect most of the men who worked in steel mills that provided the raw goods for the buildings of ships and planes believed that they were contributing to the war effort and serving their country. If all the men trained to operate the equipment and do the work required in steel mills had enlisted I suspect that it would have taken a while to train anyone stepping up to work in a mill, women included.

      Your family members who worked in government jobs probably had similar sentiments about their work during the war, that it was a kind of service to support the war effort. Did they ever talk about their experiences?

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