As a child I knew my Dad had a strong work ethic, both at home and on the job. And I was used to seeing him occupied with fixing something such as malfunctioning plumbing or painting inside and out to keep our house looking well-kept.
When I was in grade school he began working at the newly-built General Electric plant, shortly after it opened in 1953, at their 920-acre facility in Louisville, Kentucky. He put in his regular hours at Appliance Park as a Home Laundry—washer and dryer—maintenance man, and also worked over-time when opportunity presented itself. I saw Dad in dirty work clothes at the end of his work day as evidence of what he did to keep the appliance production lines running. My Dad was the first generation of our family to work at GE.
After I married, my husband worked at the old L&N Railroad South Louisville Shops and got even dirtier than my Dad ever did. Repairing diesel locomotives was dirty work!
Then my Dad suggested to my husband that GE was a good place to work. What followed were many years of service for my husband at Appliance Park in various capacities as he went from a maintenance man to Senior Advance Manufacturing Engineer. He was able to make this transition by getting the post-secondary education he was lacking while being a full-time GE employee and a part-time university student. He first earned his Bachelor of Science Degree and then a Master’s of Business Administration. Some semesters the job was the 11 to 7 night shift. My husband was the second generation of our family working for GE.
When our oldest child—a boy—became a man, he too followed in the family tradition of working for GE. His title would soon include the word ‘Engineer.’ The performance of his work ethic was so good that he was wooed by a competitor and left for a season. However, he came back shortly before the GE Appliances division of General Electric was bought out by Haier, a Chinese company. My son was the third generation of our family to work for GE, now GEA.
In 2021 during the COVID pandemic my son was working at the GE Roper Plant in LaFayette, Georgia where electric ranges, cooktops, and wall ovens are made. But not only as an engineer. At one point during this time, he was helping out on the assembly lines two or three days each week as the plant did not have enough employees to keep up with the backlog of orders for appliances. Putting gaskets on oven doors, plugging wires into electronic controls, putting model label stickers on oven doors, and packing the finished product in boxes.
So, when the middle of his three sons, who had a year of college credits under his belt, needed a summer job before he was going to move out of state to continue his education, he was urged by his dad to apply at Roper. Grandson was hired as an Engineer Co-op. To make a long story short, the two—my son and my grandson—both worked that summer as Roper assembly line workers. And these guys who had ‘engineer brains’ exhibited ‘engineer brawn’ by not shying away from the sweat or dirt of their job on the production lines. Moreover, like his grandfather, Grandson chose to work over-time on Saturdays to build up his savings. My daughter-in-law later told me it was ‘shop talk’ non-stop when they got home! My grandson became the fourth generation of our family working at GE, now GEA, a Haier company.
Past General Electric and present GE Appliances, a Haier Company, still continue to put bread and butter on our family’s table. We must have gotten hold of a very special fortune cookie!
Nonny Day Series Children’s Books for Pre-Readers through Age 8
Written by Connie Carlisle Polley and Illustrated by Courtney Coriell Williams
Nonny’s Blog: The Reflections of Connie Carlisle Polley