My mother's father was Leonard E. (Dick) Westlake. An interesting man - witty, charming and with a mechanical aptitude that far exceeded his formal education. He dropped out of school in the 7th grade and became a water boy for workers constructing a Sinclair Oil pipeline from California through the Midwest. Apparently he was a good one because he was hired to help on the pipeline. By the time they made it to Lawrence, Kansas he was a young man and took a shining to a college girl sitting on her front porch watching the guys work. Story is they both took a shining to each other and they got married. Well, Dick kept working that Sinclair line and once they got to Ponemah, Illinois, just outside Monmouth they offered him the superintendent position at the pipe station there.
In today's Flashback we have employment service badges given to Dick through out his career with Sinclair.
30 years 25 years
20 years 5 Years
Prairie Pipeline Badge 40 Years 35 years
They started handing out gifts for anniversaries in the 9th Judicial Circuit when i was working there. I think I got pen and pencil set on my 25th and then a clock on my retirement. Nice idea, but really only valuable, sentimentally speaking, to the recipient. The colorful badges or pins above are from a different time and place, of course. Beautifully designed, some art deco too, that bespeaks of a working culture that ended their jobs where they started. Those days are gone now, for the most part. The younger workers move around, some by choice, many by circumstances. The factories where one could keep a family fed for a lifetime are gone now, and with a global workforce there are no guarantees you'll be where you are 6 months from now. I started at a place right out of school and managed to stay there until I retired. But even then it was early retirement and I think the County was happy to see the four of us go.
I'll bag these gems up and put them in my memorabilia box to be discovered by one of the kids when I'm gone. They will glance at it with some curiosity, and then put it in one of their boxes to be found decades later by one of their kids. Eventually they may be tossed, or kept still for another generation - its purpose and significance forgotten sometime while they ramble around in a sandwich bag in a dark place in the basement. Those badges above, a talisman of great sacrifice and importance that denotes an individuals loyalty, perseverance and place in the world, bespeak of things we all hold as integral to our souls - nothing short of who we are ...and were.