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Fabarc Steel

Fabarc employee cutting templates on cutting table. Photo taken by Frank Overstreet in south bay looking south.
Worker cutting templates
Click to enlarge.

While in high school and later in college, I had a summer job working at Fabarc Steel which is a structural steel fabrication company in Oxford, Alabama.

North yard of Fabarc Steel showing stacks of fabricated steel and mobile crane.
North yard was the output yard
Click to enlarge.

The first summer was the startup year and the only building was a singlewide office trailer. We had one old mobile crane which I believe was made in 1939. I was one of perhaps 6 outside employees. As was the case each summer I worked at Fabarc Steel, I had no assigned role, I just filled in wherever help was needed.

Frank James was proud of his work and taught Frank Overstreet many skills. Photo taken by Frank Overstreet in north bay area facing northeast.
Frank James took pride in his work and taught me a lot.
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In the morning I might be offloading steel from a truck while in the afternoon I was laying out templates. The next morning I might be in the office trailer drafting and in the afternoon, outside prepping steel for painting. Toward the end of the first summer, most of my time was being spent doing site work for the new shop bay. By the end of summer, the sitework was complete and the footers poured.

South bay of Fabarc Steel showing steel waiting to be brought into the bay for fabricating.
Facing north into south bay
Click to enlarge.

The following summer, I continued being used around the shop wherever needed. On any given day, I might do one or more of welding, cutting, painting, machining, drafting, loading, unloading, rigging, crane operating, inventory, delivery, quality control, running errands, drafting, etc. Sometimes steel would arrive via rail at a nearby spur. We would drive a crane and tractor-trailer over to the spur and I always enjoyed offloading railcars.

South bay of Fabarc Steel showing steel waiting to be brought into the bay for fabricating.
Facing south.
Click to enlarge.

Much of the work I did at Fabarc Steel gave me skills that served me well in life. The experience opened up a wide range of hobby activities related to metal working and even graphic design. Yes, in addition to the other roles I performed, I also designed the company logo and silkscreened logos onto tshirts and hats.

Trucks in north bay being loaded by overhead cranes
Trucks being loaded in north bay
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Another aspect of the work was that quitting time was quitting time. There really was no bringing work home or losing sleep over work. After work we would go fishing, berry/plum/peach picking or working around the house. By 9:00pm-9:30pm, you were asleep and slept like a rock until the alarm went off in the morning.

East yard of Fabarc Steel showing stacks of steel.
East yard
Click to enlarge.

Some things we did, OSHA and insurance companies might not allow anymore. Wasps and hornets liked to build nests inside the flange of columns right below the cap plate.

The welding bay was on the east side. It's output went to paint bay.
welding bay
Click to enlarge.

At a certain point, the wasps would distract from work and I would volunteer to get rid of the nest. I did it by taking a stick, or piece of 3/8 inch rod, wrapping rags soaked in mineral spirits around the end, lighting the torch and climbing the column using the one free hand on the flange while holding the flaming torch in the other.

Quitting time at Fabarc Steel
Quitting time
Click to enlarge.

When I got close enough, I knew I only had one chance to burn that wasp nest without being stung. There would always be a gathering of workers watching to see if I got stung, or fell. I never got stung and I never fell.

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