Eljer Retirees Club disbands

| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Something special always happens when Eljer Plumbingware workers get together.

They treat each other like family and friends.

The workers, who for decades labored side-by-side to produce toilets at the plant in Ford City before it was shut down four years ago, gathered for fun outside of work at company picnics and dinners.

They played on company bowling and softball teams.

More than friends

They stopped to say hi at the grocery store and ended up talking for hours at a time about the new baby in the family, their new automobile, how their kids did in the Little League baseball game, work, health and the weather — all the things that good friends share.

“The best place to run into each other is at the Wal-Mart or at Foodland,” said Eljer retiree Dave Brink, 75, of Spaces Corners, a laborer for 33 years who built the carts that moved materials around the plant before he retired in 1999.

“We say we must be having an Eljer meeting when a bunch of us bump into each other. We talk about old times, the plant, the neighborhood, never get into politics. Just general talk. Maybe bring up a funny incident from back when we worked.”

Keep in touch

For years, the Eljer Retirees Club provided another opportunity for former coworkers and best old buddies to keep in touch after retirement.

The club was started in 1985.

But just like the plant that is no longer in operation, the club, for lack of participation, disbanded early this month.

“I miss seeing the guys,” said Brink, the club president.

“Maybe we can have a yearly get-together,”

Brink said that when the plant shut down, the club invited workers to join them. However, they all went to school and to new jobs.

He said only one person joined this past year as the club is losing its older members.

“They had no interest in ties to Eljer,” said Brink. “They moved on and lost the connection.”

There are only 12 members of the club who regularly attend the monthly meeting at the Local 158 of the United Steelworkers Union hall on Route 85 in Rayburn.

At one time there were as many as 100 active members of the club.

“The club was a great time with old friends,” said Ken Kirscht, 87, formerly of Ford City. Kirscht retired in 1982 after 35 years with the company.

He spent most of his career in the engineering department.

“I could tell 100 stories,” he said.

Carl Glock, 89, of Applewold, is the chairman of the Eljer Retirees Club.

He retired in 1985 with 31 years as an operator and inspector at the plant and immediately joined the club.

“It was a good bunch of retirees who would get together and talk about old times,” said Glock.

“We talk about who's around and who's not. There was always lots of camaraderie with the guys you used to work with. We would stand and talk forever.”

“The club was a good idea,” he added.

“I enjoyed it.”

Mitch Fryer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or mfryer@tribweb.com.

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