Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bethlehem Steel At Sparrows Point, Maryland`

Photography by David Robert Crews

That huge structure dominating the skyline is the monster that ate the Town of Sparrows Point, Maryland. It is a modern blast furnace that replaced ten older blast furnaces, and the town had to be torn down to make room for it. In 1962, my Granddad Crews retired as foreman of numbers 9 + 10 blast furnaces, the biggest ones there at the time.

My paternal grandparents were some of the last residents to leave their rented home there, at 1014 F Street, in 1973. The Bethlehem Steel Company owned the town; they owned every house and store and the land that all the churches were on. But it was well run for the benefit of the residents, and was virtually crime free. There was a lot of dirt that fell from the mill onto everything, even the leaves of the hedges had red dust on the bottom of them, but that was about the only bad thing about living there. It was a true small town where most families knew one another. The schools were good, the stores well stocked and their goods were reasonably priced, and if there was any problem with the houses the company sent out repairmen right away. The houses were well maintained with regular painting and wall papering, etc..

I spent a lot of my youth down there at my grandparents' home, hanging out in the town with the other kids there, and we went to church down there too. I went there every holiday from the day I was born till the house was torn down. My cousins all lived close enough that they were there for every holiday too, plus many birthdays, and any day of the week we might go visit my grandparents. It was the best of homemade foods, real iced tea, big family card games--first it would be all ages card games then later in the evening the penny jars came out when the adults began to play poker for fun. It was a large home full of love.

Photography by David Robert Crews

This is the place I have visited most often in my dreams.

This is where my grandparents house was. I remember the elbow in that overhead steam line well from when I was playing in their back yard or talking to Grandmom as she hung up clothes to dry on the clothesline or in the alley talking to Granddad as he worked on his big car--he kept his Desoto, Dodge, or whatever big V8 motored Detroit yacht he owned that year all tuned up and running smooth, but with that throaty, low, powerful rumble those kinds of motors have.


Doug said...

David I really like you pictures and boy they bring back memories. I worked at Sparrows point at the 42 inch cold strip for a few years. I weighed about 140 lbs. and it took about 180 lbs to feed the end of the sheets into the rolls. They moved me to the washers where weight was not needed. I have been looking for your e-mail address as I would like to mail back and forth some.

Anonymous said...

this is the photographer we told you about. His photos are mostly of Panama. Nice stuff. Good to see you.