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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

My responsibilities increase at Embassy Dairy

To go home I needed some extra money for traveling. I had just started to work for Embassy Dairy. I was put in the case room and had to stack all the return wood cases and wires that came off the trucks. It was a steady hard working job, but also very dirty. Although I did very dirty work, I always went to work very neat. I had to travel by bus or street-car. I sold my car because I wanted to save some money very fast so I could go home on vacation. My pay at that time was very small, only $67 net a week.

One day when I was stacking cases the quality control manager of the plant came down to see me. He asked me if I ever had worked in a lab before. I said no but I would love to. He told me that they needed a lab technician, and if I was interested he would ask Mr. Doyle the personnel manager to hire me for the job. During the day I was asked to come to Mr. Doyle's office for an interview. Mr. Doyle outlined all the possibilities of future advancement of this job, but it was up to me how quick I would progress in this work. He told me that I was getting increases in pay by the progresses I made during my training time. I told Mr. Doyle that he had given me a chance, and that I would take a chance as I was always eager to learn. Finally I had a technical job and was able to prove myself that I could do more than just labor work.

I started as an apprentice lab technician. I didn't know a test bottle from a pipette, but I was willing to learn. My boss Mr. Keller was a very nice person to work with, and he tried as much and fast to teach me that basics of ordinary lab testing. A lot of butterfat testing had to be done most of the day. These tests had to be very accurate and quick. Accurate, because Embassy Dairy bought all its milk supply from an independent milk association, called MD and VA Milk Producers Association, which was originated by the farmers of those states so that they would get a better price for their milk supply. So Embassy had to pay for their milk supply by the pounds of butterfat. That's why it was so important that the butterfat tests in the lab were very accurate. Quick, because before a product was bottled in the bottling room, it first had to get the OK from the lab that the product was up to standards. It was up to me to learn the testing business very quickly; otherwise the company could lose a lot of money. I wanted to learn quickly so after work I took a lab test bottle and pipette home, and practiced for accuracy and quickness. Speed and accuracy would help me a lot in my new job. As I was working in a production milk-plant, I didn't want to stop a filling machine because they were waiting for my test of the products. All of this I had to learn very quickly. It was another challenge in my life, and I know it wouldn't be an easy one, but I had made up my mind that I was going to make something out of this job. I had never studied bacteriology, but I needed this if I wanted to progress in my lab job.

One of my executive bosses, Mr. Ed Connelly, who had always been tremendously supportive in helping me in my new lab job, suggested I should take some night courses in bacteriology at the American University. Since I didn't have a car at that time, he drove me to the American University to register for the night classes. I was working long hours because I wanted to learn as much and as fast about the practical business what the lab work was all about. When I started my night classes, I first had to get used to the school system. It was so different than the way I was used to in Europe.

At the American University they had counselors in the class and they were very helpful to me. We had two hours practical lab work, and two hours theoretical. The practical lab work I really enjoyed doing, but the theoretical part I had problems with due to the English language. I had a lot of homework to do, and the studies and all kept me busy until two o'clock in the morning. As I was doing my homework there were so many vocabulary words I didn't understand, and with a dictionary I had to find out first what the word meant before I could finish my assignment. At six o'clock in the morning I had to be at work again. It wasn't an easy life, but I was getting ahead in my work, and I was young and strong and easily could stand a lot of pressure.

Two years later after I took the lab job, Mr. Keller decided to move on to another job as there were not many chances for him to advance as a plant manager with Embassy Dairy. This was what he had hoped for, but at the time Mr. Babe parks was our plant manager. His assistant plant manager was Mr. Glen Brauner. Mr. Babe Parks and Mr. Glen Brauner didn't get along so well, and Mr. Babe Parks had always hoped that Mr. Glen Brauner would quit so that Mr. Emilie Keller would be his assistant. So things didn't work out the way they had hoped for and Mr. Emilie Keller decided to go his own way.

Whatever was going on between those managers I had nothing to do with. I was very thankful for Mr. Emilie Keller for his patience to teach me all the lab work. In those two years I worked for him I learned a lot.

After Mr. Keller left I was asked if I could run the lab by myself, but I had to work on Saturday. I received a large increase in my salary, but many responsibilities became part of my daily duties. I was now a lab technician and in charge of my own lab. Since Mr. Keller had left I worked very close with Mr. Parks the plant manager. All plant equipment including lab, and all Dairy food products were only purchased by Mr. Babe Parks. As we got to know each other better we became very good friends.

CONTINUED: I got blamed for all the problems at work
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

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- World War II
- After the War
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