“I wasn’t just taking pictures… I was actually documenting history
I’m Bill Goodman. I was an electrician. I started in 2000 at the blast furnace and in 2002 I was transferred to the steelmaking side of the BOF and in 2004 went to the caster on the steelmaking site. As an electrician at the point, there was no typical day. It could be… it could be a hellacious, we could have a 2300 volt motor blow up, we could have just have some minor lighting issues and just other days you change light bulbs.
Well I was a police officer and I was injured and I got a mechanical job at McCormick they were short electricians so I went back to school and got my electrical degree. While I was there I got recruited by Bethlehem steel. And went to work for Bethlehem steel. I took pictures of just about everything but how that got started was I was on the steelmaking safety team and we were reviewing our budget and we had these kind of goofy cartoon safety posters. And I could not believe the money… we were spending like $35 on like an 11×14 cartoon poster.
I realized at one point and I actually was, I had a small Fuji Fine Pix and it fit in my pocket and I guess this was 2003, maybe? And I actually had to change a light bulb and I was on 311 and I realized that the stacker reclaimer and the oil field was right in line with the key bridge and the sun was gonna go right behind it. So I climbed up on top of #10 junction house, an old rickety 10 roof, and I sat there until everything was perfect and I snapped about 5 pictures and just as I took the last picture, somebody called me on the radio and said, “Is that you on the roof up there?” and ooohhhh….so I scampered to get down really quick, “no it wasn’t me!” hahahaha.
There’s absolutely no place on earth where you see what you see, where you are apart of …this massive, I mean, I can’t even describe the energy, the heat, the intensity and it’s all of the time I mean, when you’re working 10 feet from 3000 degree liquid steel, you know you have to be on top of your game and it becomes a part of you. That’s why so many people are so upset about the demolition.
When you’re here, everybody in your family has worked at Bethlehem steel. Even if it was a summer job but everybody in my family and probably everybody’s family.
Up to this day, I’ll post pictures of Facebook. And people say, “My mother worked there and my grandmother worked there and my grandfather and his brothers worked, you know…it’s just incredible. I was allowed access to the old photographs in the basement before the historical society got them. As I was scanning I went through one when my grandfather was a doctor at the dispensary. And there was my grandfather! I was like, “GASP! Pop-pop!”
They had photographers all the way, I think the earliest was nine, 1893? I believe 1893 was the earliest photograph and there are photographs documenting just about every phase of the mill being built, you know from the very first bessemer furnaces to, I mean I have pictures of the new cold mill which was completed in 2001. You know? so it’s… it’s a wide documentation of history. It wasn’t until maybe 2008-2009 that I realized that I wasn’t just taking pictures, you know, I was actually documenting history because it started to become more and more apparent that we weren’t going to be there.
It’s funny because…I really enjoy being a police officer and.. but Bethlehem Steel became a part of me. Umm…I don’t know why. I can’t explain it but I’m glad for my time in the police department, I thank GOD for my time at Bethlehem steel.