“I’m one of the lucky ones, I think I will make it and I am going to make it.”
Lettice Sims, a.k.a. “T”, worked at Sparrows Point for thirteen years. After the army, she started in 2000 at Bethlehem Steel as a forklift operator and in the year 2002, became a crane operator. She was one of two African Americans female crane workers. Lettice enjoyed working at the mill, and especially the friendships that she formed over those thirteen years. The people that she worked with became family, and that is something that she will always cherish even after the Mill is gone. (Written by Maggie Rogers, UMBC student)
My name is Lettice Sims. Everybody calls me Tee. There’s just two Afro-American crane operators and I was one of them. You could climb all the way up there then you looked down at the little people, sometimes they looked like little ants or whatever. After I saw my first paycheck I ain’t have no problem with no heights no more, they could put me on a roller-coaster now, so I’m good.
During my generation there wasn’t nobody was prejudice. I was never discriminated against. I thank Loretta and Darlene because they made the path for a woman like me to come along because that was a hard road they had to go through and I couldn’t have endured nothing like that.
Loretta was a legend in her own right. Loretta said things that I wouldn’t dare of dream of doing. It’s just like a Rosa Park, like you have to stand for something and she was that stronger person that stood for us, to make it easier for us coming in the door because everything for me was already paved there. I had it easy believe me, I had it easy. It was just amazing, like I loaded trucks and it was so amazing for a man to sit like I was up in the air and look and see me there, and it just blew his mind like I cannot believe you’re up there, I mean its 2000 and what don’t you believe that we can’t do a man’s job? It just blew their mind that a young female can do something like that, to me it’s just something like a remote control toy, I loved it.
I got involved around four or five years ago with the women of steel and just to see, Kathy G. was our leader then, just to see a strong woman like her, Loretta, Darlene, Gail Fleming that paved the way for us. And I said, I want to take the initiative and make a step so that’s what I did. And, I stepped up and started just organizing little parties, and doing things here and there. Then, it kind of scaled to little rallies and things like that, it was different but I’d do it all over again. I donated the best years of my life down at Sparrows Point, being a single mother and I know some people even babysat for me, did this for me, said “Tee, you need to take a break…” when you hit doubles, trying to make over time just cause you are a single parent paying the bills. It was like that for my family, so I never will forget that. It’s hard just like your first heartbreak it’s hard, it’s always going to be a hole there because nothing can fulfill that because even after you leave, even the people that didn’t like you, or you see somebody in the streets, that look that came from the job and you see them looking like they are doing bad, I can’t take it.
So that happened day by day, I’m one of the lucky ones, I think I will make it and I am going to make it. So I’m going to school, I have a part-time job and I’m doing everything that needs to be done for my son because I can’t fail.