“It was no utopia…but I and a lot of my friends made a good living.”
My name is Eddie L. Bartee. I am a retired steel worker. I worked at Bethlehem Steel for 42 years. I was born and raised here in Baltimore City.
I was raised up in Sparrows Point. My parents carried me to Sparrows Point when I was two years old. It was a good neighborhood to be raised up as far as violence and stuff was concerned. You had to work at Bethlehem Steel in order to live in Sparrows Point or have a house in Sparrows Point. And if your kids got in trouble or if you got in trouble, they would actually ask you to move. It was an ideal neighborhood, no crime. My son Andre and a young man named Blake Pew were the first two blacks allowed in the kindergarten. And this is like 1962…1961 or 62. And they used to have a place called a restaurant and they used to have a jukebox there, and you put a nickel in there, then we would stand around the jukebox and sing with it, with the record that was playing. Those days you have a big 78s. You have no 33s or CDs or anything like that. It was a job called wrecklers that had been the highest paying job in the ___ mill. No blacks were allowed to be wrecklers.
I’m blessed. I’m a little bit below the average American but I’m comfortable. And it was all good to me. You know, I have people complaining about Bethlehem Steel this, Bethlehem Steel that. It was no utopia, I would agree with you. But I and a lot of my friends made a good living at Sparrows Point.
I don’t have no regrets. I had a lot of opportunity. Me having all the high school education, I took a few, couple course but I never got to college per say. And as a high school graduate, I’m very, very happy about where I am right now.
I wish you all the best! (Edited by Kristen Anchor)