An Engineer’s Journal: The Summer of ’66

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It was with some trepidation that I boarded the #1 bus at Penn Station. A summer job at Stanley Tools seemed to be the next best thing to an actual internship in industry; and the summer between junior and senior year at Newark College of Engineering demanded a significant notch in my experience belt. Besides, I didn’t have many other options.

After a few days of meeting people getting used to the office routine (including learning to operate the terrifying switchboard), I settled in as an all-around back-office person. Within a couple of weeks, I’d transitioned into a temporary role as the Assistant to the Production Manager. The work itself was fun, as I familiarized myself with SKU’s and specifications, for the full line of hand tools; and assisted the PM in running production stats, quality reports, and throughput projections.

Along the way, I became enamored of the switchboard and its spiderweb complexity of criss-crossing lines and potentially devastating toggle switches, when I wasn’t otherwise immersed in the fascinating world of ball peen hammers and hand tools.

But it was a natural facility with scheduling and the ease with which I conquered the steep learning curve, that allowed me to become a contributor. I loved the work and genuinely liked my boss, who took me under his wing. Unlike other summer gigs (i.e. the summer of ’65: 10 weeks of long, hot days, ‘imprisoned’ in an oppressively confining room of file cabinets and an equally oppressive clique of girls and women – workmates /cell mates) this was a team of ‘adults’ who appreciated that I had adaptable skills that could benefit their operations.

In the years that followed, I would recall this summer with fondness, grateful to have had the experience. It was here that I first realized my penchant for Project Management, for viewing all things as logical sequences of activities; and for being part of a well-functioning team.

The summer of ’66 flew by, and I was sad to leave; but it was with great anticipation that I rejoined the game, the final sprint on my journey to become a Chemical Engineer. Turning the page that ended the “Stanley Tools” chapter of my journal, I opened to the next: “Senior Year.”


engineer journal picThis entry in my Engineer’s Journal, was inspired by the Friday, July 4th Light and Shade Challenge, with the prompt that included a photo of a well-used, Stanley measuring tape.

The Light and Shade Challenge
The Light and Shade Challenge

10 Comments on “An Engineer’s Journal: The Summer of ’66

  1. Oh my. Brings back memories. Love the laborious girls’ clique summer juxtaposed with a summer of balpeen hammers and throughput projections! It reminds me of a mid-’70’s day as a recent transfer to the NY branch. The boss’ young sec’y– having apparently decided I was strange but not threatening– asked quietly, “but Ginny, how can you stand it, it’s so boring, the bulldozers and cranes and all?” I remembered an exciting ride on a bulldozer (in my dad’s lap) and just laughed.


    • Yes – the stories I could tell – and maybe will tell as time goes by. This Engineer’s Journal is a start to recap. I I were to pull into an anthology of sorts, I’d have to make all the styles consistent – first person – maybe not. Anyway, thank you for reading, Ginny.


  2. I really enjoyed your piece, it reminded me of the patchwork experience of temping – some offices are amazing, some are awful. I loved the take on the picture as well. And word count, what word count? Lyssa M x


    • Thanks, Lyssa – you made me laugh out loud!
      It’s funny, until I started thinking about it, I had forgotten how much I truly hated the previous summer job. That’s why writing is so wonderful – it gets our brain into little nooks and crannies that we had hidden away. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday night, and thanks for what you do.


  3. I did not even notice your word count. I simply enjoyed the story and, quite frankly, I did the same thing last weekend. I too was forgiven by the kind folks here.


  4. You use words as expertly as the tools of your trade in that story – a really engaging read which I enjoyed a lot.

    (and between you and me, Lyssa and I never worry about word counts – as long as people have fun and give us something good to read, we’re happy)


    • Thanks, Thomas. You are so kind. I felt bad when I realized and have since left a comment on your page. I’m usually obsessed with word counts but I forgot that it was the weekend prompt to which I was responding.


  5. It sounds like you had a rewarding time. You may have used too many words though. Good write regardless!


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