‘Welcome Sinners’

John Azzinaro: Started as a Welder in 1963; Retired as a Supervisor

I was able to get into the inside machine shop and became an apprentice. It wasn’t like today where they’re computer-controlled CNC machines. You really needed to know what you had to do.

I liked the work. It was different. It was challenging. You were building something. It was pretty interesting.

The first boss I ever worked for was a guy by the name of Ed Morenzoni. I was 21. He was an old guy – he was probably 40. He was a very knowledgeable, persistent supervisor. Persistent in getting you to do your work  extremely persistent. He was a good teacher too. Elio Britagna, he was very demanding.

The ship managers, they were building their ships. These guys were tough. They came up the hard way. If that boat is going to go to sea tomorrow morning at 4:30, it’s going to sea at 4:30.

So you best be done with what you have to do.

That becomes a sense of pride. “It’s done, I’m done.” In other places you don’t have Admiral Rickover pounding his fist on the sail, saying “I’m going now. Tighten the bolt.”

If you were down to the south end of the machine shop on a nice day, the big doors would be open – and the doors of the foundry too, which was roughly 50, 60 feet away. They had a furnace that would melt metal because they made their own castings. After they started to pour, the smoke would be billowing out and flames came from the floor.

All you’d see were silhouettes of people walking around – and the sign above the door:

“Welcome Sinners.” The sign was still there when we knocked the building down. Somebody has it. I have a brick from the building but I don’t have the sign.