CAMPBELL, Ohio (WKBN) – There were smiles and pats on the back, handshakes, even hugs, Friday night at the Pacentrano Club on Youngstown’s south side where former steelworkers at the Campbell Seamless Hot Mill met for their 30th reunion.
The former workers say the mill was hot, dirty, loud and dangerous.
“If you had any brains when you walked in the door, you’d probably have left that day,” said John Juden.
Juden stayed though, leaving with only four fingers on his right hand; proof of how dangerous his work really was.
“You couldn’t learn stuff fast enough,” said Walter Ibele.
Now 87 years old, Ibele was the General Superintendent of the Campbell Seamless Hot Mill.
“The seamless business was booming throughout the world there in the late ’50s,” Ibele said.
Mahoning County Commissioner Dave Ditzler spent seven years in the mill, starting right out of high school.
“You wore long underwear in the seamless hot mill in the summertime to keep from burning because of all the hot pipe and the different jobs that you did,” Ditzler said.
“We made orange band seamless pipe, was the top pipe in the world, shipped all over for oil drilling, for casing,” Dennis Mamone said. “We did the Alaska pipeline.”
That’s what the reunion was for, reminiscing and remembering the days when steel was king.
“It put a lot of bread on our table,” Mamone said.
All night long, as friends greeted friends, one word was repeatedly used to describe the guys that worked there: camaraderie.
“It was a family affair, just like tonight,” Juden said. “We’re still living that even though it’s over 30 years later, the mill’s been shut down, we’re still living the family affair.”