K.C.C. pilfering—True or False?
By Keith Gibson
There are many stories about the different things that seemed to somehow make it out the K.C.C. gate at quitting time.
It has been many years since the plant shut down and yet there are items all over the area that came from the copper company. One item is the work gloves. They have the KCC initials on them.
The excuse for having them off the job was that they were from another company-Kansas City Construction.
Other items around town are the numerous shovels, picks, rakes and even wheelbarrows. Most of them have the company logo.
Some of the stories about the pilfering may be true or false, one has to decide for themselves. It was always rumored that a fellow that worked at the smelter and lived just below it, had made a sidewalk out of the large 400 lb. copper bars. He had walked them home when leaving afternoon shift. It was dark and nobody was around.
Another story was about the guy that worked in the gold sampling room where there was a lot of gold shavings. He had long fingernails and would dip his fingers in the gold dust and shavings.
A man that worked in the power house and lived on the top side of first street was known to walk home from work across the coal freight yards. He would stop and pick up a few lumps of coal to put in his lunch box. At home he would dump them in the coal box. He would accumulate a sizeable pile over a year’s time.
Most garages and cellars had an abundant supply of nuts and bolts. Apparently, thru no fault of the worker, his pockets would be full of these items when he got home. It would of course be prudent to empty the pockets in case the garment ended up in the washing machine. Nails of all sizes were also a problem.
A lot of items that were made on the job to end up at home were labeled as “government work”. The foremen and even a lot of the top brass all looked the other way as they ended up with their share of the items.
I remember working at the foundry and helping make iron skillets, Dutch ovens, grills and a host of other things. Whenever we had a large pour of metal for the company, these personal items were also done.
I remember the brass ashtrays with the early nineteenth century couple walking down the street. Only those familiar with this will know what the bottom side showed.
At the end of WWII, KCC brought in many open freight cars with surplus Sherman tanks to be cut up to make the balls for the ball mill to grind the ore into a fine grit.
When the cars were in the freight yard at night, we swarmed over them to get the plastic prisms that were used in a periscope arrangement. The plastic was used to make knife handles.
Several departments at the plant were used to do this. The blades were made from leaf springs or old files. They were cut to shape and the blacksmith shop would harden them.
The machine shop was also involved. It was a community effort.
There was a company wide bartering system that was huge.
A standing joke was told as follows—You give a KCC worker three steel balls and put him in a padded room for 8 hours. At the end of the time he has managed to loose one ball, break one and the third is in his lunchbox to take home.