Photography

A Giant Laid To Rest !

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These photos are of the last remaining structures from the Fairchild – Republic aircraft assembly building in Farmingdale which is now being demolished. Most Long Islanders remember when the aviation and aerospace industry was king.

My grandfather actually worked in this very building. You see Joe (my grandfathers name was Joe also) who immigrated from Italy and moved to Brooklyn was a shining example of achieving the American Dream. He did not know much english in his early years in America, but between his two brothers and himself they managed to scrape enough money together to open fruit and vegetable market in their Brooklyn neighborhood. Business for him worked out good, and the next thing you know my grandfather owns an apartment building as well as being a partner in the fruit market (it’s not what you think his name ended in a vowel, but it was not Corleone). When he finally decided to move from Brooklyn to Melville, Long Island and sell the apartment building and his share of the market he was in his early forties. The logical thing to do was to go to work for a major employer which was Republic Aviation (my grandmother would have never let him retire at such a young age). He worked there for twenty years and retired. That was the way it was in those days, you were employed by a major company for twenty or twenty five years, you were loyal to them and in return they valued your work, then when it came time to retire you got a pension and everyone lived happily ever after.

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These companies were once such a big part of our local economy and the amount of people employed by them numbered in the tens of thousands. Many famous aircraft were built right here on Long Island from the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt used in World War II to the Fairchild – Republic A-10 “Wart Hog” anti tank plane still used to this day.

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A couple of towns west of this location was another famous aerospace company named Grumman who proudly built the Lunar Entry Module – “LEM” used on the first moon landing and maybe is even more famous for the aircraft used in the movie Top Gun the F-14 “Tomcat” fighter jet used by the US Navy.

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Now don’t get me wrong these companies are still in business. Northrup bought Grumman and they are doing fine as is the Fairchild Corporation. But not on Long Island because they have long since moved to their tax havens. Places where they can maximize profits and hire less expensive labor.

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And that brings me to my point. You see even though these companies are awarded giant government contracts, they still can’t do the right thing with their employees. It’s not like the era that my grandfather worked for them. They value nothing but money now. Yes Long Island has long since moved on from the golden age of the aerospace into other areas of employment, but don’t try to tell that to any one of the life long employees who were laid off months before they were eligible to retire from either of these companies. Employees who believed in the product they made and took pride in their work. You see it’s always the little guy, the worker bees, the people that do the heavy lifting that get hurt when these giant corporations head for the hills to maximize profits and keep Wall Street bankers and investors happy.

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41 thoughts on “A Giant Laid To Rest !

  1. Joe, these are haunting pictures and a good representation of the loss of the middle class. Many of these industries paid well enough for families to own a home, raise a family, and as you say retire with a pension. Sadly, profit is king if you’ll forgive the pun. Corporations are the new royalty. It makes me sad and angry too, to see workers fighting for a living wage. Auto workers once made $25 an hour for their labor. Now we can’t seem to manage $15 for retail workers. They’re the backbone of the economy. Shameful.

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    • First of all thank you very much Alys 🙂 You hit the nail on the head it is indeed the loss of the middle class. While most of this is the big corporations fault because as you say “profit is king” the middle class bears a lot of the responsibility also. In the 50’s thru the 70’s the rise of the labor unions took hold because people were sick and tired of companies taking advantage of them. Now we have middle class people consistantly voting against their interests for candidates who’s sole purpose is to destroy unions. They are still under the belief that if you work hard and do better than your co-workers these companies will recognize them. These same middle class families will also shop at Walmart and Target, non union stores that are paying there workers so little and also informing them that they qualify for public benefits such as health care (all benefits that union workers fought hard for) on the taxpayers dime. They are numb to the fact that they are helping erode the middle class by their own habits. It is shameful how low the minimum wage is in the United States. Almost as shameful as being the last civilized nation in the world to finally get universal health care. Boy did I chew your ear off, LOL.

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      • “The middle class voting against their own interests.” Doesn’t that make you shake your head? It’s true. People operate out of fear, and the fear-mongering from the right is a well-oiled machine. I worked retail jobs in college to make ends meet, and was a clerk at Macy’s when they tried (and failed) to unionize locally. I saw the union-busting tactics used, and understood what they were doing, even at that young age (I was 19). I was born in Canada and my father was British so socialized medicine was the norm. We moved here in 1966 and my father contracted lung cancer two years later. Without health care, my family was wiped out financially. All their savings, gone. My father dead at 54 from lung cancer. My mom raised three young girls in poverty for many years. When I hear the prattle about overturning Affordable Health Care, I snap off the radio. I just don’t get it.

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        • First of all let me say that I am so sorry you lost your father at such a young age Alys. I know how that feels because my father died at the age of 55. I am glad you mentioned socialized medicine because it is so misunderstood. I don’t know whether people just don’t take the time to research things for themselves or whether is is easier for them to believe the crap that is coming out of these talking heads mouths. SOCIALIZED MEDICINE IS GOOD ! Sorry for shouting but people must understand this. When they get older they don’t want Medicare taken away correct ? News flash Medicare is socialized health care. These people who listen to these Fake News channels are just being mislead and confusing socialized medicine or “socialism” with “communism”. Every modern civilized nation has socialized medicine. Canada, all of Europe, The Middle East, China, Japan everyone has it. It is socialized to control costs so drug companies and doctors cannot gouge prices like they do in the US. If you don’t believe check the price the same drugs in Canada who has socialized medicine. If I was on vacation in England and broke my foot and went to the hospital they would not know how to bill me after they put me back together again. Doctors in other countries make more money when the health of their patients improves, not the opposite way around like in the US. It really bothers me when people are just too lazy to learn or just are content being numb. We better not start a conversation like this in DC because well be talking for hours and the rest of the gang will be touring the city, LOL. Have a great afternoon 🙂

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  2. Thank you Joe for this great piece and wow, what fascinating history! I read somewhere recently that the CEO of Aetna, who in his younger days did time on a Ford production line, has given pay rises to all the lowest workers because of the $$$$ it costs in constantly replacing dissatisfied low paid workers. A glimmer of hope? Speaking of Ford, have you ever been to Detroit? Can’t recommend a visit there highly enough, you would love it!

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    • Thank you very much Patti 🙂 Sooner or later I hope all businesses will realize that higher paid and happy employees are more loyal, more productive and are less apt to steal from their employer. I applaud that CEO. In my younger years I worked as a mechanic for a Ford Dealer and one of the things we had to do one afternoon was board a bus and take a field trip to the Ford Mahwah assembly plant which has been closed for many years now. I enjoyed it a lot but I would really love to go to Detroit. Get the chips and the Twizzlers its road trip time, LOL.

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  3. manny says:

    Hey Joe. Manny here. I went over there the other day with my son ( to the airpower museum that is). We took great pleasure in seeing some of those vintage warbirds that were built by Fairchild ( and some by Grumman) they have there. We’re going back in the spring to see some of them in the air. I haven’t even looked at those photos yet (Christmas prep and all). PS: I will sending you a new e-mail soon.

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    • They have some very cool stuff at the museum. Check out the post tomorrow morning for an example. Can’t wait for the email you always have such great shots. Have a wonderful Christmas 😀

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  4. It’s a global world and it’s kind of sad. Your photos matched perfectly to your story Joe. Australia recently lost both our car makers (Ford & Holden) to China. I think all we do now is dig holes and send the contents overseas. Have a great night.

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  5. Incredible imagery and what an experience. Boy, if these walls could talk! I know that excited you get when laying eyes on a magnificent property like this one- and the fact that your grandfather worked here as well- amazing

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    • Thank you very much Cynthia 😀 Most of the buildings were torn down years ago an the land sold to developers, but the last building demolished sort of strikes a nerve. Have a great day.

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    • Thank you LB 😀 I actually got hired for by Fairchild at this location but I turned them down at the time because I didn’t want to work the overnight shift. I would have been one of the casualties also if I took the job. Enjoy your weekend.

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  6. Son of Sharecroppers says:

    Amen, Brother Joe. It’s good to keep in mind that every rich person is rich because a whole bunch of working stiffs didn’t get the full value of their labor.

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    • Thank you very much Gail. It just gets me angry to see these companies get away with murder. Happy Holidays to you and your family and say hello to the doggies for me, LOL. Have a great day 😀

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  7. Great Joseph! Great story and pictures too. Time and history lives in these place. You captured it.

    It’s like we have no other choice than to be spectators of the politicians/bankers show. Sadly.

    By the way, i really don’t like war… but i always been impress by the A-10 thunderbolt. It’s a real dragon! Oh and the Apache also. These two aircraft are dominating the ground by the sky.

    Have a good day Joseph!

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    • Thank you Meho and I could not have stated it better than you have, the Politician/Banker show and all we can do is watch. We call this a democracy but most intelligent people know who makes the decisions. Big corporations, lobbyists and politicians who concentrate only on their next election.

      The majority of politicians here are so caught up in whether they are Republicans or Democrats, they took there eye off the ball, and are unable to govern.

      I’m with you I do not like war. Thank you and have a great day 😀

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  8. Such a wonderful story Joe. This explains your surname. 🙂 Do you speak some Italian? Truly the worker bees are always in the most vulnerable position, that’s a pity. Great photos!

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  9. After leaving the Army in 1992 I went to work for Texas Instruments in a SMT production plant, Temple Texas. I saw a future there. Some of the employees had worked there since the plant opened, it was a great place to work. TI had mfg plants all over Teaxs. About 4 yrs later the folks in Washington DC passed a law allowing the export of technology, they said it would make america more competitive. Bolster us in the global economy.
    After that law passed TI closed nearly every one of its plants in Texas, saying it was about profit, and moving them to Asia.
    Our plant never lost money, always operated at a profit, and 75% market share in some of the products we built.
    The same politicians would get on TV and say “Get jobs in the new high tech sector..”
    The plant stayed empty for years, I think they recently tore it down, I moved away over a decade ago.
    I doubt many of those people ever got the good paying good benefit jobs they had at TI.
    Never bought another TI product after that myself.

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    • Thank you Gregg 😀 these days it really does not matter if a company location makes money. If there is a bigger chunk to be had the executives grab it. It is shameful the disparity in pay between executives and the people who actually do the work. Thank you for commenting and have a great day 😀

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