The Dangers of the Line
Working around such powerful, fast moving machinery could be dangerous. With so many moving belts, pulleys, conveyors and gears, workers had to pay attention to where their hands were at all times. As former cannery worker Elsie Jacobs recalls: "I lost half of my finger on the canning line... I came from washing fish over to there and the line started up and this little dinky board and I had my knife there and I didn't have a cover on the gear that come around... This gear had a thing that took the can around this way and sent it down the line and I must have just had my glove just there and it ripped ... and it just took it off. I said, Jesus! And I just couldn't look. And then Ruby Cooke saw me and she said, Oh my god! She could just see it coming down my apron. Oh man..."
Ruby Cooke offers this perspective on the accident: She was on the clincher and through neglect, took the tip of her finger off and it was on top of a can. And I was just coming off of the washing lines and I spotted it and Elsie was just a... I'll never forget the expression... I can still see the tip of that finger. And I shut that machine off... I don't know how I moved so fast... but we got her away and got it seen to... That's one experience I will never forget as long as I live. It was just a spontaneous move."