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December 2018

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Happy Holidays

My name is Bill Gehm, and I'm a 60-year member of Jacksonville, Fla., Local 177. I retired in 1995.

In 1976, I started playing Santa for the children of members of Local 177. I began doing it because a fellow brother was ill, but the job has lasted 43 years as of this month. I've loved every minute of it, and it's been a lot of fun.

I'd love to be in contact with brothers at other locals who've taken on the job of Santa to compare stories. Some of the kids I've asked, "What do you want for Christmas?" are third-generation IBEW, and that always makes me happy to see. I'd estimate I've asked that question to more than 8,000 kids over four decades. We call it a Brotherhood, but the IBEW really is a family, and one I'm proud to be a part of.

Merry Christmas to my IBEW brothers and sisters.

Bill Gehm (a.k.a. Santa), Local 177 retiree
Jacksonville, Fla.


Electchester's Origins

In a response to the letter of Brother Michael Peck, Local 449, in the September Electrical Worker, it got me dusting off my memory on "Remembering Electchester."

When I was a third-year apprentice at [New York] Local 3 in 1966, I had the good luck of working with George Klein in the Empire State Building. He was my sub-foreman.

Over a coffee break he said to me, "I named it Electchester. As it went, they had a contest for a name and mine was picked."

He lived in Parkchester in the Bronx, so he put Electric and Parkchester together.

There are not too many members who know of this today. I was with a group of retirees, and only one member knew of the contest because he lived in the Electchester housing complex. "What did he win in the contest?" one asked. I think it was a savings bond.

I wanted to share this so others will know how the name came about. Electchester was Harry Van Arsdale's vision, but it had George's name.

He was a good union man. I was lucky to have meet him that long ago.

Stephen Santangelo, Local 3 retiree
New York

[Editor's note: The Electrical Worker confirmed Brother Santangelo's memory, as recorded in the biography, "Harry Van Arsdale, Jr.: Labor's Champion," by Gene Ruffini and Theodore Kheel, 2003. The savings bond was for $100.]

IBEW_Facebook  From Facebook: Every month the IBEW Facebook page receives thousands of comments from our dynamic and engaged community of members and friends.

[Responding to "IBEW Congressman Pushes Funding for
Pre-Apprenticeship Training
" on]:

A step in the right direction. Unions need to support congressmen whether they are Democrats or Republicans, as long as they are for the working class.

Daniel Wright, Local 102 retiree
Paterson, N.J.

[Responding to "Organizing Success at Local 307" on]:

Congratulations to Local 307! You came to our aid assisting Local 870 to restart an apprenticeship program that was non-existent since 1990! Then in 2017-18, when our local fell on hard times and saw most of our railroad local members furloughed, you brought our members on board to gain employment! That is the true value of Brotherhood! Thank you!

Timothy Yarnall Sr., Cumberland, Md., Local 870 retiree
Cumberland, Md.

[Responding to "Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf Delivering for the IBEW" on]:

Excellent work! The young women and men, the future of the electrical industry, need good training, and introduction to the history of the American labor movement and how our industry started. Good for you guys in Pennsylvania.

Pete Brisette, Local 3 retiree
New York (now in Riverview, Fla.)