Sunday, January 27, 2013

A “Ghost” from Martin Marietta’s Past

I learned so much about my grandfather that day 
by John S.

During the war years, my grandfather, Frank J. Stankis, managed the Glenn L. Martin sheet metal plant in Baltimore, Maryland. Family albums show my grandmother and grandfather seated with Mr. Martin and Minta Martin at important company functions. Even before I went to work for Martin Marietta in 1980, I as keenly aware of the Martin Company. My father once said, “It’s been awhile since Dad worked for Mr. Martin, but perhaps someday you’ll see a ghost.”
That day arrived. In 1983, I received a telephone call from Dabby Dabkowski. Dabby, retiring after 47 years with Martin Marietta, asked me if I knew that Stankis was a famous name in the company’s history. I replied that I did know. Dabby then recounted that my grandfather had given him his first job on the Mars program, molding sheet metal. I always enjoy telling this story.
It was wartime and jobs were scarce. Dabby spoke of an exchange he had with my grandfather. Dabby remembered, “One day, I was hammering away and I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, that Frank was watching me. I was nervous, but I didn’t miss a stroke. In those days, if you messed up, you were immediately replaced. There was no time to break even for a Coca-Cola."
My grandfather asked, “How are you doing, son?” Dabby replied that he was fine. Granddad said, “Good, but I want to see more light between you and the workbench.”
Yes, it was a glimpse of the ghost my father had talked about!