Hawaii 2010

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

In praise of Al 13

My father, a man content to work hard and be a good provider for his family.

The 13th element is aluminium. The third most plenteous element on the earth besides oxygen and silicon, so I read. It is too unstable to exist by itself so it attaches to Bauxite or other metals from the earth. It is light, silver grey, very easily molded and pounded, and is non magnetic. At one time it was as precious as silver, the tip of the Washington Monument is Aluminum.

R.S. Reynolds borrowed 100k from his father R.J, to build a plant in Louisville KY to produce aluminum products in the 1920s, the first and most successful was the wrapper to keep his Dad's cigarette packs fresh. There is not a kitchen in the world that does not make use of many forms of aluminum.

Reynolds Metals merged with Alcoa and has about 60,000 employees around the world. Every year more aluminum is recyclen that manufactured. It was Reynolds Metals that employed my Dad,a Navy Sea bee after the war when mom and Dad had kids 2,3, and me. Aluminum proved to be an awesome material for truck bodies, light and repairable. This industry kept us eating and moving throughout the 50s,60s, and 70s. I learned to weld aluminum and to be the guy inside the truck moving the steel hammer while it was riveted from the outside, and it was loud in there.

My father never got rich, we never went hungry, the Reynolds families were probably very rich, and I don't care, for aluminum was very good to my family. Neither my father nor the Reynolds got to take anything with them when they died. My father was content with food and clothing, and modest housing. Can't speak for the Reynolds. In the 80s while buying bauxite mines, they discovered gold which helped the companies profit margins a good bit.

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