It’s rare to have photographs of people at work, that’s why I was quite excited when I came upon this photograph of my Grandfather Atanasio in work mode at Hobbs Battery Company. He is the first worker on the left. I don’t know too much about his work at the battery shop. I know he also worked at a company called Smallcomb Electric.
What I love about this photograph is it seems to have captured the various personalities of these men, they look to be so different from each other. It’s almost as if the photo was staged. Who is the mysterious Zoot Suiter in the hat? Most striking to me is the fellow with the upturned collar. He looks to be a heartbreaker or the workplace snake. There is the double-headed ghost man and the White guy stuck in the shop full of Mexicans, perhaps he was the boss? The curly-headed worker filling the batteries with toxic goo looks to be the clown, the payaso quick with the jokes and biting comments. My grandfather is so fresh faced here, slightly dazed as if he slept in a little too much. He was probably the one who’d tsk Mexican style while waving his hand away in a sharp motion and saying “Ay, estas chingaderas!” But in the next minute would crack a smile and think about the beer he’d be having at quitting time.
My uncle has been cleaning out the last of my grandmother’s things and recently handed me a big Danish cookie tin containing forty years worth accumulation of my grandmother’s junk drawer. In the jumble of rusted paper clips, plastic stirrers and other flotsam was this badge from the Hobbs Battery Company. What a find! I pleaded with my family to never throw any of my grandmother’s things until I have gone through them for this very reason. I imagine this badge was long forgotten.