Metal Polishers > Apex Metal Polishing Company

Photographed by Issa Sharp

Tibu Martinez > Welder > Juanita’s Foods, Carson
Photographed by Slobodan Dimitrov

Ed Fitzpatrick > Shipbuilder > Brigantine Boatworks, L.A. Maritime Institute

Photographed by Debra DiPaolo

I’m primarily a carpenter, and have been for years. But I always wanted a sailboat, and when I first bought one I could only afford an old wooden one. That meant I had to take it apart and restore it, and put it back together so I could sail it. I bought my first boat in 1976. Now I’m on my third wooden boat, and I’ve been working on boats exclusively — restorations, interior cabinetry, things like that — for the last five years. I got interested in this project as soon as I heard about it, and I applied and sent a résumé. They hired me right away.

This brigantine is a sailing vessel designed in the 19th century. It has two masts, one that holds a square sail. It’s unique in that its sails are designed to take you off the wind. This one is 90 feet on deck and 120 feet overall, and the building of it is funded privately by the L.A. Maritime Institute, and that’s basically sponsored by folks who are interested in pulling kids up by the bootstraps. Kids come and visit and work on the project, and hopefully that will make a difference in their lives.

Moneywise, there are lean periods. As a carpenter in general, you have lean periods. But I decided if I had to work for the rest of my life, I might as well do something I enjoyed. It’s good to look at what you’ve done at the end of the day and actually see some progress. You can see where you’re going, see where you’ve come from. That in itself is a reward.

Carlos Lopez & Ginger > Animal-Care Attendant > SPCA

Photographed by Cheryl Himmelstein

When I was a kid in Guatemala, I used to pick up injured animals on the street and take care of them until they got better, and take in stray dogs and find them homes. Then I moved here, and I started to do different things — I worked security, worked in a store. But nothing made me feel really, really good about myself, and I started to think about how I could do something that would make me feel good and at the same time make some money.

Most of my job consists of taking care of animals and observing their behavior. If it’s a dangerous animal, we try to work with the animal for the holding period, which is three to six days. If the owner doesn’t claim the animal, we hold the animal for up to six days in a separate room from the adoption area. If everything is okay, we move him to adoption, where we monitor his health. We need to be sure that every animal in adoption is healthy — we don’t want to put sick animals outside with the public. We treat kennel cough and parasites and stuff like that, but if it’s something like parvo, or an injury that is making the animal suffer, we have to put him to sleep.

One of the things that I like to do most in my job is educate people, especially Hispanic people, on how to take care of animals. Three years ago, I was looking for information on dog training in Spanish and there was nothing — I could not find any classes, I could not find any books. So when I came here I said, “We need to do something.” I explained to the people who work here that we like animals, but that we are used to doing things differently — our culture teaches you to treat animals a certain way, and nobody tells us that it’s wrong. So now this SPCA is the first place in California that provides bilingual classes and information on animal care in Spanish.

We do interviews on Channel 34. I take animals to the station. I’m in charge of that. I always try to use the opportunity to give a message to my community about treating animals better. After every show, people call me with questions. That’s how I know they’re listening.

Jim Peterson > Farrier > Flintridge Riding Club

Photographed by Robert Yager

Geraldo Gonzalez > Dairy Worker > Norwalk Dairy

Photographed by Issa Sharp

Gregory A. Williams > Switchman > Burlington Northern Santa Fe

Photographed by Virginia Lee Hunter

Bill Quinton > Train Engineer > Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway

Photographed by Virginia Lee Hunter

We like to say, “We’re going out to move America,” even though my line only goes to Barstow. We haul many things that trucks can never haul, and we’re more fuel efficient to boot. You go over there on a train and lay over 12 to 18 hours and get some rest, or you’re called out in another 10 hours and come right back home. Since I’m single, it don’t make any difference to me how long I’m gone. I’ve been divorced since ‘81, so I try to make it easy on the guys who have families.

I started out 49 years ago as an apprentice engineer. That took about five years. We had steam engines you had to know about in those days as well, and I’ve had to stay up to date with all the design changes in trains — it’s a challenge every day. It wasn’t rough on me to go from the steam to the diesel, but people who got spoiled in the early days with diesel had a hard time ever running steam, because diesel’s much easier.

There’s nothing I don’t like about my job. You meet enjoyable people. You meet aggravating ones, too, but every one of them’s interesting, and I have a lot of fun with them. Sometimes someone will call me up and ask about my name. I’ll say, “Well, my name starts with a Q, not a C. But I do smoke cigars, so I have to be careful.”

Bakers > La Brea Bakery

Photographs by Anne Fishbein

Cheryl Krupinksi > Pile Driver > Working on a deck fabrication at Pier J, Long Beach

Photographed by Slobodan Dimitrov

Todd Chidester > Pile Driver > Barge deck at the Point Loma sewage outfall, San Diego

Photographed by Slobodan dimitrov

Charles Breagy > Pile Driver > manning a jet pump at the Huntington Beach Pier

Photographed by Slobodan Dimitrov

Steven “Spider” Robinson > Pile Driver > Point Loma sewage outfall, San Diego

Photographed by Slobodan Dimitrov

Bob Murphy > Commercial Diver > American Marine Corporation

Photographed by Slobodan Dimitrov

What I do is called “marine construction.” We do all kinds of stuff — clean-water projects, building piers, inspection and repairs of underwater construction. Right now I’m on a boat off Morro Bay, where we’re laying a fiber-optic cable down to 120 feet. This one will go to Japan. We have a crew of six divers. All of us work for American Marine Corporation.

I started out 25 years ago, in the mid-’70s. I was working my way through college on construction projects when one of the guys at the union asked me if I wanted to go offshore. They put me through a training program, and then I went to work as what they call a “tender.” A tender goes out on the boat with another diver and looks after him — takes care of his equipment, makes sure his hose is in good shape and everything’s working properly, talks to him on the radio, and gives directions to the crane. That’s how most guys get started. I was a tender for five or six years before I started putting the helmet on myself.

It’s a hard job — a lot of times we work in dark water, and it can be demanding. You don’t worry about all the normal stuff you might expect, like sharks. But you do have to be concerned that a current doesn’t pull away your air hose, or that heavy equipment isn’t falling on you. You look at a crane on the beach — imagine that underwater, in the dark. It’s dangerous. But on the other hand, you don’t want to have a job that isn’t challenging. And I get to be outside all the time, on a boat. It’s hard to beat that.


LA Weekly