Mrs. Georgia McLain of Orange Beach retired from the accounting department of Baldwin EMC in 1988. We asked her to sit down with Shelby Singleton, who has been with Baldwin EMC for seven years and serves as a work order specialist.
Shelby Singleton: Although I’d never believe it from visiting with you, you’ve been retired from Baldwin EMC for nearly 30 years! Just when did you start working for the co-op?
Georgia McLain: Well, the first time I worked at Baldwin EMC, it was in 1946. I had started working at Brookley Field [in Mobile] after high school, but when all the boys came back from the war we were laid off so they could have those jobs. Of course I knew about the co-op and thought it might be a nice place to work. So I applied here and worked as a clerk, mostly collecting the bill payments and bookkeeping and things like that. I did that for about four years until my husband was called back to service for the Korean War in 1950. We relocated to Florida and then we started a family. Later on, we moved back and after the kids got older I thought, ‘I’m going to go see if I can get a job back at Baldwin EMC.’
S.S.: And when was that?
G.M.: That was 1972. They offered me a temporary position…six months later I was hired permanently as a clerk/typist. I was making $345 a month.
S.S.: Had it changed much in the time you’d been away?
G.M.: Oh, yes! Of course, back in those early days, when we had outages the communication was terrible because the phone systems were all on party lines. And then, even in the 70s, all our accounts were still on cards. We had a little machine to type in the name on the account and then we’d file them away in cabinets.
S.S.: That was your computer!
G.M.: Yes! And when they started talking about putting all that information on real computers, we told them it couldn’t be done.
S.S.: Do you have any significant stories to share?
G.M.: I’ll never forget when [Hurricane] Frederic hit in 1979. It was terrible, the beach was completely destroyed. We were trying to get power back on and I don’t think I’ve ever made so many sandwiches, trying to keep our crews fed. Well, I took a call from a lady who was adamant about getting her power on quick because she had a date and needed her hairdryer to work. My goodness, I thought I’d heard it all!
S.S.: I hope it’s a long time before we experience anything like that again.
G.M.: I do, too. I can remember the Annual Meetings were always an event. Back then you couldn’t vote by mail, so we’d have a huge turnout because we had to have a quorum. Everyone came and hoped to win a prize. This was a wonderful company to work for.
S.S.: It still is.
G.M.: I’ve been retired now for 28 years and I’ve stayed busy, but if I had to do it all over again, I think I would have kept on working. If you have your health, and your children are grown, and you enjoy what you do, then work as long as you can, as long as you’re happy.