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Norbert Dombowsky story


Norbert Dombowsky
Claybank Brick Plant Site



Due to very low wheat quotas farming was not very profitable in the 50's, Norbert Dombowsky was glad to get a job at the Brick Plant in the spring of 1956. Norbert and Lorraine Dombowsky were married in 1953 and lived on the Dombowsky home farm near Avonlea Saskatchewan. After being hired to work at the Claybank Brick Plant Norbert made arrangements to be picked up in the mornings by the boys from Avonlea such as John Russell, Dick Clarke, Everett Lee or Elmer Ziola. On occasion the men had to honk the car horn two or three times to wake Norbert up, especially if he had been playing hockey or working late the night before. There was always a threat of a Plant work slow down and Norbert, being the lowest in seniority, was laid off for one year and re-called to work in 1958.

At home supper had to be punctual, always ready at 5:20 p.m., so Norbert could be out of the house by 5:30 p.m. doing the never ending work of the farm. Ken Oakley helped Norbert a lot, repairing machinery, doing field work and even hauling pigs to market in Moose Jaw. Suprisingly, on one of those trips, Ken had to chase down a number of pigs that broke out of the truck while enroute.

Norbert worked in most of the areas of the Brick Plant and did all kinds of jobs and so worked with a number of different men. He worked with Alfred Funke on the brick press making all the bricks for the Providence Hospital expansion. He took the plant students to school in Claybank in the old plant truck with a makeshift hut on the back or cut all the weeds along the one mile of railway track from the Plant to Claybank using only a shovel!

He did some wheeling (wheeling the bricks from the kiln to the stock sheds using a wheel barrow), tossing (tossing bricks to another man while loading the kilns for firing), molding (working in the hand molding shop producing speciality shaped bricks), or working on the dry pan (mixing and grinding the clays prior to elevation to either the brick press, clay bagger or pug mill.

Norbert was elected the Union President for six years and worked closely with Louie Toole who was the Union Representative and negotiated contracts. The first and only strike was called during that time and after one week a satisfactory contract was signed. Norbert also attended a one-week Union Convention in Orlando, Florida. Lorraine and son Mark went along to enjoy Disneyland while Norbert was in sessions.

While work was heavy and hard (which caused quite a few days home with back trouble), there were lots of laughs and fun times at the Claybank Brick Plant. During lunch or coffee breaks Norbert would play cards with Dick Clarke, Walter Harlos and Eric Neiswandt or horseshoes with Paul Thiele and Wilfred Harlos and even wrestled with Ken Semple or Glen Hicke and other young men that just started work at the Plant. There were Union parties in the Claybank Hall with Empringham Catering, these parties were always enjoyable.

Norbert and Lorraine had six children, at that time there was no such thing as paternity leave so babies had to be born on weekends or evenings! At one time there were eight lunch kits lined up on the cupboard to be filled for school and work, so the family worked hard too and pitched in with everyone having a job.

Norbert worked at the Brick Plant until 1979 when he quit to farm full time. Norbert and Lorraine are now living in Avonlea and Norbert is still busy farming.


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