By Tim Leeds
Walter E. Herman of Havre received a certificate for 75 years of membership in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Larry Barber, local #44 IBEW chairman, presented Herman with his certificate outside of his home Thursday evening, Sept. 7.
"I was 18 years old," he said about joining the union, "and started working for Cascade Electric."
Herman said joining IBEW was the only way to learn the electrician's trade in those days.
"I had a choice," he said, "I could go onto school and be a doctor or lawyer, and I didn't want to do that. Either that or go our and learn a trade. That's what they called it in those days. And that's what I did."
He said the process was to join the IBEW, which instructed you about the electrician's trade. He said you would serve your apprenticeship, then become a journeyman.
Herman said he went to work for the Montana Power Company in 1926, and stayed with the company until he retired in May of 1972, 46 years later.
He said he worked in Great Falls, earning both his journeyman and master's status from IBEW there, until he was transferred to Havre in 1935.
He said the move was especially memorable because he moved "the day after the big earthquake in Helena. I went out in Great Falls to see if the big stack fell over, but it didn't."
He said he remembers seeing a sign west of town as he first drove in. He said the sign said the population of Havre was 4,500 when he moved here.
He said he was a little nervous about the move, even without the timing of the earthquake. He said he was like a big kid, leaving his hometown for the first time. But he said after he lived in Havre for a couple of years he enjoyed it very much.
"I've been happy in Havre ever since," Herman said.
He said he was a maintenance man and a lineman in Havre, ending up city foreman.
"I've watched many a building burn down in this city in 35 years," he said.
Herman said he continued to do work after he had retired, on his vehicles, maintenance around his home, working in the flower beds, and so on.
He said he was a pretty good mechanic, and said he remembered his first truck with the Montana Power Company. He said it was a Model T Ford.
"That was my service truck," he said.
He said he hasn't done much in the last few years.
"I quit that several years back," he said. "When you hit 90-years-old, you kind of quit."
Herman said he has actually belonged to three locals of the IBEW over the last 75 years. His current local, #44 out of Butte, took over his previous local #393 of Havre. His first local was #122 in Great Falls.