Interview with Al Holley


00:00:00 Al Talking about His Father Elwood Holley who Worked at Kodak from 1938-1974

My father's name was Elwood Holley and he started with Kodak in 1938. He was born and raised in Weston, which was just north of Mount Dennis. He was a high school graduate which was probably fairly rare in those days. He joined Kodak in 1938 and he was there till 1973-74. Initially, he was a watchman and their job was to patrol the buildings in the evenings and on weekends when no one was there, both outside and inside looking for doors that had been left open, machines that had been left on, anything that needed attention. It was it was all to do with safety. He joined the volunteer fire department at Kodak Canada and he eventually became the fire chief at Kodak. He enjoyed that because it was not a hard job but it was a responsible job. Whenever there was new construction he would be over there on weekends because he could walk to the plant. It was almost like he lived there, it was just down the block. He was on-site weekend's, evenings and that's the kind of person he was. He was responsible and he liked doing those sorts of things.

00:01:26 Al Starting at Kodak

September of 1960 the early part of September, I started Kodak. I was waiting for my application to the University of Toronto to be in electrical engineering and they had lost the paperwork. I was phoning them on a regular basis and one day I said to my dad who worked at Kodak, “Maybe I should put in an application in.” And he said, “Why?” and I said, “I don't know, don't know where this is going.” So anyway, long story short, I put an application in. I was hired within a week and I could see the plant from our house. So it was my dad, walked to work, he walked home every day at noon hour and had lunch and walked home at night and I did that for the first six years. I walked to work, came home at lunch so it was a natural.

00:02:16 Growing up in Mount Dennis

I grew up in Mount Dennis. I knew Kodak was there but when you grow up with something it loses the significance. As a stranger say, driving down the street many years ago saying what is that big building there? It was just always there. I know one unique thing was that none of us needed watches because the powerhouse every day at 12 o'clock the power house blew a whistle and it was very loud. If you were within blocks of the Kodak plant, you always knew oh it's 12 o'clock and I knew to come in or to go home or whatever I needed to do at 12 o'clock.

00:03:14 Al’s Role at Kodak Canada

Well all the time I was at Kodak, I was never directly involved in the manufacture, the testing, anything to do with film or paper or the cameras. But I always had a love of photography. For some reason it could be that my dad brought cameras home when I was little. I don't really know, I just I know when I was maybe 10 or 12 years old, I started getting into 35mm photography. I took pictures that were slides, if you're familiar with that concept, transparency slides. Then at one Christmas, they bought me a slide projector and it was like I just couldn't believe it. Now I can show my pictures. Before, I was looking at them like this. It's always been a hobby but anything I did there was administrative, management, working with departments inside. Primarily peripheral departments to sales, the fleet department, managed the cars for them, negotiate hotels and rental cars for the sales rep. My area was supporting the sales people. Prior to that, I was in the distribution division, prior to that, was in advertising so I had nothing to do with touching or looking at cameras themselves.

00:04:11 Kodak Canada in the 60’s

When I joined in 1960 and for many years after that, it was a very as far as management, a very male-dominated company. I don't think there were any middle senior managers or and no executives that were not male and primarily engineers. They hired chemical engineers because basically Kodak was a chemical company. They weren't a paper or film, they were a chemical company. They were also a company that believed in doing everything themselves. They had a pipe shop, carpenter shop, electric shop, partly that was because the machines ran 24/7 and you wouldn't want a machine to go down. See when they were coating, the machines couldn't stop they had their own powerhouse they couldn't rely on power outages so they had a power house. They had their own fire department with volunteers even though they were a stone's throw from the local fire department. The fire department's job at Kodak was really to inspect, look at safety issues and to assist the fire department if they had to come. In all those years, I don't know if there was ever a fire. They had their own medical department, they had a doctor on staff full-time and two nurses. A very social company on Friday nights, they had first-run movies in the auditorium because Kodak was a primary manufacturer of 16mm motion picture film and family and relatives were invited and I can remember being at many of those events on a Friday night.