This belt buckle found its way to me recently when my daughter’s in-laws moved into a new house in the Chicago suburbs. The couple emigrated from Poland during the post-Solidarity relaxation of visa restrictions and the very young husband was briefly employed at the Brad Foote Gear Works on Cicero Avenue as a machine operator before going on to a long and successful career with the Chicago Transit Authority. The bus and train outfit, not the jazz fusion band, although I am sure he loved the music as much as anyone.
I suspect the wonderful Stew Ward [eventual company president, AGMA chairman, and general fun guy] had something to do with getting this fancy belt buckle produced. The oil patch was booming in those years and you needed something to hand out at trade shows to distinguish yourself from dozens of competitors. The back side features an American eagle hallmark attesting to it being “Made in USA” and a copyright date of 1977. This particular buckle did not get a serial number despite being part of a “limited edition.” All were long gone by the time I worked there 20 years later.
It will be added to my small collection of artifacts collected from various stops along my career path. Lots of memories come to mind when you put your hands on a keepsake; visions of the shop, the sound of the machines, the co-workers who populated the place. Oh the stories they can tell!
Do you have a keepsake shelf or drawer in your office or toolbox? We’ll be having a “swag of the show” contest at the upcoming Motion + Power Technology Expo in Detroit and would enjoy blogging about your favorite gear industry artifacts in the weeks following the show. Stop by our booth or see us at an “Ask the Experts” forum.