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Logan StoryCorps: 'Quite the climb for a scab'

Judd Goff stands on the right with his arm around his father.  Judd wears a grey polo shirt with letters NY ornately in orange in the upper left chest area.  He has short ginger hair and blue eyes.  Paul Goff stands with his son's arm around his shoulder, half a head shorter than Judd.  His eyes are the same blue and he wears glasses.  He has a horshoe of white hair and wears a plaid button down shirt, carrying a pen and smartphone in his pocket.
Paul and Judd Goff at their May 3 appointment at StoryCorps in Logan, Utah.

PAUL GOFF: My name is Paul Larson Goff. I'm 72 years old.

JUDD GOFF: My name is Judd Goff. And I'm interviewing my father. So I think we'll kick it off.

PAUL GOFF: Good. This story begins when I was about 10 or 11 years old. Earlier on, my father developed multiple sclerosis, which left him immobile; he really couldn't get around very much. He really couldn't do things that would be fun, or build a bond with a very active son as I was.

My uncle Orien started spending quite a bit of time. We built little projects. He would bring over his soldering gun, he would bring over resistors, capacitors, little -- little transformers. This went on for quite a few years, actually.

Not that he was trying to take my own father's place. But in a way I realized later in life, we both needed each other. I needed an active father figure who could do active things with me. And he needed a son figure that he, for some reason, could not have.

So I was looking for a job. And I wanted to get into the electrical field. I was going to Weber State College at that time, but I had a wife, I had a job, I had a baby on the way. And I thought, "Huh, man, I just can't do everything."

Well, there was a fellow that lived not too far from us. And he said, "Well, the first thing you have to do is you have to actually find a company that will sponsor you. I would start with the union."

So I went down and talked with them. I took all of their tests, passed them very well. I had the electronics or electricity in high school, all three years. That and what my uncle Orien taught me, I was very versed in electronics or electricity.

Then they informed me that they didn't have an opening for me anywhere in the union, because they were only allowed to employ so many apprentices each year. And they had already reached that quota. So I found a fellow who knew a fellow who was looking for a helper. His boss said he couldn't get the help from the union. I said, "Well, if your boss will let me I can help you." And so he called his boss. His boss said, "Put him on."

JUDD GOFF: So you couldn't get into the union because they weren't letting enough people in. The union couldn't supply him with enough workers. So he came and let you in?

PAUL GOFF: Correct. I know that sounds a little fishy, doesn't it? Well, it sounded a little fishy to me, too. He called me back. And he said, "You can come to work and help me on this job. But I can't guarantee you anything after this job."

Wow, that was enough for me. I went and bought me a tool pouch, a belt, tools and new workboots.

JUDD GOFF: You bought them all yourself?

PAUL GOFF: Yeah. And I went to work.

JUDD GOFF: Kind of a leap of faith,

PAUL GOFF: A leap of faith.

JUDD GOFF: That's only one job.

PAUL GOFF: That's right. So anything that man needed, he got quickly and probably two of.

This fellow talked to me. And he says, "Now, I can't guarantee you a job after this one. But let's get this one done. I'll put a good word in for you with the boss." Okay. Long story short, the job came to an end. And yes, he did put a good word in for me. And yes, the boss told him to have me come to work with him the next week up in Logan. He had a couple jobs going up there that we could go on. So I got to meet this man. His name was Paul Mathis. And that company was named Logan Electric. And that company was a union company.

JUDD GOFF: So you were still not part of the union.


JUDD GOFF: But he hired you on.

PAUL GOFF: But he hired me on. And it's interesting that they have a name for people like me back then. It's called a "scab." And Paul just kept me working. He says, "Until the union says anything you're going to work."

And so on a couple of jobs, the union stepped in. They threatened me. Paul just says, "Don't pay any attention to anything. You just keep working. Utah has the right to work law. You have the right to work. I have the right to hire."

So he was on the phone one day while I walked in his office and it was a heated phone call. I could tell. I'd never seen Paul that upset. And he turned to me and he said, "I'm dropping out of the union."

The company continued to grow. I went up in the course of the company from apprentice to journeyman, from foreman to general foreman, and then vice president of the company, and I was part owner. Now that is interesting, isn't it?

JUDD GOFF: Quite the climb for a scab.

PAUL GOFF: Because of these two men, I have been able to have a career, a great career, I loved it. I will be in debt to those two men for the rest of my life. And maybe after that.

Now, Judd, I thank you for wanting to interview me. I want you to know that I love you. I appreciate you. There's the two men that influenced me the most in my life.

When his dad said, “Don’t play with that old radio, you’re going to get shocked,” 10-year-old Friend Weller was certainly looking out for his own best interests. What was at the time an elementary-school-aged hobby soon turned into a life-long career decision. Friend has worked professionally for nearly three decades as a radio announcer and engineer in both commercial and public radio.
Check out our past StoryCorps episodes.