Evelyn Cox was born in 1937 to modest means in Richmond, Kentucky. Her parents were Christine (a nurse) and Elmer Young (a farmer) and she was one of three siblings (one boy and two girls) of which she is the only survivor. Her family moved to Lexington at an early age where she attended public school and eventually graduated Henry Clay High School. She married at a young age and had a daughter in 1955, then another in 1960. She began her career at Square D Electric (see footnote 1) in 1958.
Pat Haddix also came from a very similar background. Pat was born in Lexington in 1935 to Geneva (housewife) and James Haddix (a mechanic). She was also one of three siblings (one boy and two girls). She had a child in 1955 before starting her career at Square D in 1958 as well.
Evelyn started at Square D Electric in April of 1958. She made $1.35 and hour starting out while minimum wage was a meager $.75. She made approximately $1 less on the hour than the men that stood to either side of her. Even though she was paid less than the men at the time, she was never belittled or discriminated against in any other way. Evelyne went to great lengths in her oral interview to make sure that I knew this. Mrs. Cox went to tell me that sometime in the mid 60’s she received back pay for the unequal wages she was paid for the past ten years or so. She was ever so grateful to have this job that she wanted everyone to know where she worked. She placed a large sticker in her window that had the company’s insignia on it for everyone to see. I found this to be very prideful. She went on to discuss how she was very strong willed and wouldn’t settle for just whatever position was handed to her. During the later part of the 60’s Mrs. Cox went for a posted position what was designated “men only” and surprisingly she got the job. It was for head of the tool crib which at that time was a very much sought after position. She knew that there would be some question as to how she obtained that particular job, but she went in with her head held high and without a chip on her shoulder and made some of the best friends she could have ever asked for over time. She was accepted as one of the group and never had an ill word said to her during her entire career with regards to sexual discrimination. Evelyne Cox was thought very highly of at her workplace. She was a force to be reckoned with. She was strong willed and would not take no for an answer. She went on to become President of the local branch 2200 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (see footnote 2) for the years 1976-1980. This was an absolutely huge accomplishment for anyone, much less a female at this time. She kept a calm demeanor but was firm and fair. She was praised as being a great union leader and made things happen when they needed to. She was very honest and very smart about her position. She was paid a wage higher than anyone else under her for obvious reasons. This helped her to support herself and her two children while being a single parent. She is a very strong woman to this day. When she felt that her job was done and she needed to step down (due to cut backs and layoffs) she very graciously did so and went back under the protection of the union. She was no fool. She feared that if she went higher up into management, there was a possibility that she could lose her job because she knew too well the way that things worked. Evelyne Cox never another position with such prestige for the remainder of her career at Square D. Other than heading a few committees, she just worked her remaining time at the factory until she retired in 1997 to be a great grandmother.
Pat Haddix started with Square D in October of ‘58. While she didn’t press the issues nearly the way Mrs. Cox did, she spoke of some of the same things. She went into detail of how when she started she made $1.54 whereas the men made approximately one dollar more. Mrs. Haddix spoke of how she was treated very fairly also mentioned the fact that she received the same back pay that Mrs. Cox did. She said that she took the money and bought a very fancy coat with it. She really had to ill words to say about the company that she worked for 40 years. She repeatedly talked about how much fun she had while working there.— footnotes —