BITS AND PIECES
The 50-year Club was very distinguished and considered to be a big deal in the Whitin Machine Works. Several men including Mr. Ralph E. Lincoln, Mr. Albert Brown, Mr. James Ferry and Mr. Benner (73 years) belonged to it.
-Mr. E. Kent Swift asked employees among the crafts for their names and he met with them, shaking their hands regularly as he made his weekly rounds in “The Shop”.
-Mr. Fuller took care of the Deer Farm. He loved deer hunting, and he would go there with his station wagon to hunt and haul away the deer. He always got good local venison.
_According to Thomas ‘Tad’ Wallace, his best years of his 46 years of WMW experience, was spent during his 8 years in “The Shop’s” Foundry. It was an interesting place, and had a certain solitude and quietness before the machines ran. Many good athletes came from the Foundry, which produced 130 tons of grey iron per day. But the 4 stacks of Electric Furnaces changed everything. Molds had to accommodate the hot iron that would shrink as it cooled off. The Foundry was not the safest place to work and numerous accidents happened weekly.
-The Piedmont Spinning Frame had steel roller beams, and it faltered. J. Hugh Bolton was President then. There was an episode in the Research Division one day as it was unveiled. As it was loaded off the elevator, all of management knew it was faulty.
_Arthur Broadhurst was the only person in the Fire Department who could drive a certain fire engine which had large wheels.
_The Apprenticeship Program had men like Archie Fournier and Ralph Houghton. The school was very successful, having 35 in a morning class with work in the afternoon. Many trades were represented. Jeff LaFleur was in one of the last programs, going for 3 months at a time for 5 years.
_The Tool Job was the last department to be included in the Apprenticeship Program.
_In the Spindle Job were Joe Chabot and others. It was an art to get the Spindles straight. Joe Hickey also worked there. There were millions of dollars spent in Detroit for Swedish steel bolsters on the Spindles. Lots of skills were required to work in this Department. Ira Magakian was a product of the Bolster Job.
_One of the best-kept secrets in “The Shop” was the brass Foundry. Brass cast Indian Heads were made only for J. Hugh Bolton. They were fashioned about 3 weeks before Christmas. Also, there were Hessian Soldiers made of brass for management.
_The Blue Eagle Inn had very good food and a black chef named Benjamin Ware, who had a son named Langdon. Haircuts cost $.25 back before WWII. There were 2 barbers, pool tables, and a gum and milk machine in the lobby with fresh milk from Castle Hill Farm.
_A building on Douglas Road near Alternatives Unlimited today was a Carpenter and Box Shop. It was taken down in the 1960’s.
-The Whitins had developed a process of getting cottonseed oil by machine.
-State Senator Gibney got the last roll-top desk for his Statehouse Office to be shipped later to California.
-C. Alexander Peloquin, Conductor of the All Male Whitin Glee Club, was hired by Frank Stone. Members started by auditioning in the Fire Station. There was a grand piano there. He selected about 75 people. Not of a spectacular background, Jesus San Broma was Alex’s teacher and made him a concert pianist. He much preferred composing music, classical and ecclesiastical music as in the Gelineau Psalms. There was his arrangement of the Berlios’ Requiem. Choirs from Providence College, Boston College, Salve Regina, and Emmanuel College with the Whitin Male Glee Club sang together for this Requiem. They had taken out 8 pews in the Providence Cathedral to accommodate this large singing group. C. Alexander Peloquin was buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Whitinsville.
-The Payroll Office was a thing of business and beauty at the same time. It was located far from other main departments.
_The Whitin Machine Works Credit Union was important to its workers. It was incorporated in 1932 and established by its members. It much later became the Webster First Federal Credit Union.
Symposium of retired WMW employees,
consisting of Thomas ‘Tad” Wallace, Kenneth Guertin, John Rauth,
Douglas Carr, Jr. and Donald Gosselin at Alternatives Unlimited
Whitin Mill Project; April 16, 2008