The Spindle
How long has it been since you've seen or heard spoken these words (they all were various departments or work sections of "The Shop"):

Annealing Room, Automatic Screw Job, Bolster Job, Bolt and Planer Jobs, Cards and Erecting and Polishing Job, Chuck Job and Automatics, Comber and Knitting, Core Room, Gear and Grinder Jobs, Jig and Fixture Jobs, Metal Pattern Making, Milling Job, Nickel-plating and Parkerizing, Outside Erectors, Paint and Sheet Metal Jobs, Creel Job, Picker and Drawing Jobs, Punch and Die Rooms, Ring and Roll Jobs, Roving Small Parts and Flyer Jobs, Spinning Small Parts, Tool and Toolmaking Jobs, Winder Job, and Wood Pattern Making, and Works Accounting Department, and finally Yard and Outside Crews??? All these names just listed were features bi-weekly in The Whitin Spindle, a publication for and written by certain shop employees. The Spindle was available at no cost to all Whitin employees. Any additional copy would cost ten cents when first published in 1919.

For a good many years, the staff of The Spindle was headed by Mr. Norman A.Wright as editor. Mr. Lawrence M. Keeler was Associate Editor, Mr. Albert L. Sharps was an assisting editor along with G.F. McRoberts who was the controlling editor. Mr. Malcom D. Pearson, who was seen numerous times in and around Whitinsville, and produced many award winning scenes In This Quiet Valley, a great souvenir of "The Shop" was the dynamic and talented photographic editor. The typical issue of The Spindle contained many photos, news bits, editorials, sporting items, stories, personal items, jokes, cartoons, and news about local entertainment. The Whitin spirit within each issue embodied laughs, slams and boosts, better acquaintances, along with various league reports. Each shop department had its own representative who volunteered to collect news items about his coworkers that included birth and death announcements, engagements, weddings, trips or vacations and other happenings. Each representative was in reality, a roving reporter, and met weekly with other Spindle reporters in various other sections "The Shop"! Their articles would be submitted for monthly publication to The Spindle staff. They would produce it in a magazine format. Each year, they would gather as a group to share their results together at a banquet. Their first outing was held at the Maridor Restaurant in Framingham, MA in February of 1950. The Spindle boasted about being a member of the Massachusetts Industrial Editors Association and it was also affiliated with the International Council of Industrial Editors on a larger scale.

" One can see Michael Goshgarian and Paul Rondeau in the photo below.


Mr. Norman Wright (original editor of the first issue of the new Spindle, Feb.1948) had said that the old Spindle was published a number of years ago. It was foreign in substance to members of the younger generation and newcomers to "The Shop"! The original Spindle was first published after W.W.I, in the twenties. With W.W.II, came great social changes. There was a great turnover of labor, along with war duties and other places of employment, and new employees of various ethnic groups from other parts of the country resulted in many shop workers feeling like strangers to the plant to which they had returned. The intention of the New Spindle, published biweekly, was to renew old friendships, become acquainted with new workers and to familiarize all with the general workings of the plant and with the Company products.

Along with The Spindle, which contained updated information of Whitin Machine Works employees, were numerous clubs, organizations, and groups that met regularly throughout each year. Some of the many more popular clubs formed were:

  • The Home Garden Club (in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson urged all to have "Victory Gardens")
  • The Whitin Male Glee Club (1950)
  • The Whitinsville Blood Donors’ Club (1940)
  • The Hobby Club (in the 1940's)
  • The Photography Club (in the 1940's)
  • The Whitinsville Rifle Club (1948)
  • The Whitinsville Beagle Club (1946)
  • The Checker Club (in the 1940's)
  • The Blackstone Valley Model Plane Club (1930)
  • The Whitinsville Literary Club
  • The Julian Deep-Sea Fishing Club (1946)
  • The Whitco Foremen's Club (1950, Pres.Henry Kooistra)
  • The Women's Knitting Club (1949).

Others will be mentioned in future articles.

"The Shop" also had numerous associations and varied athletic groups. Only the most vital and popular ones will be mentioned briefly now. Starting with the old Blackstone Valley Baseball League (financed and begun in 1921), and the Whitin-sponsored teams of the Whitin Community Center, teams included those of swimming, handball, tennis, bowling, volleyball, basketball, softball, baseball, badminton, billiards and others. The Whitin Machine Works had its own Guard Force, originally consisting of 38 men. They had to patrol 58 acres of floor space, in addition to providing traffic control about the plant and building security seven days a week throughout the entire year, including all holidays. There was an apprenticeship training program started in 1950 that produced its first graduates in January of 1951. The Shop Bowling League, mostly candlepins, began in the late 1940's. A highly popular sport enjoyed by both men and women, many of its matches were bowled at Saropian, Pythian, and later Sparetime Lanes run by the Couture family on Church St. The Whitinsville Golf Course, originally built for the company's executives, came to be enjoyed by all members as a private course, which it still is today. Its ninth hole is still considered to be one of the most challenging and picturesque holes in golf. The Industrial League of Basketball, reported often in The Spindle by Harold Case, was begun in 1948. The Whitinsville Civil Air Patrol was very active in the ‘40's and ‘50's. The Whitinsville Sea Scouts, based on the east side of Meadow Pond, and active in the ‘50's, was commanded by Thomas Frieswyk of the Electrical Department.

The next few monthly articles shall feature past Shop employees of various departments and their hobbies or "past times." The most unusual or different interests will be relayed first. Some hobbies and personalities to be features will include:

  1. The making of animals of sand (Henry LaPlante of Core Room)
  2. Building clipper ships to scale (Burton Robie of Electrical Dept.)
  3. "Plug casting" (Alphonse Sunn of Automatic Screw Job)
  4. Flying for fun (Mike Ardesian of Comber Job)
  5. Racing pigeons (Harold Best of Spinning Floor)
  6. Building a deluxe cabin cruiser (Oliver Tremblay of the Tool Job)
  7. Building model gas powered airplanes (original founding members: Francis Joslin, Jerry Baghdasarian, and Al Jemlich)
  8. Raising turkeys (Ernie Buker of Planer Dept.)
  9. Making wooden toys (Ray Wood of Gear Job)
  10. Raising Yukon Mink (Frank Libbey of Guard Division)
  11. Goat tending and herding (Jacob Wiersma of Cast Iron Room)
  12. Radio Hams and Amateurs (four Shop employees)
  13. Plays and Poems (Russell Bailey of Tool Job)
  14. Building model airplane engines (Ed Reeves of Methods Dept.)
  15. Collecting curios from the Orient (Mr. and Mrs. James Cooper of Research Division)
  16. Making friends with dolls (Louise Bedford).

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