Texas & The Plastic Fab. Co.

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Texas & The Plastic Fab. Co.

Frank and I were trying to save as much money as we could.

Knowing in a couple of months when Frank’s school ended that it would be time for us to leave Ayer, Massachusetts

We knew extra money would be needed to ship our things home.

Frank could fly Military Standby free but the extra money would also be needed to buy my Student Standby airline ticket.  We were really hoping to get to fly together when we left for home.

One Friday afternoon, my best friend came over to our house and told us that there was a job opening at the Union Products Inc. which was a Plastic Fabrication Company in Leominster, Massachusetts but the factory was actually located in Fitchburg.  Since she worked there in their office, she wanted to let us know first and see if I would like to go to work.

I was really excited about the thought of getting a job, knowing it would help us out with having enough money to ship our things and buy my ticket home but Frank shook his head from side to side then told her, “No.”

I was speechless and puzzled by his response but didn’t say anything. My friend told him that I could ride back and forth to work with her to work and I would be safe.  Frank told her that he and I would discuss it that night then get back with her the next day.

Of course, after my friend left so d0id my speechlessness.  I asked Frank, “Why did you say, No?  I want to work, thinking it could be fun, and we actually could use the money.”

Frank saw the excitement in my face then he smiled at me while answering my question with, “Nancy, I should be able to take care of you without you working.  I can’t protect you if you are working in that factory.  It’s twenty miles away and we don’t have a car.  What if something happens to you?”

Knowing that Frank was smiling when he answered me, I knew that there was a “Yes” inside him if I could think of the right thing to say or do to convince him.

After walking over to Frank then hugging him tightly, I told him, “Frank, I will be there with my best friend, she knows how to get in touch with you on the base, and she has a car.  So, there is no reason for me not to go to work.  It’s gonna be so much fun and thanks for letting me do this.”

Shaking his head while he smiled, Frank said, “Okay Nancy, I can’t tell you “No” but you have to promise me you will be careful.”  Of course, I promised him then quickly ran to our friend’s apartment and told her that Frank said, “Yes!”

Monday morning early, my friend and I set out for Union Products Inc. in Fitchburg.  I was nervous but she assured me that the job was mine because she had already told her boss all about me.

The next story is all about the new job.  Enjoy!

“Texas”

When my friend and I arrived at the Factory, we went into the Manager’s Office and She introduced me to him then  He handed me some paperwork to fill out. After finishing filling out the paperwork, I handed it back to him.  Without even looking at the paperwork, he told me I was hired.

Trying not to scream out loud from the excitement inside of me, I thanked him then he told me to follow him. All of the workers were snacking on their breakfast in the lunchroom when the Manager led me into that large room.  He introduced me to the workers then asked me to tell everyone a little about myself which I did.

All of the workers seemed to be sitting on the edge of their chairs waiting for me to finish each word spoken.  When I finished talking, they all burst out laughing and for some reason, I laughed with them.

Not sure if you know this, people from the New England states talk really fast.  Evidently, my drawn-out Texas drawl was really funny to them but I laughed with them because they spoke so quickly that I couldn’t understand a word they said and had to keep asking them to repeat themselves.

A loud “ringer noise thangy” went off then the workers all started walking towards the inside of the factory. The Manager told me to follow him then we walked into another large room which had two long conveyor belts, one on each side of the room.

When we got to the end of one conveyor belt, the Manager told me that was where I would be working.  He said that I would take the flatten cardboard boxes, open them up, fold the two short flaps on one end towards the center of the box, then fold the long flaps of the boxes over them towards the center, and tape the long flaps down.  This would make the box ready to put merchandise into it.

Next, he showed me the tape machine “thangy”.  It dispensed the tape which was made of paper, prepasted like an envelope, and the same color as the boxes.  At the end of the tape machine, was another “dumaflotce that actually wet the glue on the tape, and a sharp cutter that cut the tape a certain length

The Manager showed me how to make one of the boxes then let me make a box. He told me that I would be putting the different pieces of merchandise which would be assembled then grouped by other workers into the premade boxes I had made as it came down the conveyor belt then seal the tops of the boxes exactly the way we had done the bottom of the box.

As he walked away, the Manager told me to make some more boxes, which he stopped a minute and watched me make, then asked me if I thought I was ready for the conveyor to start running.  Thinking, you betcha as I told him, “Yes, Sir.” The Manager left my side as I continued to make boxes then the conveyor belt started to move.  The plastic table top Christmas Trees and their prepackaged parts seemed to be spaced out fairly well and for about five minutes I kept up really great until the conveyor belt picked up speed.

Oh my goodness!  I was running to the belt putting stuff in the boxes, trying to tape them closed, and then the conveyor belt stopped. Everyone in the room had gathered around me then started to laugh.  Seems they thought it was funny to break in the new girl.

The Manager had sped up the conveyor belt just for fun.  Actually, he told me, my job was just to make and close the boxes which had nothing to do with the conveyor belt. Then the Manager told me. “Texas, you did pretty well for a “slow talker”.  Thinking we will just have to keep youse around for a while.” From that moment on everyone called me “Texas”.

I worked hard the rest of the day and couldn’t wait to get home to tell Frank all about my day. When I got home that evening, Frank was already home cooking supper when he met me at the door and I blurted out all that happened at work.  We laughed together for a long time then while he finished cooking supper, I took a shower.

Corn Huskers Lotion

My Favorite Lotion

When we sat down to eat when Frank noticed that my hands had paper cuts all over them from the paper tape.  He asked me if the cuts hurt but I told him, “No”.  Of course, the cuts hurt and my hands were sore but I didn’t want Frank to know that. I wasn’t some kind of sissy or quitter.

After we finished eating, Frank told me he was going to run downstairs to the grocery store.  When he got back he had a bottle of Corn Huskers Lotion which he applied to my hands.  It burnt like all get out but it sealed the cuts and made them quit hurting.  Corn Huskers Lotion became my best friend when I got home from work at night for nearly a month then I was moved to a different position at the factory.

Plastic Lawn Santa

Santas Made at Factory

My next job was heat-treating the three-foot plastic Santas with a blow torch which made the paint stick when the painters spray painted them.   I really loved this job even though I burnt my arm once with the blowtorch while heat-treating a Santa Claus.  I guess Santa didn’t like the heat.  Of course, Frank doctored it with Foile burn cream and wrapped with some gauze after I got home while giving me a lecture on being safe and careful.

Everyone took their lunch to work and we all ate in the lunch room together.  After we had eaten the rest of lunchtime I spent answering questions about Cowboys (girls), Indians, horses, and big ranches which always seemed to have everyone sitting on the edge of their seats wishing I could talk faster then asking me what “thangy” meant.

Seems everyone at the factory thought everyone in Texas had a big ranch, was a Cowboy (girl) who wore ten-gallon hats and chased Indians while riding horses. Of course, I let them think some of that was really true.

I learned to like ice coffee which they sold in the vending machine at the factory.  It actually looked like milk with a little coffee and sugar in it.  It was a wonderful experience working at the factory.  

I met lots of good hardworking people of all ages who were just ordinary people trying to make a living. I was sad when the time came for me to leave but I had found out something about myself which was that I could learn how to do anything.

Check Stub

My Last Check Stub

Looking at my last check stub I found from November 22, 1968, it says I made $51.20 for thirty-two hours work which means I made $1.60 an hour.  Thinking that was not to bad for my very first real job.

Frank and I were getting ever closer and we were handling everything by trial an error but God was taking care of us.

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4 Comments

  1. Lol…mI worked at a paper mill in Maine for 33 years. We were part of a group of mills that included the old Riegel paper mills in Fitchburg and Lunenburg. It was always fun to “break in” a new worker…..glad you enjoyed the folks while you were there

    • I totally enjoyed working with them. They were always so very nice to me. I was there “Texas”. I am so glad you are enjoying read these crazy stories about us as a young married couple. Of course, the craziness never stopped. Lol
      God Bless You Kim
      Nancy

  2. Sounds like that job just “happened” to come along at the right time. God does know when we need something and is always faithful to bring the answer. Your pay was pretty good. I started to work in December 1966 at $1.00 per hour. My take-home pay for a forty hour week was $36.00. By the way, there is a typo in the following sentence: It actually looked like mild with a little coffee and sugar in it. I do think you meant ‘milk’, not ‘mild’. 🙂 I have made some pretty funny typos, too. Great story, Nancy.

    • Thank you, Diane. I fixed the “mild” to milk. You are so right on the typo. I need all the help I can get with typos. Lol.
      Yes, our pay was low but then again at Fort Devens Commissary we paid 10 to 15 cents a pound for hamburger in 1968.
      I would still go back to the simpler times.
      Hod Bless You, Diane
      Nancy

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