Summer Job

handbookOrange workersBy Ann Tholfsen

My house in Pine Plains was recently sold. A large carton full of memory books and pictures from my past now is overfilling a foot locker in my bedroom, so I have gradually been throwing away items which I feel are either duplicates {loose snapshots of babies for example.)  My children all take pictures of every stage of their children’s development.  I kept a memory book for all my years of school and camp and there are many items that I have been able to throw away.  However, there are other items that bring back memories which I haven’t thought about for years, which I had completely forgotten.

One of the most important was the job I had in the summer of 1944 after my first year at Connecticut College. It was of course a war year and I had kept three items which brought that summer back.  The first was an orange EMPLOYEES HAND BOOK of the Orange Screen Company.  Founded in 1911, they first manufactured wood framed screens.  In 1925 they began to make extruded aluminum frame screens used in the USA. Their last “fine job ” before aluminum restrictions for war use was to screen the White house.   ORSCO fabricated different parts for aircraft and radar equipment and were cited for the Army-Navy award for excellence in war production. The handbook then stated that it was their policy to share profits with employees.  “Management is constantly laboring to develop an organization of competent and efficient members, each of whom we consider an important factor in our company”.            Benefits and privileges are granted to all members on a basis of sharing in proportion to individual merit.  I am not sure I studied this handbook except to see that I would earn…80 cents an hour plus overtime day shift was 45 hours Monday to Friday.  Orange Screen’s address was actually in Maplewood – a 5 cent bus ride from my house.  That summer 47 young men and women were hired and the second spur to my memory is a picture of all 47 pasted in my scrapbook.  There were more girls than boys hired to do spot welding, probably for a special project. We worked in small groups – each group presided over by a foreman. The foremen, men and women actually, told us what to do and checked our work. They seemed to be rather aloof from all these young people. I remember standing in front of a big machine, placing the aluminum parts together, and bringing my foot down hard to make the weld. It was very tedious work. None of my good friends from high school or college were involved. Our group seemed to get along well with each other.  Most of the summer workers  stayed for two months.

On December 22,1944, I received a letter enclosing a bonus check and expressing the director, Mr Balches’, appreciation for my fine cooperation in the production company.  Looking back, I don’t think I realized what a remarkable company Orange Screen was.  This letter made me feel as if I had made a real contribution to the war effort.  After all these years I almost seem to have to have forgotten about that summer.  An orange handbook, a picture and a letter brought it all back.

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