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Saturday, December 12, 2009

From the Higgins Archives: WW2

The Second World War was a major boon for the Higgins Family and Worcester Pressed Steel. The company became a huge producer of military products and the factory grew to meet Uncle Sam's demands.

I love the banner in this picture. It says "The Future is in Your Hands: Be Sure to Protect Them. Safety First! Friendliness too!" Productivity was also encouraged by the domineering presence of the Worcester Pressed Steel Mascot: A suit of Armor.

There are a whole lot of pictures of this suit of armor standing in the background of factory scenes, watching people work. It's unnerving and weird. I do wonder sometimes if JW Higgins was actually in the suit, and this was his bizarre attempt to build morale. The use of armor as a mascot for the company makes a lot of sense though, because the arms and armor museum was built and opened around this time.

This picture was from a News article that the Telegam and Gazette ran about soldiers on leave learning more about the war effort at home. They talk about how this poor guy, who couldn't fight himself, felt proud working somewhere that contributed directly to the troops. The worker gets to show off his handiwork for two airmen and a seaman, giving them an up close look at arms manufacturing. The article also made it explicit that this took place 100% during the workers lunch hour, and no precious man time was wasted for the tour. Now get back to work, Flat foot!

Worcester Pressed Steel actually offered a lot of oppurtunities for the draft dodgers and the old timers to feel like they were contributing to the war. At one point, they took all the men on a field trip to a battleship.

I love the emotion in this picture. Especially the veteran grabbing his buddies shoulder on the left. I have to assume they were watching a plane take off. Very exciting! Meanwhile, back at the plant:

Next time: The swinging 60's.

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