George Bushnell

    I was born in Danbury, Connecticut. We moved to Milford when I was about eight years
    old. My dad had been a tobacco farmer in the Connecticut Valley. After we got to Milford,
    he had had a vegetable garden and he had a stand to sell them, up on 140 at the corner
    of Asylum Street. He had an old Ford pickup truck; a Model B, I think it was. He owned
    twenty-one acres of land between Asylum and Highland Street that he used for farming. I
    could drive the pickup when I was about 14 or 15, and it didn't have to be registered
    because we were just using it on the farm land and bringing the vegetables down to the
    stand. After the war, it was hard to buy a car because they had stopped producing them
    during the war and it took time for retooling and getting back into production. I was
    hoping he still had that truck, but he had sold it. For $15!

    One of my memories from our early days in Milford is that in 1948 we won a tv in a raffle.
    It was a great big thing with a little screen. I only remember two other tvs in town at that
    time. One was at Kurlanski's garage - an Atlantic station, and the other was at the
    Eagle's hall. They're the ones who put on the raffle; the one that I won. The year before
    that my mother won a car. The Legion put that one on at a carnival. My mother asked me
    to pick up a couple of tickets for her when I went to the carnival, and she won.
    I went into the Army, but it was at the end of the war so I didn't go overseas. I got out in
    1946. I could have gone to Officer Candidate School. If I had, my enlistment would have
    been up when the Korean War started. Guess I was lucky!

    Draper Corporation owned the property on which the Country Club was built. I was one of
    the founding members. There were 150 of us. I think there are seven of us left. Joe
    Leoncini, Eric Swanson and I are the only ones who still belong. Bill Gannett was one of
    the founders. Roy Rehbein, Butch Rubeo and Hank Villani are the others. It was 1953
    when we started building it. It's an irony that in the first club championship the ones who
    played in the finals were Joe Leoncini and me. I got the best of him, though. I won it the
    second year, too.

    I went to work at Drapers as soon as I got out of the Army. My first job there was in sub-
    assembly. The drawings were kept in the vault that was downstairs, and during the 1955
    flood, a lot of them got wet. They had to be redrawn. They were looking for engineers
    and draftsmen. One of my buddies suggested that I apply for that. I passed the test and
    got into it. Then I got a degree in engineering. I worked in that capacity until 1963.

    My wife, Theresa, worked at Drapers and that's where we met. After we married we lived
    on Poplar Street in Milford for a while. I was transferred to North Carolina in 1963. When
    we came back in 1966, we lived at 177 Dutcher Street. We've been here on Charlesgate
    Road since 1969. Our son, Steve was born in 1957. Then we had three daughters.
    Susan was born in 1958, Debbie in 1959, and Sherri was born in 1964 when we were
    living in High Point, North Carolina. It cost $15 a day at the hospital down there.

    I used to go to Beebe River, New Hampshire frequently. That was the Draper plant where
    wooden bobbins were made. Sam Hall was the superintendent there for years and years.
    He bought a mountain up there. I think it was Tenney Mountain. He turned it into a ski
    resort. He bought equipment from Switzerland and set it up. Nice guy.

    My first assignment as an engineer was development and improvement of spindles,
    bobbins and spinning rings. Draper had purchased and/or obtained the right to improve
    upon and develop a machine called an "automatic doffer." A couple of other engineers
    and I worked on this project under the director of project engineering, Charlie Powell.

    I remember being in a mill in Manchester once. I was in the superintendent's office on the
    fourth floor. There were a huge number of looms in the building and the whole place was
    rocking. He said, "Don't worry about it. The building's been like this for fifty years. It's not
    going to collapse." I couldn't get out of there soon enough. If the looms are all in sync,
    the building's going to move.

    As I mentioned earlier, in 1963 we went to High Point, North Carolina. I was asked to
    transfer to work in the capacity of field and service engineer. My job was to install and
    recommend design changes if necessary, and to train mill personnel on the operation of
    the doffer. Doffing is the removal of the full bobbin from the spindle and putting an empty
    bobbin in its place. Doing this manually is a back-breaking job as is has to be done with
    the worker bent over for hours on end while doffing thousands of bobbins daily.

    Most of those jobs were unionized. If you were a doffer, when there was no job doffing,
    they couldn't take you and put you in another position. They could see with that machine
    that they wouldn't have a job. I'd go in the next day and the machine had been
    sabotaged. They could put chewing gum into it and jam it up. I told management to lock it
    up where nobody could touch it overnight. That worked okay, but what were they going
    to do - lock it up every night? So that's the main reason it failed. It did a good job, but the
    workers sabotaged it. It was a losing battle we were fighting. I'm sure they must have
    them today, though. That was back around '63 or'65.I can understand their point of view.
    They were in one mill town and they could see they'd be losing their jobs. Didn't help us
    any, though!

    In 1966, or thereabouts, Drapers sold the rights to the automatic doffer to the Belgian, I
    think! I was then transferred back to Drapers in Hopedale.

    When I got back here, I got involved in another project - electrostatic spinning. That was
    at the time that Rockwell took over the company. (1967) We had a pretty good sized unit
    that would spit out the yarn at about three times the conventional speed. When Rockwell
    took over Drapers, they transferred a lot of people from California to here. None of them
    knew much about textiles. They were all involved with the space age. One of them, Dr.
    Ashenbrener was very impressed with electrostatic spinning because it was so much
    faster than anything else at that time. He was thinking of getting his own division down
    south to produce them. He, of course, was the engineer in charge of the project.

    We said, "Doc, it's yarn, but it's not good yarn. It's not ready for production. We've got to
    get things ironed out. We're on our way there." He didn't want to hear that. He got his
    division down south. He wanted me to go. I knew it was going to fail, so I didn't go. It did. If
    they'd kept it here and let us work on it, I'm sure we would have gotten the bugs out. With
    another six months or a year, we would have had good yarn coming out of that.

    He and his wife used to come over to the house sometimes. We'd have a few drinks and
    shoot the breeze. Nice guy, but he didn't know good yarn from bad yarn.

    Shortly after they got rid of electrostatic spinning, they did away with research. Once you
    do that, in any company, it's the beginning of the end. You're not going to have any new
    products once research is gone, and without new products, it's just a matter of time.

    At one point we were developing plastic bobbins. We designed the molds in Hopedale. I
    drew up the blueprints for them,  and they were produced by a company in Vermont, as
    were the bobbins. We got into that just before Drapers started going downhill. That was
    probably around 1973.

    About that time, they offered me a job in the purchasing department as a buyer. At that
    time, people were leaving like rats on a sinking ship. They told me that they needed me
    because they had a lot of equipment to get rid of, and that they'd give me a bonus if I
    stayed until they didn't need me anymore. I was one of the last ones out of the company.
    I was there for thirty-three years. They laid me off at the end of the fiscal year, which for
    them was September 30. That's my birthday. The ruling at the time was that you had to
    be at least 52 with 25 years of service to get your benefits. I just made it and got all my
    benefits. How lucky can you get?

    After Drapers, I went to Data General for ten years as a tech writer on computer
    hardware. I retired from there in 1990. I worked at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Milford
    part time for a number of years after that. Robert Moore was in charge of the work there.
    After I gave that up, I was asked if I wanted to be in charge of maintenance at the South
    Hopedale Cemetery, so I did that until a few years ago. When I started, I had to use a
    push mower because there were so many stones and stumps. I got rid of them and then I
    could take my tractor and do ninety-five percent of the mowing with that. There were just
    chains at the entrance, so I built the gate.

    I'm fully retired now, but I keep busy. I play cards and go to bingo a few times a week,
    and I take care of the yard. I wasn't able to play golf last summer, but I hope to get back
    to it this year. George Bushnell, February 2014.

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    For now at least, this is the best picture I have of George. He's near
    the upper right corner, back to camera, dark pants, white shirt.

Plastic bobbins surrounded by shuttles.
Thanks to George for them.


    Mr. George B. Bushnell, 88, of Hopedale MA, died early Easter Sunday morning
    (March 27, 2016) at his residence after a period of declining health. He was the
    beloved husband of Theresa M. (McGuigan) Bushnell. Mr. Bushnell was the son of the
    late John and Mary (Espitee) Bushnell and was born in Danbury CT. He resided in
    New Milford CT through his early childhood. He was a WW II US Army veteran having
    served from 1945-1946. George worked as an engineer at the former Draper
    Corporation for thirty-three years, before eventually settling at Data General as a
    Hardware Technical writer until his retirement in 1990. He was an avid golfer and
    founding member of the Hopedale Country Club. He was the clubs first club champion
    and a two time winner. He also enjoyed his hunting, fishing, and card playing. George
    is survived by his beloved wife of 60 years, Theresa Bushnell; his children, son
    Stephen Bushnell and his wife Elaine of Milford MA; daughter Susan Taft and husband
    Donald of Northbridge MA; daughter Debra Berthiaume and husband Wayne of
    Hopedale MA; daughter Sherri Boulet and husband Daniel of Douglas MA; and six
    grandchildren. He was a brother to Mrs. Elizabeth Pasquantonio, Mrs. Helen Melin, Mr.
    John Bushnell, and the late Mr. Harold Bushnell. His funeral, with Military Honors, will
    be held Thursday (March 31st) at 9am from the Edwards Memorial Funeral Home, 44
    Congress Street, Milford MA followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10am in Sacred
    Heart Church, 187 Hopedale Street, Hopedale MA. Burial will follow in Hopedale
    Village Cemetery. Visiting hours will be Wednesday (March 30th) from 4pm to 7pm.