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
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.
Memories Menu Draper Menu HOME
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.
(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.