One of the men I met when I hired on in the powerhouse at Ciba-Geigy in April 1986 at Newport, Delaware was Tommy Flowers. He was near retirement and finishing out a long career working in industries in Delaware. Tommy was born in 1924 and was finishing out his last few years working when I met him. He was about 5'3 and small with a very kind disposition. He was in veteran of WWII and served in Europe and for at least part of the war was in tank duty. His small size was probably a plus for getting around in the tight spaces in the tanks. I asked him about his service in the war and the only story I every really got was that one time a bullet made its way into the tank through one of the small slots and Tommy said as fast as he heard it inside the tank, he scurried out the hatch. After the war Tommy hired on at Electric Hose and Rubber on the banks of the lower Brandywine in Wilmington. At some point he was a powerhouse operator there at "The Hose" as he called it. When "The Hose" closed up he was able to find a job at the Dupont Company's Newport Pigment plant. At first he worked in the pigment factory but was able to bid on a job in the powerhouse when one came available.
Tommy was a good boiler operator. He checked the equipment with great care and had decades of experience. I learned a lot from him. He lived with his wife, Virginia, right around the corner on Ayer Street in Newport and the guys used to call him the Assistant Mayor of Newport. He had a neighbor, Mrs. Smith, who used to call the plant often to complain about the smell or the noise. She was always pleasant and never mean about it. We would always chat with her and she would be fine. We all thought that she was probably more lonely than anything and just wanted someone to talk with from time to time. She had gotten the powerhouse number because of being neighbors with Tommy. He retired in 1990 on and passed on in 1995.
Sunday, April 30, 2017
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