Worker of the Month - Nettie Bohannon

by Jeff Ross
Issue No. 230 - June 1992

Our April Worker of the Month was Nettie Bohannon. Nettie worked in the Paint shop of the Etching Department for 16 years.  Her job entailed painting the wax onto the glass in preparation for the acid dip.

Nettie described her first day of work at Cambridge Glass as a bitterly cold morning in 1933.  Like many of the workers who lived south of Cambridge in the communities of Byesville and Pleasant Nettie Bohannon City, Nettie relied on the bus to get her to the plant.  She recalled that she caught the bus at 5:30 a.m. every morning in order to be at work by the 6:45 a.m. start time.

She was hired by Mr. Roy Pritchard, head of the Decorating Department, to work in the Etching Department.  She stated that it took her about a month to get comfortable with working with the wax due to the varying etching patterns and the different consistencies of the wax.  Larger pieces required the wax to be thick, while other smaller items were painted with thinner wax.  The area to be covered was the determining factor.

Nettie described the point shop as a series of tables where the women would sit across from one another to work.  Each woman had heat controls to regulate the temperature and thickness of the wax.  Each worker was provided with a basic 1" brush, but any other brushes needed were the responsibility of the individual worker.  Nettie recalled that it took six to eight brushes of various sizes to do the job.

Most of the ware that she worked with was crystal.  Occasionally she helped with sample pieces to be used at trade shows, etc.  Rosepoint was the easiest pattern to cover according to Nettie. She mentioned that she could cover about 20 Rosepoint stems in an hour.  Elaine and Candlelight were the most difficult.  Covering the Caprice pattern for the Alpine treatment was also a tedious task, according to Nettie.  She recalled that one woman in the department did nothing by Alpine.

The women in the paint shop were on an hourly wage.  Nettie started at $0.40 an hour and when she left 16 years later, she was making one dollar an hour.  Some positions in the Etching Department were on a piece rate system.  Nettie stated that all of the painters were women, as were most of the 120 positions in the Etching Department.  Although Nettie enjoyed her work, she said that most days she spent her 40 minute lunch hour at the employee cafeteria to "get away" from the factory.   The work was tedious and she thought that she did better when she got away from it for awhile.  Nettie stated that Mr. Pritchard was "A-1" to work for, as were the other supervisors.

There were only two regrets that Nettie expressed.  The first was that she didn't buy more glass when she worked at the factory.  But, as she said, money was scarce and no one realized how valuable the ware would become.  At the time, it was a job and a livelihood.

The second regret was that in all of the time she worked at the plant, she never did tour the entire factory.  At the time, she and most others thought that there would always be a Cambridge Glass plant to tour.

We appreciate the time that Nettie took to be with us in April. Her comments and experiences were a valuable addition to our living library of Former Workers.