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DuPont retiree recalls safety album company made

By BY J.R. ORTEGA - JRORTEGA@VICAD.COM
Feb. 11, 2013 at 4:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 10, 2013 at 8:11 p.m.


On the record

• Bill Tompkins, chairman

• Ken Brumley, vice chairman

• Eldon Spiegelhauer, cover

• Joe Lucke, music

• George Mallett, management sales

• Mel Pustejovsky, photography

• Guidance: Howard Anderson, Mary Charlotte Callaway, Lou Collier

Sitting still, knees together, Eldon Spiegelhauer closed his eyes, listening to a turntable crackle in anticipation for something he hasn't heard in nearly 40 years.

A staticky voice from the past sang out: "I think that I have never felt, a thing as lovely as a belt, and I am safety conscious - you'd agree. A belt I will forever wear, when I round those scaffolds there, I'll tie it short, that is the safety key."

This isn't a typical old 33 record. Rather, it is one created by DuPont workers in 1976 as a unique, surefire way to spread safety conscientiousness throughout the plant.

The record, "Songs My Bosses Taught Me," was recently donated to the Restoration House Ministries Gleanings Resale Shop.

Spiegelhauer, who worked as a draftsman at DuPont, stands in a choir of four on the record cover - pretending to sing a song. Really, his voice was never recorded on the record; he was only on the cover.

Still, the record, which remains in good condition, is part of the plant's 61-year history. And Spiegelhauer, who started working at the plant at age 27 in 1952, is one, if not the only, surviving worker of those who created the album.

"It's been so long ago that many of us aren't alive anymore," said Spiegelhauer, who lives at the Elmcroft assisted living facility in Victoria.

Spiegelhauer opens an old keepsakes photo album of his 34 years with DuPont. Photos and articles are on each of the yellowing pages, chronicling his journey all the way up to his retirement.

Though the album was created in the 1970s, the music escaping the record sounds like voices of the 50s. Everything was created here, from the lyrics to the singing. Charles "Clean-Livin'" Lewis, a Victoria disc jockey who died several years ago, sings a song on the album.

Three other workers, Ray "Charles" Moses, Ed "Ames" Warwas and "I'm Just Wild" Harry Norman also sing on the album. The lyrics were written by Bill Tompkins, and music was performed by Joe Lucke.

Every plant worker received the album, Spiegelhauer said.

"It was just part of our routine safety measures, so we don't forget it," he said laughing.

Theresa Klacman, director and founder of Restoration House Ministries, plans to hold onto this piece of area history for a while.

"We take everything as donations, including the kitchen sink, since one man's trash is another man's treasure," Klacman said. "This time, we found a wonderful little treasure of local history in this record. It is quite a fun and fascinating piece of our community's past."

Amy Hodges, Invista public affairs manager, said safety has always been of utmost importance to the plant.

"Safety is our top priority at the Invista Victoria site, and we salute the talents and creativity of individuals like Eldon Spiegelhauer who memorialized the importance of safety for our industry," she said.

Spiegelhauer still beams with pride about being part of that history as though it was his first day on the job.

He remembers the faces but most of all, he remembers the memories of working at the plant.

"They believed in teamwork," Spiegelhauer said. "And we were all just that - a team."

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