• J.E. Mannix said working at Colgate included a lot of horsing around.
“I remember one big guy who worked there picked up a soft drink machine in the break room and turned it upside so all the money would fall out. ... You don’t think he gave it to charity do you?”
“One guy kept stealing Bernie Page’s lunch...Well, he had a newborn, so one day he put some of what was in the baby’s diaper on his sandwich. ... Sure enough, his lunch was stolen that day but never again after that.”
“When this one fella’ wasn’t mixing he’d be hanging outside with a bucket of water. If we went outside we were likely to get all wet. We never did get in trouble for anything.”
“I knew a man who always took his vacation the first of the year. He’d say, ‘I better take it now cause I might die.’ This is the God’s honest truth, he never came back from one trip. He ate some pickles and he died on vacation.”
“One friend of mine made better candy than Schimpff’s and would bring it in for everybody on the night shift. In fact, [Schimpff’s] tried to hire him but he said no. He was the best candymaker there was ... marshmallow candy, peanut brittle, red hots, taffy. He didn’t charge anything but just did it for enjoyment.”
• Terrie Hill of Clarksville: “There was this elderly couple across the street that would take afternoon drives around 2:30. They were your basic slow 15 mile per hour drivers. Well, that’s when the shift would let out and a lot of the workers would get stuck behind them. Boy, there was grumbling and complaining about that! ... My dad would look out the window and say, ‘Look out, they’re coming out of the driveway!’”
• Mary Lee Freund Eldridge of New Albany said her father was stuck in the plant during the 1937 flood.
“During the [flood] he wrote a letter to his future wife stating, ‘... We worked at Colgate three days and nights without any sleep and very little to eat. There were over 500 people there and if you think it wasn’t a job taking care of them you are crazy!’ He later said he was at Colgate for a week and then took a boat to New Albany and caught a bus to Speed.”
She also remembers her father telling her about how he would throw cigarettes over the fence to prisoners when they still occupied the building.
• Kelly Hessig-Wagner of Woodbridge, Virginia, said her grandfather worked for Colgate from 1934 until the 1960’s. Her aunt would collect and sell empty Colgate toothpaste tubes.
“ ... with the money she made from selling the empty tubes, she would go to the movies and stay all day,” she said.
• Joyce Lash’s mother worked in the accounting department from 1935-1970. She said she wasn’t allowed to use anything but Colgate products growing up.
Lash said her mother missed Colgate even decades after her retirement.
“Even when she was 92, she said, ‘Gee, do you think I could go back to work there?’” Lash said. “You think about it, most people hate their jobs. It’s amazing she loved and missed it that much.”
• James E. “Deb” Snelling of Jeffersonville said his father started working at the plant in 1920 and retired from there at age 65. While attending Jeffersonville High School, Snelling and other students would walk to the Colgate gymnasium to play basketball. In his senior year at Jeff High he got a job at the plant packing laundry and face soap called Palmolive Peet Soap.
• Emmett W. Hubler of Floyds Knobs said he started work at the plant on Oct. 7, 1946. His first job was on a production line placing a dish towel in each box of Super Suds as the boxes went down the production line, before being sealed and cased.
Hubler said he was drafted into military service in 1942, serving 3 years during World War II. During those years the company sent him gift boxes of Colgate products, much needed while serving overseas. “During my years spent in military service the company kept my name on their seniority list.”
During his many years of employment he received some very nice gifts for accumulated years of service. The company also maintained a Federal Credit Union office for employees. He volunteered to serve on the board for 39 years — 12 years beyond his Colgate retirement — holding various positions, ending as president.
• Debbie Eason said her parents, Marvin and Norma Funkhouser worked at Colgate until they retired. Her mother worked on the lines and her father was in maintenance. “It was a very hard place to work at. Cold in the winter and hot in the summer. My mom was one of the first groups of women to start working there. My dad was in the Army at that time, but when he got out he started working there too. My mom would tell me how it was once a prison and how some of the prisoners were still there in one part of the building when she started working there.”
“Remember the soapy bubble bath that Colgate made? I had every bottle that they made. Rocky the Flying squirrel was my favorite. I also remember the green and white small check dress that was mom’s uniform that she had to wear. In the summer she was so hot, and in the winter the dress was so cold. It was made out of some kind of material that she had to iron everyday before wearing it. And it wasn't cotton.
“I remember a holding tank one time the valve blew off and soap powder went all over the parked cars. My dad had a new car then. The soap ate the paint off a lot of the cars and they had to be repainted.”
• Ed Dean, formerly of Clarksville and now in his 80s, wanted to share his 1930’s memories of his parents tavern at Sixth and Illinois Avenue called Dean’s Cafe. They used to sponsor softball games in the big lot across Sixth Street from the factory. A keg of beer and tin cups were provided for their refreshment.
Dean also recalls that the Colgate area was a favorite for neighborhood kids at play, especially the plum trees near the prison wall and the grape arbors behind the big residence of company officials.
During Dean’s time, there was a “mansion” to the east of the factory, then a long building, now the company store. From there to the alley was a lawn, now a parking lot, and two large round flower beds and a small greenhouse. The areas were impeccably maintained, according to Dean, by a Mr. Noe and a Mr. Nardy Welch.
• Della “Chick” Elder, 80, began working at Colgate when she was 17. Elder's brother's dog, Barney, would follow her along the 18-block walk to her third-shift job at Colgate. Elder, of Jeffersonville, would find Barney waiting outside for her when her shift finished.
Elder worked at the Clarksville plant for a few months, but was then supposed to report to another Colgate facility in Oakland. Before moving to Oakland, Della traveled to West Virginia to pick up papers relating to her brother's Navy service. On the way back from West Virginia, the family had car trouble in Memphis, Tenn., and gave up their journey to California. They stayed in Memphis, running Club Casablanca.
Elder said if she ever won the lottery, she would purchase the Colgate Clock and its surroundings, because she wants the clock saved.
• J.E. Mannix said working at Colgate included a lot of horsing around.
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