American Optical History
Recollections of Former AO Employees

CASEDALE AO D5C 1938 STITCHING DEPARTMENT
Pauline Mellor
 
 

I started to work at American Optical Company in 1938. I had been working at Webster Shoe Company stitching vamps and goaters at $0.15 per hour. I found out
AO was hiring stitchers at $0.50 per hour. I went to Southbridge to AO for an interview; I was hired for the stitching job at $0.50 per hour. I thought I was rich; it
was double the amount I was getting in Webster. My Dad got me a ride to work from a friend who also worked at AO. I joined the softball team, played 2nd base,
and then joined the bowling team. I liked that also. When I joined the softball team, little did I know I was meeting my future husband, Ray Mellor. I thought he was
wonderful. He did not drink liquor, did not swear, when he got mad, he was very quiet and a real Englishman. He died January 1995. We had been married 54
years. He went away to war in 1944. I was 6 months pregnant. When he came back, our daughter was 2 years old. He was wounded in Metz in World War II but
recovered.

When I started D5C, they had only 3 stitchers; me, Mabelle and Adrienne Casavant but the Department grew. When A. J. Pratt died, C. K. became Manager but
not for long. AO hired a man for the job, Mr. Babettelli, and then we had a designing department. The designer was Howard Jones. When he saw I was interested,
he asked if I could make up a fancy eyeglass case. I made him one, and then he asked where is the pattern. So I replied, "in my head," he had a sense of humor, he
laughed and said, "we won't be able to make them there."

One day when I was in Mr. Babettelli's office, I noticed he was very upset on the phone. He had called in 5 machinists in his office. I wondered why, I soon found
out. The AO was in deep trouble regarding some cases. There were over 300,000 cases on their way back to AO, all coming apart. They had been glued, pig-grain
leather to plastic pockets. What a mess and what a loss. So when Mr. Babettelli said, "I don't know what we can do but scrap all of them," I said "I know what I
would do" and he said, "what would you do?" He said it with a smile but he never expected what I was about to say. I said "Stitch Them!" The men and Mr.
Babettelli said, "What did you say?" I repeated, "I'd stitch them." Mr. Babettelli said "Pauline you have the job. I will give you any machinist you want to work with."
I said, "No thank you, they would say that won't work a million times." I said I want Jerry Asslin, the floor boy (this was a comedy, they all said the Floor Boy!!!)

I said, "yes, he will do what I tell him to do, he fixes our sewing machines as it is and he is good at it. If we have to wait for the machinist, it's hours, but we say Jerry,
my machine won't work right or just tell him I need help and in no time it's fixed.

Mr. Babettelli said, "Get Jerry in here." I went out and told Jerry Mr. Babettelli wanted him. First thing he said, "Now what did I do?" I said "nothing yet but wait
until you hear." To make a long story short, Jerry worked on that sewing machine for 3 weeks. Then I stitched my first leather to plastic pocket and we were in
production in 2 months, got all those cases plus more in production from then on. Jerry made Supervisor in the Stitching Department.
 

Then I found out if I had put my idea on paper, the AO would have given me a nice check. But seeing I blurted it out with all the machinists there, they could have
said it was their idea. I'm not saying they would have, but they could have.

By the way, during the war, AO paid for me to go to Cole Trade to learn how to operate a drill press and a lathe. I worked in the Machine Shop over a year, and
then when the war was over, I went back to stitching.

The day I got sick at work and fainted at my machine, I was being transferred to Howard Jones' department (designer). I never went back to the AO. My husband,
my job got on my nerves. When I got better, I went to work at Camp Robinson Crusoe in Sturbridge as a bookkeeper. I took a civil service test, landed in the
Welfare Office, then to computer school and ended up in Westboro as a Supervisor in the Computer Department. Then I retired.

Signed:
Pauline Mellor


Casedale 1953

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Dick Whitney Sept 20, 2002

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