I was born in Danbury, Connecticut. We moved to Milford when I was about eight years old. My dad had
been a tobacco farmer in the Connecticut Valley. After we got to Milford, he had had a vegetable garden
and he had a stand to sell them, up on 140 at the corner of Asylum Street. He had an old Ford pickup
truck; a Model B, I think it was. He owned twenty-one acres of land between Asylum and Highland
Street that he used for farming. I could drive the pickup when I was about 14 or 15, and it didn't have to
be registered because we were just using it on the farm land and bringing the vegetables down to the
stand. After the war, it was hard to buy a car because they had stopped producing them during the war
and it took time for retooling and getting back into production. I was hoping he still had that truck, but he
had sold it. For $15!
One of my memories from our early days in Milford is that in 1948 we won a tv in a raffle. It was a great
big thing with a little screen. I only remember two other tvs in town at that time. One was at Kurlanski's
garage - an Atlantic station, and the other was at the Eagle's hall. They're the ones who put on the raffle;
the one that I won. The year before that my mother won a car. The Legion put that one on at a carnival.
My mother asked me to pick up a couple of tickets for her when I went to the carnival, and she won.
I went into the Army, but it was at the end of the war so I didn't go overseas. I got out in 1946. I could
have gone to Officer Candidate School. If I had, my enlistment would have been up when the Korean
War started. Guess I was lucky!
Draper Corporation owned the property on which the Country Club was built. I was one of the founding
members. There were 150 of us. I think there are seven of us left. Joe Leoncini, Eric Swanson and I are
the only ones who still belong. Bill Gannett was one of the founders. Roy Rehbein, Butch Rubeo and
Hank Villani are the others. It was 1953 when we started building it. It's an irony that in the first club
championship the ones who played in the finals were Joe Leoncini and me. I got the best of him,
though. I won it the second year, too.
I went to work at Drapers as soon as I got out of the Army. My first job there was in sub-assembly. The
drawings were kept in the vault that was downstairs, and during the 1955 flood, a lot of them got wet.
They had to be redrawn. They were looking for engineers and draftsmen. One of my buddies
suggested that I apply for that. I passed the test and got into it. Then I got a degree in engineering. I
worked in that capacity until 1963.
My wife, Theresa, worked at Drapers and that's where we met. After we married we lived on Poplar
Street in Milford for a while. I was transferred to North Carolina in 1963. When we came back in 1966,
we lived at 177 Dutcher Street. We've been here on Charlesgate Road since 1969. Our son, Steve was
born in 1957. Then we had three daughters. Susan was born in 1958, Debbie in 1959, and Sherri was
born in 1964 when we were living in High Point, North Carolina. It cost $15 a day at the hospital down
I used to go to Beebe River, New Hampshire frequently. That was the Draper plant where wooden
bobbins were made. Sam Hall was the superintendent there for years and years. He bought a
mountain up there. I think it was Tenney Mountain. He turned it into a ski resort. He bought equipment
from Switzerland and set it up. Nice guy.
My first assignment as an engineer was development and improvement of spindles, bobbins and
spinning rings. Draper had purchased and/or obtained the right to improve upon and develop a
machine called an "automatic doffer." A couple of other engineers and I worked on this project under
the director of project engineering, Charlie Powell.
I remember being in a mill in Manchester once. I was in the superintendent's office on the fourth floor.
There were a huge number of looms in the building and the whole place was rocking. He said, "Don't
worry about it. The building's been like this for fifty years. It's not going to collapse." I couldn't get out of
there soon enough. If the looms are all in sync, the building's going to move.
As I mentioned earlier, in 1963 we went to High Point, North Carolina. I was asked to transfer to work in
the capacity of field and service engineer. My job was to install and recommend design changes if
necessary, and to train mill personnel on the operation of the doffer. Doffing is the removal of the full
bobbin from the spindle and putting an empty bobbin in its place. Doing this manually is a back-
breaking job as is has to be done with the worker bent over for hours on end while doffing thousands of
Most of those jobs were unionized. If you were a doffer, when there was no job doffing, they couldn't
take you and put you in another position. They could see with that machine that they wouldn't have a
job. I'd go in the next day and the machine had been sabotaged. They could put chewing gum into it
and jam it up. I told management to lock it up where nobody could touch it overnight. That worked okay,
but what were they going to do - lock it up every night? So that's the main reason it failed. It did a good
job, but the workers sabotaged it. It was a losing battle we were fighting. I'm sure they must have them
today, though. That was back around '63 or'65.I can understand their point of view. They were in one
mill town and they could see they'd be losing their jobs. Didn't help us any, though!
In 1966, or thereabouts, Drapers sold the rights to the automatic doffer to the Belgian, I think! I was then
transferred back to Drapers in Hopedale.
When I got back here, I got involved in another project - electrostatic spinning. That was at the time that
Rockwell took over the company. (1967) We had a pretty good sized unit that would spit out the yarn at
about three times the conventional speed. When Rockwell took over Drapers, they transferred a lot of
people from California to here. None of them knew much about textiles. They were all involved with the
space age. One of them, Dr. Ashenbrener was very impressed with electrostatic spinning because it
was so much faster than anything else at that time. He was thinking of getting his own division down
south to produce them. He, of course, was the engineer in charge of the project.
We said, "Doc, it's yarn, but it's not good yarn. It's not ready for production. We've got to get things ironed
out. We're on our way there." He didn't want to hear that. He got his division down south. He wanted me
to go. I knew it was going to fail, so I didn't go. It did. If they'd kept it here and let us work on it, I'm sure
we would have gotten the bugs out. With another six months or a year, we would have had good yarn
coming out of that.
He and his wife used to come over to the house sometimes. We'd have a few drinks and shoot the
breeze. Nice guy, but he didn't know good yarn from bad yarn.
Shortly after they got rid of electrostatic spinning, they did away with research. Once you do that, in any
company, it's the beginning of the end. You're not going to have any new products once research is
gone, and without new products, it's just a matter of time.
At one point we were developing plastic bobbins. We designed the molds in Hopedale. I drew up the
blueprints for them, and they were produced by a company in Vermont, as were the bobbins. We got
into that just before Drapers started going downhill. That was probably around 1973.
About that time, they offered me a job in the purchasing department as a buyer. At that time, people
were leaving like rats on a sinking ship. They told me that they needed me because they had a lot of
equipment to get rid of, and that they'd give me a bonus if I stayed until they didn't need me anymore. I
was one of the last ones out of the company. I was there for thirty-three years. They laid me off at the
end of the fiscal year, which for them was September 30. That's my birthday. The ruling at the time was
that you had to be at least 52 with 25 years of service to get your benefits. I just made it and got all my
benefits. How lucky can you get?
After Drapers, I went to Data General for ten years as a tech writer on computer hardware. I retired from
there in 1990. I worked at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Milford part time for a number of years after that.
Robert Moore was in charge of the work there. After I gave that up, I was asked if I wanted to be in
charge of maintenance at the South Hopedale Cemetery, so I did that until a few years ago. When I
started, I had to use a push mower because there were so many stones and stumps. I got rid of them
and then I could take my tractor and do ninety-five percent of the mowing with that. There were just
chains at the entrance, so I built the gate.
I'm fully retired now, but I keep busy. I play cards and go to bingo a few times a week, and I take care of
the yard. I wasn't able to play golf last summer, but I hope to get back to it this year. George Bushnell,
Memories Menu Draper Menu HOME
For now at least, this is the best picture I have of George. He's near
the upper right corner, back to camera, dark pants, white shirt.
Plastic bobbins surrounded by shuttles.
Thanks to George for them.
27, 2016) at his residence after a period of declining health. He was the beloved
husband of Theresa M. (McGuigan) Bushnell. Mr. Bushnell was the son of the late John
and Mary (Espitee) Bushnell and was born in Danbury CT. He resided in New Milford CT
through his early childhood. He was a WW II US Army veteran having served from 1945-
1946. George worked as an engineer at the former Draper Corporation for thirty-three
years, before eventually settling at Data General as a Hardware Technical writer until his
retirement in 1990. He was an avid golfer and founding member of the Hopedale
Country Club. He was the clubs first club champion and a two time winner. He also
enjoyed his hunting, fishing, and card playing. George is survived by his beloved wife of
60 years, Theresa Bushnell; his children, son Stephen Bushnell and his wife Elaine of
Milford MA; daughter Susan Taft and husband Donald of Northbridge MA; daughter
Debra Berthiaume and husband Wayne of Hopedale MA; daughter Sherri Boulet and
husband Daniel of Douglas MA; and six grandchildren. He was a brother to Mrs.
Elizabeth Pasquantonio, Mrs. Helen Melin, Mr. John Bushnell, and the late Mr. Harold
Bushnell. His funeral, with Military Honors, will be held Thursday (March 31st) at 9am
from the Edwards Memorial Funeral Home, 44 Congress Street, Milford MA followed by
a Mass of Christian Burial at 10am in Sacred Heart Church, 187 Hopedale Street,
Hopedale MA. Burial will follow in Hopedale Village Cemetery. Visiting hours will be
Wednesday (March 30th) from 4pm to 7pm.