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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Humming Garment Industry

One operation of the busy garment industry in Johnstown is shown above. These girls, at the Johnstown plant of Bestform Foundations, are engaged in stitching corsets and brassieres manufactured by the firm. Occupied at the first four machines are these girls who can be easily identified in the picture: Florence Dobrowolsky, Evelyn Peles, Ruth Ramos and Lois Durica. Other Johnstown garment firms turn out dresses and pajamas. (This was the plant in town - not the later one on Broad Street)

On a personal note: my grandmother worked at Bestform for decades and I learned four very important lessons from her:

1. the cost of items and the price mark up - even up to the 1990's - she'd bring home stuff for all of us .25 to .50 was the highest she paid - yes...things that she bought at actual cost - would be marked up thru the roof at this day - I still get sticker shock having to buy stuff at retail because I grew up with her bringing bags of underwear home for all of us - we would pick out what we liked - it was like Christmas - because you never knew what would be in the bag.

2. Do not trust size labels - for instance if they had a order for 12 dozen of size 10, but they'd run short - they would just put the wrong size label on to finish off the order.

3. In the same way - if they had a store that wanted only "Made in America" labels - they would take out the original label from overseas and sew in the America one.

4. Brand names do not matter - when they used to make Victoria Secrets - they would make the exact same bra - one for Victoria Secrets and turn around and make the same one for discount stores at half the price.

Wish I really knew more on the history of the garment industry around here because I would love to write up a longer piece. The women working these jobs were just as highly skilled as any man working in the mill - even more so at times. It also gave these women a sense of empowerment that they never experienced before - a sense of self-worth - that they could indeed earn their own living - on their own terms - just the same as the man in the corner office.

1 comment:

Jake Trexel said...

Thats where my Aunt worked. Leona Trexel, a long time ago.

Jake Trexel