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Pioneer Parachute Packs: 1942

Pioneer Parachute Packs: 1942

August 1942. Manchester, Connecticut. "The utmost precision is required of these operators who are cutting and drilling parachute packs in an Eastern factory. Their work is under constant close supervision. Pioneer Parachute Company." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by William M. Rittase, OWI. View full size.


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The silk city

It's not surprising that WWII parachutes were manufactured in Manchester. Parachutes were made of silk back then, and Manchester had been a center of silk textile production since the mid-1800's. Soon after the end of the war Manchester's silk industry went into a steep decline and soon vanished.

The tee handle

on top is just that, a handle for lifting the machine, today those machines run around $2,500.

Their work could be a matter of life or death

Back in 1989, when we were at Hahn AFB, West Germany, we had an event that underscored the importance of parachutes being made and packed properly. It was the night of the Christmas program of my son's preschool class. A friend of mine brought her child and another little boy, whose mother was waiting for her husband to get home, so that they could go to the program together. She arrived, alone, just as the program was ending. Her husband and a colleague had gotten into some kind of trouble flying their F-16s, and had needed to bail out. The one pilot's parachute had functioned properly and he had landed on the ground on his feet. The father of my son's little classmate had been killed. He had made it out of his plane OK, but his parachute had not opened. I've never forgotten that.

In Flanders Fields the Poppies Blow

Just above the cutter's left pocket is something red with a white tag. It looks to me very similar to those crepe-paper red Buddy Poppies made by disabled vets and distributed by the VFW as a fund raiser.

This picture was taken in August, not around Memorial Day (May 30th), but a war was on and U.S. involvement was ramping up fast. So maybe it is a poppy? Thoughts?

Eastman kinife

"what was the function of the Tee handle on the top"

Simply a carry handle. tone straight cutters are made pretty much the same way today. the newer ones have a loop handle on top instead of the T.

The other unit is a drill.

Iron weights

Those are not hockey pucks, not unless you wanted a broken hand when you hit them! They are weights typical of the clothing industry. Usually made from iron but sometimes steel disk, even lead.

When I worked in the elevator industry we serviced several units located in the textile/clothing locality in Sydney, Australia, and this sight was very common.


I recall working (fixing) an electric scissors. No one in his right mind would cut with their hand in front of the cutter. Like a red hot knife thru (warm) butter!

What I don't remember is, what was the function of the Tee handle on the top


Are those hockey pucks they're using to weigh down the patterns?

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