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History of the Forest Products Laboratory

Interview #992: Lulling, Robert M. (June, 2009)

View all of First Interview Session (October 15, 2008), disc 1

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01:29:42 - 01:33:56 Forest Products Laboratory

Forest Products Laboratory, workshops, workweek, shift systems, World War, 1939-1945, wages, laboratory technicians, family

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01:29:42

RL

Okay, one thing about the Lab---it's the only forest products laboratory in the world and it provides all the services at one time. We could prepare whatever we needed because we had the carpenter shop that would---oh gosh there were seven or eight carpenters in there, they could build anything---display things that went to Mitchell McCormick place in Chicago and other places too, but mostly there. We had an electric shop that not only supplied things for research but also did all the electrical work for the Lab itself, maintenance. We had a machine shop that made lots of prototype tools and things like that that were needed to conduct research and of course they also made whatever was necessary for the Lab. We had a tin shop that made a lot of the things for research in the Lab. We had a welding shop that did whatever needed to be welded and whatnot. We had trucks. During the War we had actually three shifts and when I first started working here it was a five day week and then after the War was on for a little while, it went to a five and a half day week. Then a little later we went to a six day week, we had to work Saturday, all day Saturday, no additional pay, we were on annual salaries and that's the way it stayed. If you wanted to take a holiday off it was mandatory that you took annual leave the day before and the day after that holiday so there was three days so nobody actually took the holiday off.

AP

Was that mostly during the War then?

RL

Yeah, during the War, yeah. All salaries were frozen, all promotions were frozen. It was tough when you saw the guys like my downstairs neighbor at that time; he worked at Badger Ordinance. Man, he was bringing home a bundle of money; he was a steam fitter. People were making money and we didn't. My wife---when I agreed to come here as a technician I started out on the bottom rung you might say, pay wise. Well my wife's grandfather told us it was a good place to work because you climbed the ladder pretty good. We had to live for actually five years with no more pay than what I earned when I came here and of course I had hoped to work in fiscal but worked as a technician instead and the technicians weren't getting too much money in those days. So that was kind of hard during the War. My wife used to get at me, well I worked with the dance band and that's how I actually supported my family. I had one son very soon after we married and then we had another son, seven years apart. I had three boys in all, seven years apart. But I had a dance band and being the leader of the band I got paid double so that helped us through the war but this was no place to work if you wanted to get rich.

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