Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

DUPONTSALESTEAM

Dupont Sales Team, March 12-13, 1959

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt features a large group of distinguished looking, suited men with varying degrees of hair loss, standing near a round table, being photographed. In thinking about my photos I realized that while these fellows are not at a round table, there are certainly plenty of them, some even with bald heads.

The group featured is the New York District Sales team, March 12-13, 1959. The same weekend 54 years ago! My grandfather Horace is third in from the right, front. In our family, there is a bit of legend surrounding his work for DuPont with the Explosives Department. I don’t know how much of it is true though, so maybe these are just family lore.

As the salesman representing DuPont at a particular job, Horace visited a job site that consisted of a tunnel being blasted underneath a lake. During excavation however, some explosives were either placed too close to the bed of the lake or the ground became unstable. The blast occurred and water began leaking into the tunnel. All men were evacuated “just in the nick of time” as the tunnel flooded. I recall a little newspaper clipping telling the story and even with a drawing depicting the tunnel under the lake. I do not know where this took place, but I have heard of cases of lakes suddenly draining in Louisiana or Mississippi, and even in South America.

UPDATE: My mother commented to further explain this story! The job site was Lake Oswego, NY and the tunnel was intended as a water supply for the town. While Horace intended to go to the end of the tunnel to check the connections, his coworkers told him to wait further up the tunnel and they would go. The explosion occurred while they were down at the end and they were killed. Horace was blown head over heels, but survived!

Story number two is just a tidbit, that Horace was responsible for the dynamite used in the refacing of Niagara Falls. As the water pours over the edge of the falls, of course the rocks wear away from erosion over time. To maintain the beautiful fall, the cliff face behind the water is refaced using explosives and other methods.

Horace is the brother to Margaret and Mildred, shown in this previous Sepia Saturday post along with their mother Edith. Unfortunately I never got a chance to meet him, as he died before I was born. He went to the doctor to have his gallbladder checked and suffered a massive heart attack while at the hospital for gallbladder tests. But, his memory is well revered in our family and so I have heard lots of stories about him. My dad said he would argue just for the fun of it, and the two of them went round and round about which type of water would freeze faster – hot or cold (there’s a physics or chemistry lesson here, I’m sure). He loved to play golf, but would be so overheated when he got home, he’d ask for three high balls. My smart grandmother would give him a glass of water, a glass of tonic and then a gin and tonic. He drank them so fast, he never realized he’d only gotten one G&T.

For more distinguished and possibly balding men from around the world, click over to Sepia Saturday. You will be happy you did!

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14 thoughts on “Du Pont Sales Team

  1. gluepot says:

    Interesting man, and quite some stories that have survived. I’m particularly intrigued by the one about Niagara Falls – is it really true?

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  2. grammaa says:

    On the story of the tunnel. He was going to go to the end of the tunnel under Lake Oswego NY, to check the connections, his “compadres” said he had been out there too many times already and that they should go on without him, and he should return to the opening. No one really knows what happened – in the tunnel it was ready for the explosion the following morning when the cap would be exploded under the lake for the water supply to Oswego, NY, An explosion occurred, those men were killed and Horace was thrown head over heels, but was alive.
    On the story of Niagara Falls face lift and hydro-electric plant to be built to be constructed at the same time, he and the two other dynamite companies ALL sold dynamite to the project. It took several years to complete. Your Dad had an opportunity to go with him and tour part of the project. For more information ask Dad!

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  3. Auntie Kat says:

    Dad told me the green box we use at events is a dynamite box. Sturdy boxes!

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  4. Okay, there should be a post card with DuPont on the front saying “Having a blast at Niagara falls.”

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  5. Bob Scotney says:

    The Explosive Department fellows were obvious a dynamic lot, I know that golfing feeling.

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  6. postcardy says:

    I never knew that Niagara Falls had facelifts. The story about the highballs is really funny.

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  7. Little Nell says:

    Amazing anecdotes spawned by one group photo!

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  8. Nigel Aspdin (Derby, UK) says:

    I found a press report of the explosion here:
    http://goo.gl/68vxE

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  9. Alan BURNETT says:

    A perfect example of all that is best about Sepia Saturday. A prompt, a connection via an image, loads of history, all served in a rich sauce of memories.

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  10. Wendy says:

    Two great stories – enjoyed both!

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  11. Karen S. says:

    Oh my, this is all quite a story of true life (thank goodness he was okay) I just completely enjoy how one theme photo can lead to so many things, I mean Dupont and the falls all big, big things! Right in your own family treasures! Sometimes you just never know what a box can hold right!

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  12. grammaa says:

    I just went to the website about the explosion. I am surprised that it was there on the internet, it happened so long ago. We were on our honeymoon in 1956. Nor did I realize that it was Lake Ontario that was to supply the water to Oswego and that the tunnel was 4,000 feet long.

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  13. A perfect choice for the theme. Like all the previous commentors I like the mix of a staid photo with an explosive story. In the days before OSHA, such accidents were unfortunately too common.

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