Stanfield's Limited exhibit to open Saturday

Lyle Carter
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'It's going to be a wonderful tribute'

Another fascinating exhibit will open Saturday at the Colchester Historical Society Museum on Young Street in Truro.

 

It's billed as 'Stanfield's knit into the fabric of Colchester' and it will feature photos, newspaper articles and historic accounts of Stanfield's Limited, the well-known company with roots in Truro extending to the 1850s.

 

"I think that this is one of the most important exhibits that we have done," said exhibit committee member Donna Reese. "It will be important to many people. There will be a lot of interest because Stanfield's Limited touched so many families in this area. We expect many people to visit the museum to view this exhibit."

As Elinor Maher, Gladys Otterson, Terry White and Reese worked on displays recently, I viewed some of the photos and artifacts. They include the arrival of Charles Stanfield in Truro in 1855, family descendants including the Rt. Honorable Robert Stanfield, textile manufacturing highlights and much more.

 

It truly is an interesting journey back in time. There are also notable newspaper and poster advertisements with such tags as Great Moments In Underwear, Stanfield's Unshrinkable Underwear and Stanfield's Red Label Underwear made of pure wool.

 

And sports buffs will appreciate photos of Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Brooks Robinson, Don Drysdale and other baseball greats wearing long sleeve undershirts made by Stanfield's.

 

Winnie (Mills) Roy, 83, is just one of the thousands of men and women who have worked at the factory through the decades.

 

"I went to work at Stanfield's Limited in 1955," said Roy, who is originally from Coldstream, Colchester County. "Ryland Marshall was the superintendent when I went in looking for a job. Riley asked me if I could sew. I explained that I had sewed and made what I was wearing. Riley said, 'you come into work tomorrow morning.'

 

"I reported and worked in the silk department for the next four years. The floor lady was Kay Decoste."

Roy's years at Stanfield's left her with many good memories.

"I looked up from my desk one day to see my boss Walter Styles chasing a mouse across the floor trying to hit it with a broom. There was no way that mouse was going to let Walter catch him. Walter kept swinging but the mouse got away."

Roy still has a suitcase that the silk and t-shirt department employees presented her in 1959 when she left town to live in Winnipeg.

"I now use it as a memory case. I think (the exhibit) is a great idea and it's going to be a wonderful tribute."

In 1957, Calvin 'Bud' Isenor joined Stanfield's where two of his sisters and an aunt were already employed.

 

After a year cutting tubing on a circular tubing machine used for garments all over the mill, he became a machine mechanic. This was followed by a stint as foreman for heavy course underwear, men's briefs and pep shirts.

"It was during April of 1966 that I set up a sewing operation for Stanfield's in Oxford," Isenor told me. "I remember going to a company in Chicago called 'Union Special Sewing.' We purchased a million dollars worth of sewing equipment for the Oxford Stanfield's plant. At our peak period I remember we had 168 employees of which 164 were women."

Isenor, who traveled a fair amount to textile exhibits, recalled trips to Atlantic City, N.J., Atlanta and Auzaka, Japan.

"The company in Japan had five major plants and 33 contract plants. As many as 2,500 people worked in one plant. It was really something to see. It was the only time in my life that I saw robots operating a knitting department."

Isenor worked at Stanfield's for 45 years before retiring in 2002 and had lots of stories to tell.

 

"Some of them are really humorous," he said. "They would involve Frank Stanfield, Charlie Stanfield, Riley Marshall, Bill Seaman and a number of others.

 

Saturday's exhibit opening begins at 2 p.m.

TAGLINE: Lyle Carter's column appears every Tuesday in the Truro Daily News. If you've got an idea for 'Your Stories,' contact him at 673-2857.

 

Organizations: Stanfield's, Colchester Historical Society Museum, Oxford Stanfield Truro Daily News

Geographic location: Truro, Colchester County, Young Street Coldstream Japan Winnipeg Oxford Chicago Atlantic City Atlanta

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