Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Vision Needed to Get Us off Our Laurels

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Vision Needed to Get Us off Our Laurels

Article excerpt

In October 1933, seven scientists and engineers, some of whom were educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, moved from New York City to Evansville to become a part of a 30-member research and development team of the Electrolux division of Servel Inc. According to Courier writer William H. O'Connell, the move was "incidental to the establishment of this city as a capital in modern refrigeration engineering and research." By 1937, the company had produced its millionth Servel-Electrolux refrigerator, long before either Seeger or Whirlpool were even thought of. About a decade earlier - long before they welded together the first boat trailer for which the company would later become nationally famous - Charles, Walter and Harry Holzclaw, tool-and-die makers by trade, developed a compressed-air actuated impact wrench and sold the patent rights to Ingersoll-Rand which marketed the device under their name.

Also in the early 1920s, the Graham Brothers, Robert, Joseph and Ray, started building Graham trucks using Dodge Brothers engines and drivetrains purchased through a local Dodge dealership owned by Otto and Charles Hartmetz. After cutting a deal with Frederick Haynes, who became the manager of the company soon after both Dodge brothers tragically died from a serious influenza epidemic in 1920, the Grahams marketed their trucks through the national Dodge dealer body. By 1925, they had produced more than 24,000 units and became the largest manufacturer of 1 -and 2-ton trucks in North America.

Many years later, as the dark clouds of war loomed over the U.S. after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a team of metallurgists in an engineering laboratory assembled at the local Chrysler factory at Stringtown Road and Maxwell Avenue (buildings the Grahams originally built) were tasked with the assignment of coming up with a suitable steel alloy from which to make cartridge casings for.45-caliber ammunition. After discovering the alloy and test- firing thousands of rounds, the factory went on to produce some 3.2 billion rounds, 96 percent of all that was used during World War II.

Later, a noncorrosive primer was developed by these same scientists, which was used in the manufacture of some 465 million rounds of.30-caliber carbine ammunition assembled locally by Chrysler employees.

So why yet another history lesson from this city's industrial past? Simply to underscore how appalling and reprehensible what is presently transpiring within this city truly is.

Evansville has lost its creative, industrial spark. It did not happen overnight and one would be hard-pressed to delineate all the contributing factors. What is more important is that community leaders in both local corporations and government do not seem to be at all interested in the causes of this precipitous decline nor what can be done to reverse the trajectory. …

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