eBay Tuesday: Electric Boat Workers At The Beach

Issue of Parade showcases a break for war workers at a New London beach

Sometimes you just need to take a break, even if there is a war on. That message was the focus of an article in an August 1944 issue of Parade magazine featuring a local defense industry and beach.

The magazine is being offered by user randy*rodman. The article is entitled "War Workers' holiday and features a series of photos, a short article, and a three-question quiz. The photo essay gives a particular focus to Dolores Nesbitt, "girl submarine builder," as she joins other Electric Boat employees for an excursion to Ocean Beach Park.

The beach must have been a little crowded, as the article says Nesbitt was one of 20,000 EB employees taking their first holiday from building submarines and PT boats since the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. That number may be a little overstated; other figures suggest the workforce was at 11,000 to 12,000. The reporter assures readers that the break is well-deserved and not hindering the Allied effort in World War II, since the employees did extra shifts to keep production on pace.

The article says the day out included a "Miss Periscope" contest in which judges looked over participants with an actual submarine periscope, archery, baseball, swimming, and dancing. The workers "spent the afternoon and evening tossing horseshoes instead of rivets, straining at tug-of-war instead of ships' hawsers." At one point, a squadron of PT boats passed by the beach to "show the shipbuilders how some of their products look in action."

Electric Boat has been around for long before World War II, starting out in 1899 when Isaac Rice established the company in order to complete a 54-foot submersible designed by John Philip Holland. Electric Boat built 85 submarines on contract during World War I, with some company subsidiaries building 722 submarine chasers and 118 Liberty ships. World War II saw the manufacture of 74 submarines and 398 PT boats by EB.

The employees' relationship with the company wasn't always as rosy as Parade suggests, though. At about the same time this article appeared, EB workers went on strike after the union president listed 34 grievances. About 90 percent of the employees took part after the president called the strike despite an earlier vote by union members that was overwhelmingly against such a protest. EB president L.Y. Spear insisted that the issue was simply a matter of the union president being upset after he was disciplined for being away from his job without permission. Production resumed six days later pending labor negotiations.

The starting bid for the magazine is $29.99, plus $5 for shipping. The user describes the magazine as being in excellent condition, with slight wear on the cover and edges and a soft fold in the middle. The auction ends at about 10 p.m. on Wednesday.

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