A Repost of The Stink Kitchen
DuPont Chemical Lab
Eventually, I left the phone company job and went to work at E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company—DuPont for short—located on Grays Ferry Avenue, in South Philadelphia. I became frustrated at how Western Electric management would always increase my daily quota for making electrical connections and the quantity of cables installed. For instance, no matter how many wire-wrap or solder connections I made in one day, management would increase the number by about 5%. The same increase also applied to the amount of cable footage I pulled.At that time, DuPont was already well integrated with blacks. From my Air Force experience as a water treatment specialist working in a stink kitchen (chemical laboratory), and the chemistry classes I took at Drexel, I was hired on as a lab rat (chemical laboratory technician). I referred to the chemist I worked for as the mad doctor, because of the chemical concoctions he had me whip up to be run through a battery of test.
Since my dad worked for a paint company, he’d bring home an assortment of chemical ingredients that I would experiment with on my own. With my extra efforts it was of no avail, since I was unable to make any improvement to the product. I quickly learned that there was more to making paint than meets the eye.
In the lab they experimented with a wide assortment of chemical products including: glues, Teflon cook wear coatings, car waxes, inks, nylon, paints and others. The most desired job was testing the wear and tear of womens’ nylon stockings, especially the chance to go off site for field testing. The lab techs would return with all sorts of erotic encounters with the most voluptuous and leggy women. Needless to say, this was the position I desired most.
Some folks had proclaimed that I was able to take advantage of these job openings because of “Affirmative Action,” and not my own technical skills. I must admit, the timing couldn’t have been better. However, it was obvious to me that they were envious, since they were unable to compete in the new technical climate. In addition, they ignored my academic achievements, and the years of experience I already had in the technological arena.
Similar to the previous job at Western Electric, my chemist expected more from me in addition to the extracurricular efforts that I had put in. Therefore, after a year I was ready to grab hat, especially since I couldn’t get a position testing the wear and tear of ladies’ nylon stockings.