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Video by Nick Woodbury
Helena “Mickey” Crocker was walking past the Abbot Mill many years ago, when she encountered the mill’s night supervisor who offered her a temporary job.
Crocker, 92, lives in the Graniteville section of Westford. She recalls when the Abbot Worsted Mill was in full operation, providing work, entertainment and day trips for employees living in the northwest section of town.
Crocker ended up working in the mill, producing recapitulation budgets. “…my father laughed. He said, “…that was your worst subject,” she said. But she reassured her father that she would use a calculator to help her.
“In that mill, when I worked up on the third floor, we had spoolers, twisters, warpers, doffers,” she said. Only men worked inside the sorting room, pulling apart the soft bundles of lamb’s wool. The women, who worked on another level of the building, noticed how soft their male colleagues’ hands were from touching the wool all day long.
“All the mill workers had the nicest, softest hands in Westford, or I should say, in the mill,” said Crocker.
Crocker fondly remembers how important the mill was to Westford.
“Abbot Worsted was so good,” she said. ‘They…took care of the children in town. At Christmas time, we’d go over to the hall where the movies were. We had movies three times a week. They sponsored trips.”
Crocker recalls the train Abbot provided to take the workers up to Old Orchard Beach in Maine for a day in the sun.
“I can’t say enough about how generous and how good they were,” she said.
Do you have a short memory about Westford you’d like to share? If so, email News Director Joyce Pellino Crane at [email protected].