Their memories were locked behind closed, abandoned factory doors in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1987, but a few former Armstrong Tire employees brought them all back to life.
Until ’87, the only “reunions” had been unplanned and unwanted meetings at co-workers’ funerals. “We just simply want to bring everyone together,” organizer Mike Harrell said. “I’ve heard this many, many times, but it isn’t going to happen unless someone puts out an effort.”
The Natchez plant produced its first tire on May 1, 1939 and its 50 millionth tire on Aug. 1, 1968. Both tires were on display at the reunion.
In 1939 there were 400 people on the payroll, which grew to 1,350 by 1968 and went above 1,400. The payroll reached $12,800,000 and in 1968 an average of 18,000 tires a day were produced. Armstrong made a vital contribution to the economy of Natchez.
Employee photos from the building were on display at the reunion and family members of deceased employees were encouraged to attend and bring photos of their relative who worked at Armstrong.
A potluck dinner was served and a $5 per person donation covered expenses.
From a story by Julie Finley in the Natchez Democrat, Natchez, Mississippi.