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The Quiet 50s Most Revolutionary Decade

By Yancey S. Gilkerson

The "Quiet 50s"-MostRevolutionary DecadeMany writers continually refer to the Fifties as the "quiet times," perhaps because those writers were overly impressed by the Sixties' civil rights marches, student riots, and Vietnam War protests. But the Fifties were scarcely quiet; instead, they were one of the most revolutionary decades in our history: the Korean War, the McCarthy years, the H-Bomb, the school desegregation decision, Eisenhower's election, the death of Stalin, Castro's victory in Cuba, Russia's Sputnik and unmanned spaceship to the moon, the dominance of television, wash-and-wear clothing, Suez, the growth of suburbia, and decline of Main Streetsturning point after turning point, new dawn after new dawn.The Korean War brought surprise to the textile industry, which had braced for a true wartime demand that never came, so swiftly did hostilities begin, peak, and stabilize at low level. The cause of the conflict was almost happenstance.The United Nations Security Council refused to eject the Chinese nationalists in favor of the representatives of the mainland Communist regime. That angered Russia, whose Joseph Malik stalked out taking with him Russia's veto power over U. N. action. On the last Saturday in June, 1950, North Korean troops attacked the South on a 90-mile front. All of Korea was then a ward of the U.N. with Russian and Western spheres of influence meeting at about the 38th parallel. The Reds coveted South Korea and thought the U.S. would not resist their advance. But President Truman responded: "The attack upon Korea makes it plain beyond all doubt that Communism has passed beyond the use of subversion, and will now use armed invasion and war." He then called up the reserves, many of them WWII veterans just settling into new careers. The U.N. voted a "police action; there was no Russian there to veto. For two months,the Reds pushed the South Korean-U.N. forces down the peninsula until General MacArthur outflanked the Reds with a brilliant amphibious landing at lnchon and drove them steadily north toward the Chinese-Russian frontiers while China warned "Don't cross the 38th Parallel!" The U.N. forces did not stop at the 38th, and drove for the Yalu River border. The Chinese then entered the war with human waves attacking to bugle calls, swarming over the Americans.Marine Colonel Lewis B. (Chesty) Puller, who had recruited many mill men in the textile belt in the early days of World War 11, found his regiment surrounded: "The enemy is in front of us, behind us, to the left of us and to the right of us. They won't escape this time. The conflict finally stabilized along the 38th parallel.Mills ReadyThe mills had been ready for the emergency that didn't come. The country had been apprehensive of a deep depression that didn't come. Instead, change continued, most of it progress.The index of industrial production (1957 =100) went from 75 in 1950 to 110 in 1960; utilities from 52 to 122; transportation equipment from 53 to 106; instruments from 59 to 118; rubber and plastic products from 72 to 116; and machinery from 70 to 109. Automation spread. The new fibers proliferated. New defense and space age industries expandedelectronics for guidance, control and communication. Sales of foreign cars doubled.Rates on short term business loans rose from 2.7% in 1950 to 5% in 1959, the highest level in 28 years.The percentage of farm workers in the labor force steadily declined. In 1900, it was 37.5%; 17.6% in 1940; 16.9% in 1950; and by 1960, 7.1%.There had been 13,840,000 women in the work force in 1940, 36.4% of them married. By 1957, the number had grown to 21,523,000 of whom 53.4% were married. The trend to the two-income family was clearly established.Japanese ImportsThere were other trends that would continue into the present. Example:"Japan's export goal in 1950 is one billion yards [of fabric], which would exceed 1949 exports by 30%. This means that the country will soon become a leading cotton exporter. On top of that, SCAP [Supreme Command Allied Powers] has taken steps to lift ceiling limits on the number of spindles, following recommendations made by Senator Eastland's subcommittee. Both these items present a double-barreled threat to the American cotton textile industry."The Reporter asked, "Will Orlon be the fiber of the year" noting that rapidly expanding use and immediate consumer acceptance of limited items made with the new [acrylic variant] fiber indicated a growth paralleling that of nylon.The new fibers were bringing new spinning problems [to the millman]: "never before has the problem of correct usage of his machinery and raw material been so complicated or demanding of skill and good judgment.Sulzer Looms Double ProductionEditor Bennett reported that "according to Louis Poss, president of Cleveland Worsted Mills, the eight new WarnerandSwazey Sulzer looms which have been in operation in his plant for the past month have produced twice as much cloth per machine as his other looms. Mr. Poss says he finds practically no waste with the new looms, stating that if Cleveland were completely equipped with the new machines, there would be savings of about $200,000 on waste alone. He claims that the looms have been turning out 140 yards of worsted cloth every 24 hours compared with 70 yards on his other looms."Not every loom was a success: "Manufacturing rights, designs and patents to the loom developed by the M. W. Kellogg Co. have been purchased by Steel and Alloy Tank Co. of Newark, N. J., according to reports. No statement as to the new owner's intentions have been forthcoming, but for all intents and purposes, the much-ballyhood Kellogg loom appears to be a bust."By late summer of 1950, The Reporter was saying "the war situation to date is expected to bring only a gradual increase in buying of textiles, and barring a widening of hostilities into a world conflict, government priorities should not be necessary for textiles."Bennett Blasts TrumanBut, Editor Bennett wanted action, and said so in no uncertain terms:"'What are we afraid of" A New York selling agent asks us about the situation in Korea. We are not a statesman. The only thing we know about Korea is something as to its geographical location, but we have some thoughts about the Korean situation."We haven't anybody in Washington in authority except a lot of practical politicians, in the business for the gravy, our two biggest businesses today are politics and labor. We wish we had some real tough fellow in Washington, and particularly Bernard Baruch he is too oldbut someone with Baruchts toughness and ability, and half his age, in charge, and say to Russia "pull the plug in Korea and get out and, if you don't do it, we are going to drop three atom bombs on you."What's the sense in fooling around on it We know that we are not prepared for the Third World War. Perhaps Russia is prepared but doesn't want it. If we drop the bomb on Russia, she might retaliate with atom bombs if she has them, and the only information we have that Russia has atom bombs is Truman's word for it. We know that Roosevelt misled us and misinformed us, and we haven't any more respect for Truman than we had for Rooseveltwe wouldn't trust either of them as far as we could swing a bull by the tail."Machine Orders LevelBy the time of the Southern Textile Exposition in October, The Reporter was commenting that machinery orders were leveling off after spurting for two months after Korea. However, most American machinery manufacturers were quoting prices from 5% to 10% above those at outbreak of the war. At the same time,they were extending shipment dates.The Greenville show was deemed a success, although machinery exhibits and rank of spectators were said not to compare with the Atlantic City show held in the spring which had concentrated on machinery and had not admitted as exhibitors most of the manufacturers of auxiliary equipment, accessories and supplies who formed the backbone of the Greenville show.Machinery Industry Moves SouthThe Reporter commented that the South was becoming a mill supply center: "It has been stated that most all of the textile machinery manufacturers are thinking of putting at least an engineering staff in the South for close contact with customers and for receiving recommendations for changes and improvements."Numerous plants devoted to the manufacture of repair parts and supplies for all types of mill machinery have sprung up in the South in recent years. The latest Bureau of the Census figures show that of the 489 machinery firms in existence in 1947, 77 of them were located in the South Atlantic states. Most of the industry's big names have yet to set up machinery shops, but nearly all of them have Southern supply depots."From Tokyo, The Reporter reported that if necessary funds are available, the Japanese cotton industry will have six million spindles in two to three years, according to the Economic Stabilization Board. The limit of four million spindles has been abolished recently by SCAP. And Japanese rayon producers were planning to increase their output.At meetings of operating executives, there was scattered talk of the Rando-Feeder and Rando-Webber machines being introduced by Curlator Corp., East Rochester, N. Y., for production of nonwovens, then just gaining a toe-hold.There was occasional talk too of "Lockwood Greene Gothic", the nickname applied to the flying buttresses constructed at some old multi-storey mills to help control vibration of the high speed looms than moving into the mills. Use of pads under looms for vibration control was being recommended at STA meetings.TV Gaines In InfluenceIn 1951, television replaced radio as the nation's most popular entertainment, and TV cameras carried the Kefauver Committee hearings on organized crime into millions of homesthe storied gangsters came to life. The first electricity produced by nuclear energy moved into a power grid and direct dialing of long distance telephone calls began.Truman fired MacArthur for insubordination on April 11, 1951; the general had wanted to carry the war all out to victory.The Cold War between the superpowers became so frigid that for a time the Cincinnati Reds changed their name. With the help of mathematician John von Neumann's mathematical analyzer, numerical integrator and computer (acronym MANIAC), the H-Bomb was developed, and, when tested at Eniewetok Atoll, October 31- November 1, 1952, blew Elugelab island out of existence and left a mile-long, 175 foot deep canyon in the Pacific.The Russians announced their H-Bomb nine months later.First ITMAOf major interest to the top textile executives was the April 28-May 30, 1951 International Textile Machinery Exhibition at Lille, France, the first of the ITMA's that were to display developing new concepts in textile technology.The H-Bomb tests and terror tales in the consumer press, led to a frenzy of civil defense plans and to temporary promotion of such textile tom-foolery for protection against radiation as lead-foil bras and girdles, and sleepwear made of aluminum foil.Television, linked to line-of-sight reception in its early years and thus to local talent and film received by mail after shows were shot in New York and Hollywood, finally went coast-to-coast on September 4, 1951 through the use of microwave relay and coaxial cable linking 94 stations serving 44 million viewers. Into the mid-50's, sales averaged five million sets a year, nearly all black and white. That led to the creation of the TV dinner, and the drain on water reservoirs as commercials brought on the unison flush. Five thousand movie theaters closed.Name ChangeIn November, 1951, the American Wool and Cotton Reporter changed its name to America's Textile Reporter wedded to no special fiber or process".The next year brought the General to the hustings. Sought by both parties, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, consented to run as a Republican, won the nomination and easily overwhelmed the votes of those who were mad for Adlai Stevenson. Within weeks of the election, he went to Korea to look over the stalemated war lines.The Reporter cited the relative status of the larger mill groups as of mid-summer, 1952: "Undoubtedly the biggest thing in textile manufacturing is Deering' MillikenandCo., who last year did $550 million. Stevens did nearly $350 million; Celanese with over $200 million; American Woolen Company with $250 million; and Burlington Mills with $350 million follow."Knitting Heads SouthBennett was forecasting the shift of knitting to the South:It has recently been announced that the Chipman people down in Pennsylvaniathe big underwear knittershave closed permanently their cotton yarn spinning plants."And, right at the same time, it was announced that the Oneida Knitting Mills in Utica, N. Y., have closed down their cotton yarn spinning plant. Of course, those are two practical things. They, even though they used the yarn themselves, hence were void of selling expense, couldn't compete with the southern cotton yarn spinners. They could buy yarn in the South cheaper than they could produce it themselves.....we personally believe that one of these days, not too far distant, the whole thing, the knitting machinery, will be moved down Southlock, stock and barrel."About the same time, he wrote about "Why I like New England," a nostalgic piece that concluded with the observation that later generations of the Bennetts would move down South to work, as they later did.Synthetic plants were increasing in number: One issue of the magazine reported:

  • Chemstrand was building a $25,540,000 plant for staple acrylic fiber at Decatur, Ala.
  • Beaunit Mills had a $10 million viscose rayon plant underway near Childersburg, Ala.
  • DuPont was building a $84,500,000 nylon plant at Pensacola, Fla.
  • Textron Southern had a synthetic yarn plant under construction at Williamston, S.C. at the cost of $6,597,800.
  • Celanese was expanding at Rock Hill, S.C.
  • Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. was planning a $9,860,000 glass yarn plant at Anderson, S.C.
  • Gayley Mill Corp., a Milliken plant. had a $3,579,179 nylon plant at Marietta, S.C.
All this, editor Bennett said. was enough to make the cotton industry "excited, baffled, angered, disheartened, challenged, ultimately encouraged."Some mill discouragement had come with the problems of processing machine-picked cotton. The Department of Agriculture's Southern Regional Research Lab at New Orleans came up with a new type opener, designed to overcome problems with the mechanically harvested lint. Seven machinery firms were licensed to manufacture the opener.The Reporter commented on "the vast potential" for Saran. More than 25 mills were producing fabric from the monofilament for use as screen cloth, furniture upholstery and strapping, luggage covers, and for industrial constructions.Retailers were selling washable suits made of Dacron, with some resultant problems. DuPont, which carefully prepared standards, found that cutters often didn't follow them.Then, the cotton/polyester blend that made wash-and-wear summer suits a pleasure was on the way.Supermarket operators were proving that packaged socks, hosiery, and underwear could sell themselves on the shelf. Some industry leaders began working more closely with packaging designers and manufacturers.Massachusetts Congressman John F. Kennedy's statement that the federal government should help unionize Southern labor and help retain industry in New England brought a quick, sharp rebuttal from South Carolina Governor James F. Byrnes: "I find it difficult to believe that any man can be so reckless in his statements. "Import Problem BeginsACMI Spokesman H. K. Hallett said "many intensely nationalistic governments are imposing quotas and other restrictions to increase their own textile operations and, at the same time, they seek to invade foreign markets to gain exchange advantages." The import problem about which he spoke was fast becoming a threat to many print cloth mills.The 1952 Southern Textile Exposition, October 6- 11, was bigger than ever, thanks to a new annex at Textile Hall. As had been its practice for many years, Reporter rated an information service for visitors, an important assist to what had become, over the decades, a gigantic college reunion for graduates of the textile schools who could count on meeting their classmates and friends at Textile Hall every two years.Stalin died March 5, 1953, and Russia began to emerge from the years of his terror but not from the expansionism that had characterized the country since the days of the czars. Later in the 50's, Fidel Castro would invade his homeland, Cuba. and, in 1959, would emerge as ruler of a Communist satellite just off the U.S. mainland.In Korea, truce negotiations were almost sabotaged when South Korean Leader Syngman Rhee, who wanted the U.S. to keep fighting, turned loose the North Korean/Chinese POUls whom the negotiators had agreed to repatriate. Angered, the Reds launched a major offensive, but were turned back, and on July 27th a truce was finally achieved after 37 months of fighting and two million deaths, 80% of them civilian. The American forces lost 54,000 dead.A recession followed, lasting into 1954, resulting from liquidation of inventory and a sharp cut in defense spending.Desegregation And Southern Labor That spring, May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in the public schools, the beginning of change that would profoundly affect the labor force of Southern mills over the next decade, since many of the Southern states still had laws that prohibited black employment in certain textile jobs, a carry-over from the Jim Crow statutes of the 1890's.On May 7, 1954, the French fortress of Dienbienphu in Indo-China fell to the Viet Cong. Rumors swept the country that the United States would move forces in to replace the French. Business faltered, but President Eisenhower wanted no war on the Asian mainland. Indo-China was carved into Laos, Cambodia, North Vietnam (run by the Reds) and South Vietnam.The Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine, was at sea. Nuclear power stations were on the drawing board. Protective clothing for workers in the nuclear industry would soon become a small but significant part of the textile industry.The first digital computer, the Mark 1, had been built at Harvard in 1944, vacuum tubes, 760,000 parts, and 500 miles of wire. Now, in 1954, the first computers for business purposes were ready. Twenty were shipped to customers that year, more than a thousand in 1957, and 2000 in 1960.There were disputes over the prospect of automation eliminating jobs. The Reporter called the industry's attention to a prediction, in an 1853 issue of United States Review, to the effect that "within 50 years, machinery will perform all workautomata will direct them. The only tasks of the human race will be to make love, study and be happy."More ImportsImports were pouring into the country from all directions. The outraged National Association of Wool Manufacturers declared that the federal government had placed the textile industry "on the sacrificial altar of foreign trade for the benefit of the export trade."E. Howard Bennett, editor of the Reporter, was outraged by the plan of American Woolen Co. management to dispose of 11 mills and retire certain classes of stock. He solicited proxies in opposition to management.A late January edition reported: "A cancelled special meeting, two rump sessions, and four bids to buy their company were all thrown at stockholders of American Woolen Co. within a space of five days in one of the most confusing corporate situations in many years."The confused situation would continue far into the year. The woolen business was changing, continuing to move South.Arthur O. Wellman, president of NicholsandCompany, Inc., Boston's largest processor of raw wool, announced in January that his firm would build a $3 million wool treatment plant at Johnsonville, S. C., near Charleston, to process 20 million pounds a year. Greenwood Mills was completing its 10-acre Dourest plant at Greenwood, S. C. and was said to be the first print cloth mill built in South Carolina in 25 years. The mill, fifth in the Greenwood chain, was equipped with 1,700 Draper X and E looms and 60,000 spindles, bringing the Greenwood group's totals to about 300,000 spindles and 7,000 looms, all financed by earnings, not a penny borrowed."The dramatic 10-year shift in fiber consumptionthe impact of man-made fibers was illustrated in a table published by The Reporter.Man-Made Fiber Machinery BloomsThe ATME show in April 1954 at Atlantic City was called the greatest in history and featured much machinery dealing with man-made fibers. Bigger packages were in evidence, up to six pounds. Lots of aisle talk centered on the lease arrangements being offered by WarnerandSwazey and Universal Winding/Leesona. British machinery firms were the biggest rivals to the U.S. machinery, followed by Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland. The Japanese representation was not a factor at the time.The Reporter said members of the American Textile Machinery Association were reimbursed about 95% of their exhibit space costs as a result of successful space sales to non-members, most foreigners.At a meeting soon after the show, finishers were saying that the new, faster methods of dyeing required new dyes. A report said 9,623 million linear yards of cotton, silk and synthetic fabrics were finished in 1953. There was talk of curtailment. The cotton spinning industry operated during May at 122.6% of capacity on basis of a two-shift 80-hour week, compared with 138.6% in May of 1953. By July, many mills were planning longer than usual vacations shutdowns. The Reporter said mill men feel that these extra days of curtailment will create a temporary scarcity in some lines which will encourage buyers to step into the market."Textron was running ads featuring its textile division AND its plants serving the aircraft and auto industries. Chairman Royal Little said second quarter sales of close to $25 million showed a loss in textiles, "but other divisions were good." Textron's textile plants at the time were:
Gossett Finishing Plant, Anderson, S. C.Hartwell Mill, Hartwell, Ga.Honea Path Mill, Honea Path, S. C.Humacao Plant, Humacao, Puerto RicoLadlassie Mill, Anderson, S. C.Louise Mill, Charlotte, N. C.Peerless Mill, Belton, S.C.Williamston Throwing Plant, Williamston, S.C.Ponce Mill, Ponce, Puerto RicoRiverside Mill, Anderson, S. C. R. W. Bates Piece Dye Works, Garnersville, N.Y.Southside Mill, Anderson, S.C.Toxaway Mill. Anderson, S.C.Williamston Rayon Mill, Williamston, S.C.Williamston Cotton Mill, Williamston, S.C.
The Reporter noted in July that American Woolen Company, soon to be part of a three-cornered deal with Textron and Robbins Mills, would be operating only seven New England mills after its planned liquidation of four more properties.Nylon's GloryNylon was observing its 15th anniversary, its use having spread from women's hosiery and lingerie to almost every conceivable article of apparel and dozens of industrial uses and, in 1954, strongly into carpets and tire cord. From 1937 to 1952, man-made fiber consumption increased by 1,128 million pounds, in 128 itemized end uses, a gain of 331%. Increases for cotton, wool, silk and linen combined equaled only 454 million pounds or 10%. Odd fact: There was enough nylon in a 1954 tire to make 3,000 pairs of hosiery.The Reporter ran a special section on the 16 principal synthetic fibers then available.The biennial Southern Textile Exposition in October 1954 had 280 exhibitors from the U.S., England, West Germany and Switzerland, compared to 259 in 1952, thanks to a new 14,000 sq.ft. annex, but, the weather was hot. The hottest item in the show was spinning changeovers [remodeling of ring spinning frames with new cots, cradles, ball bearings]. In six months, four manufacturers had sold approximately 1,250,000 changeovers which cost the mills half the cost of new spinning. Whitin sold 750,000; Roberts, 400,000; Coleman Co., 100,000; and the W. D. Dodenhoff Co., 7,500.Foreign Machine Makers10 Years AheadU.S. machinery exhibitors at STE sharply criticized published reports that the overseas exhibitors were 10 years ahead in textile machinery development.The board of the American Textile Machinery Association announced postponement of the Atlantic City show previously scheduled for 1958 to April of 1960, citing costs of research and development and of show preparation.The American Institute of Management designated West Point Manufacturing Co., West Point, Ga. as the best managed company in the textile mill products industry.Japanese Imports GrowJapanese exports of cotton cloth to the U.S. increased a phenomenal five times in one year, The Reporter said, and were 30 times the volume of 1951.In the summer of 1955, the import situation reached such proportions that The Reporter editorialized:It is doubtful if any recent decision by a government agency has developed such universal antagonism as the recent tariff concessions granted to Japan by the U.S. Department of State at Geneva. The new concessions give the Japanese a guarantee of excess profit on 75% to 80% of the cotton fabric worn by the people of the United States."The Georgia and Alabama legislatures, still in session, adopted resolutions condemning the action. Early the next year, the South Carolina legislature adopted a country-of-origin labeling act so consumers would know what they were buying, but the State Department claimed violation of federal laws and the act was moot. Many legislators felt it was clear the State Department was on the side of foreigners, not Americans. In August 1955, Japanese fabric exports to the U.S. were 52 million yardsa one month figure greater than the total for 1954 of 47.8 million yards.Washington shed crocodile tears as mills closed.Imports and unions were a one-two punch that many textile companies could not absorb. The Reporter said: "Berkshire Hathaway, in a full-page advertisement of the Providence Journal, has pointed out, correctly, that since 1948, two hundred cotton and synthetic weaving mills, employing 100,000 people, including wage earners and salaried white collar workers, have gone over the dam."It is no coincidence that 90 per cent of the 200 mills were CIO organized, nor is it strange that practically every one of them was located in New England or the Middle Atlantic states."A more positive view was voiced by Charles E. Daniel, the Greenville, S. C., construction dynamo who had built scores of plants across the South: "Our industry will continue to build new mills. The history of the American textile industry has been continual liquidating at the non-profit end while at the same time carrying on a continuous program of expansion and modernization at the profit end."The Reporter's special section on synthetic fibers bore out his theme of modernization, carrying technical and production data on 22 principal synthetic fibers compared with 16 the previous year.Articles commented on the great success in the outerwear trade of fur-like fabrics made of Orlon blended with Dynel300,000 coats sold by 50 manufacturers.TVandTextilesThe effect that television could have on textiles and retailing was highlighted in the late winter, spring and summer of 1955 by the Davy Crockett craze. It seemed every youngster in the country had to haveright nowgarments or equipment like that of the frontiersman, then being featured in a TV series: fringed shirts and pants, coonskin caps, blankets, etc.The popular historian, William Manchester, told of a manufacturer who, overstocked with 200,000 pup tents, stenciled Davy Crockett on the tents, and sold out in two days.The Reporter noted too that use of vinyl film in former textile end products had increased 800 fold since WWII. In 1940, less than 500,000 square yards had been produced, while current production was estimated at 400 million square yards.Manufacturing chemists estimated that textiles were consuming 25% of all industrial chemicals sold, the purchases of the mills in 1955 amounting to $1 billion.U.S. Millmen PraiseSecond ITMAAt the second ITMA, June 25-July 10, in Brussels, Belgium, American delegates were greatly impressed by the show's magnitude and organization. German firms occupied the most space; the Japanese one of the smallest. Machinery was faster, more automated, better designed to handle synthetics and blends. As important as the machinery were the licensing agreements being discussed: Europeans to make American machinery for sale in Europe and the Middle East; Americans to make European machines to sell in North America.By the end of 1955, the number of cotton system textile spindles in the U.S. had declined from 23,105,942 in 1945 to 22,564,000.Starting in 1956, American mills were forced, because of government export subsidies, to pay 25% more for U.S. cotton than foreign competitors paid for the same cotton, an onerous situation lasting for eight years. The tranquilizer, Miltown, in widespread use by 1955' was in demand in textile circles when Washington came into the conversation.Saco-Lowell's giant new plant at Easley, S.C., was under construction in mid-summer, one of the most dramatic moves to the South by textile machinery builders. In New York the industry and its customers watched completion of the new $7,750,000 Fashion Institute of Technology.F. E. Grier, president of Abney Mills and of ACMI, told an industry group, with some sarcasm, that the textile machinery in Japanese mills was the best that U.S. money could buy, the U.S. aid program having completely equipped Japan's devastated mills while American mills coped with depreciation schedules and profit-shaving imports.The Southern Textile Exposition that fall was bigger than ever, Textile Hall having constructed yet another annex. There were 330 exhibitors. Faster, more automatic machinery was noted throughout the show which was still predominately of American exhibits. Opening and blending equipment to cope with trashy cotton drew much attention.The tufting process was winning strong popularity with consumers; 40% of 1955's carpets had come from tufting machines.Take That, Unions!Within days after workers voted for the union at Darlington Manufacturing Co., Darlington, S.C., stockholders were summoned to meet October 17th. They voted to liquidate the mill.While mills closed, as they were doing in substantial numbers in the 1950's, the number of finishing plants rose from 641 in 1947, to 726 in 1954.Suez, Hungary, SputnikOn October 28, 1956, Israel, France and Britain occupied the Suez Canal, encountering little trouble from the Egyptians who had nationalized the canal; but the world held its breath to see what the superpowers would do. President Eisenhower told the three countries to back off, which they did. Meanwhile, Russian tanks and troops crushed a revolt by Hungarians who had hoped for Western support in their fight for freedom from Russia. There was no interruption in the supply of Egyptian cotton for the mills.Despite his health problems, President Eisenhower was easily re-elected in November.Less than a year later, October 4, 1957, Russia dealt the U.S. ego a traumatic blow with the launching of Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite, followed on November 3 by Sputnik II carrying a dog. The U.S. had been working on guided missiles and spacecraft since WWII, but had not realized Russia's progress. From the time the space pioneers first decided that man would go into space, their programs involved the development of exotic textiles and the equipment with which to make them.The Ford Edsel automobile made its bow in the 1957-58 season, as did a recession resulting from excess plant capacity and a sharp drop in exports, with durables hardest hit.The mechanization of farms was driving an abundance of workers to seek jobs in mills and factories, an estimated 16,000 a year in South Carolina alone. In 1931, American farms had only 997,000 tractors and 920,000 trucks. In 1957, there were 4,600,000 tractors and 2,900,000 trucks: more specialized equipment such as cotton pickers was being delivered daily. Hoe hands and ploughmen were relics of the past.Why Mills Moved SouthEditor Bennett wrote in 1958: "When the publication predicted many years ago that the Southeast would take over practically all of the cotton textile operations once located in the Northeastern states, many scoffed."And, when, in the early Thirties, a similar prediction was made regarding the woolen and worsted industry, there was a similar reaction."But, as we look back, it is even easier to see why the South, and particularly the Carolinas and the State of Georgia, should have become the new home for the textile industry generallyresistance to new methods and machinery by many in the North, contrasted with the receptiveness of the South to the new."He cited the success of Milliken and Stevens, and pointed out that in 1943, there had been 1,957,593 worsted spindles in place in the U.S. By 1957, these were down 64%, to 709,144 spindles with 90% of the loss 1,079,889 spindles in New Englandwhile the South grew from 58,312 spindles to 269,444.The U.S. had staged the American National Exhibition in Moscow's Sokolniki Park that summer (19591 complete with demonstrations of American household appliances, displays of American textiles and a fashion show whose wedding dress finale brought tears to the eyes of sentimental Muscovites. Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev was peeved when he tapped Vice President Richard Nixon on the chest in the famous "kitchen debate" over relative merits of the Soviet and American systems. Nixon gave Krushchev finger tap for finger tap to the delight of a number of textile leaders who witnessed the encounter.Nylon VicunaBernard Goldflne, operator of six textile mills in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, had been in federal trouble since 1942 for mislabeling. Along the way, he had ingratiated himself with Sherman Adams, former governor of New Hampshire, competent chief of staff to President Eisenhower's squeaky clean administration, a sharp contrast to the "mess" of the Truman era. The FTC cited Goldfine for mislabeling, as "90 per cent wool, 10 per cent vicuna," a coat which actually contained some nylon. He asked Adams for help. Adams did. The fan was hit. A Congressional investigation turned up evidence of gifts and hospitality for Adams, on which Goldfine had taken tax deductions. Other "gifts" to other politicians came to light during circus-atmosphere testimony. Goldfine finally was cited for contempt of Congress. The Pre