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Former Daystrom workers reunite

Several hundred former employees, spouses and family members didn’t let chilly April temperatures dampen their spirits Saturday when they reunited to celebrate Daystrom Furniture’s 50th anniversary year.

Huddled under the picnic shelter at Edmunds Park, former employees and friends shared old stories and caught up on each other’s lives.

South Boston Mayor and former Daystrom Director of Personnel Relations Carroll Thackston welcomed the crowd.

 “It’s so great to see so many friends and employees here today,” he said thanking the committee and all those who made the reunion day possible.

The first president of Daystrom to live in the county, Frank Piechota, now 92, gave a brief synopsis of how Daystrom got its start in South Boston.

“Some people thought we were a brewery coming in, and people didn’t want a brewery coming,” said Piechota.

“South Boston was head over heels better than the other three communities…we had good production, good sales and good profit. Thank you, and thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he added.

The crowd also heard from former Presidents Stuart Switzer and Cal Raney.

Although some former employees were unable to attend, their spouses came in support of them.

“My husband passed away, but he worked there for 20 years, and I came in support of him,” said Synetha Crews, whose son also was a former employee of Daystrom.

“My husband, William, worked in the grinding machines and my son, William Jr., worked in the paint room for 10 years,” she added.

“My husband worked there for 30 years, but he just had gum surgery, so he wasn’t able to attend, and I came in support of him. He loved working there, and I know he’s sad he’s missing this today,” said Catherine Stevens.

“I remember one night he came home for lunch, and 20 minutes later he was back, and I couldn’t figure out why. He was a supervisor for many years, and he said he was walking across the floors at work and was thinking, my feet have never felt this good. He then realized he forgot to change his shoes, and he was dressed up in a suit with gold bedroom shoes. We laughed about that for a while,” she added. 

As former employees and friends continued to share stories, the one thing heard throughout the afternoon was how Daystrom “was a great place to work. Everyone was like a family, and everyone had a great time.”

Dale Hardy and Cecile Ingram who both worked there for over 30 years agreed that everyone “had a ball,” and there were parties for birthdays, holidays, and many friendships made outside of the work place that still hold true today.

Aubrey Duffer, who chaired the committee organizing the reunion, and an employee at Daystrom from the day they opened their doors until the day they closed, said, “Everyone worked well together. We had a lot of parties, and we did plant tours for spouses, kids and employees, and they really liked that.”

“I’m tickled with the turnout today. I’d say we have about 200-250 now and expect we’ll have a few more later,” said Duffer.

One former employee, Jim “James” Allred, brought his first pay stub to the reunion.

“When I got there, they were still sitting up machinery, and I left from 1963-1965 to go into the military,” said Allred.

Allred still has all of his pay stubs. He left Daystrom in 1971.

Malcolm Morgan worked there for 27 years, and Harold Ragsdale worked at Daystrom for 11 years. Both men agreed they enjoyed working there, and when they weren’t busy working, they enjoyed sitting around telling hunting and fishing stories.

Willard Lowery said he had some good and some bad times.

“I worked there for 31 years, but I was involved in an electrical explosion that burned 85 percent of my body,” said Lowery.

“He’s lucky to be alive,” said George Adcock who worked at the furniture plant for 14 years.

“I had good times all the time, and I enjoyed every bit of it. It was the best place I ever worked,” said Adcock.

The reunion day was filled with light refreshments, hugs, handshakes and stories shared about “our Daystrom.”