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The Waterbury Clock Company
After Glow - 90 Years Ago Workers At The Waterbury Clock Company Began Dying After Painting Radium On Clock Dials
A dial painter suffered from radium-induced sarcoma of the chin. The workers, mostly young women, used their mouthes to form sharp points on the brush that they would dip in and out of radium paint. Image from the book "Deadly Glow - The Radium Dial Worker Tragedy."
Story by Ann Quigley
(This article was first published The Waterbury Observer in September 2002)
It was 1921 when 17-year –old Frances Splettstocher landed a job at the Waterbury Clock Company on Cherry Street. It was a glamorous job, for she and her young colleagues worked with radium – the wonder substance of the new century. The girls used their keen eyes and nimble fingers to paint tiny numbers on glow-in-the-dark watches that were all the rage at the moment. World War I soldiers had worn the futuristic devices in the trenches, and now in peacetime everyone wanted one, so Splettstocher and dozens like her were hired to help produce millions of the watches during the early 1920s.