By Clare Goldsberry

Keeping the history of plastics and the plastics industry alive for future generations is an important mission for the Plastics Pioneers Association. It is so true that you can’t truly know where you are or why unless you understand where you came from, and that’s just as applicable to the plastics industry.

Glenn Beall does an excellent job of coordinating efforts with purchasing artifacts, working with Syracuse University (SU) which houses plastics artifacts, catalogues various histories of people and materials, and generally preserves our history for the future generations. Glenn continues this work and we are all grateful for his efforts.

Some of Glenn’s recent report to the Board included: An unprecedented twelve tributes and obituaries were published in commemoration of William Carteaux who passed away on December 10, 2018. Bill was the President and CEO of the Plastics Industry Association which replaced the Society of the Plastics Industry (1937-2017)

Bill Carteaux just happened to be the right guy with the right education, prior industry experience, work ethic, personality and love of the plastics industry, who was at the right place at the right time, to take charge of a struggling association. In his 13 years with the PIA there were many challenges and an almost equal number of successes. The industry and the Association are better for his having been there. A William Carteaux file will be created on the “People” category at the PPA’s Historical Plastics website.

A long time Chicago Plastics Industry friend [of Glenn’s] has donated a copy of Islyn Thomas’ book entitled, Injection Molding of Plastics. “This 1947 book arrived at a point in time when many new injection molding companies were being created to fill the consumer product demands created by the Second World War,” Glenn explained. “Islyn’s book was a godsend to those people who were desperately trying to learn how to be injection molders.”

Glenn noted in his report that “In its time, Islyn’s book was important to the growth and success of the Plastics Industry. The book is now obsolete. However, it is historically significant in regard to the technology during and immediately following World War II.

“By the time I started my career in 1957, Islyn was already an icon in the industry,” Glenn continued. “In 1975, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Islyn to the “Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” (OBE) for his ‘“work in advancing plastics throughout the free world.’ Islyn is the only member of the American Plastics Industry to receive an OBE. The book Dan Bexon donated, and my collection of Islyn Thomas’ published articles are now at SU.”

Glenn continues to be actively engaged with the antique Comb Collectors Club, and announced that Mary Bachman, a Charter Member and Past President of the Antique Comb Collectors Club, donated 21 of her combs to SU. Each comb was accompanied with a photograph and a description of that comb.

In June of 2018, SU’s Courtney Asztalos, PPA’s Curator, visited Belva Green at her winter home in Florida. At that time Belva donated 21 linear feet of her antique comb-related documents. Those documents are now at SU. “I am sorry to report that Belva passed away on December 7, 2018 at 91 years,” said Glenn. “She was one of the dozen or so internationally known experts on ornaments for the hair. She was well known, and her passing is a major loss for the Comb Collecting Community. Later this year Courtney will meet with Belva’s niece at Belva’s summer home in Wisconsin to receive a donation of some of Belva’s combs for the Antique Comb Collectors Resource at SU.”

Glenn also purchased 20 artifacts, one out-of-print book, and several historically significant posters from Patrick Cook, of Somerset, England, on October 8, 2018. “The artifacts are mostly British-made Bakelite houseware items,” explained Glenn. “The best of the artifacts is a round, black, compression molded plaque engraved with King Edward VIII’s 1936 abdication speech in which he gave up the British throne to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. They remained married until his death in 1972.”

It would be great if all of us would be on the lookout for plastic artifacts and industry-related books that might be of interest to Glenn and the SU collection. I have several old books that I’ve obtained over the years that would be of interest (I believe). I also have a dresser set that belonged to my grandmother (b. 1897), however Glenn said they have so many of those types of things that he would have to pass on my offer to donate this.

If you have anything you think Glenn might like for the collections, let him know and he can work with you. It’s up to all of us to help maintain our history so that we can create a vibrant and vital future for the industry.

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