05 April 2017

Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon : Safety First!

"How to Keep My Family Safe"

"...an ideal way for the lady of the house to improve the safety of her family..."

Promotional photo taken of the winner of the 1959 Esso Bayway safety contest - my grandmother, Sophie Dixon. E. Ackemann 2017.
One of the promo pictures from the contest.
Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon, 1959.
Collection of E. Ackermann, 2017.

On 19 Feb 1959 a letter went out from G.R. Murrell, Manager, to the employees of the Esso Standard Oil refinery in Bayway for a safety contest. In it he invited "the wives of our employees and the married women employees at Bayway to develop a Home Safety Program for their families." Entry forms and instructions were included with the letter. The forms listed the leading causes of home accidents and asked the entrants to explain the ideas that they found successful in preventing these types of accidents. "English composition will not be judged, only the safety activities presented..." in each contestants submission. (1)

Offering a total of $750 in prizes, each contestant was also eligible to select an award from the Esso safety award catalog. (1)

My grandfather, Wally Dixon, was employed at Esso. He retired in 1960 after 28 years of service. (2) He probably encouraged his wife to enter. I would love to see the completed form that my grandmother submitted for this contest.

And the winner is...

Western Union Telegram to Sophie Dixon informing her that she won the 1959 Esso Bayway safety contest. E. Ackemann, 2017.
You're a winner! I would have loved to have seen my Grandmother's face when she got this telegram.
E. Ackermann, 2017. (1)

 On April 15 my grandparents went to the Bayway Refinery so my Grandmother could accept her award.

Sophie Dixon accepts the first place award in the Esso Bayway safety contest. 15 Apr 1959. Esso/Bayway Refinery Photo. E. Ackemann, 2015.
Sophie Dixon accepts her award from G.R. Murrell.
Her husband, Wallace B. Dixon looks on.
Esso Standard Oil Co. Bayway Refinery.
Photographic Group. Number 1016-2. 15 Apr 1959.
Collection of E. Ackemann, 2017.

"Wins Esso Safety Contest." Clipping about Sophie Dixon, Singer employee, winning Esso Bayway safety contest. June 1959 issue of E'Port Observer. E. Ackemann, 2017.
"Wins Esso Safety Contest"
click image to enlarge
E'Port Observer, June 1959
E. Ackemann, 2017
 According to this article in The E'Port Observer, newsletter of the Elizabethport Works of the Singer Corporation, "It took a Singer employee, Sophie Dixon of the Oil Milling Department, to win first award in an Esso Bayway Refinery safety contest." (3)
"Mrs. Dixon used a humorous approach to offer practical safety suggestions. Among them: "If the roof of the car must be held up. the car or the driver should be replaced." Another comment was that people who work in gardens and backyards should not go beyond their limit, lest they overcome garden fragrances with liniment. She encouraged drivers to "leave baby shoes where they belong" because they clutter up visibility in a car."
I was thrilled to find this article which provides a glimpse into the winning entry, as well as a little snapshot of what other members of the family were doing at the time."Mrs. Dixon has been with Singer for 18 years. Her sister, Estelle Karvoius, is chief clerk of Dept. 33 and a daughter, Mary Traina, is in the Employment Office." It also reports that my grandfather was on sick leave from Esso at the time.

All the winners of the Esso Bayway Refinery 1959 safety contest, along with their husbands and the plant manager, G. R. Murrell. 15 Apr 1959. Esso Bayway photo. E. Ackemann, 2017.
All of the contest winners and their spouses. The Dixons are on the far left, Mr. Murrell is in the center.
Were my grandparents very short, or are all those other people freakishly tall?
Esso Standard Oil Co. Bayway Refinery. Photographic Group. Number 1016-8. 15 Apr 1959.
Collection of E. Ackemann, 2017.

Safety First!

Photo of Wallace B. Dixon pointing to the steel-toe shoe that saved his foot from the lawn mower. Date and photographer unknown. E. Ackemann, 2017.
Wallace B. Dixon, showing the shoe
that saved his toes.
E. Ackermann, 2017. (1)
The caption my grandfather wrote on the back of this photo says

Wallace B. Dixon
Summer 1953
Sheer luck!
Safety shoes purchased at Bayway

Be careful out there! (Especially when you're mowing the lawn.)

[This photo is probably not related to the 1959 contest, but I thought it was fun.]


(1) Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon - Correspondence and photographs relating to Esso Home Safety Contest; E. Ackermann, 2017.

(2) Esso Standard. Retiree Identification Card. Issued to Wallace B. Dixon. Esso Standard, Division of Humble Oil and Refining Company, Bayway Refinery. E. Ackermann, 2017.

(3)  "Wins Esso Safety Contest," E'Port Observer; A Publication of the Elizabethport Works of the Singer Corporation. (June 1959): p. 2.  

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