27 May 2018

Wallace B. Dixon : Shift Breaker 1942

My Grandfather didn't serve in the Military during WWII. But that's not to say that he didn't serve his country. As an employee of the Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey, Gramps was involved with oil transport and storage – a vital war-time function.

This identification card (1) issued by the US Coast Guard and signed by the Captian of the Port of New York, is a treasure, as it gives a glimpst at his service in 1942, and also includes a photo and a physical description.

Wallace B. Dixon, employed by Standard Oil of N.J., was issued an ID card by the US Coast Guard Captain of the Port of New York in 1942.
Wallace B. Dixon's US Coast Guard ID card, 1942. (1)
Wallace B. Dixon pictured on reverse of US Coast Guard ID card, issued in 1942 when he was employed by Standard Oil of NJ
The back of the Coast Guard ID card.
My Grandfather was 37 years old when this photo was taken.

A "shift breaker," according to the Petroleum Dictionary by Lalia Phipps Boone, is also sometimes known as a "swing man."
A worker who replaces other operators when they are off duty. The rotating shift causes a gap in the regular line-up, and since operation in a refinery must be continuous, a worker must be employed who is trained for several positions. He is next in line for promotion, and since he is qualified for more than one position, he is a very valuable employee. (2)


1. Captain of the Port of New York, United States Coast Guard identification card, 28 Apr 1942; privately held by Elizabeth Traina Ackermann, Christiansburg, Virginia, 2018.  Card 0?1, Serial Number 427664. Wallace Bernard Dixon, Shift Breaker, Oil Move. & Stor.; Employed or sponsored by Standard Oil Co. of N.J.

2. Boon, Lalia Phipps. The Petroleum Dictionary. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman,  Oklahoma. 1952. p. 300. Viewed on Archive.org [ https://archive.org/stream/petroleumdiction00boon/petroleumdiction00boon_djvu.txt], 27 May 2018. 

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