Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford had the opportunity to sit down with Eugene Jackson, a former employee of Durez Plastics. Gene talked about the years he spent fighting in the Korean War and the jobs he held upon his return to North Tonawanda.
Eugene Jackson was born in 1931 and raised in North Tonawanda. As a young man, he had dreams of enlisting in the Army, but his mother discouraged him from doing so. Her brother lost his leg in World War II, and she was terrified of what might happen to her son. In July 1952, shortly after Gene turned twenty one, he was drafted into the Army. In 1953, he received orders to serve in Korea. Once he arrived there, he was thankful that he had not enlisted sooner. As he recalls, “This war was just awful. It was trench warfare. I remember trenches spanning nearly 155 miles. That is most of Korea, if you ask me. It was just terrible what some of these men experienced. I served in the war during the tail end of it, and I got lucky and lived through it.” The war in Korea lasted three years and one month, and Gene served until the troops were sent home in February 1954.
Shortly after Gene returned to North Tonawanda, his parents moved to Long Beach, California. Gene, on the other hand, decided to stay in North Tonawanda because his friends were there. Gene worked at Niagara Plate on River Road, his first job after he returned from Korea. He worked there for about four months and then received an employment opportunity at Remington Rand, a union shop that manufactured filing cabinets. While at Remington, Gene worked nights as a bartender at El Paul’s on Military Road. Mr. Davies, a regular at El Paul’s, convinced Gene to apply at Durez Plastics. In 1957, he was hired to work in the warehouse at Durez.
Gene has fond memories of working at Durez. “Overall, Durez was a good place to work because it was an overtime plant. You could work twelve hours a day for fourteen hours pay. They made it worth your while. I always wanted to work six days a week because the pay was good.” Gene worked in the warehouse until the day he retired, October 1, 1986.
Gene is a member of the Niagara County Sportsmen’s Association and enjoys target shooting in his free time.