Pemberville Mental Culture Club members opened their 2022-23 season on Sept. 13. Fifteen members were present at the meeting which was hosted by Penny Truman at the Pemberville Library.
President Tracey Briggs called the meeting to order and welcomed guests Karen Young and Kaye Burrell. Minutes were accepted as read. A treasury balance of $105.24 was reported, all checks having been cashed. Karen Creps reported that the Scholarship Committee is working on revisions to the application form.
After the meeting members answered the roll call stating whether or not they would be willing to work at a hazardous job if they were paid enough.
Following this Karen Creps presented the program which was a review of the book “The Radium Girls” by Kate Moore. In 1916 women were hired to paint the dials on watch faces with radium. This was of particular interest to the military as soldiers could see the watch face in the dark, but it was not enough light for the enemy to detect.
Women were paid three times the average wage to do this job and were told that the radium was not harmful to them. They often “tipped” the paint brushes in their mouths. Many were young women and would paint their nails and enjoyed having the dust in their hair and on their clothing when they went on dates as it gave them a glow. Soon health problem and deaths were showing up among the women. Unfortunately the companies that hired the women hid the evidence by hiring doctors, false doctors and unscrupulous lawyers for many years. It took decades in the courts for women to receive any compensation from the radium companies. As late as 1978 radium was still being used to paint dials – and with little protection for workers. “The Radium Girls” offers a fascinating read, shedding light on the use of radium, corporate greed, and abuse of labor in the first half of the 20th century.