NEW WAR WORKER
Roger Walker Makes Good As Fore River Machinist
Norwood’s carillonneur has gone to war.
Roger Walker, 44, totally blind since birth, has at last realized an ambition motivated by the nation’s declaration of war on the Axis and is today making good as an outside machinist at the Bethlahm-Hingham shipyard, where he is blazing an industrial trail for the physically handicapped that promises to fill a serious gap in New England’s war labor ranks.
Mr. Walker, the same man whose nimble lingers played the carillon bells In Norwood’s famous Municipal tower for the enjoyment of thousands of music lovers from miles around, has been working at the shipyard for the post six weeks, and has been entrusted with the difficult job of winding the 14 and 20 gauge wire rolls and asbestos twine needed for pipe covering and cutting and shaping rings and “hairpins” to hold the asbestos flanging in place.
ONLY BLIND MAN
Although he is only one of 350 physically handicapped men employed at the now shipyard, he has the distinction of being the only blind man holding down an important job there. And although employment of this type is still In the experimental stage, it is very likely that Mr. Walker has opened up a new field for the blind in essential war work.
So capably has Mr. Walker filled the past that yard officials, who were somewhat hesitant at first about hiring him are today his most enthusiastic boosters.
Mr. Walker had one big obstacle to overcome In getting into war work. That was the argument advanced by plant officials that a blind man working in a shipyard was not conducive to the ultimate in safety. However, this problem was solved by Mr. Walker’s brother, who has been able to work with him and guide his movements whenever necessary.
However, this is only a precautionary measure since Mr. Walker’s ability to make his way in safety through crowded city streets has long been a source of amazement to many.
PIANO TUNER BY TRADE
Mr. Walker, a piano tuner by trade, Is the father of two daughters and makes his home at 18 Mt. Pleasant street, Hyde Park, but there is hardly a Norwood resident who doesn’t know of his skill as this town’s official carollineur. He given numerous concerts here, especially during holiday seasons, and during the visit to Canada of King George and Queen Elizabeth in 1939 he traveled alone to Ottawa to give a concert for the royal visitors.
On many occasions. Mr. Walker has walked into the DAILY MESSENGER office, asked if he might use a typewriter, and then with the utmost proficiency tapped out the program he was to present on the Norwood carillons.
His dexterity of finger has been of immense value in his new job. Untangling the mess of snarled 14-gauge wire an irksome task that has stumped many a worker able to see perfectly. But it doesn’t bother Mr. Walker in the least, and according to the bosses at the yard has had less trouble with tangled wire than any of his predecessors.
His superiors sum up Mr. Walker with these words: “He’s a good man and does a competent job.”
A native of Bridgton, Me., Mr Walker is a graduate of Perkins Institute for the Blind. For many years he toured Maine and Massachusetts as a piano tuner.
His ear for perfect tone has already had its results at the shipyard. Passing an administration building with his brother one day, he heard someone playing a piano, and remarked that the Instrument was off key.
“These people have been nice to me and I’m going to do something for them.” he told his brother. So that afternoon after work he went to the administration building and tuned the piano.
Mr. Walker has made friends by the score at Hingham, and is greatly impressed by the way everyone wants to help.
“But I don’t need help,” he, says. I’m only glad that I’m doing my bit in the war effort.
“I’m sure that there are others like me who could help out. too, and I’m going to do my best so that they will have the chance.”
April 14, 1943 – The Norwood Messenger