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Tire plant reunion to be Saturday

NATCHEZ — While they haven’t worked together in many years, former employees of Armstrong Tire and Rubber Co. are meeting Saturday to spend some time reminiscing on the past.

The reunion will be open to all former salaried and hourly employees of the plant, that was run by three different companies over its existence, former plant employee Roy Doughty said.

First opened as Armstrong Tire, the plant produced its first tire on May 1, 1939, and its 50 millionth on Aug. 1, 1968.

In 1939 there were 400 people on the payroll, a number that grew to 1,350 by 1968 and went above 1,400 before the plant was closed. The payroll reached $12,800,000 and in 1968 an average of 18,000 tires a day were produced.

In 1986, when Armstrong closed its Natchez plant, some of the management of Armstrong formed the Condere Corporation and bought the plant out and renamed it Fidelity Tire. Condere operated the plant until 1998, when it went bankrupt, and Titan Tire purchased the plant and renamed it.

The Natchez factory has not made a tire since April 2001.

Doughty spent 30 years working for the plant and said while he was working he never thought the plant would close.

“We used to be a very driving plant for Natchez,” he said. “We never thought the days of the plant would come to an end.”

Doughty said this year’s reunion marks the seventh year the employees have come together.

“It’s just a good time to get together with your old friends and to sit back and reflect,” he said.

Doughty said the employees will also be having a memorial service for all the employees who have died.

Approximately 200 employees attended the event last year, and Doughty said he hopes to have another good turnout this year.

“This could be the last year we have the reunion,” he said. “You never know when you might get the chance to come out and hang with your old friends.”

All employees that want to attend are welcome to come to the reunion, which will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Natchez Shrine Club located at 229 Morgantown Road.

Doughty said there will be no admission fee, but everyone is asked to bring a covered dish.

Lunch will be served at noon.

The widows and widowers of former employees are also welcome to attend.

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