Hank Murta Adams talks about redesigning Blenko’s water bottle mold.

Hank Adams

Hank Murta Adams reminisces about Blenko’s workers. Oral history interview with Hank Murta Adams by Barb Elam, conducted via telephone, June 7, 2019, Bard Graduate Center. Clip length: 01:49.

Hank Murta Adams: [laughs] And the characters—oh my God. Paul Bowers was the night guard—Paul Bowers looked like the hunchback of Notre Dame, and Paul Bowers would chew what’s called plug. It’s not chewing tobacco, it looks like—it’s like a pepperoni of tobacco. And you slice off a piece of that pepperoni, you tuck it in your cheek, and you get a buzz for eight hours. Well, Paul Bowers had been chewing plug for so many years, his entire body was shaped around that—he looked like Louis Armstrong on that one cheek. His entire body was bent over and shaped into that cheek, ‘cause he’d been chewing it—and he was the nicest guy, and he would be cleaning the bathrooms, or just the sweetest guy, and he died in that plant, I believe. But I’ll just never forget the image, and I wish I had a picture of Paul Bowers. I wish I had a picture of him. There were so many characters. There were two glassblowers, I believe they were both blowers, not finishers, one was called ‘Radio’ and the other—and his brother was called ‘TV.’ [laughs] Those were their nicknames. I named a lot of my pieces after these guys, I think the Smithsonian [Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C] has a piece of mine named Emzy [After Emzy Black]. That was the name of this big, big glass blower. And he was a relatively new guy there. And there was a big glassblower that was rather famous there named ‘Shorty’—he’s now passed on, but Shorty was a very short guy, very hardworking, very skilled, and he had just retired when I came in.