The Fate of Zuchwil, Switzerland

Old Sulzer factory in Zuchwil

There are occasions that leave a sad feeling in the pit of your stomach. One of the villages in our area is Zuchwil. Never heard of it? Probably not, it is a small village but was a growing village: many apartment blocks are mostly inhabited by the workers in various factories in the village.

The photo shows the Sulzer factory; a large machine manufacturing company. One of their well-known products were weaving machines, used in the Swiss embroidery industry which is centred in the town of St. Gall. As time passes, the world changes and this factory was no longer profitable. It was closed in Zuchwil and the production was transferred to a more economic location, meaning that many jobs were lost for the local population.

However, the company Scintilla was still there. Scintilla had been taken over by the company Robert Bosch in Germany many years ago. They were known for the manufacture of Robert Bosch electric Drills and Saws, as well as producing vacuum cleaners for a well-known Swiss chain (Migros). Their claim to fame was the manufacture of the Scintilla Vertex Magneto which was fitted into The Spirit of St. Louis, the aircraft that Charles Lindbergh piloted on a non-stop flight from New York to Paris in 1927. If you visited the company there was a plaque on the wall somewhere announcing this historic achievement and it was something to be proud of in a small village somewhere in Switzerland.

I worked in the Scintilla many years ago, met my Mr. Swiss there, and due to a baby bump I left the company for family life. Mr. Swiss stayed there a while longer and eventually also left. We knew many people that worked there, and in spite of leaving the company still met many in the local town and contact remained. The village of Zuchwil was proud to have this company and many worked for the company. Over the years many retired, but the new generation of engineers and workers continued the work: a vital organisation in the area; When Sulzer closed even more so.

This week we read in the local newspaper that approximately half of the company Scintilla in Zuchwil will be closed. It was no longer economic and part of the production will be transferred to Hungary where the wages are lower. We ask what happens in Hungary when their wage level rises, will it again be transferred to another cheaper country? This is the way of life today. If it is too expensive, it makes no difference whether perhaps the standards are not so high, or families will be left without an income, just close it down and move.

It is the Christmas season, just the right time in the year to tell the people, sorry you have to work elsewhere. Apparently they are going to find a solution for those men at an age where a new job will be impossible to find. We can only hope that the younger generation, family fathers, find work in the area. Zuchwil is now becoming a ghost town. The apartments and houses are, of course, still there and the people still live there. During the day there is no work in Zuchwil. Either the workers find a job in another town or village or they just have to hope that life will go on somehow.

Yes it is a sad time for the village and having worked and lived there myself. It hurts to see what has happened.

Below a photo of the Scintilla/Robert Bosch as it is today (but will soon be half empty).

Robert Bosch Company, Zuchwil

Daily Prompt: Safety First

Share the story of a time you felt unsafe.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us SAFETY.

Bürgerspital Solothurn

At least we have a modern hospital in our local town of Solothurn. I know the building well inside and out, and have spent many happy days of recovery there after my various accidents.

It would be quicker to write about a time I felt safe. I never seem to be safe. From the moment they let me out there is a risk involved. I seem to have a thing about falling down. Not that I cannot walk, in my younger days I even ran for the bus. It seems that as you progress in age, things do not work as well as they should.

My most unfortunate accident was when I was in England visiting my father for a few days. I spent three of the seven days in hospital after breaking my arm on Tower Bridge in London. I mean if you fall down, then fall down in a place that remains in your memory, something spectacular. They managed to piece my arm together in time for me to catch my return flight to London.

The second time I broke my arm (same arm, but this time the top half) was when I fell over the cat. I was lucky as a cupboard door broke the fall onto the concrete, otherwise it could have been worse. This time it was a week in hospital and now I am left with a very interesting scar.

Then I remember a time when I was in town, walking towards the station. I tripped over some rubber piping lying on the ground. It was part of the work utensils the men were using to repair some sort of manhole cover. The manhole was open, but no, I did not fall into an endless depth, I must have resembled a nun giving her vows as I lay on the street. I was again lucky, as this accident happened within sight of my doctor’s surgery. I dragged my bruised body to his practice and was taken into care. My jacket was looking rather grubby and I had a few bruises. I could still walk and eventually returned home with doctor’s orders to take it easy for the next couple of days.

I had a spectacular accident when I was at work. I fetched a cup of coffee from the machine and had to climb two steps to return to the office. Carrying a cup of coffee and walking up steps is not always easy, especially if you have balance problems and you happen to be me. Yes I fell, but the unfortunate thing was the cup broke and my face landed on the broken edge of the cup. It was a vampire’s delight, although it always seems to be worse when blood is involved. I had an interesting cut on my face. I was a lookalike Al Capone. My office colleague packed me into her car and we drove off to the doctor (the same one as in the last paragraph) where I was stuck together again. I had an interesting plaster on my nose for a while, it did not warrant stitches.

Then I remember when we were moving from our apartment into our house and I was preparing a few items to be packed. One of them was my electric food mixer with the special laser cutting edges: need I say more? We were off to the doctor (the emergency doctor as it was evening) as my thumb seemed to have a rather bloody seam in the middle. Again stitches were not necessary, it was stuck together very professionally by a plaster and I was off work for a few days as there was a danger that the seam might tear again. For a while I had an interesting scar but it seems to have disappeared over time.

I remember once falling when entering the supermarket. Somehow my foot was caught in the rubber mat that had been laid down as it was a day of heavy rain. It was to protect the floor from becoming grubby with muddy foot marks. No big damage, I just had to sit a while to recover. Luckily Mr. Swiss was with me to help me return to the horizontal position. Since this memorable accident, a permanent safe carpet has replaced the temporary rubber bits. The supermarket people might have been worried about being sued for negligence, although that was furthest from my mind.

I think that just about covers it all. There were probably a few minor falls that left no scars on my memory or body. I wonder why Mr. Swiss always says “be careful” as the last words when I am let out on my own. Other people just say goodbye. The funny thing is I always feel safe, it is just the others that feel unsafe. They seem to be under the impression that I might have an accident.

Daily Prompt: Safety First

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