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Color-blind crayon maker retires

EASTON, Pa. -- A color-blind craftsman who delighted children the world over with his colorful Crayola crayon creations is retiring after 37 years and more than a billion crayons.

During his tenure at Binney & Smith, maker of Crayola products in Easton, Pa., Emerson Moser produced seas of salmon, pecks of plum and enough maize to color the entire state of Nebraska.

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Touted by his company as 'the best in the world' at his trade and held by his co-workers to be the master of his craft, Moser's slight color blindness was discovered by a company doctor during a physical before he began working for Binney & Smith in 1953.

'It really isn't that bad and doesn't affect my work,' Moser, 62, of Bethlehem, Pa., said Thursday.

Moser's job is to pour the hot colored wax into molds and then extract the finished crayons.

When he isn't sure of a color mix, Moser, whose wife, son and father- in-law all worked for Crayola, asks co-workers for help.

In all his years Moser said he has 'never made a crayon I was ashamed to put my name on. That's what I've enjoyed most about working here. I make the best crayons in the world.'

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Moser began his colorful career on Oct. 12, 1953, working for $1.30 an hour in the same plant where the first box of Crayola crayons was produced in 1903. After being trained in a number of jobs, Moser made his first crayon on May 5, 1955.

During his tenure, Moser has seen colors come and go, most recently when the company decided to discontinue eight classic shades. But despite all the exotic shades that have come out recently, Moser's favorite colors to make arethe eight originals: red, blue, yellow, green, orange, violet, black and brown.

'They run the smoothest on the molding machine,' Moser said. 'I never have any trouble with them. Some of the others like red orange and yellow orange are tougher.'

Despite his penchant for tradition, Moser is sympathetic to the company's need to modernize.

'You need to change with the times,' said Moser. 'Kids today like brighter colors and that's why we came out with the new colors this summer and the new fluorescent colors this winter. Personally, I like the older colors best.'

After making a billion crayons in his time, Moser said he won't miss job because it's a lot of hard work. But he will miss his co-workers.

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'I'll miss the people I work with and the kids who come through on tours. Their eyes get so big when they see me making the crayons.'

Moser plans to retire on Dec. 13. To commemorate the occasion, and in recognition of his years of service, Moser's photograph will be added to the Crayola Hall of Fame in Easton.

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