My Engineering college chemistry teacher was an amazing storyteller. He could take any information and shape it into a story. He would build suspense, he would grow more and more animated, and as the story progressed, we were thoroughly engrossed. Once during a chemistry experiment, he told us the story of the growth of rubber industry and an American innovator. This story started in the Northeastern USA in the early eighteenth century. Since we had no frame of reference to that era, culture, or norms, he took an unusual step. He took us to a rubber plantation to set the scene of early eighteenth-century America.
It was our first visit to a rubber plantation. We were greeted by lines and lines of carefully planted rubber trees As we meandered down the paths, we came upon a worker making incisions in the bark of a tree. He removed a portion of the silver bark and a milky substance began to flow. “ This is latex,” our teachers said excitedly. “This is the source of rubber , Your shoes are rubber, the tires you rode on to get here are rubber and everything runs on rubber tires” All of this is thanks to Charles Goodyear.
Art work by Prachurya Baruah
We watched him collect a bucketful of latex. He opened a packet of sulfur powder and slowly and carefully poured it over the liquid. To our amazement the liquid turned into a soft and stretchy material – it became rubber! Then I asked my teacher “won’t it melt and turn sticky on a summer day?” This is where the American innovator Charles Goodyear comes in. Our teacher began painting a vivid picture of eighteenth-century America, and we boys were transported to another world.
In the early part of the eighteenth century, Roxbury India Rubber Co and other firms sprang up throughout the Northeast, producing rubber coats, caps, and wagon covers. Young Goodyear was excited about this new “miracle” gum like substance derived from rubber trees. but when he visited a store retailing rubber products the store manager had a secret. The product looked good on the shelves but in the summer heat they melted into a gummy mass. He took Charles to the back of the store and showed him piles of foul-smelling coats, caps and wagon covers. The rubber industry really needed a savior.
Goodyear returned home with a burning desire to find a solution. He conducted one experiment after another over a period of five years. He began his experiments by mixing gum with magnesium. He tried mixing many other elements but with no success. Eventually he had to move his family of six to a small boarding house in New York since the city offered him better facilities. Over time exposure to the chemicals was detrimental to his health. After a period of convalescence, he regained his health. His breakthrough came one day when he changed the temperature of the mixture. Almost ready to quit, he tried combining latex with sulfur at a higher temperature. Voila, the chemical composition of the mixture had changed, and it did not melt in high temperature. Adding heat to his equation made the rubber weatherproof. After further refinement he made them pliable, moldable, and most importantly not susceptible to harsh summer heat. Finally, Goodyear had the answer, and he named this new process “vulcanization” He solved what was perhaps the greatest industrial puzzle of the century.
To this day Goodyear’s story resonates with me. His story ultimately had a sad ending. His family lived in abject poverty to the point of eating half grown raw potatoes, six of his children died. At the end of his life the patent for vulcanization was stolen. When he died, he had two hundred thousand dollars in debt. However, Charles Goodyear never let adversity stand in his way; it had been a tough, tenacious, terrible trial but he remained defiant, diligent, dedicated, dogged, and he kept going until his goal was attained. Friends, allow me to quote the great innovator, “Life should not be estimated exclusively by the standard of dollars and cents. I am not disposed to complain that I have planted, and others have gathered the fruits. A man has cause for regret only when he sows, and no one reaps.”
Mr. Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, and guests, as you drive home today on Goodyear tires, think about Charles Goodyear. We are all reaping what he planted. His seeds of goodness are in full bloom and continue to benefit you, me, and hundreds of thousands of people all over the world every day, every time.
The speech is dedicated to Dr Pradip Sarmah, Founder , Rickshaw Bank, Dr Sashanka Sekhar Dutta , Chief Functionary at JBF (Just Be Friendly) and Pranjal Baruah , Mushroom Development Foundation.
Your entrepreneurial spirits inspire me , I wish you continue to plant the seeds of goodness
Evaluation and feedback.
In Toastmasters , a member speaks, receives verbal and written feedback from another Toastmaster, and then uses those comments to improve the next speech.
Kerstin Archer, Out On The Town Toastmasters
You excelled at informative storytelling with excitement and enthusiasm using props to explicate the story and varying vocal tone and hand gestures. You used alliteration like “determined, dedicated , dogged.”
Amy Nelson, TNT Toastmasters
You began this speech very well by getting us interested in where rubber comes from and how it is made. You taught through story telling very well. I love how you used your 3 words adjectives! very clever.
John Arnott II, TNT Toastmasters
Great speech, very informative. You kept our attention. You educated and entertained us. Good vocal variety, gestures, and good props.
Nathan Kasonga, TNT Toastmasters
Nice work on vocal variety. A friendly reminder, we talked about the rhythm or pace of your speeches , can you make sure you work on it ? Even though you deliver differently, it makes all of them sound the same. I am available if you need help.
Amber Minion, Thumbs Up Toastmasters
I liked your engagement through hand gestures. You maintained passion throughout the speech which kept the audience engaged.