Interview with Clarence A. Fahs, 1966 April 22, 1966 May 2 [audio]

Hagley ID:
  • Fahs' family background; Education and learning a trade; Working on a milk wagon as a teenager
    Partial Transcript: "My family was from York, Pennsylvania...he was in cabinet making." "All my life I wanted to be a machinist."
    Synopsis: Fahs talks about his family's origins in York, Pennsylvania, mentioning that his family moved to Wilmington so that his father could work for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He talks about his Pennsylvania German background and the presence of Germans in Wilmington when he was young. He describes the streets he lived on in Wilmington and his education. He says that he always wanted to become a machinist and explains how he became interested in the trade and first learned about it. Fahs describes his work and wages when he had a job delivering milk as a teenager.
    Keywords: A.B. Berry; Claymont (Del.); Education; Guns; Machines; Machinists; Milk; Milk delivery; Money; Pennsylvania Railroad; Salaries; Wages; Wilmington (Del.); York (Pa.)
  • Starting to work as a machinist; Fahs' fathers work and life; Costs of living
    Partial Transcript: "Then I went to my trade. I wanted to be a machinist." "When we lived there, we had most everything middle class people would have."
    Synopsis: Fahs talks about learning his trade. He discusses the cost of living in the early twentieth century and quotes prices on groceries and public transport.
    Keywords: Cost of living; Knitting machines; Money; Salaries; Trump Bros. Machine Company; Wages; Wilmington (Del.)
  • Learning a trade and working at Trump Bros, Machine Company; Moving back to York, Pennsylvania to work at the York Automobile Company
    Partial Transcript: "I ran a milling machine..." "They had some pretty high type mechanics working out there..."
    Synopsis: Fahs discusses learning to be a machinist and working at Trump Bros. Machine Company. He discusses his wages working at Trump Bros. He says that he left there to work at the Wilmington Dental Works, which did not have a probationary period before they started to teach him his trade. He says that the company left Wilmington, and he started to work at Novelty Machine Works, also in Wilmington. He talks about how his father sent him to York, Pennsylvania to find a job as a machinist at Pullman Automobile Company. He talks about his work and his wages. He describes working conditions and the staff working at the plant in York. He talks about an occasion when someone tried to recruit him to work at a plant in New York state. He talks about his journey traveling between York and Wilmington.
    Keywords: Diemaking; John Wyeth Pharmaceutical Company; Machinery; Machinists; Money; Novelty Machine Works; Pullman Automobile; Salaries; Steel; Trades; Trump Bros. Machine Company; Wages; Wilmington (Del.); Wilmington Dental Works; York (Pa.); York Automobile Company
  • Working for Mora Motor Company in Newark, New York; Story about nearly helping a car thief in 1910
    Partial Transcript: "Just a job up in New York..." "In the back of that car, I saw...there was a can of paint and a roller...I think they were going to take it away somewhere and paint it."
    Synopsis: Fahs details the time he spent working at the Mora Motor Company in Newark, New York. He explains how people found jobs at that time. He describes his work in Newark, New York and talks about Newark's rural location. He tells a story about accidentally being involved in an attempted car theft in 1910 . He talks more about his move from York to Newark and about manufacturing cars.
    Keywords: Crime; Grand Theft Auto; Mora Motor Company; Newark (N.Y.); Theft; York (Pa.)
  • Early industrial accidents and workplace safety; Wages and money at Mora Motor Company; Recreation and leisure activities; Lunch and food
    Partial Transcript: "To me it wasn't dangerous, I'll tell you why..." "I was one of them though...that usually had a few dollars in my pocket."
    Synopsis: Fahs talks about workplace safety at DuPont, stating that he never felt unsafe personally. He attributes this feeling to his expertise. He describes how he taught others during this time. Fahs describes leaving his job at Mora Motor Company and returning to Wilmington, Del. He talks about wages and money at Mora Motor Company in New York. He describes how he managed his money as a young man. He describes leisure time and how he spent his money. He talks about the work lunches provided by the boarding house that he lived in. Fahs talks about how he enjoyed making paanhaas or scrapple for lunch and how that was available at the boarding house in York, Pa. He talks about how he got his clothes washed and ironed. He talks about how he left his job at Mora Motor Company, went back to his old job in York, Pa. for a while and then went back to Wilmington, Del.
    Keywords: Boarding houses; Danger; DuPont; E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.; Laundry; Money; Mora Motor Company; Movies; Newark (N.Y.); Paanhaas; Recreational drinking; Risk; Safety; Scrapple; Wages; Wilmington (Del.); Y.M.C.A.; York (Pa.)
  • Setting up machines for younger workers; Strike at the Pullman automobile factory in York, Pa.
    Partial Transcript: "They weren't apprentices, they were just lower...16 or 18 or..." "I would set the machines up and show them what to do..." "I was never fired in my life."
    Synopsis: Fahs describes setting up machines for teenagers, who also worked in the factory, to use. He says that neither car company he worked for asked him for information about the other. He describes a strike in York, Pa. He says that the problem in York was between factory ownership and one of the plant foremen.
    Keywords: Jobs; Labor unions; Machines; Mora Motor Company; Strikes; Work; York (Pa.); York Motor Car Company
  • Going back to work at the York Motor Car Company; Changing jobs and moving
    Partial Transcript: "...I'd lay out their work, and they would operate it..." "I never thought of a reference...a man hired as an all-around machinist...was supposed to be able to handle almost anything."
    Synopsis: Fahs describes the machine shop at the York Motor Car Company. Fahs talks about changing jobs and how employers evaluated potential machinists. He says that he can't explain his method, but he knew when a man lied about being an accomplished machinist. Fahs talks about work at the S. Morgan Smith Company, also in York, Pa. He describes working the night shift. He talks about getting laid off at a large company and looking for night work at a smaller company.
    Keywords: Jobs; Lancaster (Pa.) Trades; Machine shops; Night; S. Morgan Smith Company; Supervision; Work; York (Pa.); York Motor Car Company
  • Aftermath of the strike York Motor Car Company; Working at American Chainworks; Childhood memories of playing in the snow; Reasons for changing jobs
    Partial Transcript: "I'm not against unions, but I was never for them..." "It was my pleasure, my convenience..."
    Synopsis: Fahs talks about the aftermath of the strike at the York Motor Car Company. He describes his work at the American Chainworks and describes the chain making process. He details how big the chains were and describes how some of the largest chains needed to be moved with cranes. He says that he changed jobs for reasons of his pleasure and convenience, not greater wages. He talks about jealousy in the workplace and how he felt people who came from out of town got better wages than people from town. He talks about how a piece of faulty work was attributed to him, but he knew it wasn't his because he put his own mark on everything that he made. He says that a rival mechanic tried to get him fired. He talks about leaving that job and discusses some of the families that owned factories in the area.
    Keywords: American Chainworks; Chains; Changing jobs; Jealousy; Labor Unions; Mud; Sabotage; Snow; Tire chains; Wages; York (Pa.); York Motor Car Company
  • Returning to Wilmington, Del.; Replacing a knocked out tooth with a false one; Going back to York, Pa.; Working at the York Manufacturing Company
    Partial Transcript: "I went that time I had a...tooth knocked out, I hadn't written home for quite a while..." "They were the largest makers of ice machinery in the world."
    Synopsis: Fahs talks about returning to Wilmington, Del. He says that by then he had had a tooth knocked out and described having what was left of it removed and replaced with a false tooth. He then says that he went back to York, Pa. and got a job with a company that made ice machinery. He describe the type of work he did there and says that he worked nights. He goes back to taking about his job at the York Motor Car Company and describes how they shipped finished cars. He goes back to talking about his job making industrial ice machines, stating that the Eastman Kodak Company was one of their largest customers. He says that he kept that job for two years and describes his reasons for leaving. The interviewers say that the factors he describes that made him dislike that job sound like Taylorism.
    Keywords: Eastman Kodak Company; Ice machinery; Refrigeration; Taylorism; Wilmington (Del.); Work; York (Pa.); York Manufacturing Company; York Motor Car Company
  • Industrial accidents; Money and wages; Going to work at a steel mill in Lewistown, Pa.; Getting married
    Partial Transcript: "I never saw an accident..." "That's an interesting they squashed that steel..."
    Synopsis: Fahs says that he never personally witnessed an industrial accident but goes on to describe an accident at the York Motor Car Company that he was aware of but did not personally witness. He shifts to talking about money and wages. He says that he left the York Manufacturing Company because he wanted more money, and they refused to give it to him. He describes working at a steel mill in Lewistown, Pa. He says that he got tired of living in boarding houses and suggested to his girlfriend at the time that they should get married. He says he came to Wilmington, got married, and went back to Lewistown with his wife. He talks about his wages at the steel mill. He says that he was worried about the town where he lived because, if the steel mill closed, the town's economy would be destroyed. He describes stopping at a train stop he thought was a town but was just a way point on the route. He says that he had difficulty making his way home.
    Keywords: Accidents; Baldwin Locomotive Company; Lewistown (Pa.); Lobdell Car Wheel Company; Mifflintown (Pa.); Money; Risks; Safety; Standard Steel Works; Wages; Wilmington (Del.); York Manufacturing Company; York Motor Car Company
  • Ethnic makeup of employees at the steel mill in Lewistown, Pa.; Writing letters about job opportunities
    Partial Transcript: "At the steel mill...they had a number of Italians..."
    Synopsis: Fahs describes the ethnic makeup of the workers at Lewistown Pa. He said that he was told that there had once been many Italians at the plant, but they were all fired after one of the Italian men murdered another Italian man. He says that there was no union at that steel mill and describes his job making parts for machines as they broke down. He says that his wife adjusted to the new town. After work at the mill decreased he sent his wife back to Wilmington, Del. He says he worked for two more weeks and came back to Wilmington, Del., himself. He says that he turned down a job at a steel mil in Breckenridge, Pennsylvania. He says that he and his friends used to write each other letters about job opportunities.
    Keywords: Breckenridge (Pa.); Lewistown (Pa.); Steel mills; Wilmington (Del.)
  • Finding a job at DuPont; Working at Hagley's machine shop; Identifying locations in photos
    Partial Transcript: "The DuPont Company had experimented with making pulp kegs...for powder."
    Synopsis: Fahs says that he returned to Delaware and had spent all of his money. A neighbor suggested he work for DuPont. He describes how he got his job; he went to the office at Hagley Yard and asked for one. He says that he earned more money in Wilmington than in York. He describes his job at Hagley and says he worked on every machine in the shop. He identifies photos of places where he worked at Hagley.
    Keywords: Black powder; Brandywine Creek; E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.; Hagley machine shop; Hagley Yard; Money; Pulp kegs; Wages; Wilmington (Del.)
  • The trolley and railroad around Hagley
    Partial Transcript: "This must be another picture..." "I went to work working on dies..."
    Synopsis: Fahs talks about the trolley and railroad lines that came into Hagley. He talks about why he thinks black powder would have remained important even without the First World War. Fahs talks about different trolley lines that he used to get from the city of Wilmington to Hagley Yard.
    Keywords: Black powder; Die making; Peoples Railway Company (Wilmington, Del.); Street-railroads; World War (1914-1918)
  • Story about his baby; Working at Hagley's machine shops; Blueprints and secrecy
    Partial Transcript: "The baby wouldn't let me sleep at night..." "(Parts) would have to be made up special..."
    Synopsis: Fahs tells a story about how when he started working during the day his wife had a baby that kept him up at night. He says that he eventually went back to working nights. He then tells a story about rebuilding dynamite making machines for a DuPont plant in Gibbstown, New Jersey. Fahs discusses the nature of work at Hagley and notes that all the pieces for the powder machinery had to made there. He says that they outsourced very little of their work. He talks about the efforts they went to in order to keep the exact workings of their machines secret.
    Keywords: babies; Birdsboro Foundry & Machine Company; Blueprints; Family life; Gibbstown (N.J.); Machine shops; Work
  • Knowledge of the Seitz family working at Hagley; Places that still needed black powder in 1914; DuPont take over of the J. Morton Poole Company; Working at the DuPont Experimental Station
    Partial Transcript: "George Seitz was boss of the...millwright shop..." "...we called them macaroni presses..."
    Synopsis: The interviewers ask Fahs about the Seitz family working at Hagley. They then ask him about women working in the office. He says he remembers women in the office but cannot name them. He describes where the millwright shop was. He talks about how by 1914 there was still a need for black powder in Chile. Fahs says that DuPont took over the J. Morton Poole Company's machine shops and describes their operations. He says that he worked in the DuPont Experimental Station.
    Keywords: Carney's Point (N.J.).; Chile; DuPont Experimental Station; J. Morton Poole Company; Seitz family; Smokeless powder; Women clerks; World War (1914-1918)

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