Interview with Harold W. Hocker, 1975 June 24-25 [audio]

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  • Early life; Family's can factory; Making brushes; Education
    Partial Transcript: "April 23rd, 1892... The Hockers are German..." "George R. Hocker... was in Philadelphia making tin cans; "We mad glue brushes..." "We came through the Depression in good shape..."
    Synopsis: Hocker talks about his family's ethnic background. He talks about how his family came to live in Delaware. He says that his father's brother owned a can making business that his father joined after he learned tool and die making. He says that around 1900 his father began making brushes. He says that his father moved to Lewes, Del. in an attempt to get cheaper labor for his factory. He talks about how they paid their factory workers. He talks about the company's financial fate. He talks about his family's educational attainments.
    Keywords: Boxes; Brushes; Cans; Dover, Del.; Education; Great Depression; Hocker family; Lewes, Del.; Money; Payment; Philadlephia, Pa; Piece work; Tool and Die making
  • Machines at the brush factory; Draining marshes around Lewes Del.; Powering the factory; Making bristles and brushes
    Partial Transcript: "He used what we call a rolling machine..." "Charter gas engine... that thing chugged-chugged-chugged..."
    Synopsis: Hocker talks about his father's brush machines. He explains how his father and him improved on the machine's design over the years. He says that his factory also manufactured bottle caps for vinegar and whiskey bottles. Hocker and his wife talk about the when the Civilian Conservation Corps drained the marshes around Lewes. They say that this had the unintended consequence of draining wells in the area. He talks about ice skating on the former ponds and marshes. He talks about how they make brushes and bristles at present. He talks about using different metals in his product, and says that tine is best.
    Keywords: Bottle caps; Bristles; Brushes; Charter gas engine; Civilian Conservation Corps; Lewes, Del.; Machines; Patents; Rolling machines; Tin; Vinegar; Wheeling, Wv.; Whiskey
  • Selling Brushes; Learning his trades; Doing business in the international world
    Partial Transcript: "We first started to sell to the solder people, then we got on to this airline, airplane stuff..." "I sell them to a distributor..." "She's been a good teacher..."
    Synopsis: Hocker talks about selling his products. He says that he no longer advertises and sells his products to a distributor. He says that his biggest customers have been solder companies, and airlines like Pan Am. Hocker and his wife talk about learning their respective trades. He talks about some of the recent competition he's had buying materials to make brushes. He talks about competition with manufacturers from Japan and China. He says that the price of materials has risen considerably in recent years.
    Keywords: Airlines; Anthrax; China; Competition; Distribution; Education; Japan; Learning; Operations; Pan American World Airways; Sales; Solder; Steel; Suppliers; Supplies; Trades
  • Manufacturing process
    Partial Transcript: "The filling machine... stables the hair..." "The machine wasn't made for this, we modified it..." "I don't sell a thing in Delaware..."
    Synopsis: Hocker gives an overview of the brush manufacturing process. Hocker's wife talks about change over time in demand for paste brushes and other glue brushes. Hocker says that very few brushes are wasted. He says that he has no brush buyers in Delaware. He says that his company's brushes have remained essentially unchanged since the early 20th century. He says that he only uses natural fibers for brush bristles, not nylon. and describes some of his problems with the material. Hocker talks about the different kinds of hair his company has used.
    Keywords: Airlines; Badger Hair; Brushes; Goat Hair; Horse Hair; Kiwi Shoe Polish; Maintenance; Manufacturing; Nylon; Ox Hair; Philadelphia, Pa.; Sales
  • Favorite stories about making brushes; Specialized brush making vocabulary; Old photographs
    Partial Transcript: "they had me in bed with an ice bag..."
    Synopsis: Hocker talks about some humorous incidents in his life. He talk about some specialized brush making vocabulary and notes that there is not much. Hocker and his wife talk about old photographs
    Keywords: Anecdotes; Brush Manufacturing; Humor; Photographs; Specialized Vocabularies; Tennis
  • Machine descriptions
    Partial Transcript: "We had the machines built for us."
    Synopsis: Hocker and the interviewer walk out to the factory floor. He describes his machines and the operations of his factory.At times, the audio is occasionally difficult to hear due to noise from the factory setting.
    Keywords: Brushes; Machines; Manufacturing
  • Father's entry into the brush business; Driving in a Model A Ford; Selling Brushes
    Partial Transcript: "My father saw these tinners using rags on the end of a stick... my father decided to make brushes out of the scrap..." "I worked for my father for fifty cents a day..."
    Synopsis: Hocker talks about his father's entry into the brush making business. He describes some of his fathers inventions and techniques. He talks about operations in the early days of the factory. He describes wages. He talks about driving on local roads in his old Model A Ford. He says that he started shipping his brushes on the Pennsylvania Railroad and then changed to trucks in the 1930s. He briefly talks about selling brushes of different sizes and their uses.
    Keywords: Brushes; Driving; Inventions; Machines; Model A Ford; Pennsylvania Railroad; Roads; Wages
  • The brush business in the 1930s; Advertising brushes;
    Partial Transcript: "1930s... we didn't, yes we did..."
    Synopsis: Hocker lists the companies that he sold brushes to in the 1920s and 1930s. He talks about what the brushes sold for relative to the cost of the materials that went in them. He describes shipping the brushes. He talks about advertising for his company.
    Keywords: 1920s; 1930s; Advertising; Brushes; Raw Materials; Sales; Shipping; Trade Catalogs
  • Competition in brush manufacturing; Manufacturing capacity; Machine descriptions
    Partial Transcript: "There's only about three of us..."
    Synopsis: Hocker talks about his competitors. He says that he has turned down previous opportunities to sell his business. He returns to talking about his machines.
    Keywords: Brushes: Manufacturing capacity; Competition; Machining; National Novelty Brush Company
  • Brush Bristles; Machine descriptions; Family and connections; Designing machines
    Partial Transcript: "We buy 250-500 pounds... it costs us $3.50, $3.60 a pound..."
    Synopsis: Hocker talks about the types of bristles that go into his brushes. He describes more of his machines. He talks about his family. He describes how he designed some of his machines. At times the audio is difficult to hear.
    Keywords: Bristles; Family; Horse hair; Invention; Machines; Nylon