Worker of the Month, Harold 'Danny' Conrath

by Cindy Arent - Issue #222 October 1991

Harold Conrath with gathering rod This month's Cambridge Glass Company employee is Harold 'Danny' Conrath. Harold started working at the factory in August 1940. Last summer was the 50th Anniversary of his first day of work there. To mark the occasion, Harold walked the train tracks from his home to the factory, just as he did in 1940. The only trouble that he had, was when he came to the trestle it took a few tries to be able to cross. Anyone that has ever tried to walk over a railroad trestle knows that you shouldn't look down! Harold then walked inside the glasshouse where the time clock had been and reminisced for awhile. Harold stated that he was glad that he had made the trip, because now, the factory is gone.

Harold's first job at the Cambridge Glass Company was in his father's shop where he "carried in" Yardley jars. He earned 45 cents per hour. The "move" for the Yardley jars was 1,000 in four hours; and for every 100 over that, he received 10 cents extra. Harold explained that the jars were made on an "Ivory Johnson" press. Orie Mosser, foreman of the Hot Metal department, decided which jars Harold should throw away. However, if Harold threw too many away, his father would get mad, because he was in charge of the shop.

Another job that Harold had, was working on the glaziers. The purpose of the glazier is to smooth out the rough mold edges on pieces of glass. He explained that there are different sizes of glaziers. The #1 glazier was used for small items such as ashtrays, and the #2 glazier was used for larger items, such as the star candlesticks. The glaziers were run by air motors and the "floor man" was in charge of controlling the flame. Harold explained that the flame needed to be "smoky to keep sulfur off of the glass and make it shine more."

Harold then moved on to be a gatherer. Because of his small size, he worked mostly on smaller items. Although small items are not as heavy, the move was always much larger, so you had to work faster. One of the items that he gathered for was the mayonnaise ladle. These were made on a "rotary press" which had three molds and made two ladles at a time. The lids for the salt and pepper shakers were also made in this way.

Harold also recalled working in the "jug shop," where they used the "German System" of gathering glass. In this system the gathering boy first gathers a small amount of glass on his rod and blows a small ball. He then hands it to another man that cools the rod in water and passes it back. The gathering boy then gathers more glass over the original ball. By using this system, they were able to gather the larger amounts of glass than the traditional gathering method.

Along with his brother, Leroy, Harold explained the different types of gathering rods. The smaller rod that Harold used, did not have wooden handles and the ball on the end was very small and made of steel. Leroy, however, gathered for the larger items, so his rod was longer, had a wooden handle, and the ball on the end was larger. They explained that they made their own rods at the factory. Leroy made the ball on the end of his rod with wet clay, which was then fired to make it hard.

Warming in demonstration
In the photograph at right, Don Frontz demonstrates "Warming in" in the glory hole using a gathering rod that he made for demonstration purposes. The furnace is in the background.

Both Harold and Leroy had a lot of praise for Orie Mosser, who was foreman of the Hot Metal department. They said that Orie would never ask anyone to do a job that he wouldn't do himself. For example, when a hole would occur in the arches of the furnace, Orie would wrap himself in wet burlap and climb up and fix it. This was a very dangerous task, and he didn't want to risk the lives of his men. Harold and Leroy also said that Orie "knew the trade" and was always willing to help.

Last remaining furnaceIn this photograph, Don Frontz stands in front of the only remaining furnace when the factory was demolished. It was not one of the original three. The glory hole is to the right.

Harold worked at the Cambridge Glass Company for a total of four years. His video tape will be available for viewing, at the Museum, in the near future. Through his descriptions of the Hot Metal department, you can visualize what it was really like.