I’m glad Emory Gearhart kept this August, 1917 Telegram book. As the General Manager of the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company, he gives us a good account of his life as an executive of the company. During these busy times, Emory quickly filled up the telegram book with all kinds of messages to customers and machine part suppliers, as well as messages to his family and co-workers. It is evident from this telegram book that he practically lived on the road while representing the company and its far-flung interests, and was sending out several telegrams every day.
At 29 years old, he commanded a lot of power within the company and it shows from the content of these telegrams. He’d already been in the business for 9 years, and I can tell he was thoroughly comfortable with pushing and pulling people in directions that were growing the company rapidly, in both income and evolution of their knitting machine technology.
The telegrams take place right in the middle of World War One. As I scan through the 60 pages, there are many telegrams to war-related customers such as the War Relief Clearing House, Red Cross Supply Service, Fort Sam Houston Red Cross, Serbian Distress Fund, and the Vacation War Relief. In these telegrams, Emory is arranging for the sale of many, many machines. If two weeks in August is a typical time slice for the company, it looks like these organizations bought several thousand machines during the course of the war.
There are also many telegrams to suppliers. This is particularly revealing in that it shows a severe inventory problem in keeping up with the demand for machines. Some of these supply companies are alive and well today. Littlestown Foundry was just one year old when the company was producing ribber castings. Of course today there are thousands of companies just like this, but back then a local casting company was probably a pretty rare occurrence. There is no doubt from the content of some of these telegrams that Emory was loosing is patience with the slowness of a few of the suppliers. The Wm Corey Company in particular was the recipient of several brief telegrams dealing with needles. I’m not sure how the story ended here, but I do know that by at least 1924, the Gearhart Knitting Machine company was getting its needles from the Torrington Needle Company in Connecticut.
I could go on and on about the facinating things in this telegram book, but for now I’ll just reprint a few of the telegrams below.
|Western Electric Co. 463 West ST. New York, NY. Do not manufacture electric machine.|
|Wm Corey Co. Manchester, NH. Will you let us know what you are doing for us. You said 30 thousand twelve gauge by last of September and plenty of other needles from new wire would be coming right along. People clammoring for machines. And also the Government wants some.|
|Wm Corey Co. Manchester, NH. When can we get more ten gauge and 12 gauge cylinders. Have been out of 12 gauge for some time.|
|Littlestown Hardware and Foundry Co. Littlestown, PA. Make up one hundred new ribber castings at once and send by Express. Freight shipment not received.|
|Emily Chauncy. Vacation War Relief. 122 Madison Ave. New York. Geo. Migrew Red Cross 389 Fifth Ave. wants twenty five outfits. Will you quote him $17.00 and we can send direct. Will send you 50 next week, 50 week following. Eight sent out today.|
|Riverside Foundry Co. Wrightsville, PA. Ship at once by Express. 100 large slotted weights and bobbin winding parts. Our business is being held up considerably.|