Like most companies, the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company had a trusted group of long-time employees who ran things. Joesph Gearhart (founder and inventor) and Emory Gearhart (General Manager) were often away on business trips, so the employees had an especially large share of responsibility for making sure things operated well.
Mr. J. Emmott Harder was one of these employees. Actually, I should call him Uncle Emmott. He married on of Joseph’s daughters, Lydia May. Lydia May was Emory Gearhart’s sister, and since Emory is my grandfather, that makes Emmott my uncle. Right? I think so. I never met him, but I have many personal letters that Emory had accumulated during their long and close relationship over many years. He and his family moved to California during the Great Depression and he passed away long ago.
He was the originator of the Children’s Sport Host Department, which was extremely profitable for the company. After all, children are pretty rough on those socks, and they are constantly growing, so as you would expect if you’ve had little ones (and I have), there is a pretty good demand for children’s socks.
Interesting. How do you knit a tiny sock on a big knitting machine? I haven’t given this much thought until just now. I’ll have to see if I can find some information on this. If anyone has some modern-day instructions, it would be nice to see this.
Anyway, here is an article from a 1925 Gearhart Service Bulletin about Emmott Harder and the Children’s Sport Host Department.
CHILDREN’S SPORT HOSE DEPARTMENT SHOWS SPLENDID PROGRESS
10,931 Knitter Taught to Produce This Beautiful Kind of Hosiery
Starting from the foresighted vision in one man’s head, this department has passed rapidly from a one-man proposition to a big department, employing dozens of people and handling a volume of business growing with amazing rapidity.
Mr. J. Emmott Harder, the head of this Department, has been trusted with the responsibility of teaching all Gearhart operators how to produce the beautiful Children’s Sport Hose. Starting with the Representatives, as most of us remember, this work has been pushed rapidly and successfully to its present point.
As rapidly as possible, our knitters, both old and new, have been given the necessary instructions, equipped with the special yarn, flosses, form boards, and other items necessary to produce Sport Hose, and given the additional personal instructions that each case demanded, in order to become proficient and efficient producers of Children’s Sport Hose.
Hundreds and hundreds of knitters have been given this opportunity, and now over 10,000 active knitters are producing these wonderful little hose for the Gearhart Company.
From every section of the country, pour in the shipments. Every mail train into Clearfield brings its truck load of Sport Hose.
We are becoming more and more able to properly care for old earners as well as efficiently handle additional new workers.