Farley & Loetscher, 1960 to 1962, Glass Cutter
The first day I started at Farley & Loetscher, there was an old guy on the fourth floor there, and he said to me, “Don’t plan to stay too long here. Get outta here and get you a good job.” And that was my first day!
I was just eighteen years old when I started. I actually came from the farm. You know where Timberline golf course is? That’s where I was born. That’s where I grew up, but I had brothers and sisters, and I had to go out and find a job. I was the oldest.
For the last year and a half, I worked out of the glazing department down in the basement. It was like a dungeon. There were no windows and I remember there were a lot of rats. But, I became a glass cutter down there. I cut anything from the smallest pieces up to one that was so big I could just get my arms around it and it broke on the table. I’ve still got this scar. You always had those types of things. It took ten or twelve stiches to close it up. It just missed the artery.
I was pretty quick with my hands and I could put out a lot of work. See, we were on piecework at that time. We only got paid a dollar forty-eight cents an hour, but, with the piecework incentive, I got some pretty good checks at first. But the problem was, I was going too fast. I just worked and they kept raising the standards. They raised my standards, I think, three times, ‘til it was hard to make much of a bonus. So after that I asked some of the older guys, “How come you didn’t say something to me? How come you didn’t tell me to slow down?” But these guys, I guess because they weren’t cutting glass anymore, they didn’t really care. They’d moved on to making thermopane widows or whatever, and they didn’t care about the glass cutting standard any more. That made me kind of angry. But, at that time, it was getting close to the end.
I was one of the last ones to leave the new building when Farley & Loetscher closed. I think the shipping room was still going, but I left in April or May of ‘62—somewhere in that vicinity. I started looking for something new, but back then there were very few jobs to be had around here. It was rough. But I heard they were hiring in Cedar Rapids, and a classmate heard they were hiring in Davenport, so he said, “You go one place and I’ll go to the next and we’ll see what happens.” And we both got jobs.