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Farley & Loetscher, 1947 to 1962, Caradco, 1962 to 1976, Glazier
Robert Bechen, June 9th, 2014

Robert Bechen, June 9th, 2014

I went to Farley & Loetscher’s when I got out of the service in 1947 or 48—somewhere in there. They were looking for glaziers. At that time everything was putty glaze. Glazing was quite an art so Farley’s gave us a nine-month training period. But after about a month or two they could tell if you were gonna keep with it. I had a top-notch instructor and he helped me a lot.

Glazing was just kind of a skilled job. That putty had to be just right—the consistency had to be just right. Not too soft, not too hard. The putty you buy in hardware stores—you don’t want to use that. The putty we used come in big barrels. Two guys would work off one barrel—off easels on opposite sides of it. The putty was heated and you’d put mineral oil in with it to keep it just perfect. They used to bring visitors through the plant and they’d stand and just gawk to see a glazier take a window and start up one side and then come down and flip it over and do the other half. We could do that in maybe thirty seconds or a minute at the most. They’d say, “Oh, god, it would take me half a day to get that putty to do that,” and I’d turn around and say, “Well, we’re on piecework, that’s the only way we make any money.”

Piecework was how we made money. You’d have a rating that said how long a job should take. So, they’d bring in a load for you to glaze that might be worth two hours but it would only take you an hour so, you know, you were making double. We were allowed a forty-five percent bonus. Anything over forty-five percent and they just kept it, so we always kept track and figured it out at the end of the week. I did make pretty good money. Everybody in the plant would always say, “Well, if you’re a glazier you’re makin’ the big money.” We had pretty good rates because they didn’t want any of the glaziers to quit, you know. ‘Cause it cost them a lot of money to get one trained.

I think Farely’s was the largest millwork plant in the world at one time. We had 1200 working there, which was big, you know. Bobby Loetscher was in charge then. He was the big shot. Boy, he hated unions. And he was tight on paying out any money. Back then, if you got a five-cent an-hour raise, boy, you really got a raise. At Farely’s we did have a union, but it wasn’t very strong. Caradco’s was much stronger. But, Bobby Loetscher was quite a guy. In fact, after Farley & Loetscher closed down, he called me up one day and said, “Do you still know how to glaze?” and I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Well I’ve got a job for you if you want to come over and glaze my storm windows.” So I went over and I made out pretty well on that.

Do you know Westminster Church up on the corner of University and Loras? Those are special windows, I had to glaze all them. That was not too long before Farely’s closed. I think that was in 1962—and then I went to Caradco. They hired most of Farley’s glaziers. But got I transferred around and had a few lay offs because I didn’t have seniority. Eventually, though, I got back to where I got pretty steady at Caradco’s. I had, I think I had around twelve or fourteen years there and then Cardaco moved to Rantoul and then I went down to Rock Island Millwork and worked there until they closed down. So that’s how my time in millwork went.

Full page ad in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, January 14th, 1962

Full page ad in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, January 14th, 1962

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