Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Cambridge Glass Company’

Granny Rides the Interurban

Imagine what it would’ve been like to take a Gypsy Road Trip a hundred years ago. At that time a modern means of transportation in Guernsey County was the Interurban, a type of electric railway with light, self-propelled, electric cars. Midland Power & Traction provided the electricity from their location  on Foster Avenue at 2nd Street (recent home of Variety Glass) in Cambridge, Ohio.

Just for fun, let’s step on the Guernsey County Interurban and take a little road trip with Granny through Guernsey County on a summer day long ago. She has a special destination for her trip today, but will enjoy all the sights along the way.

All aboard for a ride into the past.

Interurban on 8th St 001

Tickets could be purchased at The Electric Shop across from the courthouse.

Having saved her pennies for weeks now, it’s time to purchase her round trip ticket for a quarter. The Electric Shop on the corner of South 8th Street across from the courthouse is a handy place to get a ticket.

Cambridge Glass Company Baseball Diamond

This aerial shot of the old Cambridge Glass Company shows the baseball diamond, a popular weekend form of entertainment.

At the first stop on the trestle by the Cambridge Glass Company on Morton Avenue, glass workers wait. Many employees use this for their ride home after work, even on a Saturday. Granny notices the baseball teams preparing to enjoy the summer day. Looks like the semi-pro teams of Cambridge Glass Clear Cuts and Byesville Bobcats are ready to “Play Ball”.

Today a stop will be made at the Byesville Driving Park along Chapman Creek. Many depart the train at Stop #7, called Marjorie or Springfield, and walk about a quarter of a mile to the grandstands at the park to watch the horse races.

Korte

Korte’s Park had perhaps the only swimming pool in Ohio back in the early 1900s.

Others get off at Stop #9 and visit the nicest picnic area around at Korte’s Park. This is said to have been the only swimming pool in the state of Ohio, so quite a popular spot during the summer months.

Interurban Car on Byesville Depot Street

The Interurban rolls down Depot Street (now Second Street) in Byesville.

This Saturday afternoon when all the coal miners are shopping in Byesville, the Interurban has to slow down a little because of the miners and their families flooding this main thoroughfare. Coal miners were not welcome to shop in Cambridge, so Byesville was a busy town.

Interurban Rocky Bottom 001

Interurban passes over Rocky Bottom swimming hole, a popular summer hang-out.

Just outside of Byesville at Little Kate, the tracks lead over Wills Creek on a trestle. Granny’s eyes light up as she notices a sign on the cowcatcher that says “Haag Railroad Show”. That sounds like something she would like to see.

As you pass over “Rocky Bottom”, a favorite swimming hole for youngsters, watch out for skinny dippers.  Sometimes they make people laugh, and other times cause embarrassment to those riding the rails. Granny has to cover her eyes!

Trail Run Mine is a busy town with over 1500 residents. You have to be quick as the interurban only stops here for seconds unless there are milk cans, ice, dynamite, or other freight to unload. They must keep on schedule.

Interurban Vacation Bible Class in 1925

Vacation Bible class of Lucasburg and Buckeyeville stops for a picnic at Ball’s Grove.

Up on the hillside, Granny spots families having a picnic under the trees. There is a spring nearby and she has heard that Ball’s Grove (today the northbound I-77 roadside rest) is a perfect place for a family to enjoy relaxing while the children play tag or kick-the-can.

Puritan Mine 001

Miners and mules line up outside Puritan Mine.

As the Interurban stops at Puritan Mine (Seneca Lane), coal miners get on board to head home for the evening. Granny fusses just a little to make sure they don’t get coal dust or grease on her best dress as she has almost reached her destination. The large cars have seats for forty-two, but often two hundred dirty miners will crowd on board, eager to head home for the day.

Interurban at Pleasant City 001

The Interurban can be seen on the other side of the covered bridge leaving Pleasant City to return to Cambridge.

By the time the cars have made it all the way to Pleasant City, the end of the line, there is reduced power for the trip back to Cambridge. Voltage is so low that cars leave at a crawl with their overhead lights no brighter than lightning bugs. Now you can see why they need that new substation on Morton Avenue to provide power to the stations at Pleasant City and Byesville.

Today’s a  special day for Granny as it’s her birthday. Her sisters live in Pleasant City and greet her as she gets off the Interurban. They are amazed that she has come so far all by herself.

Granny is excited to tell them about the Haag Railroad Show that is coming next week. “Maybe we could all go see their trained bears, ponies and blue-faced monkeys. There’s always something exciting happening around Guernsey County these days.”

Wouldn’t it have been an adventure to take a Gypsy Road Trip with Granny on the Interurban?

 

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The Cambridge Glass Museum Sparkles with Memories

Picture of the original Cambridge Glass Company in 1909

Picture of the original Cambridge Glass Company in 1909

Stepping inside the National Museum of Cambridge Glass in Cambridge, Ohio makes former employees and their families feel a great sense of pride in the fine work displayed within its walls. Visitor after visitor marvels at the fine workmanship that has stood the test of time. Over 6,000 pieces of the finest glass in the world are on display.

Original finishing bench from Cambridge Glass. Dad could have sat here.

Volunteers Cindy, Gary, and Sandi demonstrate making glass around an original finishing bench from Cambridge Glass. Dad might have sat on that bench.

My thoughts always turn to Dad and Mom when I enter its doors. Working at Cambridge Glass Co. for over thirty years, my dad, Rudy Wencek, learned to do many different jobs: carrying-in boy, presser, finisher, and blower. Mom, known as Kate to her friends, only worked there a few years in the packing department.

Two of Dad's turncards show he was finisher, the item being made, and amount paid.

Two of Dad’s turncards show he was finisher, the item being made, and amount paid.

All of the employees remember it being a great place to work. Since times were tough during many of those years, the company provided a factory restaurant, where employees could get an economical meal and have it deducted from their pay.  They also were able to get coal to heat their homes at a reduced rate from Cambridge Glass’s Near Cut Coal Mine. Insurance was even provided for their employees.

Our long driveway was covered, not with gravel, but with ashes from the furnaces of Cambridge Glass. Many recall employees’ sidewalks and driveways having a coating of Cambridge Glass ash.

These popular Georgian tumblers were used daily at my parents'home.

These popular Georgian tumblers were used daily at my parents’ home.

When the plant closed in 1958, glass enthusiasts wanted to preserve its history, so in 1983 they opened the first National Museum of Cambridge Glass. Today their museum is on 9th Street just off Wheeling Avenue in downtown Cambridge.

These marbles from Christensen Agate Co. were made from Cambridge cullet glass.

These marbles from Christensen Agate Co. were made from Cambridge cullet.

This past year they have created two new displays that are fascinating. One involves marbles. The Christensen Agate Co. made “the world’s most perfectly formed marbles.” They were located right behind the Cambridge Glass Company. To make the beautiful colors in their marbles, they used Cambridge Glass Company’s broken or waste glass called cullet, which they remelted to form the marbles..

This display shows some of the Cambridge Glass used in movies or television shows.

This display shows some of the Cambridge Glass used in movies or television shows.

A larger display is called Hollywood Glass. Here you can spot Cambridge Glass pieces that have actually been used in movies and television shows. It’s quite impressive to realize that the things made in this small town are considered fine enough quality to be used in such manner as: a wine glass in White Christmas, an etched pitcher in Gunsmoke, a funnel on Hawaii Five-O, plus many more.

School and bus groups frequently tour the museum. Beginning with a short video actually filmed at the Cambridge Glass Company in the 1940s, visitors are then given a quiz regarding the video. Those with the correct answers are dressed in working gear as the process is reviewed.

Students enjoy using the etching plates.

Students enjoy using the etching plates.

Another aspect that greatly interests adults and students happens in the etching department. Here they are given actual Cambridge Glass etching plates, for such patterns as Rose Point, Dragon, or Chantilly, and can see the patterns emerge on a paper trail rather than glass. Of course, beautiful, etched glass creations are visible throughout the museum.

Hopefully, someday you will take the time to see these pieces of glass artwork made by friends and family right here in Guernsey County. Dad and his co-workers should feel great pride in the beautiful gems they have created. Part of them lives on in their handiwork.

The National Museum of Cambridge Glass is located in Cambridge, Ohio at 136 S 9th Street, just a half block off its main street, Wheeling Avenue – also called old Route 40. Admission is a reasonable $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and children under 12 are admitted free.

The Personality of a Hat

 

Dad usually wore this hat.

Dad usually wore this working hat.

When you put on a hat, you take on its character. Children put on a cowboy hat and pretend they are riding the range, or a helmet and pretend to be headed for space. A woman puts on a Victorian hat and feels more a lady.

My Dad always wore a hat. Before leaving the house, he’d pick up a hat and with a snap of his fingers, place it on his head. Each time a different hat appeared on his head, Dad’s personality seemed to change.

Dad dons his felt hat.

Dad dons his felt hat when he gets dressed up.

Most days he would grab an old “hunky cap” when heading for work at Cambridge Glass Company or on the farm. “Hunky” was a term used disparagingly in the early 1900s to describe the men from Hungary and Czechoslovakia who did manual labor. This flat hat with a snap on the bill was worn most often. When wearing this hat, his demeanor usually became more serious.

Going to town on Saturday or to church on Sunday, a different hat would appear. Wearing a white shirt and dress slacks, Dad always donned a gray felt hat that dipped slightly over his right eye. That gave him a debonair look in my eyes. I’m sure he felt like a handsome gentleman when tipping his hat to the ladies.

Dad wears his straw hat with his two favorite girls.

Dad wears his straw hat with his two favorite girls.

Every time we visited, this well-mannered fellow removed his hat in the house, and would place it on the couch or chair nearby. Children clamored to sit by this storyteller, but he’d warn them, with a shake of his finger and a wink of his eye, “Don’t sit on my hundred dollar hat.”

When summer arrived, Dad dressed in yet another hat. This time it was a Panama hat to stay cooler in the hot summer sun. He always smiled when wearing that hat. Perhaps the warm summer days brought happiness, or maybe this time of year held delightful memories, but he always walked with a spring in his step when wearing that straw hat.

No matter what hat Dad wore, his face always wore a smile.

Variety – The Spice of Dad’s Life

Making glass was “in his blood”. Those words described my dad, Rudy Wencek, as working with glass intrigued him. That passion is the basis for my Father’s Day tribute to Dad and Variety Glass in Cambridge, Ohio. Dreams do come true.

Dad working at Variety Glass

Dad working at Variety Glass

At the age of twelve, Rudy quit school and went to work as a “carrying-in boy” at Cambridge Glass Company. As the years passed, Rudy performed a variety of jobs there from pressing to the skilled art of blowing delicate pieces. The only thing he knew well centered around making glass, while his wife, Kate, raised chickens on the farm.

Rudy never even considered doing anything else until the day in 1959 when the Cambridge Glass plant closed – this time for good. What would he do now?

As luck would have it, Rudy was good friends with Tom Mosser, another glassmaker whose family had a hand in operating Cambridge Glass. Rudy and Tom purchased some of the original Cambridge Glass molds for use in producing laboratory and pharmaceutical glass for doctors and science labs, plus a variety of other items.

Where should they start the business? How about in Kate’s chicken house near Indian Camp. While Kate didn’t mind giving up her chicken house, two things worried her.

First, the large propane tank needed to fire the furnace could explode. Second, taking out a loan frightened her as she watched every penny. But Rudy told her, “It takes money to make money.” Therefore, late in 1959, Variety Glass got its start – in our former chicken house.

Dad in front of future Variety Glass

Dad in front of future Variety Glass

Rudy and Tom worked long hours on their new business. Tom enjoyed making business connections to purchase supplies and generate sales. Rudy got to follow his love of being in charge of making the glass products, always working closely with the other employees, nearly all being former Cambridge Glass craftsmen.

Officers of Variety Glass: Mary Martha Mitchell, president; Tom Mosser, vice-president, Rudy Wencek, treasurer

Officers of Variety Glass were: Mary Martha Mitchell, president; Tom Mosser, vice-president, and Rudy Wencek, treasurer

The following year, a late night explosion caused a fire that stopped their dream. But Rudy and Tom were not giving up. They contacted former Cambridge Glass president, Mary Martha Mitchell, asking for her leadership expertise. Between the three partners, they discovered the empty street car barn on Second Street and began refurbishing it to meet their needs.

With the added room for growth, items were added to their production list with glass products being sent worldwide. Surprising though it may seem, some of their laboratory glass was used by NASA and the Atomic Research Center in Los Alamos.

But fate seemed to delay the three of them again, as once more fire caused extensive damage to Variety Glass in 1966. Mary Martha Mitchell kept the company going from her kitchen table office by notifying customers of the circumstances and encouraging them to wait until production started once again.

Today Variety Glass is still in operation on Second Street although none of the three originators are around to oversee its production.

Variety Glass in old trolley barn

Variety Glass in old trolley barn

Due to health problems, Rudy found it necessary to retire from Variety Glass in 1966, but he never lost his passion for making glass. He told his grandsons how proud it made him feel to see sand and a few special ingredients turn into beautiful glass objects, thus Rudy’s long-ago CB handle of “Sandman”. The sparkle in his eyes when he talked about making glass reflected his passion.

Dad’s cheerful, caring attitude provided a life-long example to follow. He was the best dad imaginable!

St Francis Hospital Museum Growing Piece By Piece

Items used at St Francis Hospital

Items used at St Francis Hospital

Many times unexpected treasures appear when exploring an old building. Such was the case in 2012 when Dave and Sarah Scott purchased an antique store housed in a former local hospital.  There in the corners and unexplored rooms, many items formerly used in the early hospital were discovered.

Dave Scott, owner, stands with medical supplies in their museum.

Dave Scott, owner, stands with medical supplies in their museum.

At the present time, Dave and Sarah have dedicated one room of their Scott’s 10th St. Antique Mall to a place called St. Francis Hospital Museum.  Nearly all of the items in the room are from the original hospital, having been found in the corners of the building.  Dave Scott, owner, stands beside some of the medical equipment used during the days of St Francis Hospital. The crutches in the background were found in a room in the basement while exploring the building.Only two items, a wheel chair and a bed, have been purchased and both were from the same time period as when St. Francis Hospital was in operation.

Back in 1922, this medical center began when the  Wells Hospital opened its doors on 10th Street in Cambridge, Ohio. This was a much needed addition to the city at that time and Dr. Henry L. Wells dedicated it to his parents. Dr. Wells was a tireless and modest physician whose feelings were summarized when he said, “I feel very highly rewarded with the respect and confidence that the community seems to have in me.”

The Order of St. Francis Nuns began operating that same facility in 1945 as St Francis Hospital. After WWII was over, Dr. Paul Huth arrived in the area and took over as head surgeon at the hospital. The hospital received a boost in 1957 when Cambridge Glass Company selected St. Francis Hospital for all hospitalization of workers needing medical attention. All emergency cases were to be sent to the hospital as well, with Dr. Paul Huth named as company physician.

The Walking Blood Bank poster

The Walking Blood Bank poster

An old poster features familiar faces in our local medical world encouraging people to give to the blood bank…at that time a Walking Blood Bank. Dr. Paul Huth, the hospital director is shown with Edith Spade while Dr. Joseph Utrata is being assisted by Twila Thacker.  Both Miss Spade and Miss Thacker served the community as nurses until recent years.

A visitor at the museum stated that he had been born in the hospital, and maybe even in the room where the museum stands. He remembered stories of the early hospital days as well as the doctors who cared for the patients.  Area residents remember that at that time appendectomies were as popular as knee replacements are today. So he smiled when remarking, “If you came in for an ingrown toenail, chances are you would not leave before having an appendectomy.”

1946 Hospital Bill

1946 Hospital Bill

An interesting hospital bill hangs on the wall.  It shows the costs for everything needed during the hospital stay. One surprising item was the cost of the room. The patient was there for seven days at $4 a day for a total room charge of $28. How times have changed!

St. Francis Hospital was finally closed in 1968 with the opening of a larger, more modern facility, Guernsey Memorial Hospital.  Today that hospital has been further improved and modernized and is now called Southeastern Medical Center of Ohio.

If perhaps, you have any knowledge of St. Francis Hospital or pieces of its history that you would care to share with future generations, please contact Dave or Sarah Scott at their 10th Street Antique Mall. Who knows what could develop here?

The St. Francis Hospital Museum is located in the Scott’s 10th St Antique Mall in downtown Cambridge. There is easy access as Cambridge is at the crossroads of I-70 and I-77. Wheeling Avenue is their main street and the museum is just a half block south of Wheeling Avenue on 10th Street.

Cambridge Glass Company: Quality Heritage Preserved


Elegance of a bygone era is evident at The National Museum of Cambridge Glass, which is near downtown Cambridge, Ohio. Here you will find over 6000 pieces of handcrafted quality glassware – some of the finest in the world.

Cambridge Glass Company was founded back in 1902 with Arthur James Bennett, a glassmaker from Boston, as its president.  Cambridge was chosen as the site of this new venture because of its easy access to natural gas wells and coal mines, as well as railroads to bring in supplies and deliver the finished products. To get those furnaces blasting hot, they even had their own coal mine at Near Cut. Due to the intense heat of those furnaces, it was quite common to work early in the morning during the summer months so temperatures were a little cooler.

How many people do you think handled an elegant piece of glass from start to finish? That number could run as high as seventy five individuals! All of them were extremely proud to be part of this high quality product.

Back in 1973, a group was formed to establish this museum to display, study, and preserve the history of Cambridge Glass Co. At that time they created a revised logo based on the original one used by Cambridge Glass, but added the beginning and ending dates of operation.

Upon entering the museum, the beautiful colors and designs sparkle in rows and rows of showcases. Guides are on hand to explain the history of the glass making process at Cambridge Glass Company from 1902-1958. Back in 1902, the first dazzling piece produced was a crystal water pitcher, the Big X, which is on display at the museum.

One great place to begin your tour is in the Auditorium where they have a short video showing the glass making process. Here you will view actual films of work at Cambridge Glass back in the 1940s. These color enhanced films show workers of that time gathering, shaping, etching and engraving their beautiful glass pieces. There are also on display several original pieces of equipment, which were used at Cambridge Glass Company.

Etched glass attracts the eye of almost everyone who appreciates the beauty of fine hand workmanship. Some of the etched patterns have real gold fused on the glass for trim. as well as gold in the intricate pattern of the etchings. Rose Point is the most popular etching with elaborate wild roses midst vines and leaves. Rose Point is the most collected pattern and while it is usually in crystal, it can be found rarely in other colors.  The guides will often let you experience the method of etching using templates from Cambridge Glass.

The interpretive area sheds light on the history through an interesting display of tools and molds used during their productive years. Here you see an office worker overlooking the time sheets, an engraving table with a high tech bucket cooling system, and the popular glass blower. The addition of color to the glass made Cambridge Glass even more sought after as a collector’s item. As early as 1903, colors of Opal, Turquoise, Blue, Green and Amber were being produced, but not very extensively. Gradually more colors were added and in the early 30s a glass chemist created some of the most popular colors for collectors today.  Everyone has their favorite, but one of the most popular colors  is Crown Tuscan, a flesh colored pink milkglass, while other favorites are Carmen, Royal Blue or Amethyst.

Department stores in that era used Cambridge Glass in their displays for various reasons. These stores used glass holders to display their perfumes and millinery, as well as sparkling glassware displays. Some of the items that are in the museum today were actually purchased from Chicago and New York department stores.

The gift shop has actual pieces of Cambridge Glass for sale as well as books. A recent addition has been jewelry and Christmas ornaments made from broken pieces of Cambridge Glass that have been refinished, making each piece unique.   One of my favorites is a necklace purchased there a couple years ago made from the milkglass wing of a Cambridge Glass swan.  Special memories are included since my father worked at Cambridge Glass from the age of twelve as a carrying-in boy, and later as a presser, finisher and glassblower until the plant closed.

Add some sparkle to your life and stop by The National Cambridge Glass Museum to view fascinating local history. Join visitors from all over the world while you learn more about the rich heritage of glassmaking in the Cambridge area.

The National Museum of Cambridge Glass is located in Cambridge, Ohio on 136 South  Ninth Street, just half a block off Wheeling Avenue. Head to downtown Cambridge off any Cambridge exit near the crossroads of I-77 and I-70. The easily recognizable Cambridge Glass logo is on the front of the museum. The museum is open from April 1st through October 31st, Wednesday through Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday Noon – 4 p.m.  Admission is very reasonable at $5 per adult and $4 for senior.  Children under twelve are free when accompanied by an adult.  If you have any questions regarding the museum, call 740-432-4245. Visit their website at www.cambridgeglass.org .

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