In noting these various objects of interest one must not lose sight of the fact that this part of the building is primarily a library, if indeed that fact did not at once impress itself by a glance at the well- filled unglazed book-shelves in the alcoves of the main floor. Here Edison's catholic taste in reading becomes apparent as one scans the titles of thousands of volumes ranged upon the shelves, for they include astronomy, botany, chemistry, dynamics, electricity, engineering, forestry, geology, geography, mechanics, mining, medicine, metallurgy, magnetism, philosophy, psychology, physics, steam, steam-engines, telegraphy, telephony, and many others. Besides these there are the journals and proceedings of numerous technical societies; encyclopaedias of various kinds; bound series of important technical magazines; a collection of United States and foreign patents, embracing some hundreds of volumes, together with an extensive assortment of miscellaneous books of special and general interest. There is another big library up in the house on the hill--in fact, there are books upon books all over the home. And wherever they are, those books are read.
As one is about to pass out of the library attention is arrested by an incongruity in the form of a cot, which stands in an alcove near the door. Here Edison, throwing himself down, sometimes seeks a short rest during specially long working tours. Sleep is practically instantaneous and profound, and he awakes in immediate and full possession of his faculties, arising from the cot and going directly "back to the job" without a moment's hesitation, just as a person wide awake would arise from a chair and proceed to attend to something previously determined upon.
Immediately outside the library is the famous stock-room, about which much has been written and invented. Its fame arose from the fact that Edison planned it to be a repository of some quantity, great or small, of every known and possibly useful substance not readily perishable, together with the most complete assortment of chemicals and drugs that experience and knowledge could suggest. Always strenuous in his experimentation, and the living embodiment of the spirit of the song, I Want What I Want When I Want It, Edison had known for years what it was to be obliged to wait, and sometimes lack, for some substance or chemical that he thought necessary to the success of an experiment. Naturally impatient at any delay which interposed in his insistent and searching methods, and realizing the necessity of maintaining the inspiration attending his work at any time, he determined to have within his immediate reach the natural resources of the world.
Hence it is not surprising to find the stock-room not only a museum, but a sample-room of nature, as well as a supply department. To a casual visitor the first view of this heterogeneous collection is quite bewildering, but on more mature examination it resolves itself into a natural classification--as, for instance, objects pertaining to various animals, birds, and fishes, such as skins, hides, hair, fur, feathers, wool, quills, down, bristles, teeth, bones, hoofs, horns, tusks, shells; natural products, such as woods, barks, roots, leaves, nuts, seeds, herbs, gums, grains, flours, meals, bran; also minerals in great assortment; mineral and vegetable oils, clay, mica, ozokerite, etc. In the line of textiles, cotton and silk threads in great variety, with woven goods of all kinds from cheese-cloth to silk plush. As for paper, there is everything in white and colored, from thinnest tissue up to the heaviest asbestos, even a few newspapers being always on hand. Twines of all sizes, inks, waxes, cork, tar, resin, pitch, turpentine, asphalt, plumbago, glass in sheets and tubes; and a host of miscellaneous articles revealed on looking around the shelves, as well as an interminable col- lection of chemicals, including acids, alkalies, salts, reagents, every conceivable essential oil and all the thinkable extracts. It may be remarked that this collection includes the eighteen hundred or more fluorescent salts made by Edison during his experimental search for the best material for a fluoroscope in the initial X-ray period. All known metals in form of sheet, rod and tube, and of great variety in thickness, are here found also, together with a most complete assortment of tools and accessories for machine shop and laboratory work.
The list is confined to the merest general mention of the scope of this remarkable and interesting collection, as specific details would stretch out into a catalogue of no small proportions. When it is stated, however, that a stock clerk is kept exceedingly busy all day answering the numerous and various demands upon him, the reader will appreciate that this comprehensive assortment is not merely a fad of Edison's, but stands rather as a substantial tribute to his wide-angled view of possible requirements as his various investigations take him far afield. It has no counterpart in the world!
Beyond the stock-room, and occupying about half the building on the same floor, lie a machine shop, engine-room, and boiler-room. This machine shop is well equipped, and in it is constantly employed a large force of mechanics whose time is occupied in constructing the heavier class of models and mechanical devices called for by the varied experiments and inventions always going on.
Immediately above, on the second floor, is found another machine shop in which is maintained a corps of expert mechanics who are called upon to do work of greater precision and fineness, in the construction of tools and experimental models. This is the realm presided over lovingly by John F. Ott, who has been Edison's designer of mechanical devices for over forty years. He still continues to ply his craft with unabated skill and oversees the work of the mechanics as his productions are wrought into concrete shape.
In one of the many experimental-rooms lining the sides of the second floor may usually be seen his younger brother, Fred Ott, whose skill as a dexterous manipulator and ingenious mechanic has found ample scope for exercise during the thirty-two years of his service with Edison, not only at the regular laboratories, but also at that connected with the inventor's winter home in Florida. Still another of the Ott family, the son of John F., for some years past has been on the experimental staff of the Orange laboratory. Although possessing in no small degree the mechanical and manipulative skill of the family, he has chosen chemistry as his special domain, and may be found with the other chemists in one of the chemical-rooms.
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