"Adams said that at one time he was aboard a coffee-ship in the harbor of Santos, Brazil. He fell down a hatchway and broke his arm. They took him up to the hospital--a Portuguese one--where he could not speak the language, and they did not understand English. They treated him for two weeks for yellow fever! He was certainly the most profane man we ever had around the laboratory. He stood high in his class."
And there were others of a different stripe. "We had a man with us at Menlo called Segredor. He was a queer kind of fellow. The men got in the habit of plaguing him; and, finally, one day he said to the assembled experimenters in the top room of the laboratory: `The next man that does it, I will kill him.' They paid no attention to this, and next day one of them made some sarcastic remark to him. Segredor made a start for his boarding-house, and when they saw him coming back up the hill with a gun, they knew there would be trouble, so they all made for the woods. One of the men went back and mollified him. He returned to his work; but he was not teased any more. At last, when I sent men out hunting for bamboo, I dispatched Segredor to Cuba. He arrived in Havana on Tuesday, and on the Friday following he was buried, having died of the black vomit. On the receipt of the news of his death, half a dozen of the men wanted his job, but my searcher in the Astor Library reported that the chances of finding the right kind of bamboo for lamps in Cuba were very small; so I did not send a substitute."
Another thumb-nail sketch made of one of his associates is this: "When experimenting with vacuum- pumps to exhaust the incandescent lamps, I required some very delicate and close manipulation of glass, and hired a German glass-blower who was said to be the most expert man of his kind in the United States. He was the only one who could make clinical thermometers. He was the most extraordinarily conceited man I have ever come across. His conceit was so enormous, life was made a burden to him by all the boys around the laboratory. He once said that he was educated in a university where all the students belonged to families of the aristocracy; and the highest class in the university all wore little red caps. He said HE wore one."
Of somewhat different caliber was "honest" John Kruesi, who first made his mark at Menlo Park, and of whom Edison says: "One of the workmen I had at Menlo Park was John Kruesi, who afterward became, from his experience, engineer of the lighting station, and subsequently engineer of the Edison General Electric Works at Schenectady. Kruesi was very exact in his expressions. At the time we were promoting and putting up electric-light stations in Pennsylvania, New York, and New England, there would be delegations of different people who proposed to pay for these stations. They would come to our office in New York, at `65,' to talk over the specifications, the cost, and other things. At first, Mr. Kruesi was brought in, but whenever a statement was made which he could not understand or did not believe could be substantiated, he would blurt right out among these prospects that he didn't believe it. Finally it disturbed these committees so much, and raised so many doubts in their minds, that one of my chief associates said: `Here, Kruesi, we don't want you to come to these meetings any longer. You are too painfully honest.' I said to him: `We always tell the truth. It may be deferred truth, but it is the truth.' He could not understand that."
Various reasons conspired to cause the departure from Menlo Park midway in the eighties. For Edison, in spite of the achievement with which its name will forever be connected, it had lost all its attractions and all its possibilities. It had been outgrown in many ways, and strange as the remark may seem, it was not until he had left it behind and had settled in Orange, New Jersey, that he can be said to have given definite shape to his life. He was only forty in 1887, and all that he had done up to that time, tremendous as much of it was, had worn a haphazard, Bohemian air, with all the inconsequential freedom and crudeness somehow attaching to pioneer life. The development of the new laboratory in West Orange, just at the foot of Llewellyn Park, on the Orange Mountains, not only marked the happy beginning of a period of perfect domestic and family life, but saw in the planning and equipment of a model laboratory plant the consummation of youthful dreams, and of the keen desire to enjoy resources adequate at any moment to whatever strain the fierce fervor of research might put upon them. Curiously enough, while hitherto Edison had sought to dissociate his experimenting from his manufacturing, here he determined to develop a large industry to which a thoroughly practical laboratory would be a central feature, and ever a source of suggestion and inspiration. Edison's standpoint to-day is that an evil to be dreaded in manufacture is that of over- standardization, and that as soon as an article is perfect that is the time to begin improving it. But he who would improve must experiment.
The Orange laboratory, as originally planned, consisted of a main building two hundred and fifty feet long and three stories in height, together with four other structures, each one hundred by twenty-five feet, and only one story in height. All these were substantially built of brick. The main building was divided into five chief divisions--the library, office, machine shops, experimental and chemical rooms, and stock-room. The use of the smaller buildings will be presently indicated.
Surrounding the whole was erected a high picket fence with a gate placed on Valley Road. At this point a gate-house was provided and put in charge of a keeper, for then, as at the present time, Edison was greatly sought after; and, in order to accomplish any work at all, he was obliged to deny himself to all but the most important callers. The keeper of the gate was usually chosen with reference to his capacity for stony-hearted implacability and adherence to instructions; and this choice was admirably made in one instance when a new gateman, not yet thoroughly initiated, refused admittance to Edison himself. It was of no use to try and explain. To the gateman EVERY ONE was persona non grata without proper credentials, and Edison had to wait outside until he could get some one to identify him.
On entering the main building the first doorway from the ample passage leads the visitor into a handsome library finished throughout in yellow pine, occupying the entire width of the building, and almost as broad as long. The centre of this spacious room is an open rectangular space about forty by twenty-five feet, rising clear about forty feet from the main floor to a panelled ceiling. Around the sides of the room, bounding this open space, run two tiers of gallery, divided, as is the main floor beneath them; into alcoves of liberal dimensions. These alcoves are formed by racks extending from floor to ceiling, fitted with shelves, except on two sides of both galleries, where they are formed by a series of glass- fronted cabinets containing extensive collections of curious and beautiful mineralogical and geological specimens, among which is the notable Tiffany-Kunz collection of minerals acquired by Edison some years ago. Here and there in these cabinets may also be found a few models which he has used at times in his studies of anatomy and physiology.
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