Saturday, June 02, 2012

Visiting Edison's lab in West Orange, New Jersey in 1964

It was our school trip and we were excited. We were going to Edison's Laboratory. That Lab had been steeped in legion for us kids for ages. We were all around seven to eight years of age. We read a book in school about the great inventor and we were ready. Since it was 1964 it meant several things..
1. We were very ready to see and learn.
2. We were very well dressed as we were going on a class trip (My first)
3. I myself was excited as I was really enjoying reading about  Edison.
4. Edison was not some distant figure in history. He had been dead just 33 years or so. Therefore for us he had died about 25 years before we were born. So our parents would know much about him and our grandparents would know EVERYTHING about him. My grandfather did and he told me story after story about Edison.

I was hooked, excited, and looking forward to this trip.  On that day that we arrived we came to a working factory complete with a lunchtime whistle or buzzer. We could not go in certain areas as they were factory buildings and in use for the McGraw Edison Company.

Much of our tour was with an older gentleman who had worked for Edison, who would tell us stories, many not true but exciting none the less. Much of what was exciting to me was in what is called building #1.
It was here that on a long up leaning shelf was all of Edison's major inventions and developments. Much was in that first building, I also recall that it was there that I heard an Edison phonograph play for the first time.  I was delighted and hooked into Edison and his inventions.

We went into his office and looked around, saw the cot and the many books. We walked to the Chemical building all loaded up with tons of bottles. Little did we know that soon a bomb squad would arrive there and remove about 80% of those bottles. But I was glad to have been there when it was still as it was.
There in that building was the holy of holys and that was Edison's lab coat hung were he had left it in 1931.

It was my honor to work there 31 years later and walk where I had as a boy. I never lost the reverence for that lab coat and would always welcome the rich smell of tobacco in his office. Sometimes it was very strong and a bit over powering. It was on these days I would say loudly. "Good morning Mr. Edison"

It was an interesting thing to see the great changes that took place in the space of those 30 some odd years. I got to see history as it was then and how it would become.....I kind'a like how it was.