Box 146, County House Rd., Mt. Royal, New Jersey 08061
So often we hear the 'Good Old Days' and in many ways we know this to be a false statement, but for one thing; the heyday of the craftsman and the real machinist.
What has happened to these people? And why do we not have such personnel as the back-bone of American Industry? Also, how are we to maintain our engineering and know how status as a leader of free enterprise in the world of today? Ten to fifteen years ago, we had all of these things, but through many companies not wishing to spend money for real apprenticeship and training programs, the shortage has continued to increase as the skilled know how has retired.
A few years ago the gap could have been narrowed had these men of experience been taken from their machine and placed in some position to teach these younger men who are now in the driver's seat. Gone is the little short and chubby foreman who walked around with his old felt hat and his curly pipe emitting sparks because someone had put cast iron dust in it at lunch time. Gone also is the company spirit that once existed when a man felt that his company was King and without him it could not produce.
Most of the older generation were extremely conscientious and much dedicated to what could be called, their profession. Today, this is no profession, it is merely another kind of job that pays a little more than pushing a broom; and this is the only reason the modern young man enters this line of work. He knows little, so he can be told anything by his inexperienced and incapable supervisor who has never given one hours thought to such things as leadership, morals or power of command. Perhaps it is not entirely fair to place sole blame upon them for: if I remember some of my Sunday Schooling 'Help them, for they know not what they do'!
Perhaps it is the fault of the manufacturers lieutenants who need the flunkies for a greater power status and a personal feeling of greater importance. The company directors are, I do believe, dedicated people but the shameful part is they never really know the true picture. Perhaps the lieutenants dare not let them know, and with all now placed under a statistical system, it becomes extremely easy to change a bad picture into a rosy one.
In this present mechanical modern world there are branches such as Quality Control, nicknamed Damage Control. Then there is the pip of all Production Control and dubbed Destruction Control for as the name states, it seems to do this extremely well. These people armed with a pocket full of pencils, a gold wrist watch and a pad full of numbers amble around the shop looking for a part that could be a big brass nut, a 20 ft. shaft or a 1' gear wheel. Why doesn't he ask the foreman (Well, he doesn't know); why not ask the old machinist who probably knows most of pieces by heart? (This is beyond dignity). Sad is the case of a machine problem where $100,000 worth of white-shirted labor looks over a $100 job and not one knows what to do with it.
All of this gives me the feeling that a plant appears to be run as if it were a T. V. or a Hollywood set, where each employee is chosen for his photographic potential and 'does he fit the part?' It seems our little curly piped foreman of yesteryear wouldn't have made first base today, for it is the manner in which the 'blobs and gadgets' are situated on the outside of a head rather than what is on the inside. By this, I do not mean the educated bums, for the world has too many of these at the moment. Great Britain has wound up with too many chiefs and not enough Indians by the great 'brain drain' where her technicians and machinists left the country for other lands. There was too great a barrier between the white collars and the blue and now we seem to be following the same pattern which makes me ask where does the American go when he becomes fed up?
Sometimes, I wonder what our great grandfathers would say could they see some of our methods of operation. Today, we are talking of a high speed electric rail line to shuttle folks back and forth with speeds of 70-80 m.p.h. How about back in 1890 when Charlie Hogan and his Heroes (not of T.V. fame) pushed the Empire State Express along at speeds in excess of 100 m.p.h. and with a dirty old steam engine. This was not just a test run this was regular service.
Look again at British industry which was once the most well equipped in the world. In the 30's much amalgamation took place such as the A.G.E. and so on, until today, many of the smaller companies are now long gone; caused by bad management and stupid spending of companies funds. Of course, it happened here too, during those years, and one would think that a lesson could be gained - least of all.
A company will now say - 'We will hire all the Charlie Hogans we can get, if we can get them'. I guess they would But the question is-how long would they remain Charlie Hogans after they were hired? In earlier timer, the experienced man was left alone to do his job in the best manner he knew how, without interference from process cards and schoolboys. His superior was also a Charlie Hogan, who, by looking in a man's tool box, could judge his ability.
No matter who may argue, you cannot use a computer, nor the engineer his slide rule, to define who will make a great ball player or who will make a great musician. How many people have the knowledge of music to the extent that there is little else they can know? Can there ever be another Al Hirt or an Arthur Rubinstein? The answer is NO. You could read all you wished regarding the operation of an automobile, but it takes a driver to turn it loose on the highway. The text book cannot put to you the feeling of a car under your command, in motion.
How simple it is to say anyone can drive a nail. It is simple if you only have one to drive, but how about the laying of 1500 feet of floor boards? Then that simple driving of one nail becomes something else. We now find we have many thousands of these nails to drive where the type and balance of the simple hammer is of much importance. When a man gets paid by boards laid, the ART of using such a simple tool is a non-computed skill.
Let us also take a look at the 'trick cyclists' of the personnel departments. Of course, they have a job to do but to the layman the test given to folks seeking jobs seem so unfair and completely ridiculous. There has become an art to job hunting and it is usually the younger person who has the advantage. Some high schools teach ways to beat the tests. Never go to the firm where you hope to be employed for a first interview. Go to at least 8 others that offer similar work you seek, take their interviews, and by the time you have run through 8 personnel offices, you will be well accustomed to pouring on the charm at the company where you hope to be employed.
One must go to book stores and buy copies of all the tests that are likely to be given, because none of these tests can be too much different from another. There are only so many ways you can rephrase a question without changing its intellectual value. To days question is 'If a bear stands on the North Pole, in which direction points his rear?' Yesterdays question was 'Sketch and describe the inward workings of a shaping machine.' Pride and dedication are long gone and as most must admit, this inefficiency does exist, though sad to state the inefficiency of the machinist will be to blame.