Oral History Interview with Paul Hadley Part I

Kentucky Historical Society


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0:07 - Building ship models / Churchill Weavers / family life

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Keywords: adoption; Berea; Churchill Weavers; family; Minnesota River; Mississippi River; steamboat; weaving

2:55 - Writing a book about WWII / settling in Berea / working at Churchill Weavers in Berea

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Keywords: Alice Churchill; author; Berea; Churchill Weavers; Navy; weaving; World War II; World War Two; WWII

12:37 - Weaving samples at Churchill Weavers / early employees at Churchill Weavers

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Keywords: Albert Einstein; Berea; Churchill Weavers; Elmer Isaacs; Irene Baufell; Kentucky Historical Society

16:21 - Marketing craft products

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Keywords: marketing; New York City; radio host; Saks Fifth Avenue; Southern Highland Handicraft Guild

18:56 - Being involved in Southern Highland Handicrafts Guild

20:11 - KY Guild Train

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Keywords: Bert Combs; Churchill Weavers; Department of Commerce; Guild Train; L and N Railroad; Rudy Osolnik; tourism; Virginia Minish; woodworking

37:37 - D.C. Churchill / explaining loom technology

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Keywords: Churchill Weavers; D.C. Churchill; IMAX; MIT; Smithsonian; Thomas Edison

48:30 - Getting a job in state government / getting Kentucky-made crafts into state park giftshops

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Keywords: Bert Combs; crafts; Department of Parks; Giftshops; glasswork; Kentucky State Parks; Tourism; Unions; Virginia Minish


HADLEY: Well, right now, of course, the only craftwork I’m doing is ship building. I like to build ship models of ships, and I don’t have any particular type, for example. Our local museum has at least -- they’ve got six of our ships on display at the moment in individual cases, and then they have two in one of their exhibits. I helped them build a diorama of our community back in the 1890s and at that time we still had steamboats coming up the river, so it was the headwaters of the Minnesota River, which empties into the Mississippi at Minneapolis. So, I got interested in ship models when I was a kid, and I served as an apprentice boat builder and got my journeyman’s ticket so I could build wooden boats. So, since building wooden boats is not very profitable these days, I decided I’d build ship models for the fun of it. That’s what I do for my hobby, and I am a weaver. Some people may have heard of the Churchill Weavers of Berea, Kentucky. Well, the Churchill’s started that business back in the early 1920’s, and I came into the family by way of a marriage to their oldest daughter that I met in college up in New York State, where I was living at the time, and she is quite a girl. We’ve been married 65 years now, so it’s, you know, a long, very interesting voyage for her and me. She’s a wonderful girl. We have three beautiful children of our own and we have an adopted daughter who is Korean, who is just like the rest of them. She’s a Hadley as much as she doesn’t look like the rest of us. And we have about eight grandchildren and we have nine great-grandchildren. We have one child, it’s just possible, if we live a little longer, we might even have a great-great-grandchild. I came to Berea by way of marriage. What happened is I went to World War II in the Navy and that in itself is a complete story. So I wrote some books about. I’ve written and published three books about World War II and three other books about my youth getting into the navy and then the first years after the war when I was returning to civilian life. They are of interest only to the family really, but other people have been buying the books for reasons I don’t understand because they’re not that great. I had written them as novels so that they flow and they have conversations, which, obviously, I didn’t remember in complete. I got to Berea on invitation of the family, and I’m not sure whether they were worried about my ability to provide my wife with income or not, but anyhow, they offered me a job there and -- so when I was introduced one time in Berea, I was introduced and they said, This is Paul Hadley. He started with the Churchill Weavers, as you know, about three months ago as sort of an apprentice weaver. And he spent the first three months just learning how to run one of the Churchill looms, which was a handloom. And after he learned to do that, then they wanted him to learn all of the other branches of the business, which he is in the process of doing now. And for some strange reason, they’re already calling him the vice president and general manager of the company. Of course, you understand now, he got this job and this position all through sheer guts, determination, and ability, but I suspect marrying Alice Churchill has helped a great deal, which it did. So I went to the Churchill Weavers and for conditions and circumstances that are not worth talking about here now, the navy called me back and I went back into the navy, and I was in there for about a year and a half, almost a year and three quarters. When the Churchill’s -- because it was a shore base and, in fact, I was assigned to Louisville, Kentucky at the time, and the Churchill’s asked me if I’d like to come -- I was in New York City at the time. They paid for me to go to New York to talk to me because they didn’t know I was in Louisville. And it was a real strange situation. They said we’d like to have you come to the Churchill Weavers with a view to becoming the manager of the business because our son Charles is no longer associated with our business. He was the one that was supposed to be the manager and owner of the business ultimately. And they intimated that we would own it, my wife and I. She would own it actually, but I would be the manager of it, if I would do that. They were drawing on the fact that some of my training in the navy would apply. I couldn’t for the life of me, couldn’t understand how being an electrician or a hydraulics engineer or a fairly good mechanic would have much to do with hand weaving, but I got there. I saw why they thought that. The business had raised hand weaving to a point where it was not -- one individual weaver could not compete with a weaver in a weaving mill because there they run maybe up to as many as six looms at a time. Of course, when you’re hand weaving, you can only weave with one loom, but we could compete with the looms on speed. With a handloom, you can operate at 120 picks a minute 8 hours a day, of course with 2 breaks in the afternoon and of course a luncheon break, but the girls could do that and not go home wringing wet and totally exhausted for the design of that loom was an absolute marvel of -- I forgot what the word -- ergonomics or economics or something like that. It relates to --

WILLIHNGANZ: Ergonomics.

HADLEY: Ergonomics, that’s it, ergonomics. It was, in effect, an excellent example of ergonomics in work because the loom literally -- and I tried to figure it out mathematically and the closest I could come was it was about 90 percent efficient in use of energy. It wasted very little energy. And power looms wasted energy prodigiously, that is, the ones at the time. That’s before the modern weaving machines came into effect. So they were a marvelous machine and I was just amazed and how rapidly they worked. So they could be -- they could sell a beautiful handmade product for $9 and make money on it. Well, that was done because, first of all, they paid minimum wage and then an incentive on top of that so that if they made so many perfect units they got more money than minimum wage, but this was back in the depression when they started. So anybody got a job at all, they were very grateful for it. When I went there, of course, it was after the war, and the wages still, if you remember, were only 15, 20 cents an hour. If you got that much, you were pretty well off. In fact, I had a job as a radio announcer one time at 22 cents an hour, so it was an interesting time. Well, to make a long story short, I did like the business. I really did. And I won’t bore you with the details and intricacies of the next 11 years, but during that 11 years, I became really enraptured by the handcraft industry itself, because the Churchill’s didn’t give anybody the secrets of that loom for obvious reasons. Berea College came closest to it, but they still didn’t have anything like we did. What was different about our looms was they were all hung overhead. The beater was hung from the top, not from the bottom, so it swung. And a swing works much better than something that has to be moved. So that was really the beginning and ending of the energy efficiency. The movement of the beater was controlled by a flywheel and was attached to that flywheel with a crank so that the beater didn’t have to be beat up several times or anything like that. It came in at exactly the amount of impact that was necessary to put the thread in place just like it does in a power loom, see. So the skill of the weaver was in manipulating her feet because she had what looked like an organ keyboard for feet except the boards were a little wider so that they could put their full foot on it. And there were up to 16 of those boards down there, so we could have 16 frames of heddles in the loom if we needed to and there was room for it. And they were counterbalanced so that it took very little effort. It was just a matter of reaching over with your foot and put your foot on it, there was a weight on the end of it that just enough little extra weight was all it took to raise the frame, see. So that actually it was the exercise of moving their feet back and forth on those pedals that made the difference. And that’s how we were able to get that high efficiency. The other thing was about the actual throwing of the pick. Now, taking and -- reaching over and taking a pick -- the shuttle and throwing it and then reaching over here and throwing it, that takes a lot of effort. All you had to do was just do this with your hand and it threw the shuttle for you.


HADLEY: And what would happen is you put a little weight on it and the shuttle would be driven across and when it hit the other end, it would raise your hand back up. You see, that was -- so it didn’t make a lot of noise. And so when she dropped her hand again, it pulled it across the other way. So she just moved her hand this way, moved the other hand this way on the beater, and she didn’t have to worry about how much she pulled on it or anything, she just had to keep it going because they were flywheels on them, see. They had weights on those wheels that controlled the beater. That’s what made them so marvelous so that literally, you could work at that thing eight hours a day and, oh, you’d stop to change the threads, of course, when you run out of -- your bobbin would run out in you in about two and a half minutes of weaving, and it takes probably 30 seconds to change the bobbin out and then put it back in and get started again. And the girls learned to tuck the end of the thread into the -- you know, so the selvedge was a good, solid selvedge, didn’t have any loose ends sticking out anywhere. It’s a marvelous loom. That’s all I can say. It’s a marvelous loom. And I’m sorry that they left Kentucky, but they’re going to go to work up in Indiana, where the man who bought the company, The Three Weavers, bought the company, and was kind enough to let Lila buy the inventory of all the samples we had. Because one thing the Churchill’s were excellent at keeping records and keeping samples of every single thing they made.


HADLEY: So there was one sample of every item in every color. So they had swatches of the colors that the item was made in plus one of the items plus in the drawer with it was the description of how to set the loom up to make them and how to pedal the loom to make it work. So the historical society in Frankfort has all of that, and they have it right back to the very first things that Mrs. Churchill herself made when she ran the -- she was the only weaver at first. And then a young lady by the name of -- right out of high school -- named Irene Boffle, she had just married and she wanted a job and she came to work for the Churchill Weavers and she worked there through her entire working life. And she became the sort of -- well, she didn’t -- no one would call her a foreman because she was far more than that. But what she did there was to learn every single function in the business and she could teach anybody any part of it, except of course the marketing and the purchasing and that sort of thing, that, she had nothing to do with, but, oh, she was a marvel. She really was a native of Berea.

WILLIHNGANZ: And what year would that have been when she got there?

HADLEY: Probably about 1932. She was the first employee and then they gradually grew and finally they needed a man around there to help move things and do things and a fellow named Elmer Isaacs came into the business with no education at all, typical mountain boy, young man. He was married and he needed a job and I don’t think I’ve ever met a more intelligent man in my life, and I put him -- I met Mr. Einstein and he was pretty smart. Elmer, I’d put Elmer right alongside of him in intelligence because Elmer would -- you could tell -- you couldn’t give him instructions in writing because he couldn’t read it, but you could tell him, that mountain man, you just tell him once, and he’d repeat back to you 10 years later exactly what you said.


HADLEY: That’s how good he was. So I made -- gosh, I do plumbing and everything I knew, I used him as an assistant and pretty soon I didn’t have to do all those things because he could do them. And when we got in a fairly complicated -- the first really complicated machine we got in there was an automatic tying machine, which automatically takes two threads, you know, they’re going to be going to a loom, and tie them together, each individual thread to the correct thread so that when you -- you still get the same, you know, [inaudible] thread opening so that the threads are all in the right position when you’re weaving. Anybody that could learn that could learn anything, I can tell you that. It was one of the weirdest machines you ever saw. So it was a great company. Well, one of the things we did, of course, the Churchill’s already belonged to the Southern Highlands Handcraft Guild. That organization was really set up by a number of handcrafters like the Churchill weavers. I don’t think there was any -- I think The Three Weavers belonged too, but I’m not sure of that, but I know there was no other weaver in the country as big as we were. And I was just trying to think if there was. It seems to me there were a lot of weavers, excellent weavers, but they were usually individuals or maybe just two or three weavers together, and they wove up specialty items and did a beautiful job of it. We were the only production company, really, producing handcrafts at that time of that type. And Mrs. Churchill and Mr. Churchill went to New York and they sold to Bonwit Teller, Saks Fifth Avenue, only the best stores there. They didn’t even try Macys or any of those companies, which probably would’ve bought some of their things, but they said, no, this is going to go to the high end of the business because we can sell them pretty reasonably now, but they might cost more later and we better go to a place where people can afford to pay more for something that is fairly exclusive. When you bought a Churchill product in those days, the likelihood of you seeing an exact duplicate of it on someone else was something like 1 in 150,000. So, you know, it was unusual to sell, even in New York City, to sell more than six or eight of the same color of the same item in the whole city, 7 or 8 million people. But they got involved with the Southern Highland Handcraft Guild, and when I joined the company, I noted that the only weakness they had, I felt, was in the marketing end of it. Well, in radio, I learned marketing. I had to sell what I wrote and said on the air and then I had to sell it when I spoke it on the air, so you’re selling without seeing your audience or even knowing you’ve got one, so you learn something about selling that way. But more importantly, I learned the ins and outs of marketing and I thought -- I went and joined the committee that was in charge of the marketing of their products of all of the association’s membership. And to get in that organization, you had to be good. I mean, your product had to be proven as to be excellent, real excellence in handwork, and it had to be available, you had to make enough of them to make it worthwhile and you had to -- unlike an artist, you had to be able to duplicate it --

WILLIHNGANZ: Now which --

HADLEY: -- in most instances. That’s why they decided to get into the arts end of it because --

WILLIHNGANZ: Which association are you talking about?

HADLEY: I’m talking about the Southern Highland Handcrafts Guild.


HADLEY: And my experience in that organization, I was made chairman of the committee and I was chairman of that committee for about, well, until I left the Churchill Weavers. I was there for about 4 years. And in that time, the sales of our products in New York City and we had a shop in New York [inaudible] did, so I recognized that having a shop like that in a major city was very valuable, so I got us a shop like that -- the Churchill’s have one -- they had one in the Palmer House in Chicago, which did very well. The manager’s wife ran it and they made a very comfortable living with it. So it was an excellent outlet.

WILLIHNGANZ: What years were you at Churchill Weavers?

HADLEY: From 1930 -- late in 1939 until early in 1949. That experience at the Churchill Weavers, which terminated in that year, was one of the head of the Department of Commerce under Bert Combs came and visited me in the early summer. It was in the first six months of Bert Combs’ administration. He came to me and he said he’d like to talk to me. And he asked me a little bit about my background and I told him, gave him just about what I’ve told you. And he wanted to know if I would consider coming to work with the state to help develop a program of some kind in the state to help improve the tourist part of the program and I said, well, what are you thinking of. Well, he said, there’s a lady in Louisville, who’s a very -- whose husband works for the L & N, who is a very dear friend of the governor, who has a marvelous idea, but we don’t quite know how to set it up and how to get it -- have it happen, and we thought you might like to have the challenge of doing it. And I said, well, what’s the idea. And he said that Virginia Minish had this idea of taking the train, the guild train -- it wasn’t called the guild train then, of course, it was just the train -- a car up into the mountains of eastern Kentucky on the railroads because the only thing that you trust going up over those roads if you have priceless artifacts and artwork, they’re not going to put it on the truck and take it up there or a bus. It’s got to be on something that they’re a lot more confident of the roadway and it will get there because it’s being given proper attention and that was on the railroad itself because the railroads maintained excellent tracks up all through that country up there where there weren’t even roads in some cases almost. Well, I wouldn’t call them roads, they were pathways. But they wanted to send the train up in there and put these cars up there and then the kids that went to school in that vicinity could come and see a real honest-to-God museum. And she had already made arrangements with several of the major museums back east to loan complete exhibits to go in the train and the first one was going to have a very high value. I’ve forgotten what it is now, but it was -- the number kind of astounded me. You mean to tell me they’re going to loan that much money’s worth of equipment? They said, yup, they’re going to put it on that train for us. So she and her husband did a marvelous job of getting that part of it set up.

WILLIHNGANZ: Who is the lady we’re speaking of?

HADLEY: Virginia Minish.


HADLEY: And I’ve forgotten her husband’s name. Names, I’m not good with, but I’ll never forget her name because she really was the founder of the idea of the train, see, and they hired me, that was the principle thing I was to take care of. Now, figure out ways to make that pay off. Well, I didn’t take -- it doesn’t take a genius to say, hey, why not just put another car on the train and put a demonstrator of crafts that you can take up into the mountains and show folks how easy it is to be your own boss and turn something out you can sell. In the meantime, while that was being done because it took quite a while to put that train together, the L & N first got the two cars. One was a baggage car that they converted into the museum and the other was a coach, a day coach, that had a large -- it was typical. It had a bunch of seats and rows in most of the car and then about 20 percent of it was devoted to a little hallway along the side and there was a men’s room and a ladies’ room and they had a little lounge associated with them and then you got to the vestibule in the back of the car. And those two cars were put together. And what I envisioned in there was putting in some tools for woodworking, tools for weaving, for jewelry making, and maybe even have easels and art things, you know. We had a kiln and we needed a kiln and all these things, all things that are necessary for a broad range of handcrafts, never thinking for a moment, you know, hey, wait a minute, you’re asking for a guy who can make anything and do anything and run a museum and run a train, didn’t even think of that. Oh, we were really visionaries, I’ll tell you, dreamers. And a fellow Rude Osolnik, he was the teacher of woodworking at Berea College, he caught fire with me and the two of us -- Rude was a marvelous woodworker. I mean, his turnings are really collector’s items. I’ve got several of them and I would not put a price on them. I’ve got them insured for $10,000, the two of them. I’ve got a platter that I swear must be all of 24 inches in diameter of mahogany out of one piece of mahogany that at its maximum dimension is a quarter of an inch.

WILLIHNGANZ: Good heavens.

HADLEY: All the way into the very center of it. It’s a beautiful platter with a little -- a slight slope in it in its center that’s -- I mean, just turning that thing, the perfection, I said, how many did you turn before you made one like that. He said five. He wasted five beautiful big pieces of mahogany making that one, so you can see why it was expensive. I told him at the time, I said, what do you want to do, go on a long trip or something after he told me what he wanted for it. Well, I made a deal with him. I gave him one of my ship models. It took me a year to make it, so that’s how much I wanted it. It’s a beautiful piece though. And it’s still, believe it or not, not the least bit warped. It never warped, which is astonishing.

WILLIHNGANZ: What did he seal it with, do you know?

HADLEY: I have no idea. That was something that Rude Osolnik never divulged to me. But being a woodworker, I’m sure what he probably did is linseed oiled it and probably shellacked the heck out of it and then used some magnificent varnishes on it, very carefully clearing up -- you know, giving each side a good rubdown I would suspect. I don’t know that, but Rude was a real craftsman, really a great craftsman. Rude also was a very talented guy because I said, Rude, I want you to turn that train and we’re going to have the train cars delivered to Berea College, be right behind your shop, there’s a track. And if the college will let us use that part of the track and they’ll take the extra expensive and moving the coal just a little further than they would by, you know, by truck to the coal pile, and the college, bless their hearts, they said, sure, we’ll do that. And they let Rude do it too. And he did it on his off hours and on weekends. He was just a great guy. That’s all I can say about Rude. And what Rude did, we drew up the plans for it together. I found a little kitchenette, that’s when they were first coming out, where it was a sink, a refrigerator, and a stove all in the same metal unit, we put that up there in the last, I guess it must have been about maybe 8 feet of the car, maybe 9 feet, plus all the way across. And we put a door on the side where the -- we took one of the doors off the men’s room and put it there. That was that nobody but the train administrator could go in there. That was his room. In there, we built in a good navy bunk that was twin bed size, two of them, one above the other. He was single and I don’t know if he ever had a guest or not, it’s none of my business, but whatever, he was -- the man we wound up was -- he ran one of the museums in Louisville, I don’t remember which one it was. And he was willing to give us, for three years, and he may have done it beyond that, I don’t know, because when I left the administration, of course, I don’t know what happened. But for three years when I was there with him employed, he slept and lived in that little cabin. And we had a bathroom there, of course, and we ran out of space for a shower for him so we took the right hand side entryway, if you remember trains they had a set of steps at the end that went down on both sides and they had a plate that folded down over it?


HADLEY: Well, we folded that plate down over it and welded it and we put a shower stall in that side. The other side, we still left it so he could use it to get in and out. And that was how you entered the car, that car, to his place. That was his private entrance. The public entrance was at the other end of the car on the same side and we sealed up the other side on the other side and put our displays for, you know, takeaways, handcraft suggestions and good pamphlets and things like that. Delta Tools, we went down and -- this is typical. Rude and I drove down, I think it was Owensboro, I’m not sure, but it was somewhere west of Louisville where Delta Tools had one of their manufacturing plants. And we talked to the general manager there and told him what we wanted was a complete set of the very best woodworking tools they had and the latest of everything to go in the guild train, and he put me in touch with the sales manager of Delta Tools. And when I showed him the drawing we had made up of the train and I sort of noticed that Delta Tools was right up there, right -- it’s alphabetical -- but Delta Tools will be listed there, but Delta Tools is going to dominate the exhibit because they’re going to have the most room in there. And darn if they didn’t give us one of every one of their semi-professional tools, a table saw, a joiner, a band saw, the best lathe they made, a miter saw.


HADLEY: Oh, yes, a planer. It was a 12-inch planer. I think they -- that’s one I’m not certain of. I should look at the pictures of it.

WILLIHNGANZ: It must have taken up a lot of room in the car.

HADLEY: Well, it didn’t leave a lot of room, but we set them up in a way that lumber, long lumber, could be run through the saw and over the joiner and we left enough room around the band saw that it could be moved. We put the loom there. I built the loom we put in there. It was made out of, I think mahogany, and it was folding. It folded. It was -- it stood on -- I put a pair of legs on the bottom and I put pedals on it just like the Churchill loom, and it was hung from the top just like other Churchill looms were, but I didn’t have all of the other Churchill weaving. It was strictly a hand loom without all of the accoutrements because that’s what most people would have to work with anyway, see, something like that, and you could weave on it. We put a drum on it and the Churchill weavers provided the first warp on it, which was I think a thousand yards long so we could demonstrate for quite a long time with that much, and we gave him all the yarn he needed to weave with it and a shuttle. He used a standard power shuttle on it because it took a lot bigger, you know, a lot bigger. You could make the -- boy, there it goes, a senior citizen moment. The opening that’s in the threads when you pass the shuttle through it and I know that as well as I know my name, but, of course, what’s my name?

WILLIHNGANZ: [Laughter.]

HADLEY: Anyway, it worked beautifully so he could demonstrate that. We had a kiln there that would take -- the interior of it, I think, if I remember right, was 36 inches deep and 18 inches in diameter, so you could make a pretty good size pot in there, and it was electric. So for electricity, we wired the thing as if it were a business and put a tower on the top of the car that carried the power for the train and that thing folded down, see, so when it was in transit, it folded down, but when you put it up, it was braced solidly so you could put a long wire from here over to the power company. And we contacted several power companies when I was in the association, and they agreed to provide us power where ever we put it, they’d supply it. I don’t think -- only twice did they have to put a pole in to get power to us, but they did it. And the gas, the bottled gas distributorship association for the state promised that they’d fill the bottles. Every time it showed up at a community, they’d fill the bottles of the all the bottled gas on the train. And I think we had four bottles of the big storage bottles for it because we heated the train with that and we ran our motor generator set that would give us emergency power if we needed it. So if they didn’t have power there when we arrived, he’d turn that thing on and then he could run a stove and he could run his part of it and he could have lights, but he couldn’t have his room and the demonstration units at the same time. He could if he only turned one thing on at a time, but then he’d have to leave the museum car turned off and if you turned on that car, you had to turn everything off in the other car because it was only, I think, 10 KW, see. And what we needed in there was a 20 KW unit, but it would’ve been too big to get in there. All the standard units were just too big. There wasn’t room for them. And so we took the biggest unit we could hang under the car, and that was given to us. And, of course, they got room on the car and they got all publicity out of it.

WILLIHNGANZ: Were there drawings -- do you know of any drawings that still exist of the train?

HADLEY: No. I don’t have any drawings, but I have pictures of it.

WILLIHNGANZ: Yeah. I know there’s some pictures. Do you have some personally?

HADLEY: Oh, yeah. And I gave a set to the museum.


HADLEY: The museum has a set.


HADLEY: And I have, if somebody wants some more, I think I could do that. I’m going to try to send to the Kentucky guild a disk with all the pictures on it.

WILLIHNGANZ: Oh, that would be wonderful. Yeah. If you would -- in fact, if you could give that to me, I would love to have a copy of that disk.

HADLEY: A copy. Well, I’ll see if I can get that down. I’m not -- I am -- I know just enough about a computer to be dangerous. I can use it to write and that’s about it. My son is the wiz, but he is, unfortunately, in Carolina, South Carolina, so he’s not there to do these things for me. I have to do it myself under his instruction and that’s why I hesitated.

WILLIHNGANZ: Yeah. I understand.

HADLEY: Because I frankly don’t know how to do that. But I know it can be done.

WILLIHNGANZ: Yeah, it can.

HADLEY: We’ll make a copy of it. I paid to have it done, that was why, and it cost me I think $85 to have it digitized, have all that stuff digitized. It wasn’t cheap.


HADLEY: But I’ll get you a copy of it, yeah.

WILLIHNGANZ: It’s already on a disk?


WILLIHNGANZ: You should be able to get the disk copied for about 7 bucks.

HADLEY: Well, I could do it myself.

WILLIHNGANZ: Well, yeah.

HADLEY: See, if I could just get my son on the line --


HADLEY: -- to walk me through it.


HADLEY: Anyway, so when I was with Churchill Weavers, you know, and [inaudible] they’ve got a machine shop that, you know, you could make almost anything in that machine shop D.C. had there. And he was the founder of the company, of course and the president of it while I was there and Mrs. Churchill was the design genius and the business genius. D.C., bless his heart, as bright as he was -- he was a graduate of MIT -- as bright as he was, dad was a born teacher and inventor and that’s what he was and he was absolutely great at it. He had 38 patents when he died. And the most important one he had was he built and patented the first retractable landing gear ever made anywhere.


HADLEY: Yeah. And that -- it’s now on -- he put it on the Kitten, it was called the Kitten; it was a small biplane that hangs in the Smithsonian today and it identifies the landing gear as the first ever made by Mr. Churchill. D.C. Churchill was a real genius, absolutely. He worked for Thomas Edison during the first summer of his MIT period, he apprenticed over there, and after coming back from that, he said, I’ll never go there again. He said that man is absolutely impossible to work with and he wants me to invent something then he claims he did it and I don’t like that. Dad was a real Christian gentleman. I don’t think he knew how to lie. I never heard him lie. I heard him fudge once, just once. He didn’t really answer, if you know what I mean. It was a question put to him by his wife and he didn’t want to admit doing it and he kind of got around it and brought up another question to her to get her mind off it. D.C. invented that. He also invented the kid of mechanism they’re using now on the IMAX theater projectors.


HADLEY: Now, anybody that knows anything about motion pictures knows that there’s a pull down. There’s a pair of claws that moves down and grabs the film and pulls it down, moves back out, moves up. That mechanism was invented my Mr. Edison, probably one of his aids actually, but he got credit for it. And he invented a new kind of mechanism to replace that, which involved a rotating prism so that the prism moved in one direction and the prism rotated in the other in such a manner that when the light was on the film it was going through the prism all the time the prism was turning, you see, and it was on a reflector up here and then projected, which meant there was no fluttering, no shutter there at all, so it didn’t -- when it produced 24 frames a minute, it provided a very smooth action of each frame for the full time the frame was anywhere on that film, see.


HADLEY: And by doing it that way, the film actually moved at 25 frames a second, in other words, because it would pick it up not when it was in the middle, but at just about the time it would focus on that mirror above was when it was in place and it was moving down and out. In other words, it rotated without having a shutter on it and that meant that they could use much less power in the light behind it because it was on the screen longer, you see.


HADLEY: Well, he got a patent on that. And all of his patents ran out before he did anything with them. And then he had the most amazing thing ever built, in my mind. He had what he called the bowstring drive for a loom. The loom, in simplest terms, it was two bows at each end. You’d push the first -- your shuttle in against the bow at this end and it would go just past dead center so that it wouldn’t move and it would hold it in position. And this would be a bow with a string straight across the alley. And then when you tripped it, it would run that just past the dead center and the bow would act and throw the shuttle across the way. When it hit the shuttle on the other side, it hit the string, and it would cock the bow on that side, and then it would put a little more pressure on the bow to fire it again. So it was moving, it took about 10 percent pressure change, just a little movement of the bow itself, you see, to put enough pressure on that bow to throw it across to the other side and it would catch it. The biggest problem with power looms today is when they shuttle fires a shuttle across, it’s caught over here by this one and slams back and it’s all noise and heat and friction. That’s where the energy goes to. It’s never reapplied. This way, he saved all the -- 90 percent of the energy and fired it back. So it took -- he was hoping he could get it even higher so the girls could just sit there and play with it. Then they put a -- we put -- literally tried to put a bobbin changer on a hand loom. That may sound crazy because the bobbin changes are, you know, they can change a bobbin pretty quickly, but they have to do it very quickly because the shuttles only in the spot just a moment and it’s fired again, see, so it’s got to be quick. Well, the loom was so fast that if you use the bobbin changer, it drove the bobbin all the way through the thing, see. It literally -- you couldn’t use a bobbin changer on it. So that’s what killed it. But if that thing -- if we could’ve figured out a way to get around that problem, you know, where we could lock that second bobbin, maybe put a shuttle. We were looking at the possibility of putting something under the -- the minute the bobbin dropped out, but you see, how do you get it to drop out, well, you have to push it out. Well, pushing it out, you got to get that shuttle in there, something under it to stop the second shuttle with the bobbin in it, see, or the -- the bobbin itself had to be moved around. Well, you can see it’s complicated.

WILLIHNGANZ: Oh, I know. Now, did the weavers themselves -- did the Churchill family themselves design this loom that you’re speaking of?

HADLEY: Mr. Churchill himself invented it.


HADLEY: Every part of it. He had -- I think he had something like 11 patents on it. The drum brake was patented, simplest thing in the world, just a rope around the drum on a board that was hinged at one end and a brick on the other. You could move the brick back and forth to increase or decrease the pressure of the brake on the warp drum. He invented a very simple take-up mechanism, which was tied to the beater, just a stick down with a claw on it that would catch what looked like a saw blade, catch a tooth, and raise it up. And by moving this device that was hooked up to the tooth at the end of it in and out on a little rack that he had with a tightened screw up there, a hand screw, he could make it pull a lot or a little bit, see, depending on where; if it was up here, it wasn’t much, but when it got out here, it was bigger, see. So he could make big pulls or small pulls or anything in between. And we had, oh, maybe 20 different sizes of take-up wheels for each of the looms, see, because whatever amount of take-up you needed, you put on there. And every time you made a beat, it moved ahead. That was how that was done.


HADLEY: That was one of the inventions. There were other inventions on it too, but they were all just like that, little things which made it possible for the thing to work.


HADLEY: We had people sneak in there and take pictures of it and if we found them, we took the film away from them because there was a sign when visitors that said, Do not take pictures of anything in this room. If you take them, we will remove the film from your camera under authority of the law. And what we did is we went to the local judge, who was friends with the family and said, just give us a ruling that anybody who takes a picture in there we can take their film away from them. And he said, sure, you got it, and he gave it to us in writing and so we had the law. We could show it to them if they didn’t believe it. In fact, we made a copy of it and put it underneath the notice. I don’t know what ever happened to that. I don’t know if they still have it. But we used to have self-guided tours through the plant, see. I put that in myself because I felt the public really needed to see how the things were made because first of all, they might not believe it was hand weaving, but secondly, it is a fascinating business to look at because all of the creels and the warping machines, all of those things were handmade by Mr. Churchill. And he had some real clever ideas. You know what a lease is? That’s what I wanted, the lease. The lease is the keeping the -- is the place where the threads are separated, that opening, and a lease is to keep that. What you do is you put a piece of -- a bundle of yarn, several strands of yarn together, you know, maybe 10 or 100 of them or so, put them through there in that lease that is made when you separate the yarn the way it’s supposed to be, and you hold it that way, see, so when you put it back into the loom, you just take them one at a time and put them in the heddles, it makes it easy. Well, he had a device for that which was patented and a lot of things like that, all through the plant. He even had a couple of my inventions there. I won’t bother with that.

[End of Interview Part I]