Published by

The American Optical Company
Southbridge, Massachusetts
Vol. XIV, No. 2
March 27, 1930

What follows are excerpts from one this publication, to give the reader a flavor of the times:


Why do we have attractive offices and a clean plant? Is it money thrown away? - which might better be given to stockholders and workers? - not at all. Our fine plant and offices are continually working for both employees and stockholders. In the first place they bring more business to the American Optical Company which results in more jobs for the workers; secondly, they help us to keep in good health and to turn out work in keeping with our surroundings.

High executives and sales chiefs of the many nationally known companies with which AO does business, are always impressed, not only on their first visits but on subsequent journeys as well, with the size, beauty, cleanliness and surroundings of our plants in Southbridge. The beauty of the park, the yards, and the sweep of the forests to our very back door are a source of constant amazement to these men whose business carries them to industrial plants throughout the country. Purchasing Manager Brockway comes in contact with approximately thirty of these representatives each day and is the first to hear their impressions of AOCo.

Different phases impress different people. The ever present cleanliness was evidently outstanding to the Sales Manager of a large Company who has visited here many times. He was being escorted to Lensdale from the Purchasing Department by one of our youngest errand boys. Halfway down the corridor he stopped, looked down, shook his finger at his companion and prophesied, “Young fellow - some day I’m going to find a little piece of paper in this corridor!” And the youngster replied, without hesitation, “No sir, I don’t think that you ever will.” The youngster knew, he passed thru that corridor many times each day.

A famous poet once expressed a wish in verse, that we humans “could see ourselves as others see us.” His wish still lacks fulfillment.

Many firms from whom AOCo. purchases goods have decided after one look at the factories that this is the type of firm with which they wish to do business. The appearance of the plant is an asset. This favorable impression made on the representatives of these companies, who visit many other plants is beneficial to the reputation of AOCo. in the business world.

Cleanliness and order in the plant are reflected in the quality of the work which has gone out under the name of this company since it was founded in 1833. In the ever upward climb from the shop where one man made a complete pair of spectacles to the mass production of today there has been no change in quality. Each part is given the same expert care and the standards are even higher than in the day of the small shops. It would be next to impossible to maintain this quality in a dirty, slovenly shop.

Good housekeeping in the plant is a valuable asset to those who make spectacles. The spec-makers who have the neatest shop will get the best advertising for their company and that is word-of-mouth-advertising done by visitors. Spotless surroundings make the day in the shop more agreeable to the workers and make it easier to produce the quality goods demanded by our customers. Cleanliness favorably impresses visitors and business men who call here and who carry their impressions either back to their company or out among their business acquaintances. It is greatly worth while!

Let us do our part in keeping our working quarters clean and neat. The occasional one who spouts tobacco juice in corners or on walks is not helping business. Most American Optical Company people are proud to make their products in one of America’s most attractive plants.



“Seaworthy Yacht”

On Wednesday, March 5th, Vice-President J. C. Wells sailed from New York for Genoa aboard the steamship Roma, arriving at his destination last Friday. He is to join American friends in that city and on March 20th they started off on a yachting trip in the Mediterranean and Adriatic which will last for nearly a month.

Many AO workers in Southbridge will be interested in this trip of our Vice-President, because he will be near their former homes.

Leaving Genoa they will point for Sicily, Malta and Crete with a short stay at each place. Athens is next on the itinerary; to be followed by a leisurely jaunt up the Dalmatian coast with stops at various interesting points to give the visitors a chance to make first hand inspections, to see the beauties of the country, and to break the monotony of the sea voyage to Venice where the cruise will end on or about April 20th.



“Lengthy Trip”

On Saturday, February 15th, Treasurer Mosher and Sales Manager Cozzens left Southbridge for Chicago in the first leg of their journey to the various Zone Headquarters. In Chicago the salesmen had been called in from all over the Zone and were ready for the first of a series of sales meetings with their General Sales Manager and Treasurer. This is one of the ways by which those at the helm of AO keep in personal touch with those on the firing line of our far flung frontiers.

Their lengthy itinerary was as follows: Chicago, Kansas City, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Memphis, Atlanta and Southbridge.

At each of these places Messrs. Mosher and Cozzens and the general manager of the zone met and conferred with the Branch Managers and salesmen of the surrounding territory, thus getting first hand information on the individual problems which confront our representatives. Upon the reliable data it will be possible to formulate advantageous plans for the coming months.



We should like to take this first opportunity to offer our congratulations to the town officers who were successful at the recent election. We congratulate the new officers and wish them a full measure of success in the administration of the duties which are now theirs.



“Bowling Prizes”

D4R Outing Club held their annual election recently and chose the following workers as leaders for the year to come: President, Leo Grenier; Vice-President, Walter Tripp; Treasurer, Horace Giard and Secretary, Eddie Russell. Pen sets were presented to the members of the team which won the club bowling match. Those who received these requisites for writing are Baker, Boerner, Dalton, Rawson and Russell. Russell and Gamache also received five dollar gold pieces for high individual scores of the match.



Jack Dare Falls Ten Thousand, Five Hundred Feet Before Opening Parachute; Claims World Record For Delayed “chute Jump; Wore AO Goggles

“Jack Dare, Chief parachute jumper of the Red Wing Flying Service, Inc., yesterday fell 10,500 feet before opening his parachute from an altitude of 14,500 feet, breaking the world’s record. Using American Optical goggles he watched a special altimeter strapped to his wrist during the entire drop of 10,500 feet. In a previous attempt, using ordinary goggles, the goggles were torn from his head by the tremendous wind pressure. He says this record could not have been made without American Optical goggles. Regards, Roy Ahearn, Chief Pilot, Red Wing Flying Service, Inc.”

This was the telegram which Turner Wells received one day late in February from Birmingham, Ala. He refers to the American Transport Goggle, which we make in Southbridge. On a previous attempt with other goggles Jack Dare states that he was unable to see the altimeter on his wrist and was therefore forced to pull the cord earlier than necessary because he could not tell how far he was from the ground.

Embodying the most modern ideas in goggle design and with several new and patented features this product has advanced rapidly to its present position of prominence. An example of master workmanship in a precision instrument, it has been adopted by the Army for all its fliers. It has been subjected to all manner of air tests and has met them successfully.

The close and accurate fit of the cushions together with an inner frame providing indirect ventilation assures absolute protection even when traveling at enormous speeds. There is no place where the air blast can shoot through directly to the eye. Venturi tubes equalize the outside and inside temperatures and prevent frosting, even at the highest altitudes. The decentered lenses prevent “goggle headache” which is another name for eyestrain.

these features are the results of long periods of experimentation by the Company to insure the ultimate in comfort and safety for aviators.



“Money Raised”

Industries and merchants in the Quinebaug valley responded liberally to the recent offer of our First Vice-President J. C. Wells, to give half toward a $2,000 fund to repair bridges in case the legislature grants a franchise extension to the Southern New England Railroad Corporation, which would connect Southbridge and Palmer. This fund was raised and money collected in Providence was added to it. The franchise is still before the legislature awaiting action. It is hoped that the railroad will be completed. It is a case of local industries putting up money to help expand the town.



“A Help to Health”

The American Optical Company gives its supervisors exceptional health protection. This protection is now being offered to every worker 45 years old and over in our American factories. Once a year Dr. Story has given complete reports of physical condition, to a large percentage of supervisors in the New England factories. This is because the company wants the services of these men as long as possible. An ounce of prevention by examination is worth a pound of cure rendered too late. So the doctor advises each man, each year wherein his health is beginning to fail, if at all, and how to avoid the ailment becoming serious. The reports are confidential between the doctor and the patient.

These physical examinations have been entirely voluntary. At first some supervisors were doubtful, lest it might be a scheme for harm to them, and a few did not accept the offer in the first year. But supervisors who were benefited by important discoveries about their health in this way, evidently told others. Anyhow the number of supervisors who take advantage of this privilege has been increasing each year.

Others Request It

Not only supervisors, but last year one hundred sixty other workers requested complete reports of physical condition. These requests were granted.

The Company now offers these reports to all its older workers, those 45 years old and over, on a voluntary basis. No one is obliged to obtain a report. The reason for this offer is the same as the reason for the offer to the supervisors, the Company wants the services of these people as long as possible.

Dangerous Age

Age 45 and after is the time of life when minor ailments tend to become more serious. If they can be noticed when they start, life and comfort can be extended several years in many cases. Even in cases where a cure is not possible, men sometimes are glad to know what to expect and how to plan for their families. It is no secret that older people do not recover easily from serious sickness. Any offer like this one which tends to prevent such sickness ought to prolong employment.

The American Optical Company believes that its older workers who might otherwise lose their work, because of broken health or because poor health makes them less able to compete with younger people, will appreciate this effort to lengthen their earning careers. Older workers who keep themselves in good physical condition in this manner or any other manner will be helping the American Optical Company to compete with other concerns successfully.

Miss Wallace of Dr. Story’s Office will offer an appointment with the doctor to every person of these ages in the Southbridge, Worcester and Cambridge plants at some time during the year. Watch for your turn.



Many Southbridge people, who follow the fortunes of the basketball teams of Mary E. Wells’ High School, will remember the days when Weldon Schumacher, son of General Manager Schumacher of the Metal Division was participating in the frays of the local five. These fans will be glad to hear that he has been playing regularly with his college team throughout the past season. By earning his letter in this sport he has achieved the distinction of being the first son of a graduate of Carnegie Tech to win an athletic award.



“Modest Letter”

Ernest Cox of Kansas City, now manager of Zone 800, was promoted from the managership of the Des Moines Branch. He is one of the latest of AO workers to climb from various posts within the distribution organization. He has been engaged in optical work for more than twenty-six years, sixteen of which have been spent with AO and its immediate predecessors, the Merry Optical Co. He has a wide acquaintance throughout his Zone.

In response to our questions, Mr. Cox has answered so interestingly that we give you his modest letter as we received it:

Dear Mr. Smith:

“I imagine that everyone rather dislikes to talk about themselves, therefore I more or less hesitated to answer your questionnaire received a few days ago.”

“My father was a salesman. If I had any hobbies in my youth I don’t remember what they were, and if I was ever victorious or accomplished anything, that also has entirely slipped my memory. I imagine it would be wise to pass that over as lightly as possible. I attended Manual Training High School here in Kansas City but I can’t give you the dates. It has been so long ago I have forgotten.

“My first position was with the Bell Telephone Co. as a solicitor. I was afterward employed by the Long-Bell Lumber Company. The next ten years were spent in becoming familiar with the optical business. In 1914 I went to work for the Merry Optical Company as Branch Manager in Des Moines. Remained there until taking up my present duties.

“I have three children, one a boy of 19 years, who is working and expects to go to college next year; a girl 17, who is in high school, and a daughter 5. If our children are excelling in any particular activity, I think it is wearing out clothing and eating too much.

Yours very truly,

Ernest W. Cox




Friends of Alred Mershiwosky, whom many will remember as the one time president of the Alumni Association of the AO Night School, will be glad to hear that he was awarded his final citizenship papers at the recent sitting of the court in Worcester. Mr. Mershiwosky was an AO worker for six years, leaving us last year to accept a position in Philadelphia.

AO workers who are interested in getting photographs made to submit with their naturalization papers can have these pictures made very reasonably by a photographer in Southbridge who specializes in this type of work.



“Inspection Dept.”

The forty members of the Inspection Department of our Worcester Plant made merry at their annual Xmas party held within the Department quarters during the noon hour on the day before Xmas. There was a decorated tree, and a luncheon was prepared for all. Gifts were exchanged, and novelty presents were distributed to all by Santa Claus, impersonated by Clarence R. Nass. Manager Pellow was the invited guest, and he extended personally to each the season’s greetings. Misses Anna Allen, Malvina Lanctot, and Ada Mooney, arranged for the party.

Clarice Reid attended the course of lectures given by the Worcester Safety Council on first aid, and reports that the course was very interesting and instructive.



“Amos n’ Andy”

Not so long ago Lola Millar of the Employment Office, ardent 7:00 PM radio listener, had occasion to send a list of Pioneers to Hilda Freeman of the Boston Office with the request that she “check and double check” it. In due time the operations were performed and the list returned. The letter accompanying it betrayed the fact that Miss Freeman, along with a few million of the rest of us, has a fifteen minute engagement early each evening. In closing she expressed the hope that, “you didn’t have any money in “The Great Home Bank.”

The trials and tribulations of this famous organization, now defunct, have been followed by many AO people and its successor will no doubt be accorded the same attention. “Dock” Story, Manager Schumacher and “Ed” Carey, as well as hundreds of other AO fans, keep the “sitchyashun” well in hand.




Down in Pennsylvania we wish to congratulate J. F. Love who has recently been transferred from the managership of the Branch Office at Oil City to take over similar duties in the AO office at Erie which is a larger branch. Edward G. Dehn has been appointed to fill the post left vacant at the Oil City Branch by this change.

A new Branch Office has been opened at Lynn, Massachusetts with Joseph L. Bettencourt as Manager.

Several Branch Offices have moved from their old addresses into more adequate surroundings. Among those in new locations are the Branches at Fort Dodge, Iowa; Richmond, Virginia; and Salina, Kansas.



“Hall Crowded”

AO Pioneers, and their partners, had their annual get-together in Eagles Hall on the last evening in January. The officials of the Company and their families were in the receiving line where all Pioneers and their families could meet them. The trustees, all of whom were out of town, were greatly missed by the assemblage which had appreciated them in former years. Messages were received from President C. M. Wells, who was away on a tour, Vice-President J. C. Wells, who was detained in Boston and Chairman A. B. Wells of the Trustees who wired from Florida. The Pioneer Association sent its good wishes to Mr. A. B. Wells, to Chauncey Rose, sixty-one year Pioneer, and to Frank Belanger, fifty-four year Pioneer, at their homes and Tom Troy in a Worcester Hospital, whose health prevented their presence. Almoran Cozzens, father of Sales Manager Cozzens, who was fifty-six year veteran before his retirement last year was on hand to greet his old friends, Alex St. Martin, sixty year Pioneer, ill for more than a year, was also on hand to renew acquaintances. Everyone was glad to see him and Alex was glad too.

Whist Winners

The “Baby Pioneers” were mustered outside. Adorned with caps, they marched in and were presented to their elder brethren. Following this the battle for the Whist prizes was inaugurated and those who could find seats started in pursuit of victory. Mr. and Mrs. Byron Whitaker emerged victorious in the military whist, Mr. and Mrs. George Donais, second, while Mr. and Mrs. Joe Gauthier and Mr. and Mrs. Dominic Payant divided the consolation honors. The regular whist ended in a tie between Mrs. Charles Normandin and Mrs. Wilfred Renaud - the prize being won by the latter when they cut for it. Hormidas Fountaine was the man with the lucky number and it was he who carried home the door prize. The whist players were twice interrupted by surprise features, presented by Guy Sweeney, a Boston school teacher. He delivered two monologues, which produced a long succession of laughs from the audience.

Elect Officers

At a brief business meeting, with President Anthony Werner presiding, the following officers were elected for the year to come: President, Franklin C. Monroe; Vice-President, Frank Chipman; Secretary and Treasurer, Alice Harkema; Executive Committee, Albert J. Swain, Fred Lincoln, Joseph Wald, A. I. Werner, H. C. Monroe, Wilfred Riopel, J. E. Hefner, John Chapple, Thomas Troy, Frank M. Morey, Patrick Tallis, George W. Dumas, Louisa Metcalf, May Stebbins, Marion Dufney and Flora Bombard.

The Parts Department Players next took the stage and captivated the audience with their presentation of “Percy Goes To Sea.” Written, directed and acted in by their fellow worker, Anthony Werner, retiring President of the Pioneers, this play was received with much well merited applause.

Refreshments topped off the evening and the party was over. This was a less pretentious affair than last year but it was different. Pioneers mingled together, became better acquainted and had a grand good time.



“Becoming Important”

Citizenship will be found to be of direct assistance to the working man or woman of today. In many industries the more desirable types of work are reserved for those who have become American citizens. A survey of companies which together employ more than two million workers shows an increasing amount of stress being laid on citizenship as a qualification for employment. A look into the future would seem to indicate that the time is rapidly approaching when discrimination against the unnaturalized applicant will be ever greater than it is today. American citizenship pays! Any who are aiming for citizenship will be helped by attending the evening naturalization courses offered by the Company and town.



Zyloware and Gold Filled united on the evening of February 26th to provide a mutual good time at the departments’ social in Social Hall. A highly entertaining program was provided by utilizing the talent available in both departments. Following this much appreciated presentation the party surrounded the whist tables and started off on the battlefield of trumps. At ten o’clock when the cards were discarded in favor of dancing it was found that the results were as follows: Ladies first prize, Mrs. Albert Loiseau; second, Miss Yvonne Duquette; third, Mrs. Charles Frederick; consolation, Miss Mary Belanger, Gentlemen’s first prize, Hormidas Pontbriand; second, Louis McDonald; third, William Ponto; consolation John Garlardi. Refreshments were served after the dancing and, a short time later, the party came to a regretful close.




AO’s most recent product, the three way motion, self-adjusting, rocking pad of pearl is the newest development in modern arch bridge spectacleware for 1930. The foresight of the Sales Department has combined with the ingenuity of our production forces to produce this leader for the coming year.

In years gone by, when fingerpiece was at the height of its popularity, AO made the best rocking pad that has ever been manufactured, as durable as it was comfortable. This new pearl pad is the same type that achieved such deserved popularity in earlier days, is possessed of all its characteristic comfort and durability in addition to its newly acquired beauty.

One more AO has lived up to its reputation as a pioneer in optical progress by producing this noteworthy product.



One noon last week, about ten minutes after twelve, the front door of John Toomey’s house opened and in walked John Toomey - to lunch, much to the amazement of his wife. Not that she was especially astonished to see him but to see him at that time of the day was quite unusual. Each morning Mrs. Toomey prepared John’s lunch, wraps it up and leaves it for him to take to work, so he is not expected until the end of the day. However it seems that John rushed out with the wrong package that morning and all unknowingly carried it to the Grinding Shop with him. When the usual feeling of emptiness beneath his belt combined with the noontime whistle to inform him that the time had come to partake of certain nourishment, he settled back contentedly into the corner and reached for his lunch. Thrusting his hand inside he pulled forth an egg - well, one egg is all right - plunging in again he brought out another egg and a third attempt netted egg number three. Calm and deliberate investigation revealed that his early morning mistake had been productive of many “oeufs” but no lunch - so John turned homeward. It is rumored that during the afternoon he was the recipient of many phone calls from solicitous friends who had heard of the incident and were anxious to inquire further into the matter. He was deeply touched by their concern in his behalf.



“Perfect Record”

The Trucking Department tucked another leaf in its laurel wreath not long ago when John Hogan received a letter from the Governor’s Committee on Street and Highway Safety complimenting them for driving through the month of January without an accident. The prize for the month went to some other company which likewise had no accidents and worked a greater number of hours than the AO trucksters. These men are maintaining a good reputation for AO in safety circles and along the highways, keeping well and happy themselves and giving the company some favorable publicity by their unending practice of “Safety.”



The AO Players scored their second hit of the season when they presented “A Box Of Monkeys” in Social Hall on the evening of February 7th. This two act parlor farce was well received by the audience who seemed highly entertained throughout the evening. The play was well chosen and the cast had worked hard to succeed in putting the show across in a most excellent manner - they are to be congratulated.



Mr. and Mrs. Waldo Graton of New York City are receiving congratulations on the birth of a son, Waldo Jr., on February 25th.

Mrs. Graton was known to many AO workers as Miss Iola Shead and at one time was Secretary to Manager Hill of the Lens Division.


We extend our sincerest sympathy to Joseph, Nelson, Aurore and Cecile Capistrand on the death of their mother, Mrs. Mary Capistrand on February 2nd.


We extend our sincere sympathies to Edward Reyor of the Gold Stock Department on the death of his father in Keene, N.H. on February 13th.


Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Gendreau wish to express their sincere appreciation of the kindness, sympathy and floral tributes tendered by their friends and relatives during their recent bereavement.


Sotir Theodoss has returned to this country after enjoying a lengthy visit to his home in Albania. His bridge, his brother’s wife and two young daughters accompanied him to America. He also brings a message of greeting from Mike George, former North Street merchant, to his many friends at AO.


For Sale - Practically new sewing machine in perfect running condition. Has been used but little. Excellent buy at great saving to purchaser. Inquire of Mason Davis, A24S, or at 112 High Street.


Anyone wishing to buy some pure Vermont Maple Syrup - First Run - may order same by calling 134 1-M or getting in touch with F. B. Holton in the Machine Shop.



“Improving Now”

Latest reports from the sunny-side of Florida, where Chairman A. B. Wells of our Trustees is spending the winter months, tell us that he progressing along the road to complete recovery. His son George who only recently returned from a trip to Chicago, Kansas City, Denver, Dallas and San Francisco has now gone South to George. He hopes to be able to spend a week or more with his father at Sarasota, after completing his business in the Branches.




The Friday night Foremen’s course which has been conducted by Production Manager Teeson for the past ten weeks came to a close with the final gathering held on March 14th. There was a large turnout at the very first of this series and throughout the course the interest was maintained.

Interesting speakers from the Cost, Sales, Legal and Advertising Departments, made clear to their listeners the inter-relation and inter-dependence of the different Branches that go to make up the AO organization. Each has a vitally important part but it can play that part successfully only in proportion to the measure of success achieved by the other Branches in fulfilling their missions. The production team is a vital factor in the final success or failure of any company and its importance in relation to this end was stressed by each of the speakers.

Questions were invited at the conclusion of each talk and the men were encouraged to clear up any doubts or rumors which they had heard concerning the operating of these other parts of the Company. Many of the Foremen took this opportunity of increasing their knowledge of the Company as a unit and of learning the responsibilities of departments other than their own.

Some of the meetings were given over to the asking of questions about their own jobs, of stating problems that arise in their work; these being answered by Product Manager Teeson. In this way they were able to see some of the difficulties that confront the other fellow and from their combined experience they were sometimes able to find methods of remedying these conditions.



DeZeng Department workers were happy to learn that one of their co-workers, Armand St. Onge who was seriously injured in an automobile crash shortly after Christmas has returned from a Worcester Hospital and is now convalescing at his home.



The shouting and the tumult dies; the pinboys and the pins rejoice as a most successful bowling season flashes to a close. In gazing over the total pinfall for the season we note that the leaders of the National league are out in front of the American winners by over 1000 pins and that the Eastern champs are behind them by the same number of pints. Serious bowlers - those Nationals.

We of the Best Five, almost anchor aggregation of the Eastern, look proudly around however to notice that one of the teams in that famed league managed to lose more points than we did. (Answer - they rolled more games.) None the less our impressive total pinfall reinstates us with honor in our lowly berth. Well - anyway, we rolled more balls than the champs did and we can eat just as much at the banquet.

Eddie Duquette and George Trembicka slammed out an average of over 100 for the seventy-two strings. It pains us to remember that out of the same number of strings we got over the hundred mark just once. Baglioni from E2R leads the Americans with a 97.1 while Joe Duffy heads the Eastern with a flat 96.

Branch Control took the honors in the Eastern League with the result that Comptroller Williams donated a box of cigars - perforce. The boys enjoyed them immensely. Bifocal won the laurels in the American league, while Meniscus broke the tape in the National. These three teams will roll home and home matches to find out just who are the AO champs for the year.

Bifocal seems to be a good name for the winners, so the basketballers by that name galloped out in front of the others by winning eight games and losing only two. With the season closing rapidly they are certain to be first under the wire. snappy five.

The Electricians got the range last month and walked off with the trophy telescope which was held up for the winners. The Company team is turning in higher scores and now that they have more room to shoot and more time to practice we expect to see a further improvement.


Karl Roth’s department has cause to be duly proud of the fact that under the name of Bifocals, teams from that department have won the championship in basketball and in the American league of the bowling contest. And they’re warning the other departments right now that they are on their way to make it a clean slate by taking away the honors in baseball once we make sure that Spring has come to stay. Forewarned if forearmed.


The Whirlwinds whirled out in front in the girl’s league and stayed there throughout the season despite the valiant efforts of their rivals to overtake them. Thelma Anger captured the honors for highest average while Imelda Gaumond led the way to a high single of 128. Some of these bowlers could make it mighty uncomfortable for any of we not-too-expert male pin topplers who visit the alleys infrequently.


Return to AO History Main Page