Harvey- Wells Co
& the Flood of 1955
Cliff Harvey Sr. / John Well's Business in Southbridge
May 2008 Photo - Former Harvey Wells building (Now Center of Hope)
Former location of Harvey
Off North Street, Southbridge MA
(Originally the Central Mills Building)
We were on vacation at Moosehead Lake in Maine when Hurricane Diane hit in, I believe, 1955, and Dad came home early to assess the damage to our home and to his business, Harvey-Wells Electronics in Southbridge. Although our home was not damaged, the rising water in the river next to Dad's business flooded the entire inventory, destroying it. They had been installing radio gear in several Army trucks at the time, and those trucks were completely swept away by the flood waters, never to be found even to this day. Shortly after that, the business was sold to a company called Bay Pathe, and Dad went to work for them as a consultant. Bay Pathe sold off the division he was working in to Whitin Machine Co. in Whitinsville, MA., and he served as a consultant to them until 1971, when they let him go. It was at this time he retired to his cellar workshop and his ham radio full time.
My sister wrote "I had always thought that Harvey-Wells didn't recover after the flood that washed through it. That was from Hurricane Diane in August of 1955. The insurance company wouldn't cover the damage because it was an "act of God". I remember Dad being bitter about that."
Harvey-Wells made a lot of piezo-electric quartz crystals, and they worked on a lot of government contracts. There was one contract that the government refused to pay for after taking delivery about the same time as the flood. Harvey-Wells sued the government for payment, but the suit took so long, that Dad was actually working for the Whiting Industries by the time the case was decided in Harvey-Wells' favor. I think Dad may have been kept on by those two companies because he was the one who had the knowledge and information about the contract and he was the one who went to Washington from time to time to testify. The initial lack of payment by the government might have been another factor in the demise of H-W. Companies need cash to exist, and Harvey-Wells employed a lot of people.
And this information from Gary Reiss - WA0JRM. "The Harvey-Wells Company was formed through a partnership between Clifford Harvey - W1RF and John Wells - W1ZD in 1939. (Note: those letters are Ham Radio Call Letters).
Cliff Harvey had earlier founded Harvey Radio Labs in 1933, and prior to that, he was associated with the Hendricks and Harvey Company, another partnership, producing police radios, transceivers, transmitters, and crystals. Their most popular product was the TBS-50 transmitter introduced in 1947, covering the 80 through 2 meter bands. In 1948, a three tube audio preamp was included, carrying the TBS-50 A model number. The last model produced was the Bandmaster T-90 ceasing in 1960. Harvey-Wells never produced** a receiver and single side band emission became the emerging mode of choice. Harvey-Wells had no design for this type of modulation, and with nothing to offer the market place, faded into history.
**June 2008 correction -
"From K9YK The Radio Ranch in West Central Indiana;
"Harvey Wells T90 TX and R9A RX made
in 1955 The TX is 50 w. AM and CW and covers 160 thru 10
The R9A is ham band only RX 160 thru 10 The unit in the middle is a Bandmaster Z Match."
Front of building near Central Street Bridge (Harvey Wells was in back).
Check out this tribute to Cliff Harvey from a fan in Sweden
Cliff Harvey at his Ham Radio rig at his home on Fiske Hill in Sturbridge - photo late 1960s
Prior to publication of Cliff's note about Harvey Wells on my web site, Margaret Morrissey at Jacob Edwards Library spoke with Milt Freeman about this story. He was very excited, as he had worked at Harvey Wells at the age of 16 in the drafting area. He called me and we spoke for 20 minutes as he recalled many stories. He told me that the Southbridge 6th grade was also housed in this building during the 1940's. He later joined AO and organized a number of reunions at Roms in recent years.
Two days later after his phone call (Jan 26, 2001), I learned that Milt had passed away. He was a wonderful person and shall be missed.
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