Ropes, Pulleys and Reed Hooks
In the early thirties they were still using the old livery stable (on Church Street) to keep the company mules, which were used to “work” the streets. Had a road scraper pulled by a team. And used drag pans to move dirt from place to place.
Have forgotten the code but when a fire happened they used to ring the mill bell. So many rings meant the mill was on fire, and so many meant a house fire somewhere in the village. Had a fire hose cart pulled by hand. The hose cart was still kept at the machine shop when I was working there after WW2 and men would sit on the rear of the company pickup and hold onto the handle of the hose cart to pull it where it was needed.
Before the mill was electrified there was only water power to run it. Used to have a rope alley with a really large wooden pulley and a number of ropes which, in my minds eye, were about 3 inches in diameter. So many ropes were used to turn a shaft on each mill floor. The shaft ran from one end of the mill to the other, and each machine was powered by a belt from the shaft by moving a long wooden handle which shifted the belt from the idler pulley to an active pulley on the shaft.
Those old worn leather belts were used to half sole many a shoe. Seems every family had a shoe last to mend shoes. My father had a number of different screw drivers using leather handles. The blacksmith would forge the screwdriver and father would cut leather washers to thread on the shank to form the handles.
Others would use the same method to make handles on their reed hooks, which every weaver had to have. Reed hook handles were also made using scraps from damaged red fiber cans used to hold roving in the card room. Some handles were “fancy,” made of celluloid. And while I was in the shop I made and sold a number of reed hooks with aluminum handles.
Editors note: The reed hook was probably the most common implement in the village. Weavers used them to fish individual threads through the “reed,” a screen-like device on a loom that keeps the warp threads correctly lined up. If you had anything to do with the weave room, one or more of these would likely end up in your home. Designing the handles was an art form of a sort. The green one in the picture is of green and white layered plastic; the other is more intricate, of alternating layers of leather and fiber.