54 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
interested, and at the same time I gained their confidence, which is so essential in the management of workingmen. In all my experience I have ever sought to secure and retain the good will of the workmen. With confidence fully established between the workmen and their employer, strikes rarely occur. I continued spending evenings in the miU as usual, and did so as long as I remained at Norris¬ town. My friends were all the time saying that it was all fooUshness to spend so much time at nights in the mill, but what I learned in tliis way helped me greatiy in the discharge of my duty as Superintendent on the day turn, and proved to be of inestimable value to me in after Ufe. In fact, it was the foundation of whatever success I may have attained.
I was now in a position to learn thoroughly the rolling- mill practice, as it then existed, which included the manu¬ facture of merchant bar iron of all general sizes, — flats, squares, and rounds, and in addition boiler plate, tank plate, skelp plate for making welded pipe, cut nails and spikes of aU sizes. All of these branches were practicaUy under my general charge. Mr. Hooven, attending to the office and the general business, had but Uttle time to be in the miU beyond giving orders as to the work that should be done. All this work was done in the daytime and was conse¬ quently under my general charge, but I found that looking after the machinery, which had to be kept in good order, was the most onerous, difficult, and uncertain duty I had to perform, and above all the others combined the source of the greatest anxiety. When the machinery went wrong, as it frequently did, the whole plant was brought to a stand¬ still. So serious were the breakdowns, that they would at times keep the plant idle for a week or more at a time, compelUng us to put in new gear wheels, and new teeth in some of the old ones, which caused me trouble. Many