Metuchen Edison History Features

Recollections of

Boyhood Days

In Old Metuchen


David Trumbull Marshall

Published by The Case Publishing Co., Flushing NY 1930

(Second Edition)- (c) 1930


Bogen Wouldn't Give Edison a Fish Hook.
(Helped Make the First Incandescent Lamp.)

Mr. William Bogen, whom I knew as a boy, tells an interesting story about Mr. Edison's fondness for fishing -- the only form of sport, by the way, in which I ever heard of his indulging.

One day, in 1877, Bogen was fishing in a little pond near where the old office on the Laboratory grounds at Menlo Park stood later.

Mr. Edison came along and asked Bogen to lend him his hook and line to see if he could catch anything.

Bogen said he would not lend it to him as he was afraid Mr. Edison would run away with it, "for he (Edison) was always up to some prank."

Bogen said to Mr. Edison, "If you really want to fish I will make you a hook."

Mr. Edison told Bogen to go to the Laboratory and ask Mr. Kreusi to give him some wire and tools and he would wait until he came back.

Mr. Bogen said that if Mr. Edison promised anything you could always depend on it.

So Bogen went to the Laboratory and saw Mr. Kreusi and told him what he wanted. Mr. Kreusi, who was afterward manager of the immense Edison Works at Schenectady and who was a terrible man to swear, told Bogen in no uncertain terms that it was a foolish business, but Bogen insisted and was provided with a file and some steel wire.

Bogen softened some of the wire over an alcohol lamp, bent it and sharpened it and made a fishhook all but the barb. Procuring a piece of string he carried the outfit back to Mr. Edison.

Mr. Edison started to fish and became so absorbed that he forgot to go home to dinner.

He caught two catfish and Bogen says he was as pleased as a little boy.

Bogen in 1879 was engaged in doing odd jobs around the Laboratory grounds and as there was so much night work going on he frequently worked nights to earn a little extra money.

One night Mr. Edison was working with a mercury pump, exhausting the air from a glass globe electric lamp.

This Sprengle vacuum pump consisted of a long glass tube to which the globe to be exhausted was attached. Mercury was poured in at the top and as it flowed by the globe the air was caught and gradually extracted from the globe.

There was about 25 pounds of mercury in the reservoir at the tap.

It was Bogen's job to climb a step ladder and carry the mercury back to the reservoir.

Mr. Edison left orders that when a light showed in the bulb he was to be called.

At about two or three o'clock in the morning the light showed and Mr. Edison was called.

About three hours after that Mr. Edison said the bulb was ready to be sealed up.

Bogen says that lamp was the first successful electric lamp that Mr. Edison made.

Marshall working for Thomas Edison

Some years afterward, when I was working at the Edison Lamp Works at Harrison, N. J., in place of the one Bogen to carry mercury up to the reservoir of one Sprengle mercury pump, there were hundreds of pumps supplied with twenty-five tons of mercury constantly being pumped up to the upper reservoir by means of an Archimedes screw pump.



Boyhood Days in Old Metuchen Title page

Thomas Alva Edison in Menlo Park page

Metuchen Edison History Features index page

Metuchen Edison Historical Society page

Old Metuchen Photos page

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Lasted updated 6/8/99 by Jim Halpin.