H. C. Fry Glass Company, Rochester, Pennsylvania

Charles Groth who is Blind, Manages Fry's Cooperage Shops

[Trade Journal]

Publication: Crockery & Glass Journal

New York, NY, United States
vol. 82, no. 20, p. 24, col. 1-2


Totally blind for the last ten years, Charles Groth, Rochester, Pa., has complete charge of the cooperage department of the H. C. Fry Glass Co works, North Rochester. He not only supervises the work done by nine men under him, but through his keenly developed sense of touch is able to pass judgment as to the quality of barrels made by them. Although he has never seen the faces of some of the men working for him, he can readily locate each, when in the cooperage department, by the sound of their hammers, says "The Glassworker". Each day 350 to 500 barrels are made in Groth's department. Any one barrel can be set in front of him and by the mere rapping of his knuckles against its side he can tell, and always without error, the name of the man who made it. In the warerooms thousands of barrels are piled. Groth can tell without mistake, by only the sense of touch to guide him, the work of each man. In his department about 1,500,000 barrels are made annually.

Groth, who is forty-five years of age, was born in Rochester May 6, 1870. He has resided there all his life. Until thirteen years of age he attended the public schools of that place. A year later he was taken suddenly and seriously ill of typhoid malaria. His left eye was affected, but for a time caused him no worry. Recovering from his illness, he worked for three years in the Rochester Tumbler Works, after which he secured employment in the Co-Operative Fling Glass Co.'s works at Beaver Falls. While there he learned the cooperage trade under his uncle, John Hilberg, at that time foreman of the shop. He has followed that trade ever since.

When twenty-one years of age the condition of his affected left eye became such that he was obliged to have it removed. It did not appear then that the remaining eye would ever cause trouble. Eleven years later, however, the right eye became affected and blindness gradually came upon him. A year later he completely lost his sight.

In 1902, while Groth still had the use of his right eye, the H. C. Fry Glass Co. works was built. For years Groth had been considered a proficient cooper, and his knowledge of the trade procured for him the position of foreman in the cooperage department of the new works. Three years after he had accepted the position total darkness enveloped him.


Keywords:H. C. Fry Glass Company
Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:January 8, 2008 by: Elaine Corriero;