Amsterdam mill had carpet-laying school

Mohawk Carpet Mills in Amsterdam started what may have been the industry’s first carpet laying schoo

Mohawk Carpet Mills in Amsterdam started what may have been the industry’s first carpet laying school in 1947.

During World War II, Mohawk had turned out blankets, canvas and other products for the war effort as manufacturing rugs took a back seat. After the war, though, the company was keen on promoting the purchase of wall-to-wall carpet “in place of the nine by twelve rug,” according to the company magazine Tomohawk.

Carpet school director John Pollard said proper installation would make wall-to-wall carpet look “as though it were poured into the room.”

The technique of choice was the Roberts Smooth-Edge Method, invented by Roy Roberts of Georgia who founded a company that made floor covering tools in 1938. Using his method, a narrow wooden tack strip with needle-like spikes was laid down along the outer contour of the room. Carpet was secured to the strip and stretched to fit the tack strip on the opposite side of the room.

Mohawk’s authorized dealers around the country sent technicians for a two-week course in Amsterdam. The Tomohawk article was accompanied by a photo of 20 men in white coats lined up behind four long benches. The students pictured came from Washington State, Utah, Tennessee, Virginia and the Carolinas.

The men started out learning about carpet construction, studying different kinds of weaves. Each of them received a set of tools. Instruction was provided on measuring and estimating techniques along with blueprint reading. The students were taught how to overcome obstacles such as doorways, heat registers, radiators, connecting rooms and stairways.

They spent the last four days of the course installing carpets in “model rooms attractively and realistically decorated in delicate pastels.”

Tomohawk wrote, “Superior craftsmanship and materials, hallmarks of Mohawk tradition, are worthless without proper carpet installation.”

One of the students at the carpet laying school had traveled from Norfolk, Virginia to Amsterdam by motor scooter. The 18-hour trip cost Albert Rose of Norfolk $2.05 for gas and oil. When it rained, Rose said, “I stopped for a quart of oil and a gallon of beer.”


Vacation time in 1947 was tied to the mill’s yearly shutdown from June 30 to July 7. Tomohawk noted that vacation was a relatively modern concept for factory workers. To prove the point the magazine quoted from an 1847 contract for an indentured carpentry apprentice who, far from getting a scheduled week off, had to agree not to gamble and to avoid frequenting taverns or the theater.

The mill’s one-week shutdown in 1947 contrasted with the non-stop work schedule during the war years. Columnist Johnny Page, who also was the Recorder’s sports editor, wrote, “With war-throttled vacations a thing of the past, there’s no excuse this year for Amsterdam’s vacation-bound citizens not to have a good time, either at home or away.”

Page reported that workers staying at home for the shutdown week had plenty of local baseball to watch. The Amsterdam Rugmakers were at home to play Rome and then would have a five-game series with the nearby Schenectady Blue Jays.

Another section of Tomohawk was a picture feature with six mill workers naming their favorite big bands. Iris Lees was a Glenn Miller fan. James Draus liked Carmen Cavallaro. Joseph Szczucki of Hagaman voted for Guy Lombardo. Dorothy Albright’s pick was Vaughn Monroe. Frank Mancini favored Benny Goodman.

Marie Saltsman liked the Korn Kobblers, who played at Jack Dempsey’s restaurant in New York City, “Every time I go down there I must go by and see them. I like the way they dress with their farm hats, turned up overalls — they’re real comedians.”

Bob Cudmore is a freelance columnist. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. Anyone with a suggestion for a Focus on History topic may contact him at 346-6657 or [email protected]

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