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Tico Vogt - Custom Furniture & Cabinetry "A cabinetmaker of twenty five years, I'm turning my attention to tools and products for the woodworking shop. The Super Chute, a high end shooting board, and the Micro Sharp Honing Kit are the opening offerings. More good stuff to come."

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Old 09-24-2011, 06:47 AM
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Default Covington, Kentucky, 1913: A Family Mystery.

Covington, KY, 1913



It’s probably a universal comment passed on from all fathers to their sons, at some point and in some guise, that you (son) won’t really appreciate me until after I’m gone. This has certainly held true in my case, with a father who was sixty-three years old at my birth and whose lifetime encompassed worlds so seemingly distant from anything I could fathom and fully appreciate when I was with him.


Before attending last year’s Woodworking In America event I posted a blog piece about the name Vogt Toolworks, the Vogt family’s industrial legacy in Louisville, Kentucky, and my father’s career as a prolific and important American inventor.


Getting a handle on my dad’s career has been difficult. Following his death, my mother, his third wife, jettisoned his entire records, the complete contents of two offices filled with drawings, prototypes, files, and photos. His blockbuster hits, so to speak, were well known and kept alive by the oral tradition: the “Father of Modern Ice-Cream”, the early pioneer of aluminum foil combined with refrigeration in products like the Eskimo Pie, scotch tape dispensers, packaging for butter and margarine sticks, bags for flour, the self contained refrigeration process in Good Humor trucks- a great deal of what I saw on a daily basis in the world around me.


But nothing tangible remained to actually read, and, as the decades passed, this felt frustrating. To my relief and rescue, I met a retired patent attorney on a train six years ago who helped me to negotiate the US Patent Office’s web site, and more recently Google Patents makes everything available ( C.W. Vogt). Click here to view them.
20 pages.


Another amazing piece of the puzzle of my father’s life fell into place this last year when I received from my half-sister my father’s highschool and college scrap book. For the first time I got to see him as a young man.
C. W. Vogt on early Harley-Davidson



But the book reveals a mystery year, a mystery city, and a mystery trip. It may involve a military invention.


But first, what I know.


He graduated from the Louisville Male High School in 1909
Louisville Male Highschool, C.W.'s sophmore year.



and enrolled in Cornell University
C.W. Vogt Cornell Freshman



which he attended for two years, and then left, because he felt they had nothing more to teach him. He did consider himself a member of the class of 1914 (I remember this reunion up in Ithaca- who were all these old guys?).
1914-Cornell-Reunion-with-Dad



He returned to Louisville and worked for his uncle’s company, the Henry Vogt Machine Company.
Clarence W. Vogt, employee at HVMC



Henry Vogt, center, and workmen



He went off to serve in WW I, seen here with his two brothers. He was a captain in France.
Alvin, Ernest, and C.W. Vogt WW I



Upon returning from the war, he started a family in Louiseville, divorced, moved to the greater New York area, and his career as an inventor flourished.


WW II saw him called back to duty, serving as a Lieutenant Colonel and then full Colonel in Washington, D.C. Kathleen Kennedy, J.F.K’s older sister, wrote this nice piece on him:
Kathleen Kennedy's Profile of C. W. Vogt



His son by his first marriage, Tom Vogt, was an ace pilot in that war. I’m sure this focused my dad’s attention on the highly dangerous realities confronting the US airmen, in particular the failure of tires and the constant need to replace them. According to my half-sister, Emily, he donated his Repair Of Tires Patent to the Air Force. You can view the patent here


All this happened long before my time. When I was eleven years old my family traveled in Europe

and he shared with me a few stories from his days in France in WW I, bawdy ditties about French ladies, tales about shooting rats off the tops of tents, and demonstrations of how he’d bark out orders to the soldiers. It would have seemed impossibly removed in time had there not been (in 1964) still so many crippled and maimed veterans everywhere.


One memory from that trip has stayed with me and been hard to make sense of. Dad announced that when we reached London he and I were going to go see something. Most of our family tours had been to museums, cathedrals, etc. He had something else in mind for our father-son outing. We went to the British Patent Office. It was a very subdued place, paneled walls, desks with green leather tops and old fashioned lamps. A clerk sporting a trim mustache came over and spoke with Dad, who wrote down some information for him. He returned with a roll of papers which he laid out on a table for us. Dad explained that it was his first invention, the delay detonation device used on torpedo heads in WW I. The first torpedoes exploded upon contact and often did only perfunctory damage against heavy plating. He figured out the timing mechanism that enabled the explosion to occur once the torpedo penetrated inside the enemy vessel.


What has always been enigmatic for me about this is, how did my father have a British patent in WW I? He lived and worked in Kentucky before shipping off to serve in France.


This is where the scrap book comes in. There is a postcard addressed to him at the YMCA in Covington, KY in 1913 (seen at top). Not sure why he was living there. It wasn’t commuting distance from Louisville. Also in 1914 there is a letter of introduction from a NY bank on his behalf to a bank in England:
Letter of Introduction Mr. Clarence W. Vogt



A 3rd Class ticket aboard an American Line ship. Photos of the seaside abroad and a portrait of my dad and an unknown gentleman dressed in proper business attire.
Clarence W. Vogt- London trip 1914.



A very young inventor from the American Midwest lives temporarily in a Kentucky YMCA, travels to England, and develops a significantly important military patent used in the First World War.


At this year’s WIA in Covington, Kentucky, I’ll be wondering about what my dad was doing there, 98 years ago.
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Old 09-24-2011, 02:46 PM
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Default Re: Covington, Kentucky, 1913: A Family Mystery.

Wow - very impressive that you have done this much reearch and to connect the dots.

I note this paragraph: His blockbuster hits, so to speak, were well known and kept alive by the oral tradition: the “Father of Modern Ice-Cream”, the early pioneer of aluminum foil combined with refrigeration in products like the Eskimo Pie, scotch tape dispensers, packaging for butter and margarine sticks, bags for flour, the self contained refrigeration process in Good Humor trucks- a great deal of what I saw on a daily basis in the world around me.

Even more impressive!

Quite a legacy. Thanks for sharing.

neil
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Old 09-24-2011, 04:04 PM
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Default Re: Covington, Kentucky, 1913: A Family Mystery.

An excellent expose that surely warmed you with every word! A great legacy indeed.
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Old 09-24-2011, 04:40 PM
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Default Re: Covington, Kentucky, 1913: A Family Mystery.

Loved it, Tico! You must be very proud.

See you in Covington.


.
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Old 09-24-2011, 08:56 PM
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Default Re: Covington, Kentucky, 1913: A Family Mystery.

I'm so glad you recovered (at least) a little of the material on your Dad.
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:30 AM
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Default Re: Covington, Kentucky, 1913: A Family Mystery.

That was a great read, thanks.
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:56 AM
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Default Re: Covington, Kentucky, 1913: A Family Mystery.

Tico - during what years did you live in Weston? I boxed you, having lived in W.Redding and Westport. And, of course, my namesake spent some of his best years in Louisville....
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Old 09-26-2011, 01:56 PM
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Default Re: Covington, Kentucky, 1913: A Family Mystery.

Wow. That's the best and most captivating piece of writing I've read on the 'net in ages. Rather reminds me of the Griffin and Sabine books.
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Old 09-26-2011, 02:01 PM
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Default Re: Covington, Kentucky, 1913: A Family Mystery.

My father moved to Weston in 1934. He chose it because he loved to ride horses. All the roads were dirt and there was a mix of woods and fields. I was born in 1953 and lived there until leaving for college in '72. My mom sold our house in 1974.

You must have packed a mean punch. I can't recall anything!
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:08 PM
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Default Re: Covington, Kentucky, 1913: A Family Mystery.

Fascinating history, thanks for sharing.

Kev
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