York Workman–a Rat Whisperer?
Nineteen hundred and eight was a very strange year in York County.
Click here to read about Rex Fire Company’s building out in the middle of Duke Street.
My last post was about Judge Wanner ruling in favor of a mule. Click here to read about that.
This item, from the March 19, 1908 Gazette, is even more bizarre:
George Fetgater worked in the blacksmith shop of the York Manufacturing Company. A rat, which Fetgater named Dick, had its nest in the plant, near where several of the blacksmiths gathered for lunch.
Fetgater told the reporter that he had a way with animals and that he had quickly trained Dick to climb up his clothing to retrieve food from his pockets or “nibble choice morsels held in the workman’s mouth.”
The account continues: “Sometimes when he wants to be theatrical and make a spectacular exhibition, Mr. Fetgater will stand up, raise his arm high and call for Dick to get the bit of meat which he hold in his fingers. Nimbly the rat ascend the length of the blacksmith body, mounts his shoulder, and then with a merry whisk of his tail proceeds to mount the yard arm and go on to the top, where the meat is dangling tantalizingly aloft. Dick climbs to the top and eats the meat from the fingers.”
“Once in a while Dick gets sentimental and wants some one to love him. When this mood seizes him, he climbs on Mr. Fetgater’s shoulder. Then, standing on his hind legs, places his paws lovingly on Mr. Fetgater’s cheek and pats it and squeaks ‘Ah! Ah! Pitty man!’ This is what Dick seems to say and he enjoys it too.”
Dick’s exploits were backed up by three of the other blacksmiths, who reportedly also became “friends of the rat through Mr. Fetgater’s introduction,” and were now “vieing with each other to show the rodent kindly attentions.”
York Manufacturing at that time would have been between Gas Ave. and the railroad tracks off of Hartley Street. It is now a parking lot for the restored complex of slightly later York Manufacturing buildings off Philadelphia Street.
When you think of those days a century ago when York County was a manufacturing giant, don’t just remember the products they produced: refrigeration, safes, farm machinery, cigars and much more. Think of the workers in those factories, each with his/her own story, such as the love of a man and his rat.