Hershey Park's first swimming pool; ca.1912-1915
Hershey Park’s first concrete swimming pool was added in 1911. Completed in the fall, the pool served as an ice skating rink that winter and opened for its first swimming season in 1912. The pool was a popular destination and attracted 1000s of visitors both as users and spectators. A few years later the pool was enlarged and a water toboggan feature was added. To ride the toboggan swimmers carried wooden “sleds” to the top of a long wooden slide and rode the sled down to splash in the pool below. The ride was so fast that riders hydro-planed for several yards before sinking into the water.
Aerial, Hershey Park Swimming Pool; ca.1938-1950
A new expansive pool complex was added in 1929. The new Hershey Park Pool was actually 4 pools: a circular baby pool, a diving pool, a swimming pool and a wading pool. A concrete island separated the swimming pool from the wading pool. Altogether the pools covered 35,000 square feet and contained 1,240,000 gallons of filtered spring water. Admission fee for adults was 25 cents (10 cents for children). If you didn’t have one you could rent a bathing suit at the pool bathhouse.
By the 1940s over 100,000 people visited the pool each summer. Many long time residents have very fond memories of the Park Pool. Young men remember the pool as a wonderful place to bring a date if you didn’t have much money. The pool was located right next to the Ballroom. From the pool, you could hear all the great bands that played at the Ballroom, such as Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and Harry James. The Pool was closed following the 1971 summer season. Today all that remains of the famous Park Pool is the lighthouse along Park Boulevard.
Hershey Park Swimming Pool; sand beach, kiddie pool and iconic lighthouse; 1930
Hershey altered its hiring policies when needed. Employment guidelines were often overlooked and ignored when the need for employees was great. During World War II Hershey experienced a significant shortage of male employees as most men enlisted or were drafted into service. Women and teenagers who were often underage were hired to fill those vacancies. Even though he was underage Bill Cagnoli found work as a bellhop at the Hotel Hershey.
Well, I remember I took a job during World War II. There was such a shortage of workers during World War II in Hershey, that at the age of 13 and a half or 14, I went to the Hotel Hershey to be a busboy and a bellhop. Even though you had to be 16 and have a working permit, Hotel Hershey hired me because they were so desperate for help. As tall as I am now, that’s how tall I was when I was 14 and 15. I didn’t grow from that age on, you know, but I was very tall. So anyway, they saw how tall I was and big I was. They assumed I would pass for 16. They falsified my age, or I falsified it, or however. We didn’t even put down the age.
Hotel Hershey's first bellman, Al McKinney, stands ready to greet guests. 1933
Sometimes Hershey employers ignored age restrictions when they knew that the family need was great. Hershey was a small town and the public school and Hershey Chocolate Corporation often cooperated with each other helping students find work. Sam Tancredi, whose father was an invalid, began working part-time to help support his family when he was only 8 years old. With the help of the School District he left school at age 15 to take a full time job at the chocolate factory.
It was mostly through the efforts of Mrs. Murrie, the wife of the then President of the Chocolate Company, that I obtained a job. Apparently, she had become aware of the family need and stepped in to help. . . .On April 16, 1929, my 15th birthday, [Mr. A. M. Hinkle], the Principal of our school, called me into his office and told me that he was happy that I was 16 years of age and could get a working permit so I could go to work to help the family. I said several times that I was 15 years old, not 16, but he paid no attention to me.
Derry Township School District, Granada Avenue school complex. Hershey Junior-Senior High School in foreground. 1925