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Archive for May, 2011

To seek justice and preserve peace: PA State Police Training Academy

PA State Police Academy, Cocoa and Elm Avenue, ca.1950-1960

PA State Police Academy, Cocoa and Elm Avenue, ca.1950-1960

In February 1920, a State Police training school was established in Newville, Cumberland County.   The Newville Training School was closed on March 1, 1923.  The following year the school was reinstituted in Hershey, PA.   The Academy was originally located on Cocoa Avenue, next to the Memorial Baseball Field. 

 

In addition, the State Highway Patrol used the basement of the Hershey Inn to train Highway Patrol recruits.   In 1926, the Highway Patrol Training School moved from the Hershey Inn to 19th and Swatara Streets. Harrisburg. 

 

Hershey did not have a police force of its own and often turned to the State Police Academy for assistance when needed.  Elwood Meyers, who worked in the Hershey Chocolate Corporation lab, remembered how the relationship between Hershey and the Academy  benefitted each other:

 

Well, this used to be our problem, getting through the town.  And, you see, they didn’t always have traffic lights either.  But we had the state police.  The academy was located here on Cocoa Avenue.  And at that time we didn’t have so many restrictions about using a public property and this kind of thing.  So that if we were going to have a parade, or anytime there was a large crowd of people coming to Hershey or there was a traffic problem, someone would call up the police barracks, and they were only too glad to send policemen, because this is where they got their training, see.  They needed a lot of traffic cops.  They needed this kind of training.  We had all kinds of policemen around the town.  There was no congestion in any place that didn’t last very long.
   As a matter of fact, today I don’t think they can even help the town.  But, you see, they kept their horses out here.  This is where the ball diamond [Memorial Field] now is.   Oh, yeah, that was a large pasture there.  I don’t know how many horses–sixty, seventy horses, maybe.  And they would get all their groceries from the Hershey Department Store, you know, their feed from the feed mill, and that kind of thing.  Had a real good relationship.  But Hershey treated them right.  They treated Hershey right.  It was a good deal.

 

 In 1960, on land provided by the Hershey Interests,  a new Pennsylvania State Police Academy opened located on a site north of Hersheypark Drive, adjacent to The Hershey Company headquarters.  Until Derry Township established its own police force in 1966, the State Police Academy served as the community’s unofficial police force.

 

PA State Police Academy, Annual Rodeo.  ca.1960-1970

PA State Police Academy, Annual Rodeo. ca.1960-1970

Many in Hershey have fond memories of the State Police and the Academy.  During  1934-1974  the annual State Police rodeos at the Hershey Stadium were a popular event for the town and region.  Each year multiple performances were held with as many as 15,000 people attending a single show.

So Long, Until Tomorrow: Lowell Thomas and Hershey

Lowell Thomas was a man ahead of his time: the first roving newscaster, a film maker through the 1920s, a radio presenter in the 1930s, an adventurer who wrote more than 50 books. 

 

As a pioneer in radio broadcasting, Lowell Thomas brought the world to the United States’ living rooms with his around the world eyewitness accounts.  Born in 1892, before he began his career in radio he traveled the world, writing and lecturing.  It was during World War I that Thomas gained his celebrity status with his film of T.E. Lawrence, then captain in the British army in Jerusalem.  The film, With Allenby in Palestine and Lawrence in Arabia made Lawrence and Thomas household names.

 

In 1930 he became a broadcaster on CBS radio.  Two years later he switched to NBC radio but returned to CBS in 1947.  He is particularly well-remembered for his highly detailed radio news reports during World War II often broadcast from a mobile truck located just behind the front lines. 

 

Lowell held an enduring fascination with the movies.  He was the narrator for Twentieth Century Fox’s Movietone newsreels until 1952.  When television became a popular medium, Thomas hosted a successful series during the 1950s, High Adventure and then again in the 1970s with Lowell Thomas Remembers.

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Lowell Thomas broadcasts from the Hotel Hershey Castillian Ballroom. 9/13/1950 (?)

Lowell Thomas enjoyed an long relationship with Hershey.  He first became associated with  Hershey as the narrator for the Hershey travelogue movie, Seeing Wonders, completed in 1933.   His enthusiasm and colorful language were often memorable.  In the film, Thomas declared that the new Hotel Hershey was “a palace that out-palaces the palaces of the Maharajahs of India.”  Thomas would return to Hershey several times over the next couple decades, broadcasting his shows from the Hotel over the NBC and CBS radio networks.