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Archive for August, 2015

HersheyArchives@30-23 – Hershey Figure Skating Club

Milton Hershey’s letter to the Hershey Figure Skating Club thanking them for the honor of being made a member of the club. 1/22/1936

Milton Hershey’s letter to the Hershey Figure Skating Club thanking them for the honor of being made a member of the club. 1/22/1936

 

The Archives’ collections are a rich resource for understanding not just Milton Hershey and his legacy but also for the growth and development of the Hershey community. The Archives actively collections the records of local businesses and organizations to preserve the history of the community and its residents.

 

Milton Hershey took an active interest in everything that happened in his town. As  noted in last week’s blog post, when community business leaders established the Hershey Rotary Club, Mr. Hershey was made an honorary member.  Many other community groups, wishing to recognize Milton Hershey’s generosity and vision for his community, also recognized him as an honorary member.

 

Hershey Figure Skating Club members pause for a photograph in the Ice Palace. ca1934-1936

Hershey Figure Skating Club members pause for a photograph in the Ice Palace. ca1934-1936

 

Hershey’s Ice Palace opened in 1931. Ice skating and hockey quickly became very popular. By 1932, Hershey was sponsoring its own ice hockey team. Artificial ice rinks were unusual in central Pennsylvania and soon figure skaters began coming to Hershey from Lancaster, Harrisburg and Reading.

 

The idea for an established club grew out of the group’s desire to be able to rent the rink for sessions devoted to figure skating.  In November 1934, a small group of figure skaters held an organizational meeting for the Hershey Figure Skating Club . Milton Hershey was very supportive of the Hershey Figure Skating Club, providing facilities and the management support of Hershey Estates.

 

Hershey Figure Skating Club minutes, 11/14/1935

Hershey Figure Skating Club minutes, 11/14/1935

 

The following year the club formally recognized Milton Hershey’s support, making him an honorary member of the club.

 

#HersheyArchives@30

HersheyArchives@30:22 Service Above Self – Hershey Rotary Club

Charter for the Rotary Club of Hershey. 6/10/1943

Charter for the Rotary Club of Hershey. 6/10/1943

 

Community organizations are the lifeblood of a town. They provide residents with opportunities to meet and socialize with each other while working to enhance community life.  These groups enrich their communities while giving their members a sense of purpose and contributing to the community. The Archives actively collects the records of Hershey’s community businesses and organizations and is fortunate to hold the records of several community groups.

 

Y.M.C.A.’s Busy Men’s Doggy Bow-Wow meets for a celebratory meal in the Hershey Café. 3/1913

Y.M.C.A.’s Busy Men’s Doggy Bow-Wow meets for a celebratory meal in the Hershey Café. 3/1913

 

Community groups began to form shortly after the Hershey Chocolate factory began operations in 1905.  The organizations varied from the critically needed Hershey Volunteer Fire Company to the purely social Men’s Doggy Bow-Wow Club (?!).

 

Hershey Volunteer Fire Company was organized in 1905.

Hershey Volunteer Fire Company was organized in 1905.

 

Hershey’s community groups enhanced Hershey’s social life by creating community gatherings such as the annual Christmas tree lighting, presenting annual concerts, and organizing food and clothing collections for the less fortunate.

 

The Hershey Civic Club sponsored a variety of youth sports teams, including a junior ice hockey team.  This 1941 team included (left-right) 1st row: Irv Gonz, Bob Evans, Jack Bernard, Dick Brunner. 2nd row: Endo Corsetti, Sterling Sechrist, Bud Prowell, Herb Erdman, Dick Stover.

The Hershey Civic Club sponsored a variety of youth sports teams, including a junior ice hockey team. This 1941 team included (left-right) 1st row: Irv Gonz, Bob Evans, Jack Bernard, Dick Brunner. 2nd row: Endo Corsetti, Sterling Sechrist, Bud Prowell, Herb Erdman, Dick Stover.

 

Civic clubs in particular play an important role, working to improve neighborhoods through volunteer work by its members. During the 1930s, Hershey had a local Civic Club, which sponsored community clean-up days, organized various community celebrations, and raised money to help support other local organizations.

 

Since there was already a civic club in Hershey, initially there was little interest in starting a Rotary club, despite urging from Rotary clubs in Elizabethtown and Harrisburg. All that changed in 1943 when D. Paul Witmer, the head of Hershey Industrial School [Milton Hershey School], attended a Rotary meeting in Elizabethtown.  “Pop” Britton, manager of the Hershey Community Center and member of the Palmyra Rotary, also encouraged John B. Sollenberger, president of Hershey Estates, to consider starting a new Rotary club.  With interest from two of Hershey’s business leaders, a new Rotary club was soon in the works.  It was decided that the members of Hershey’s Civic Club would be invited to join the new Rotary club.

 

One of the Hershey Rotary Club’s first activities was to sponsor a local business expo. Pictured here are the club’s organizers. left-right: Carl Britton, Harry.N. Herr, T. Egan, Albert Schmidt, John.B. Sollenberger, Edwin Wagner, Harry Erdman, D. Paul Witmer, W. Allen Hammond.

One of the Hershey Rotary Club’s first activities was to sponsor a local business expo. Pictured here are the club’s organizers. left-right: Carl Britton, Harry.N. Herr, T. Egan, Albert Schmidt, John.B. Sollenberger, Edwin Wagner, Harry Erdman, D. Paul Witmer, W. Allen Hammond.

 

The first meeting was held June 2, 1943 in the Hershey Community Building dining room.  John B. Sollenberger was elected president, and the charter was presented to the club on June 14, 1943.

 

Leadership:

President                            John B. Sollenberger

Vice President                   Carl T. Britton

Secretary                             W. Allen Hammond

Treasurer                            D. Paul Witmer

Sargent at Arms                 Raymond H. Koch

Directors:                            Harry Erdman, Harry N. Herr, Edwin S. Wagner

 

There were 29 charter members and Milton S. Hershey was made an honorary member.  The first regular meeting was on June 21, 1943 also in the dining room of the Community Building.

 

In the beginning, the Hershey Rotary Club partnered with the Hershey Civic Club on a number of projects. The first joint project was the Cocoa Bean game, a football game pitting Milton Hershey School against Hershey’s public high school.  The competition was first held in 1943 to raise money for Memorial Field, Hershey’s local outdoor recreation center.

 

Children have always been a focus of Rotary support and beginning in 1958, the Hershey Rotary Club began an enduring program of sponsoring international student exchanges.

 

Founders Day drew the entire community together to celebrate the life and legacy of Milton Hershey. 9/12/1953

Founders Day drew the entire community together to celebrate the life and legacy of Milton Hershey. 9/12/1953

 

Hershey Rotary Club often took the lead in organizing community celebrations. In 1950, the club organized Founders Day, a day to remember Mr.Hershey.

 

The club’s biggest fund raiser, its annual auction, began in 1968. At first the entire proceeds of the auction were donated to the Hershey Volunteer Fire Company. Today, auction proceeds are shared with a wide variety of community and regional non-profit groups.

 

Today Hershey Rotary Club continues to serve the community of Hershey through its commitment to “Service Above Self.”

 

#HersheyArchives@30

HersheyArchives@30-21: Insight into Mr. Hershey: The Wallace Research Collection

Milton Hershey, unlike his contemporary Henry Ford, never wrote a memoir and did not court attention from the public or the press.  Hershey was rarely interviewed and as he preferred to communicate via telephone and telegraph rather than through letters or memorandums he leaves little of a paper-trail.  So without an extensive written record to document Mr. Hershey’s decisions and motivations what evidence do we, as researchers, use to understand him and his decision-making process?

 

Fortunately, oral history interviews assist archivists and researchers in filling documentary gaps.  Hershey Community Archives has an active oral history program, however for information about Milton Hershey’s personal life and character we often refer to the papers of Paul A.W. Wallace.  Wallace was a professor at Lebanon Valley College who was hired to research and write a biography of Mr. Hershey in the 1950s.  Although Wallace’s manuscript was never published it and his research files are a rich historical archive.

 

Paul Wallace, ca1954

Paul A. Wallace, ca1954

 

Wallace, working in the 1950s, was able to interview Mr. Hershey’s contemporaries; his business associates, those he employed, and those who interacted with him in the community.  Oral history interviews with Mr. Hershey’s employees reveal he was interested in big picture ideas and did not concern himself with the details of a project.

 

Hershey’s horticulturist, Harry Erdman, provided a typical example of Mr. Hershey’s decision-making process in his interview with Wallace.  In 1935 and 1936, J. Horace McFarland, a nationally known leader in the city beautiful movement who was active in the American Rose Society invited Mr. Hershey to meet with him.  McFarland wanted to persuade Mr. Hershey to assist in funding a public rose garden in Washington D.C.  The two men made plans to meet when the Pennsylvania State Federation of Garden Clubs would meet in Hershey in April of 1936.

 

After McFarland and Milton Hershey’s initial meeting, Mr. Hershey attended the Garden Federation dinner meeting as a guest of McFarland who was the keynote speaker.  McFarland took the opportunity to publicly ask Milton Hershey for financial support of a National Rose Garden.  According to Erdman, he and Mr. Hershey had previously discussed establishing a garden on a piece of land just south of The Hotel Hershey.  Milton Hershey’s reply to McFarland’s request was:

 

Well, we have been planning a Garden of our own; and, before we give that amount of money for the politicians to play with, we better spend some of it at our own place and see what interest people take in it.

 

Erdman learned all of this the next day when Milton Hershey called him to a meeting at his apartment in High Point.  In his interview, Erdman related how quickly Mr. Hershey made the decision to establish the Hershey Rose Garden.

 

[Please note the audio has not been restored.  A transcript of the audio is below.]

 

 

The decision was then before 9 o’clock the following morning, after this dinner, I’d stake it out and let him know when I had it staked out and then look it over with him to see if it was too large or wasn’t large enough.  Several days later, I had started to plot with stakes what I thought should be the proper size to start with and asked Mr. Hershey to go up and look it over and he immediately agreed it was alright to go ahead with it. 

 

The Rose Garden was expanded gradually over the next few years and in early 1941 Milton Hershey was considering how to develop the adjacent land east of the garden.  After 20 minutes of heated onsite consultation between Erdman, engineers, real estate developers, and farmers the land was deemed inappropriate for farming or a housing development.  Mr. Hershey then turned to Harry Erdman and said “All right, Erdman, Go ahead, make a garden out of it. We’ll make an awful lot of other people happy.”

 

Erdman asked if Mr. Hershey wanted to see a plan or cost estimates.

 

[Please note the audio has not been restored.  A transcript of the audio is below.]

 

 

I asked him at that time if he wanted an estimate of what the cost was going to be – if he was giving me the entire plot?

    ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘it’s no good for farming so take it all.’

    ‘Do you want an estimate of what the cost is going to be?’

    ‘No, go ahead,’ he said, ‘if it gets too big I’ll stop you, but I haven’t stopped you yet have I?’

     I said, ‘no you haven’t.’

 

This anecdote illustrates how Mr. Hershey developed the goals and relied on others to execute his vision.  He was a leader who relied on capable, talented individuals who operated independently of his influence.  While he oversaw all of the operations and had ultimate authority, he placed a great deal of faith in others to execute the day-to-day operations.  As Erdman explained to Wallace with regard to the initial landscaping of the community:

 

 

Question: What about Mr. Hershey’s influence? Did [landscape architect Oglesby] Paul draw up the plans according to Hershey’s specifications or did he just say he wanted everything landscaped, go to it?

Erdman: From my experiences with Mr. Hershey of course this is 25 years later, I doubt very much if Mr. Hershey made any specific plans or gave any specific details. It looked very much as if he told them he wanted nice planting and something of that sort and what he wanted done and it wasn’t specifying any particular names of plants or any particular location. He left that up to the architect to do so.

 

The oral history interviews in the Paul Wallace Research Collection contain details about Mr. Hershey that would otherwise be unknowable; providing insights into Mr. Hershey’s personality and character.  Mr. Hershey chose not to tell his own story, but fortunately others told stories about him.

#HersheyArchives@30

 

Audio clips courtesy of Milton Hershey School Department of School History.

HersheyArchives@30-20 Eckenroth Journals: Working for Hershey Chocolate during the 1930s and 1940s

Daily journals are kept as a personal record of the activities in an individual’s life. Although never intended for a public audience, many journals provide us with a better understanding of what effect world-wide and local events had on an individual.

 

Raphael Eckenroth’s journals detail his work experience in the Hershey Chocolate Factory during the Great Depression and World War II. Born in 1908, Eckenroth began working for the Hershey Chocolate Corporation in 1928. Perhaps to accurately record his income during a period of financial uncertainty, or possibly due to a meticulous personality, Eckenroth recorded his daily wages and work assignments in the factory over a period of ten years.

 

Raphael Eckenroth's journal documents his cumulative earnings for 1941.

Raphael Eckenroth’s journal documents his cumulative earnings for 1941.

The first column records the week of the year.  The second column is the number of hours worked in the Carver room or other factory departments.  The third column is total hours worked for the week.  And the final two columns record his weekly income.

 

An example of a "Carver" press. ca.1950-1960

An example of a “Carver” press. ca.1950-1960

 

In the chocolate factory, Eckenroth worked primarily in the “Carver room” where “Carver” brand cocoa butter presses extracted cocoa butter from roasted cocoa beans. On occasion, he recorded how many hours each shift worked and the hours of operation for the “old” and “new” Carvers.  These entries offer insight into the factory’s production schedule and the increase in hours and output during the war.

 

“All old carver presses started again to press and are operating three 8 hour shifts.  The [new] carvers are operating two 7 hour shifts today.”  (February 24, 1942)

 

There is little information about the personal lives of the Eckenroth family in the journals.  Deaths, major illnesses, and social activities are recorded, but Eckenroth rarely comments on the events he chronicles.  He does however record personal reflections on the 1937 labor strike.  The journals offer a timeline of events and Eckenroth’s feelings regarding unionization are evident.

 

Approximately 500 Hershey Chocolate employees went on strike on April 2, 1937.  The “sit-down” strike end on April 7, when local farmers and non-striking workers forcibly remove the strikers.

Approximately 500 Hershey Chocolate employees went on strike on April 2, 1937. The “sit-down” strike end on April 7, when local farmers and non-striking workers forcibly remove the strikers.

 

In February 1937, the CIO began holding labor organizational meetings in Palmyra and negotiating an agreement with Hershey Chocolate Corporation.  In March, an agreement between the company and the United Chocolate Workers of America (CIO) recognizing the union was reached, however not all areas of concern were addressed.

 

A wounded and bloody striker is helped through the crowd on the last day of the strike.

A wounded and bloody striker is helped through the crowd on the last day of the strike.

 

On April 2, at 11:00 AM, a “sit-down” strike was called and approximately 500 employees began occupying the factory.  The strike impacted not only the non-striking employees but also the local dairy farmers who supplied the factory with milk each day.  On April 7, after the strikers refused to vacate the building, non-striking workers and farmers forcibly removed the strikers from the factory.  Strikers were forced to run a gauntlet and emerged beaten and bloody.  A few weeks later the National Labor Relations Board conducted an election and polled employees as to whether they wished to be represented by the United Chocolate Workers of America.  The employees overwhelmingly rejected the union.

 

“Had election today.  C.I.O. had 786.  Loyal 1542.  Was happy day for Hershey.  Spent the night drinking and being merry.”  (April 23, 1937)

 

Raphael Eckenroth worked for the Hershey Chocolate Corporation for 45 years until his retirement.  His journals, although spanning a brief ten years, broaden our understanding of the Great Depression and World War II’s impact on the Hershey community and businesses.  They also provide one man’s perspective on his relationship with Hershey Chocolate during one of the most violent periods in the community’s history.

 

#HersheyArchives@30