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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

 

HersheyArchives@30-8 DESTINATION: Hershey, PA

Throughout its history, Hershey has been a well-known destination for entertainment.

 

Each summer,crowds of people traveled to Hershey to enjoy its many amenities. 1915

Each summer,crowds of people traveled to Hershey to enjoy its many amenities. 1915

 

After the Hershey Chocolate Factory opened in 1905, the town soon emerged as a popular regional destination. Visitors came to explore the model town and enjoy Hershey Park and its growing number of amenities.

 

In 1914, Hershey’s weekly newspaper, The Hershey Press, announced that a convention hall was going to be erected in Hershey Park. In developing plans for the hall, Milton Hershey was inspired by a well-known assembly hall in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, and sent his builder, James K. Putt, to visit the structure to learn more about it and what might be incorporated in the Hershey building.

 

Convention Hall, longitudinal section.  Architect: C. Emlen Urban. 1/8/1915

Convention Hall, longitudinal section. Architect: C. Emlen Urban. 1/8/1915

 

The new facility was built specifically to attract large events and big crowds to Hershey.  Its first function was the Triennial Convention of the Brethren Church.  Milton Hershey was very interested in hosting this major event and promised the meeting planners that the Convention Hall would be completed in time for their conference scheduled for June 1915.  Construction began in March 1915.

 

Brethren gather to meet in Hershey's Convention Hall. 6/1915

Brethren gather to meet in Hershey’s Convention Hall. 6/1915

Hershey Convention Hall ready for its first meeting.  Note that the ceiling has not yet been plastered.  6/1915

Hershey Convention Hall ready for its first meeting. Note that the ceiling has not yet been plastered. 6/1915

 

The building was dedicated on Memorial Day weekend, May 30, 1915.  Hershey Park opened for the season the following day, Memorial Day (Monday, May 31).  The dedication program included a 40 piece band, the combined church choirs of Hershey, several vocal and instrumental soloists, as well as several speakers.

 

The Convention Hall was not simply a large assembly hall.  Milton Hershey’s plans for the building incorporated many of his goals and vision for his community.  The Hershey Press carried this announcement about the building’s dedication in its June 3, 1915 issue:

 

Dedication

Hershey Convention Hall is dedicated to the service of the people.  May they meet often within its walls and by their proceedings and discussions find wisdom.  May they listen to words that will guide them in the paths of peace and righteousness.  May they hear music that will uplift them.  May they gather the products of their fields and factories and stimulate one another to higher achievements in agriculture, manufacture, commerce and the arts.  May they learn more of the great principles of consolidation and co-operation.  May they be imbued with the spirit of brotherhood, of courtesy and of helpfulness.  May the services on Memorial Day exalting the patriotism of our heroes be a true dedication of this Hall to the welfare of a free people, the cause of liberty, the love of the Flag and the glory of God.

 

The Convention Hall hosted a variety of musical and theatrical performers. ca1915-1920

The Convention Hall hosted a variety of musical and theatrical performers. ca1915-1920

 

True to Milton Hershey’s vision, the 1915 addition of the Convention Hall transformed Hershey, Pennsylvania into a destination capable of hosting large conventions and national performers. The Convention Hall quickly became a popular destination for both nationally celebrated performers and as a meeting venue for large organizations. The building would host a variety of events over its years of service including concerts by New York Metropolitan Opera singers, the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, the Sistine Chapel Choir during its first American tour, and nationally recognized marching bands.

 

#HersheyArchives@30

HersheyArchives@30

Archivesat30 headerl

 

2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the Hershey Community Archives.  It’s a personal anniversary for me as well.  On February 2, 2015, I arrived in Hershey to start my first day of work creating an archives for the corporations and community of Hershey.  I remember feeling pretty overwhelmed by this challenge to start an archives from scratch.  I was young, just a couple years out of graduate school, and with limited experience.

 

I didn’t know much about the history of this community.  As records were collected, I was also building a knowledge base about Milton Hershey and his sizable legacy.  Because so little had been written about Hershey, much of what I learned about Hershey came from studying the documents I was charged with organizing and preserving.

 

Today the Hershey Community Archives’ collections occupies over 6,000 cubic feet of shelf space.  Our collections contain business records, packaging samples, photographs, maps, plans, film, various video formats, slides, oral histories and a growing collection of electronic records. It is a rich resource for understanding Milton Hershey and the history of everything he established.

 

In recognition of the Archives’ 30th anniversary, we will be highlighting 30 items from the collections that help us tell important stories of Hershey’s past.  They’ll be posted throughout the year.

 

I’ve also spent some time compiling a timeline of the Archives’ history.  The timeline highlights significant moments in the Archives’ growth and evolution.  You can see the timeline here.

#HersheyArchives@30

Where do you get your news? Check out the The Hershey Press

On September 3, 1909 Hershey launched its first newspaper, The Hershey Press.

On September 3, 1909 Hershey launched its first newspaper, The Hershey Press.

 

One of the great resources available at the Archives’ website, is its online access to Hershey’s first newspaper, The Hershey Press.

 

Printing The Hershey Press.  1920

Printing The Hershey Press. 1920

 

The first issue of The Hershey Press was published on September 3, 1909.  A weekly publication, The Hershey Press covered local, Hershey news as well as events in neighboring communities.  It is a great resource for local historians and genealogists. Here at the Archives we used it when we need to research everything from the development of the Hershey Chocolate Factory to events such as the Hershey Flower Show, the opening of the Hershey Quick Lunch, and the launch of Hershey’s first roller coaster in 1923.  Its first editorial outlined the paper’s goals:

 

 Hershey Press editorial, 9/3/1909

 

The newspaper was published consistently until its demise in 1926, with only one break.  The break occurred in June 1917, and lasted until January 11, 1918.  There was no notice that the May 31, 1917 issue was going to be the last issue for a while.

 

Hershey Press, 1/11/1918

 

And while the January 11, 1918 issue acknowledged the restart of the paper, there was still no explanation for the stoppage.

 

Likewise, when the paper ceased to be published after the December 30, 1926 issue, again there was no warning that that issue would be the last one published.

 

Check it out for yourself.

“That’s a good bar.”

 
In-store advertisement, ca. 1930

In-store advertisement, ca. 1930

 

 

 

 

 

In the 1920s Hershey Chocolate Company wanted to expand its product line and began experimenting with formulas for another nut bar. Samuel Hinkle, who began his career as a plant chemist in November 1924, spearheaded the company’s efforts. He shared vivid memories of developing the formula for Mr. Goodbar in 1925 in his 1975 oral history interview:

“We’d been experimenting with a peanut bar, peanuts being a popular product with the American people,” said Hinkle. “We decided we’d better use Spanish peanuts rather than Virginia peanuts. We came up with this Spanish peanut, a small round peanut, and we left the little red shell on the outside. We called it roasted, but we really were frying the peanuts in fat and combining them with our milk chocolate. We began to think about a name. Actually, it was Mr. Hershey who really came up with the name. Someone said, ‘That’s a good bar.’ And his (Mr. Hershey’s) hearing being a little bad, he thought they said, Mr. Goodbar. So he named it Mr. Goodbar.”

Mr. Goodbar is one of the Chocolate Company’s most enduring products. During the 1930s Depression Era, it was marketed as a “Tasty Lunch” because the peanuts gave it added nutritional value. During these years the bars sold 2 for a 5 cents. In the 1950s and 1960s the bars carried the slogan, “Quick Energy in Every Bar!”

Golf for Hershey’s Youth: Juvenile Golf Course

Juvenile Country Club, ca. 1935-1950

Juvenile Country Club, ca. 1935-1950

 

In 1932 Hershey added its most unusual course. The Juvenile Golf Club [today Spring Creek Golf Club] was the only course in the United States dedicated to children under eighteen years old. Youth golf fees were $.35 and for an annual fee of $10, children had unlimited access to the Juvenile course. As a result, golf was very popular with the community’s youth. Lessons were offered to teach the game fundamentals and golf etiquette. Several youth tournaments were held each summer and the results often made the front page of the weekly Hotel Hershey Highlights. The sport was equally popular with girls and boys. Many boys, as soon as they were big enough, spent their summers playing golf and caddying for the Country Club.

The Juvenile Club facilities included a substantial log cabin for its clubhouse. The cabin was decorated with a hunter’s theme, with the walls covered with animal pelts and antlers. The main room also featured two limestone open fireplaces. The clubhouse provided male and female locker rooms and showers.

The Juvenile course was repurposed as a public course open to golfers of all ages in 1969 and renamed Spring Creek Golf Course.

Heart of the Community: Hershey’s Community Building

  

 

Hershey Community Building, 1933
Hershey Community Building, 1933

 

Originally planned for 1916 and finally constructed during Hershey’s Great Building Campaign of the 1930s, the goal of the building was to provide entertainment and recreation, as well as to fulfill educational and civic functions for the entire town. World War I and subsequent financial challenges for Hershey Chocolate Company delayed its construction.  Finally in November 1928 ground was broken.  The building was completed in September 1932 and officially dedicated in September 1933 as part of the Town’s 30th anniversary celebration.
 

The primary function of the Building’s recreational facilities was for the use of the Hershey Men’s Club.  The Men’s Club offered an extensive range of programs and activities for the boys and men of Hershey.  The facilities were very impressive.

Game Room: 180 feet long, contains four bowling alleys, a court for practicing driving golf ball or putting, three shuffleboard tables, four ping pong tables, five pocket billiard tables for men, one billiard table for boys, a table for curoque, and a section devoted to games for boys in addition to tables for cards, checkers, chess, etc.

Game Room, Community Building; ca. 1932-1942

Game Room, ca.1932-1942

On same floor is a swimming pool 75 feet long by 25 feet wide, 3 – 9 1/2  feet deep,  with three spring boards.  Separate showers for men and boys
 
Community Building Swimming Pool, ca. 1950-1960 
 
 
Gymnasium:  (80 x 44 feet with 35 foot ceiling) for class work, volley ball, basketball, softball, badminton and special exercising rooms as well as two courts for four-wall hand ball, also can be used as squash courts.
 
 
Men's Club Junior Division, Community Building Gymnasium, ca.1935

Men's Club Junior Division, Community Building Gymnasium, ca.1935

The Archives oral history collections contain many memories of the Community Building and how important it was to the residents, particularly the children.  Many men shared memories of their childhoods spending afternoons and evenings at the Community Building:
 

Frank Simione (93OH02):

In the early years, from starting at my eighth birthday, we belonged to the Hershey Community Building, which at that time was called Community Club for us, where they had the Hershey hospital on the sixth floor, later became the Hershey Junior College. At eight years old, we belonged to this Community Building, where we learned all the athletic sports, all types of games. I think it was three dollars for six months, and you started as a cadet and went up to a junior, and then you went into intermediate, then you went into a senior program.

Spending all that time and all those years there, I learned many athletic games and as much as all the small games that you would play, like checkers and dominos and pool and ping-pong and bowling. We were fortunate to have this facility. At the time, we didn’t know any better, but as we grew, and later on in life, we found that that was a beautiful place for kids to go.

To learn more about the Archives’ oral history collections use this link to visit the Archives online collections database.

 

New machinery for the factory installed

 
Hershey Press, 1909 original masthead
Hershey Press, 1909 original masthead

 

 

 

 

The Hershey Press issue dated September 17, 1909 carried a variety of articles about the community and Chocolate factory as well as printing ads from Hershey owned and independent businesses.

One of my favorite columns was titled: Hershey Briefs: Items About You, Your Neighbors and Things in General.  Illnesses, individual’s trips to Harrisburg and Lancaster, comments about people who dropped in to visit the Press office, parties, practical jokes, bowling competitions and related events were appropriate for this column.  It reminds me of today’s Facebook postings:  the information in the column varied in significance and interest.

The Hershey Press is also a great resource for documenting the growth and development of the community.  On the front page of this issue, the Press carried an article about the installation of a new pastor at Derry Presbyterian Church, one about the contents of a large freight train delivering materials to Hershey and an article noting the completion of a new addition to the Hershey Chocolate Factory for the Longitudinal department.  I found the article 9-17-1909-longitudinal-machines

 

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 particularly helpful because this short article helped the Archives date this photograph of the new department:

 

Hershey Chocolate Factory, Longitudinal department, ca.1909

Hershey Chocolate Factory, Longitudinal department, ca.1909

 
The article and photograph also bring  to life architectural plans in the Archives collections for a new addition to the factory on a 1909 insurance map.  The plan {87FP01.1} notes that the new building held “about 30 Grinders for finishing chocolate”  operated by “220 volt motors.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

It’s back to school…

Hershey Estates vice president James E. Bobb leads a group of children at Hershey Elementary School dedication ceremonies, November 15, 1956.

Hershey Estates vice president James E. Bobb leads a group of children at Hershey Elementary School dedication ceremonies, November 15, 1956.

Milton Hershey’s interest in and commitment to providing the town with quality public education led him to underwrite the cost of all the community’s public school buildings constructed in Hershey during his lifetime.  Continuing that tradition, in 1954 The M.S. Hershey Foundation presented the Derry Township School District with a new elementary school.  The new building initially served students in Kindergarten thru Grade 3.  In 1956, a 15 room addition was completed allowing the school to bring fourth and fifth grade students into the new building.  In addition to classrooms, the elementary school contained a cafeteria, all-purpose room, music rooms, speech corrections office, health room, and administrative offices.   In 1956 there were 1,104 students in the elementary school.  Dedication ceremonies and a community wide open house were held on November 15, 1956.  More than 2000 people toured the new school building. The elementary school would be the last public school building totally funded by the Hershey Entities.

To learn more about the history of public education in Hershey check the history of education exhibit on the Archives’ website.

Seeking thrills? Hershey Park’s first roller coaster

 

 

Entrance to Wild Cat rollercoaster, Hershey Park.  ca1930-1940
Entrance to Wild Cat rollercoaster, Hershey Park. ca1930-1940

Hershey celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1923, and Milton Hershey’s present to the town was a new roller coaster for Hershey Park.  Named the Wild Cat, it was nearly a mile in length and it had “more dips and deeper dips than any of like construction in America.”  It was put into operation on June 16, 1923.  On its first day of operation no ladies were allowed to ride until the afternoon.  Marion Murrie, daughter of Hershey Chocolate Company president, William F. R. Murrie, was the first female to ride the coaster.  Kids were given free rides in the morning to break the ride in.  The new roller coaster was briefly known as “The Joy Ride,” but that name was soon abandoned and the more exciting name, “Wild Cat” was adopted.

Wild Cat rollercoaster, Hershey Park.  View from first hill.  ca1923-1930

Wild Cat rollercoaster, Hershey Park. View from first hill. ca1923-1930

WIld Cat rollercoaster, Hershey Park. Returning to the station. ca1923-1930

WIld Cat rollercoaster, Hershey Park. Returning to the station. ca1923-1930

Wild Cat rollercoaster, Hershey Park, ca1923-1930.
Wild Cat rollercoaster, Hershey Park, ca1923-1930.

 

 The Wild Cat was designed by the great coaster designer Herbert P. Schmeck and built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) under his supervision.   (Schmeck also designed Hershey Park’s first water flume ride, The Mill Chute).  A note in the records of the PTC indicated the “length of Hershey Coaster – 2,321 feet – measured by Schmeck 8/6/23.”  PTC ran the Wild Cat as a concession for a number of years.  The Wild Cat was 76 feet high and crossed Spring Creek on a specially designed wooden bridge. The Wildcat was advertised in the Hershey Press as costing $50,000.  The Wild Cat lasted from 1923 until 1946.  In 1935 it was redesigned by Schmeck.  Its dips were made higher and the curves were more steeply banked.  Construction was supervised by Frank F. Hoover. 

  In 1946 the Wild Cat roller coaster was replaced with the Comet.