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Hidden collections: Hershey Senior Citizens Writing Project

Did you know that the Hershey Community Archives includes records of local businesses and organizations? In addition to caring for the corporate records of Milton Hershey’s businesses, we also seek to preserve the history of the Hershey community and actively collect the records of organizations such as the Hershey Rotary Club, the Volunteer Fire Company, People Mover, Hershey Figure Skating Club, and receive donations from individuals. While these collections are much smaller than our corporate collections, these private collections hold treasures and help us to understand our community’s history.

 

Hershey’s Mohler Center was originally organized in 1983 as the Senior Citizens’ Center of Derry Township. In 1989, the Center sponsored a reminiscence writing competition. The competition was held again in 1991. The essays were donated to the Archives in 1993.

 

These essays, written by more than 50 individuals, contain wonderful personal stories about growing in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. While many of the contributors grew up in the Hershey area, there are also  stories of childhoods spent elsewhere in the United States, a reminder that we became a much more mobile population following World War II.

 

These essays offer a unique perspective on local and national events, public school, recreation, and home life.

 

Hershey Junior-Senior High School auditorium, Hershey Industrial School (today Milton Hershey School). ca1934

Hershey Junior-Senior High School auditorium, Hershey Industrial School (today Milton Hershey School). ca1934

 

There are several essays centered on memories of World War II. One essayist (a Milton Hershey School graduate) wrote:

 

All the students in grades 6 to 12 gathered in the High School auditorium at noon to hear President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s declaration of war. It was quite a somber time. Principal W. Allen Hammond, normally very talkative, was subdues in his remarks after FDR’s message was finished. He alluded to the fact that, unfortunately, there would be graduates – past and upcoming – who would be killed in action. Mr. Hammond was very prophetic; 37 Homeboys paid the supreme price.

 

Other essays spoke to businesses that no longer exist, providing a window to the past:

 

The Bradley Quarries not only quarried their limestones but crushed and baked some for lime. The kilns were on the hill between Old West Chocolate Avenue and [the] Philadelphia & Reading train tack and the main or first quarry. There were three kilns sheltered from the weather on three sides. At night one could see the bright glare in the darkness.

 

These essays are a great resource for people seeking to understand what life was like in Hershey for those growing up in Hershey. While the Archives holds photographs from these years, the essays help us understand what was happening inside those buildings.

 

Hershey's Y.W.C.A. was located across from the railroad station. 1913

Hershey’s Y.W.C.A. was located across from the railroad station. 1913

 

 

For example, we know that Hershey’s YWCA was located across from the Hershey railroad station (currently the ZooAmerica parking lot). But what went on inside the building? From an essay titled, “Return to Hockersville Road and More,” we learn:

 

In the middle of the [19]20s I was a Girl Reserve, a YWCA girl group similar to the Girl Scouts, that year at the YW. The second and third floors had rooms and a recreational room (or beauty parlor) for unmarried working women. The northeast end of the building was the gym and in back of the gym was the kitchen.

 And in the [19]30s when it was remodeled for an apartment house, my family and I lived in an apartment on the first floor.

 

Even if you didn’t grow up in Hershey, the town’s amenities attracted visitors from all around. If you lived close by, visiting Hershey could be a regular summertime activity. For a boy growing up in Palmyra, visiting Hershey Park was a popular pastime.

 

Entrance to Hershey Park, ca.1920-1930

Entrance to Hershey Park, ca.1920-1930

 

In an essay titled simply, “Childhood Memories,” the author reminisced about the park:

 

Those were the days when, if I earned the money myself, I was permitted 25 cents to spend at Hershey Park. A 5 cent trolley ride to and a 5 cent trolley ride from the park to Palmyra, left me with 15 cents to spend at the park. What gigantic decisions! Shall I squander my 15 cents on amusement rides?  . . . Souvenirs? . . .Popcorn? . . .a Pony Ride? . . .an Eskimo Pie? After I grew slightly wiser – and older – I WALKED from Palmyra to Hershey and back, thereby allowing myself the ENTIRE quarter (a small fortune, then) to spend in the Park.

 

Learn more about this collection, the Hershey Senior Citizens Writing Project, and many more by visiting the Archives’ website. Hershey Community Archives is open to researchers Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and on the first Saturday of every month, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Serving Our Country: Hotel Hershey During World War II

 While many  are familiar with Hershey Chocolate Corporation’s contributions to the war effort manufacturing millions of Ration ‘D’ survival ration bars, Hershey also played an important, though little known, service to our country during the war. During the war years, Hotel Hershey served as an internment camp for the Vichy French diplomatic corps stationed in the United States.  

 

Germany invaded and defeated France in the spring of 1940.  A large portion of southwestern France was left unoccupied by the conquering army.  A new French government,  sympathetic to the Nazi regime, was established in the town of Vichy. As part of political protocol, the Vichy government sent Gaston Henri Haye to Washington, D.C. to serve as the French ambassador to the United States.

 

News of the Vichy French ambassador and his staff's arrest appeared in newspapers across the country. Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, 11/?/1942

News of the Vichy French ambassador and his staff's arrest appeared in newspapers across the country. Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, 11/?/1942

By late 1942, the United States had lost patience with the pro Hitler French government.  In September 1942 the State Department discovered that the French Embassy in Washington D.C. had sent a letter to the Vichy Government concerning United States war production.  On November 7 the United States launched its invasion of French North Africa, “Operation Torch.”  On November 11, the Germans, fearing they would be outflanked in the south and not trusting Vichy, occupied the remaining portion of France.  The United States still had relations with Vichy, and now American diplomatic personnel were behind German enemy lines.  The American diplomats were moved an internment camp at Lourdes.

 

Hotel Hershey and grounds.  ca.1935-1940

Hotel Hershey and grounds. ca.1935-1940

 

The State Department responded by deciding the Henry Haye and his staff would soon leave the French embassy in Washington.  They began looking for a place to put them.  Newspapers across the country published stories of the arrest of the pro-Nazi ambassador and his staff.  Page 17 of the November 14, 1942 New York Times featured a large aerial photograph of the Hotel Hershey.  “Where French Diplomats Will Be Housed” read the caption.
 

The NYTimes article continued, “Negotiations are under way here between the Federal Government and the Hershey Estates over the housing of 300 representatives of the Vichy government  at the hotel Hershey.  Discussions have been going on since Wednesday, but no arrangements had been completed,” the paper noted.  The State Department planned to place the Vichy Government staff in custody until arrangements could be made for their repatriation and subsequent exchange for the American diplomats being detained by France.

 

 

Joseph Gassler, General Manager of the Hotel Hershey, 1933-1959

Joseph Gassler, General Manager of the Hotel Hershey, 1933-1959

 

 

While the New York Times believed that arrangements were still being made, in reality, Joseph Gassler, General Manager for the Hotel, had already sent a letter to Cordell Hull, Secretary of State on November 12, 1942, offering the Hotel’s services.

I have the honor to advise you that Hotel Hershey has placed its facilities at your service…I shall be very happy to have these people as our guests and assure you, my dear Secretary, that we will do our utmost, in every respect, to give the high standard of service which the famous Hotel Hershey knows how to give.

Mr. Gassler’s letter also included details about the specific conditions of the arrangements.  Tariff for adults was set at $7.50/day per person, children (0-12 years old) $4.00 per person, and guards, $4.00 per person.  Incidental expenses incurred were to be billed to the State Department at cost, and gratuities were also to be paid by State Department funding.

 

The Hotel was chosen to sequester the Vichy French government representatives for several reasons.  Hershey Estates was cooperative, the quality of accommodations was quite high and the possibly most importantly, the Hotel was in a secluded and defensible location.

 

Want to learn more?  Visit the Archives website to learn more about Hershey’s contributions to the United States war effort.

Working in Hershey, part 3

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

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

Derry Township School District, Granada Avenue school complex. Hershey Junior-Senior High School in foreground. 1925

Serving the Country: Hershey Chocolate’s contributions to WWII

Army-Navy 'E' Award Ceremony; l-r: Sam Hinkle, Major-General EDmnd B. Gregory, Milton Hershey, J.J. Gallagher, William Murrie and Ezra Hershey.  8/27/1942

Army-Navy 'E' Award Ceremony; l-r: Sam Hinkle, Major-General EDmnd B. Gregory, Milton Hershey, J.J. Gallagher, William Murrie and Ezra Hershey. 8/27/1942

Hershey Chocolate products played a critical role supplying the military during World War II. Before the war Hershey Chocolate Corporation had worked with the United States Army Quartermaster Corps to develop the formula for a survival ration bar, labeled the Ration ‘D’ bar. After the United States entered the war, Hershey Chocolate Corporation produced millions of the ration bars for the military.

In recognition of its outstanding efforts, Hershey Chocolate Corporation received the Army-Navy ‘E’ Production Award at a special ceremony held August 22, 1942. Quartermaster General, Major General Gregory, came to Hershey to present the corporation and Milton Hershey with the award of achievement. At the Award ceremony, Major General Edmond B.Gregory noted the company’s achievements stating, “The men and women of Hershey Chocolate Corporation have every reason to be proud of their great work in backing up our soldiers on the fighting fronts.”

Samuel Hinkle, then Hershey Chocolate chief chemist, remembered that Mr. Hershey was overjoyed at the accomplishment itself and at the fine relationship it betokened between management and employees. In the pictures of that event which have been preserved, it is easy to see the pleasure which he carries on his face.

The Corporation received a flag to fly above the chocolate plant and a lapel pin for every employee.By the end of the war in 1945 Hershey Chocolate Corporation would receive a total of five Army-Navy ‘E’ awards.

In addition to the Ration ‘D’ bar, Hershey products were part of seven ration packs. Hershey Chocolate also developed a confectionery product, the Tropical bar, that didn’t melt in high temperatures and therefore could be sent to tropical areas of the world. In 1944 Hershey produced a pamphlet outlining the many ways and many products in use by the military.

Hershey Chocolate Corporation pamphlet, ""Hershey's Products at War;"  inside fold.  1944

Hershey Chocolate Corporation pamphlet, ""Hershey's Products at War;" inside fold. 1944

 

Hershey Chocolate Corporation pamphlet, ""Hershey's Products at War;"  inside view.  1944

Hershey Chocolate Corporation pamphlet, ""Hershey's Products at War;" inside view. 1944

The following text comes from that pamphlet:

Hershey’s Products at War

U.S. ARMY FIELD RATION D-is a highly concentrated food intended for emergency use only. One ration consists of three chocolate bars for carrying in the soldiers’ pockets. Hershey was the first to product this ration. A similar product is supplied to the Marine Corps.U.S. ARMY FIELD RATION K-provides balanced meals in individual packaged and contains a chocolate bar as the dessert component.
10 IN 1 RATION-supplied sufficient food for ten soldiers and withstands all climatic conditions. Chocolate bars of the Ration D type are included.
HERSHEY’S TROPICAL CHOCOLATE-is a new creation in bar form, designed to withstand the effects of extreme heat. High in food energy value, this item is being produced in response to the requests of our boys for the kind of chocolate they knew at home. Our entire output is scheduled for shipment overseas through the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Red Cross.
U.S. ARMY FIELD RATION C-is packed in a tin can. One item of the contents is Cocoa Beverage Powder, a great favorite with out fighting forces.
AIRCRAFT SNACK RATION-provides extra energy on long flying missions. Chocolate was an obvious choice among the items under consideration.

U.S. NAVY LIFE RAFT EMERGENCY RATION-was developed to sustain life in case of shipwreck. The Ration D type of chocolate, with its high powered food energy value, is well adapted for this vital use.

EMERGENCY ACCESSORY KIT-is prepared for front line use. Among other items, chocolate bars are packed in each kit.

PRISONER OF WAR PACKAGE-a gift of the American Red Cross, is regularly supplied to those of our fighting forces who have fallen into enemy hands. Special chocolate bars are included in this package.

HERSHEY’S BREAKFAST COCOA-is widely used by all branches of the service. Its popularity as a beverage is constantly increasing.

HERSHEY’S CHOCOLATE FLAVORED SYRUP-long a favorite in the Ships Service Stores of the Navy, is also supplied for Army and Navy messes and Post Exchanges.

HERSHEY’S MILK CHOCOLATE, ALMOND MILK CHOCOLATE AND BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE BARS-familiar to everyone in time of peace, are in even greater demand in wartime.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

Army-Navy ‘E’ Award

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Hershey played a significant role on the home front supporting the war effort during World War II. In recognition of its outstanding efforts, Hershey Chocolate Corporation received the Army-Navy ‘E’ Production Award at a special ceremony held August 22, 1942. At the Award ceremony, Major General Edmond B.Gregory noted the company’s achievements stating, “The men and women of Hershey Chocolate Corporation have every reason to be proud of their great work in backing up our soldiers on the fighting fronts.” The Corporation received a flag to fly above the chocolate plant and a lapel pin for every employee. By the end of the war in 1945 Hershey Chocolate Corporation would receive a total of five Army-Navy ‘E’ awards.

 

The award was presented for exceeding all production expectations in the manufacturing of an Emergency Field Ration, better known as the Ration ‘D’ bar. It was an honor not easily won nor lightly bestowed. The wartime honor recognized businesses that consistently met high standards of quality and quantity in light of available resources.

 

In addition to providing large quantities of Hershey’s familiar products for the military, the Corporation produced additional items for the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, including products for the Emergency Accessory Packet, 10-in-1 Ration, Field Ration ‘K,’ Field Ration ‘C,’ Life Boat Ration, Air Craft Ration and Prisoner of War package, as well as the Field Ration ‘D’ and Hershey’s Tropical Bar, a confectionery product designed to not melt.