Friday, November 29, 2013

ERT: Hershey, Pennsylvania

The VERY best part of the ERT was that Marion and I honestly did NOT have a master plan. On Day Two -- we arrived at Syracuse, picked up Marion's car -- and headed down the road. We had no idea where we'd spend the night.

The theme for this trip was:  WE CAN DO WHATEVER WE WANT....and WE MIGHT NEVER BE IN THIS PLACE AGAIN....

A flight delay, combined with rainy weather and a short winter day -- meant we only got as far as Hershey, Pennsylvania. I told Marion about the Milton Hershey School for Boys. 30 years ago, I lived next door to a young man who was a student there. When he graduated from the Milton Hershey School -- they paid his tuition to the college of his choice.

Milton Hershey and his wife Catherine never had children of their own.  At the turn of the century they started a residential school for local orphan boys.  Marion had never heard of the school -- so, of course, in the spirit of the ERT -- she said -- "let's go see it!"

The original Hersey homestead. Milton was not an overnight success.  He went bankrupt many times before he figured out the KEY TO MAKING MILK CHOCOLATE....

The medallion in the center of Founders Hall....honoring Catherine and Milton Hershey, who founded the school in 1909.
Originally for local, white orphan boys -- now 1800+ boys and girls from all over the world live here and attend school.
When we pulled into the parking lot --  we saw this trolley parked outside of Chocolate World!
AND -- YES -- even though it is off-season -- THERE IS A TOUR. You know how much we love an interesting slice of history.  AND a man in uniform -- who keeps handing out chocolate!
The outside of Founders Hall...
On the steps, leading up to Founders Hall.
The view from the inside -- looking up. The flags represent the various countries of students.  The only qualifying factor today is the student must show economic need...
The floor is inlaid with marble art -- showing scenes about the school.  For decades, the students were required to take care of a dairy herd. The milk was an important part of manufacturing the chocolate.
More of the marble inlay.
When students were drafted, they wrote"Milton Hershey" in the place asking for their father's name. During WW II, Mr. Hershey received 37 letters telling him a boy was killed...
It was a STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL Fall day in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Milton Hershey was even more remarkable when you consider the times he lived in. When he started making chocolate -- wealthy men were building empires on the backs of their workers. During the industrial age -- coal miners were forced to live in company houses, get paid with company script, and buy their groceries and pay the inflated prices at the company store. Child labor was the order of the day in the coal mines and the textile factories of Pennsylvania.

But Milton Hershey marched to a different drummer. He built sturdy modest homes (many from Sears and Roebuck) for his workers  -- and charged them only the cost of the construction. He extended attractive mortgage terms.  The employee owned the home, and they were free to sell at any time for the increased market value. THAT's how you build a beautiful, productive town, people..
The street lamps are chocolate kisses!!
The campus of the school is HUGE, beautiful -- modern and amazing.....
Tomorrow -- there will be ONE MORE blog about Hershey, Pennsylvania. A little known fact that was a shock to me....

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