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Working in Hershey, Part 2

Hershey Chocolate Factory, packing Kisses chocolates by hand, March 1937
Hershey Chocolate Factory, packing Kisses chocolates by hand, March 1937

Finding work in Hershey was a simple matter during Milton Hershey’s lifetime. Hershey established a central employment bureau in 1915. From its inception until his retirement in 1962, it was managed by one man, John R. Zoll. This centralized system enabled Hershey to easily relocate employees from one division to another as needed. John Zoll was well known by all those seeking employment in Hershey. Mary Bonawitz, who was employed by the Hershey Chocolate Factory in 1934, remembered how she first got work in Hershey:

I was eighteen years of age and wanted to get out in the world, earn some money for myself, so I chose Hershey Chocolate Factory, and I never was sorry. Those times you didn’t go into the office. You stood outside the employment office and Mr. [John] Zoll would come out and he would pick you and would say, “You come in here.” And look over the crowd and, “You come in here.” That’s the way you got the job. Sometimes people stood outside for a week or more until they were picked. So I happened to be picked August 13th, and I worked there for thirty-two years.

Sometimes people didn’t really know or care where they worked, they simply wanted a job. George Booth attended Hershey Industrial School 1925-1937. After graduation he initially got a job in Lititz, PA, a town about 25 miles east of Hershey but the business soon went bankrupt. Unable to find work, he returned to Hershey in 1938 with hopes of finding something.

Booth: So I came down to Hershey and thought, “Well, the park’s open. Maybe I can get a summer job.” I came down, went down to the–as a matter of fact, I still have my application on the wall in the den, June 13, 1938. I applied for a job, not knowing where I was going to go. John Zoll was the employment manager at that time. He sent me up to Hershey Lumber Products to a B.S. Cornell. He hired me, as a clerk in the office–time cards, posting machine. They were doing a lot of construction at that time, Hershey was. Anyway, we finished. The summer came to an end, construction slowed down. October, November. Then I was sent down to the bank building.

Question: Who sent you there?

Booth: I think Cornell told me they want me down there, and I was to report to Harry Spangler. I remember reporting to Harry Spangler. Harry Spangler was the comptroller at the time. He interviewed me and put me to work the same day. Our offices for Hershey Estates were on the second floor of the bank. So I became a clerk, bookkeeper, that sort of thing.

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