This is a story that winds through Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and then wanders through Hershey, Pa. Then, it ends with fortunately not boarding the Titanic after purchasing a ticket. How is that for wandering?
First, I went to Williamsport on Sunday, to speak at a 60th Anniversary celebration of a church that my grandfather started. You can see that the platform is on high alert because of some of my unpredictable stories down memory lane. But, it was a treat for me to remember my grandfather and grandmother.
And since Williamsport is close to Hershey, (unless you measure in candy bar units), on to Hershey and why I have mentioned the Titanic.
This is a check (taken with my cell phone) that Hershey wrote, to put down a deposit for a state room for boarding on the Titanic that launched on April 10, 1912, with 2000 passengers. This $300 deposit wrote in December 1911, is worth approximately $7281 today.
Hershey had founded his Chocolate Company in 1894 and had just begun to mass-produce chocolates and distribute them in 1907. So, around the time that he wrote this deposit, he was just really gearing up the business. For instance, during World War II, the Hershey company provided Ration D Bars and Tropical Chocolate Bars to all the troops through the entire war.
It wasn’t until after 1918 when Hershey transferred all his assets to a trust; that such things as the town, entertainment complex, the Milton Hershey School, and the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center came into existence. (Milton S. Hershey Wikipedia)
I took this picture of the check while touring the Hershey Archives because one of the workers pointed it out, and then explained that Hershey and his wife were to have been on that fateful ship, but had to cancel at the last moment because of work duties that called him back home. He and his wife left on an earlier ship.
Obviously, Hershey came to that fork in the road…. and made the right choice. The Hershey company doesn’t necessarily credit the hand of God or Providence, but they do quickly mention “What if?” Hershey had been on that ship. We may not have Hershey bars today!
As a side note, history records that there were six other prominent people who missed that fateful ride, who had been booked on the Titanic. (listed here) These other six included J. Pierpont Morgan and Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt.
And then I conclude this with: it’s good to go away… but it’s always good to come home!