CLID: Early Interpretations

           The headline in the CHURCHMAN of Dec. 15, 1923, said ‘PREACHES SOCIAL JUSTICE ON THE RADIO.”  The lead paragraph was:

            ‘Cincinnati, Ohio–The Rev. William B. Spofford, Field Secretary of the Church League for Industrial Democracy, recently visited this city to make an investigation of the Nash Tailoring Company.  While here he broadcasted the following radio talk…and word was received that his listeners extended as far west as Spokane, Washington.

            “The Church League for Industrial Democracy is an association of Christian people who believe that the teaching of Jesus should be applied to every phase of life –to international affairs, to social affairs and to industrial affairs no less than to the problems we all face as individuals.

            “Further, we believe that only in the teachings of Jesus can we find the solution for the vexing problems that confront us today.  The Churches teach the Fatherhood of God, a doctrine which presupposes a belief in the brotherhood of man.  ‘We are members one of another’ is the way St. Paul expressed it.  Yet the fact of the matter is that the world, after nineteen hundred years of this teaching, is divided into warring factions today–employer against employee, race against race, nation against nation, Creed against Creed.

            “The Church League for Industrial Democracy is of the opinion that Jesus,  with His principle of cooperation, has the solution for these evils.  The Church to which I belong–the Episcopal Church–says in official ;pronouncements that we must have a fundamental change in in th3e working of our social and industrial life, and that the purpose of industrial life must be service to mankind rather than profits to owners.  That, I take it, is sound Christianity, based on the spoken word of Jesus. “We are members one of another”–and we must build a new world in which that ideal will be realized–a world, not in which the jungle Continue reading “CLID: Early Interpretations”

Southern Textile Situation From the Standpoint of an Outside Observer

(From CHURCH AND SOCIETY, The Dept. of Social Relations Congregational Educational Society, 14 Beacon Street, Boston.  December 1929.  Other comments were by the Rev. W. A. Newell, Methodist pastor from Gastonia, N.C., Roger Baldwin, executive of A.C.L.U.; Eli Keller, Sec’y., National Textile Workers;  Thomas McMahon, President, National Textile Workers, and  unidentified employer’s viewpoint.  A section named WHAT CAN BE DONE has reports by Norman Thomas of the Emergency Strike Committee;  A.J. Muste of the Brookwood Labor College and James Myers of the Federal Council of Churches.  It seems that, over-all, James Myers was coordinating much of the Church’s response to the textile situation.  At end of the report, there was a call for emergency relief funds for the hurting strikers; a plea for readers to write their senators to support Sen. Burton Wheeler’s (D. Mt.) resolution asking for a thorough inquiry into southern textile conditions and, finally, a 20-book bibliography.  It appears that these are a summary of the testimony which the persons named gave to the U.S. Senate Committee. –Bill Jr.)

 

Bill Sr.:

       I was in North Carolina hardly more than a week.  I was in Marion just prior to the shooting.  We were able in the short time to gather a few facts throwing light on this particular situation. I also want to say something about the church situation as I see it.

            The conditions in Marion, according to the manufacturers with whom we talked, are about as follows:  The houses that they gave the people were good.  These manufacturers did not want to talk much about wages and hours.  Mr. R.W. Baldwin of the Marion Manufacturing Company said that the whole trouble was due to outside agitation.  he could not say bad enough things about outside agitation.  ‘We give people houses to live in, we pay an average wage of $14 a week.  No one works longer than 50 hours a week, at least with the company’s knowledge.

            The situation was described quite differently by the workers themselves.  They said that they went to work early in the morning, they worked until six and often at night.  The Continue reading “Southern Textile Situation From the Standpoint of an Outside Observer”

Booze, Sex, Roaring ’20s and Conflict

Bill Jr.:

As an editor, Dad said that a ‘perfect’ story had sex, money and mystery. I doubt, however, that he ever expected that his most conflictual journalistic experience would surface, not in the labor disputes or over issues of war and peace, but because a graduate student submitted a long article that ran in two parts.

At the time the student was at the divinity school in Middletown, Conn., and one of the original ‘Berkeley Four.’   Horace Fort, Dean Billy Ladd’s administrative assistant, thought they said some things that should be printed.

They were, and hell opened up its portals. How often has a small denominational magazine had one-and-half headlines on all Chicago papers? Just this once! And for a month of feeding frenzy. When did the Literary Digest ever give two full pages to the revelatory attacks about lax morals on college campuses, specifically the University of Illinois, where the great Alonzo Stagg was coach-supreme? Just once.

In his article, the student, who was the son of a Methodist minister, asserted that it was unquestionably a fact that immorality is increasing on the university campus. That increase began, he said, with the coming of the co-ed. “Drinking is now a minor vice for dating, a comprehensive diversion which includes dancing, drinking and petting.   I know of as train-load of sleeping-coaches bound to an inter-university football game last fall, in which collegians of both sexes, most of whom were quite drunk, staged a pajama dance in the aisles between sleeper berths. Inevitably many of the men shared berths with co-eds. Nor was that outbreak the self-expression of a few daring souls, but a general condition pervading three long trains of sleepers. That affair was exceptional because it presented an exceptional opportunity to develop an ordinary tendency to license.’  Etc. etc. etc.

‘CLASH OVER ATTACK ON CO-EDS, (Chicago American)

‘ ILLINOIS DEAN DARES HIM PROVE CHARGES (Herald Examiner, p.l)

‘ASSAILS COED MORALS IN NEW CHARGES’ (Chicago Daily News, p. l)

‘EVE BLAMED AGAIN FOR EVIL IN EDEN’ (Literary Digest: Religion and Social Service feature)

Dad had to train out from his New York office and defend the publication of the articles. In doing so, he asserted that the ‘teaching of the newer psychology of behaviorism’ is breaking down moral standards. He recites that professors, students, pastors and matrons have told him tales of moral laxity, and that ‘the facts are to be had if they are sought diligently.’ 1

But not only the secular press. THE CHURCHMAN weighed in with a cute editorial:  “It is no longer necessary for certain types of people to read SNAPPY STORIES or Bernarr McFadden’s GRAPHIC, or to seek out Billy Sunday and his sermon on dancing. Instead one may read THE WITNESS.”

A gallery of pictures was spread across page 2 of the Chicago evening AMERICAN. In order is Dad, called “W. D. Spofford,” with a wispy moustache and an editorial coat and pencil in hand, saying:  “Conditions in colleges today are no different than they were fifteen years ago…and then they were rotten. He is no mud slinger, guard jumper or tale teller. His article is correct.”

Next comes Bp. I.P.J., called REV. JOHNSON, saying:  ‘Today’s standards are materialistic…spiritual wellbeing has deteriorated.”

Next a picture of the young student saying: ‘I can prove any of my statements. I did not name any university. Why did Illinois take the facts to heart?’

Then a smart photo of a woman, who is called Mr. (sic) J.L. Cochran Jr who is quoted: ‘The modern girl is extremely conservative. They may smoke a little and drink a little, but they know when to stop’.

And on to Bp. Anderson of Chicago, who had put Dad in St. George’s, ducking the fire this way:  “THE WITNESS is not an official publication. I have nothing whatever to do with it. It is a church publication.”

And, finally, a profile of well-coiffed Ellen M’Cracken, coed, stating: “The co-eds are blamed for the acts of outside girls brought into campus activities. These girls give a bad impression.”

The rector of the prestigious St. Luke’s Church in Evanston, and soon-to-be bishop of Chicago, George Craig Stewart sent a letter dated Sept. 14, 1926 and challenging the student on his facts. The concluding paragraphs say:

‘I am as keen as anyone for a high standard of morals among our college men and women and I am myself a total abstainer but i object to the stein, the toast and the drinking song of an elder time being dubbed immoral; only a sour Puritan conscience would. There was petting at college in my days, — then it was called spooning, — but it was not necessarily immoral, nor is bobbed hair today, nor short skirts, nor dancing to the syncopated strains of jazz immoral.

‘This young man has grossly maligned our undergraduates and particularly the co-eds. In every college there are bound to be young beasts — male and female — but they are far and away the exception, not the rule.

‘The churches as never before are providing pastoral oversight for communicants in college communities. There is still much to be done in realizing a really Christian standards of conduct among college men and women, but that is just as true of society outside of college walls.

‘To make such a wild and at times incoherent attack upon the moral conditions in our American colleges and universities as he has made and then unchivalrously to slur the Co-eds as a lot of drunken hussies, is indefensible and I hope that the authorities of the University of Illinois will make this son of a great institution prove his wild words or eat them with the bitter but salutary sauce of an out-and-out apology.”

N.Y., Milwaukee, Cleveland and ‘outer spaces’ picked up the stories and Dad went out to quell flash fires! For a guy who admitted that his Trinity days were mostly fun, girls and drinking, his comments in defense of the student and the articles appear absurd. But an editor protects his sources and writers.

In a letter on WITNESS letterhead featuring the names of 33 bishops and an equivalent number of deans, cardinal rectors and ecclesial academics and a few lay folk, he wrote (Sept. 19, 1926) to Dot:

“I have had a terrible time here in Chicago these last few days. Last night was the first night of sleep that I have had. Thursday night it was 2:30 before I could get to bed because of reporters. They were after statements, and were also trying to get him to write more. They went so far as to offer him $500 for three short ones but he turned them down, wisely I am sure. But they sure did hound him, and this office has been full of reporters for three days. But it is over now as far as the dailies are concerned, though I suppose the Literary Digest and other weekly papers will take it up. We came out of it all very well I think in spite of all the twisting and lies that the papers told. Of course had I known that all of this was to happen I would have never printed the articles. We have had dozens of letters, and all of them have praised the paper for coming out with stuff, except one from George Craig Stewart in which he said they were indefensible (he had to, for he is a trustee of Northwestern) and one from Page, chaplain at Illinois, which he wrote without seeing his articles, and which he wrote at the request of the president of the University. All of the others are for us 100% and I am sure that the paper is not going to suffer at all by the publicity it has received.”

The latter statement was right. The ‘World’s Greatest Weekly’ had taken on Goliath…including the Tribune (The World’s Greatest Newspaper’ by its own admission), and had a kind of victory. Subscriptions and, then, bundle plans, began to sell. I believe Dad, through the years, regretted that other more important crusades which he believed in much more deeply, could have done as well.

This was the Chicago of Al Capone and Red Grange; of Billy Wilder’s great movie, SOME LIKE IT HOT, which has train scenes reminiscent of the student’s accusation; and of Ben Hecht-Charles McArthur’s classic drama, THE FRONT PAGE.  Dad and THE WITNESS, in this case, fit right in.

It is significant that the Sioux City JOURNAL printed an article on Sept. 27, 1926, saying that, after a meeting of deans of the University of Chicago, there would be no more special trains to intercollegiate games. The article concludes that the student had gone to a divinity school in Middletown, Conn., ‘considerably subdued by the storm he had provided.’

With Dad admitting that he had received thousands of letters, the majority of them condemning the articles as slanderous and unsupported by facts, he stuck by his guns. The press release ends: ‘
‘Rev. Mr. Spofford insists the articles are borne out by facts and that the moral standard is breaking down in most of the big universities. He says men and women students do what the world considers wrong, what a Christian knows to be wrong, without having any sense of shame or remorse whatever. He attributes this largely to the teaching of ‘smart aleck’ professors.”

Rather weak, actually, because he never did believe that professors were ‘smart alecks,’ just irrelevant at times.

And, a partial answer to mystery: “The student” was later to be a professor of theology at the seminaries at Sewanee and Nashotah House, the Rev. Dr. Wilford O. Cross

As I write in 1993, how things have changed.  I was in D.C. during the Vietnam Spring of 1971 and, now in the spring of 1993, as the lesbiasn-gay communities are rallying on the mall. One era’s flagrant sins appear to become another era’s custom or peccadillos or cause for mounting the barricades! It may not be hard for the God of history to work with all of this but, on occasion, it is difficult for the Church to pilgrimage through it all.  But, then, we are a People of Pilgrimage above all else!

Critical Letter in re. Marion, N.C.

Undated and unsigned, the letter was from 206 Martin Street, Wadesboro, N.C.:

My dear Bishop Johnson:

You probably will not remember me, blut I am writing you nevertheless as I cannot keep still after reading the article written by Mr. Spofford in the last WITNESS. It has created intense feeling and stirred the righteous indignation of everyone. ‘Cotton Print and Steel Bullets’ is on the whole a most unjust and unwise article. I am not saying some conditions are not wrong and need rectifying, but neither was the World War right. Another such war may be in the offing. Certainly wise heads are trying to abolish any such tragedy in the future by getting at the source of trouble in an entirely different manner from that used by the Managing Editor of THE WITNESS. He is simply adding to the too-much hatred already prevelant everywhere by his tactics. In the first place, the opening statement of the article is not correct — that of bodies lying for burial in rough, unfinished pine lumber coffins. As pictures in all the newspapers testify to, the caskets were anything but as such mentioned. Then, why start in blaming mill-owners for mountain roads? Marion is a mountain town twenty miles from the home of Bishop Matthews in the mountains where you visited in September. In rainy weather his road, too, is very muddy. Perhaps Mr. Spofford has never been in the mountains before, and so isn’t aware of what mountain roads are like. 1 Then–the homes. He says ‘simple little four-roomed dwelling places, with an oil-stove and table in the kitchen’ Ridiculous to try to stir feeling over such a matter. If Mr. Spofford would get out of his pleasant city office 2 and stir about a little, praying and working amongst these mountain mill-workers, it would probably do some good. And, he’d find much to his amazement that these mill homes were palaces compared to the places many of these mill-workers come from. I know what I am talking about for I worked amongst the mountain folks for a number of years. And by that I mean I lived at times right in their midst for two or more weeks at a time when necessary. What they had was generally one room with huge openings in the walls to let in the blessed sunshine and cold, winterly draught. To protect mother and child from pneumonia I’d have to board over such places with newspapers. One fireplace, minus an oil stove (one would have been a Godsend!) in which they baked their potatoes in the ashes, and their cornbread on hot rocks in the fireplace. All the family and friends slept in one room – sometimes as many as ten in number. Mr. Spofford’s title and whole article leave the impression that all mills in the south are in ghastly conditions. Which too is all wrong. There are many southern gentlemen who are also Christian men, who are doing all they can for their community of mill-workers. Nice homes, which can be made most home-like and attractive if the inmates are not of the slovenly, drifting and no-account type. Schools in attractive locations, with buses hired and operated by the employers for the mill-workers and their children, with various recreations afforded. If wages are somewhat lower than in New York City or Chicago, Ill. so, also, are prices for food and clothing, rent, etc., lower in proportion in the south. Storekeepers can tell you that mill workers spend any amount of money on food. If some have ‘cabbage, fat meat and cornbread’, they do so because they prefer and consider it a combined dish of rare delicacy. Our food they would spurn. It is wasted energy to weep our eyes out about such a circumstance. The mill-workers in the South are as a whole in far better shape than those in all big cities. That i also know from experience.  Part of preparing myself for my mountain work was just such work in a large Ohio city.  For dirt, no sunlight and rachitic 3 children, nothing could equal the big city mill and slum districts. Like Mr. Spofford, I assure you I ‘restrain myself’ when I do not say more. So why scorn and rant so about these cottages in the South which are far superior to the city dweller. With four rooms, and oil stove, beds, sunshine and no rachitic or tubercular children, these folks have much to thank God for.

That some conditions need improving I don’t deny. And such improvements are going along steadily and surely. ‘Rome was not built in a day.’ And my honest conviction is that if a low-class of labor organizer (so low that their work is not sanctioned by recognized and accepted unions) had not come into the community and mingled with and stirred up these good, tho ignorant folk, these terrible tragedies would have been averted and conditions would be improving for the workers all the time. Concerning unsanitary conditions, it is against North Carolina laws for any such thing to exist. Health officers are being sent out constantly into city, country and rural districts to look into and correct any such state of affair, with a fine where such is not done when notified.  If Mr. Spofford found such a condition in Marion, a little wisdom on his part would have quietly sent officers there at once. North Carolina is much more progressive that he realizes. After the Civil War the South was left destitute and practically in starving condition. With dogged and quiet determination it started rebuilding from the ruins. Just lately has the South emerged from an agricultural to an industrial age. With all progression and development, mistakes are inevitable. We must all pray for the Grace of God and strive constantly to do our best while in the making.

It has occurred to me – is it possible – in all humility and meaning it from the very bottom of my hearts – is it possible that some of these troubles can be partly laid at the doors of the Ministers of Christ? Why do I ask this? Because for years, I have seen the home missionary field does not have the glamour of the foreign field. Workers who do volunteer often become readily discouraged at the shortcomings of the people at home and usually want to give up the work. Outsiders, too, are not as interested. And when you cannot meet and adapt yourself to meet these people at least half-way on their own ground – be willing to really and truly serve Christ by swallowing often times words as well as nauseating food. Not that one is too good for the food, but not being used to eating a large morsel of ‘fat back’, it is difficult to down it unless you truly do wish to serve the Master – and words such as ‘She’s paid to do it – let her do it”.  And you hear a minister of Christ get up in Church and tell a little mountain congregation “God does not want your stingy nickel, if you can’t bring more, don’t bring a nickel”. Then , I say, don’t you think the ministers and clergy and more educated layman are being held responsible in the sight of God along with some of the mill owners for the tragedy of six killings in the mountain town of Marion”.

Bill Jr. Alas, the letter was not signed. I don’t know the author’s gender, Obviously, Bp. I.P.J. turned it over to Dad and, since he kept it, he must have appreciated it and would see in it the oppressor’s standard justification: “blame history, blame outsiders, blame the victim and compared-to-others, we’re not so bad!’

The Paterson Silk Strike

Bill Sr.: From an original typed manuscript (possibly published at some time in a differently-edited format)

           

            The teaching function of the [Church League for Industrial Democracy] was but one aspect of its program.  It was pushed vigorously and we came in for a lot of criticism for it.  But people will stand a lot of talk just so long as you do nothing about it.  Developing the thesis of the House of Bishops about the need for a fundamental change in the economic system, before almost any group of church people would, inevitably, result in some kind lady inviting you to tea with ‘I do so want a number of my friends to meet you and hear what you have to say.’  Doing something about it was something else again and most of those in the League believed we should do more than talk.

            One of these was George Foster Peabody, a Wall Street broker of wealth who was a vestryman of Holy Trinity Church, Brooklyn, who exemplified the liberalism of this exceptional parish, which is maintained to this day (1955) under the inspirit lead of the Rev. J. Howard Melish and his son, William H. Melish.  At a meeting of the League held in the parish house of Grace Church, N.Y., on Oct. 9, 1924. Mr. Peabody offered the following Continue reading “The Paterson Silk Strike”

Men Called Samuel, Jesse and Sidney

Bill Sr.:  More Thoughts on Labor Relations from the 1920’s, From THE WITNESS, May 19, 1955

The shop chairman of the plant where I was labor manager was Samuel Smith. He started as an inexperienced worker but soon became a skilled pocket-maker, and it wass not long before he was singled out by the workers for the chairmanship. He had come to America from Russia, hounded across Siberia by the Czar’s police because of his revolutionary acitivity. He had a brother who was a merchant in Toronto so he went there to discover that the family had been converted from Judaism to Christianity. Sam therefore, a very inquiring man and a great reader, sat down to find out what Christianity was all about by reading through the Bible. The Prophets fed his revolutionary spirit but the Gospels converted him. ‘There I found Truth walking on this earth as a Man,’ is the way he described it to me. He was a whole-hogger about it, with the Sermon on the Mount something not only to believe but to live. If a man asked you to walk a mile, walk two. If he asked for your coat, give him your cloak also. If one smite you on the cheek, turn the other.

Came W.W. 1 and Smith, a religious pacifist, was soon disillusioned. These good Christian people, who had persudaded him to accept Christianity, were telling him, ‘But Sam, it isn’t necessary to carry your Christianity to such extremes. After all we are not expected to take the Sermon on the Mount literallyj.”

So he packed up and got out of there, entering Valpariso University in Indiana. He soon got into trouble there because of his views on war. One night a group of students threw him into a pond so he packed off to Chicago. There he got mixed up in a strike at the Florsheim Shoe plant so that the police were after him. Someone told him he ought to see the Amalgamated crowd. They sent him, as a green worker, to the Kuppenheimer plant, thus hiding him from the police.

We soon discovered our mutual interests and concerns; loaned each other books which we frequently discussed as we lunched together in the shop restaurant or in my office. On occasions other workers would join us and, less frequently, the manager of the plant or some of his assistants. Jesse Nitka, at that time on the staff of the labor department, and later an executive of the production department who is today the general manager of the company, was a real participant in these discussions. Even the general manager of those days, if he happened to come to the shop at the lunch hour, often sat in and I recall vividly the day he burst out: ‘I wish I knew what you men were talking about. Why don’t one of you give me a book to readl.” Smith, therefore, loaned him a copy of one of the books of Bertrand Russell. He brought it back in a few days: ‘I tried. I read the first few pages over and over, but I can’t understand a damned word of it.” But he continued top sit in on the discussions whenever he was not too busy whipping up production.

He had risen to the top the hard way from office boy and had a simple way of increasing production. He’d buttonhole the top foreman and bawl him out. Never any managing technique a bout it– why not do this –why not do that? Just a tongue lashing. And he was always careful, I observed, to soften the blow at the end by asking the foreman how the fish were biting; what movies he has seen lately; or have you heard this one which one of the salesmen just brought back. The dressing down nevertheless had registered, so the foreman passed it on to the sub-fareman as ruthless as he had got it, but without any soft touches at the end. It was strictly Simon Legree stuff and the results were about nil since the workers were now protected in their ;piece work rices, hours, and working conditions by a strong union which was, at least in those days, militant.

The philosophy of the union was illustrated one evening at Hull House by Sam Levine, Chicago head of the Amalgamated, who told this story as we sat around the dinner table in the august presence of Jane Addams. “A southern plantation owner was walaking around his estate with one of his workers, a Negro, who was very clever with a whip. He could swing it a few times over his head and then cut off the flower of a daisy yards away. He demonstrated his skill a few times when the owner spotted a bee. Sam, let me see if you can hit the bee. So Sam swung his whip and was about to strike when he suddently stopped. ‘What’s the matter, Sam?’ ‘Well, boss, I’ll tell you – I reckon I better leave those bees alone – they’re too well organized!’

The story would be appreciated more if you could hear Sam Levine tell it, for his natural speech was decidedly Jewish and he told the story, or tried to, as a southern Nego. The result, to put it mildly, was unique.

Smith and I pretty thoroughly understood each other before long. We accepted each other as honest men who would state the truth as we saw it in any situation. He never put up a fight for a worker, or a group, if he thought they were wrong. He’d tell them when he thought they were wrong. They could go over his head if they wanted to by going to the union business agen who was a frequent visitor to the shop. But the fact is I do not recall any of them ever doing it. For they learned that Smith would battle just as hard for them if he thought they were right.

We had our battles naturally — after all we were in a class conflict situation where Smith’s job was to fight for the workers and i was paid to see that the company got its rights. And ‘rights’ on either side, are sometimes hard to define. But thisI can say: before I was through with Smith I had such confidence in him that on those frequent occasions when i had to be awaya from the shop I’d say: ‘If anything comes up while I am away, settle it your way and it will be o.k. with me.” I can even add that we understood each other so well that there were occasions when we staged mock fights, either to strengthen my position with management, or his with his workers.

It was inevitable that Smith soon was elected a business agent and rose to a position of importance in the Amalgamated, not only locally but nationally; just as I think it was inevitable that a man of Jesse Nitka’s intelligence and ability was soon the general manager of the company, and that the shop manager in those days, a man of fine personal qualities but who could not accept the new order of things, ended up as the doorman, checking to see whether people had the necessary credentials to enter the shop.

Sidney Hillman, Amalgamated president, left the day-by-day operations to his able lieutentants. His genius came to the fore during the negotiations with management over new contracts.

One year the firms insisted that they were losing money and asked for a decrease in wages. Hillman said that the union knew that firms had to make a profit, otherwise there would be no jobs so the union would agree to a decrease if necessary, but let’s see if there are not other ways to handle the matter.

The industry in those days was very seasonal. Salesmen took orders from merchants and sent them in. When there were enough orders, the garments were cut and trucked to the shops where they were piled on tables. Then the workers were called, section by section, until after a few days the shop was in production. But they worked from the top of the pile, with the result that the merchant who had his order in first was at the bottom of the pile. So, in order to have clothes to sell, he ordered from several firms. When one order was received he cancelled the others by wire. And I can testify to having seen many thousands of dollars worth of suits and overcoats, representing cancelled orders, which had to be dumped on the market at a loss. This mis-management was not corrected by engineers for the company –it was corrected by experts for the union, hired by Hillman, who pointed out to management that a system of production control might so reduce dosts that wage cuts would not be necessary. The system was installed, to the advantage of both the firm and the workers.

The firm that employed me made nearly a hundred different styles of men’s suits to satisfy the fastidiousness of merchants and the handful of customers who wanted the fancy affairs. It was on Hillman’s skuggestion that a study was made of the kind of suits men had bought over a period of years. A tremendously high percentage were from three conservative models. These, Hillman pointed out, could be made, without any great risk, in advance of sales. The suggestion was accepted, with a tremendous saving resulting and practically the elimination of the seasonal asspects of the industry. All of which, naturally, added u;p to no wage decrease for the workers.

There is as lot more I could tell about those years I earned my living as a labor manager, while running St. George’s and THE WITNESS as an avocation. But the story can be summed up this way: the brains in the business, at least in those days, was supplied more by the union than by the management. Dr. Todd, my superior, was sent on a round-the-world tour by the company as a sort of super-salesman. While he was gone I was called before the president of the company, informed that Dr. Todd was not to return as labor manager, and I was offered the job. I told him that it meant that I had to decide whether I was to be a labor manager or a clergyman…so I declined the offer with thanks.

But I have always kept up with developments by having a meal, whenever I go to Chicago, with my old buddies, Sam Smith and Jesse, who are also the closest of friends even though one today is a top official of the Amalgamated and the other is the general manager of the company.

Bill Jr.:

Years later, when Dad built his own plant in Tunkhannock, he put in a clause that, when his employee role reached a certain level, it would be a ‘union plant’. Of course, he never had more than four or five persons working at the shop and, thus, it never reached that mandatory level.   He was rather ‘patriarchal’ as a friendly boss and, despite verbal affirmations and heart-felt convictions about justice in the workplace, he was, deep-down, a New Hampshire Yankee.   He kept books and profits-and-losses as secret as possible. When he became a capitalist, he was very successful at it and, I’m sure, learned much from the Smith’s and Nitka’s and Hillman’s and Todd’s of his Chicago days.

Trying to be of help, on occasion I would ask him what the financial resources of the Episcopal Church Publishing Co. were and his reply was, invariably, “Oh, no-one has to worry…we have thousands and thousands of dollars”….end of conversation.

Democracy in the work place, yes…in the company president’s office, not likely!