Journal-News, Monday, May 4, 1992
Duff and Pillsbury made cake mixes in Hamilton
By Jim Blount
For some Hamiltonians, the adjustments from World War II to peacetime meant going from crafting parts for bombers and battleships to packaging gingerbread and muffin mixes.
In November 1945, Pittsburgh-based Duff's Baking Mixes announced it would build a processing plant in Hamilton. That operation —later acquired by Pillsbury Mills Inc. — turned out food products for more than 30 years. In recent years, the Leshner Corp. has produced textiles in that location.
Duff's 1945 decision was a welcome one. A local employment crisis had been anticipated because thousands involved in war-related work would soon be joined in the area's labor force by returning servicemen.
Duff was the third addition to the local industrial scene announced that year. Earlier in 1945, it was reported that General Motors would build a Fisher Body plant and the American Cyanamid and Chemical Corp. would erect a facility, both on Dixie Highway, south of Hamilton.
Duff acquired 30 acres from Herman L. Sanders just outside the city's northwest corporation line and awarded a $1.25 million contract to Ferro Construction Co., Cincinnati.
Operations at the 130,670 square foot plant at 1010 Eaton Ave. began in May 1947 under the direction of Lewis G. Dutton, who managed it until 1950. Dutton also had selected the site and supervised the construction for Duff.
When it opened, the Hamilton plant produced gingerbread, hot muffin and waffle mixes.
Duff claimed to have introduced the first fully-prepared baking mix in 1931. That package included all the ingredients for gingerbread. The consumer only had to add water. The family-owned business — founded in 1867 as P. Duff and Sons in Pittsburgh — had been acquired March 1, 1944, by American Home Products Corp.
There were 160 employees when the plant was bought March 10, 1952, by Pillsbury, headquartered in Minneapolis. The company had been formed in 1869 as a flour mill by Charles A. Pillsbury and John S. Pillsbury, a three-term governor of Minnesota.
In 1955, Pillsbury workers in Hamilton were handling 1,760 incoming freight cars and loading 2,750 outgoing rail cars annually.
From 1952 until 1966, the Hamilton plant operated under a legal cloud, due to an anti-merger suit filed after Pillsbury acquired the local Duff facility and the Ballard & Ballard Co. mills in Louisville, Ky.
In 1959, a Federal Trade Commission examiner ruled against Pillsbury. At first, it appeared the decision would require the company to vacate the Hamilton plant. But operations continued as Pillsbury appealed the decision.
Finally, in March 1966, the FTC announced it was dismissing the suit against Pillsbury — after 14 years of legal maneuvers which produced more than 14,000 pages of hearing testimony.
Eleven years later, in May 1977, Pillsbury announced its intention to close the local plant, but operations continued until early 1978.
In its final year, the plant employed 105 people, including 75 hourly workers. Peak employment is believed to have been 581 people in October 1952. In the 1970s, employment averaged about 400 people.
Several reasons for closing the cake mix plant were reported, including a shift in marketing centers, which had increased distribution costs, and unfavorable and inconvenient structural design at the plant.
Work of the Hamilton plant was absorbed by facilities in Terre Haute, Ind., Springfield, Ill., and Grand Fork, N. D.
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Journal-News, Monday, May 11, 1992
Hamilton in 'scrap' for World War II effort
By Jim Blount
"Salvage will win the war!" proclaimed posters and various advertising devices 50 years ago as Hamiltonians were urged to "get in the scrap" and save iron, steel, tin, other metals, rubber, rags and paper "for the duration of the emergency."
A county-wide scrap iron drive began eight days after the Pearl Harbor bombing. The first rural areas to be covered Monday, Dec. 15, were Ross and Morgan townships, according to John M. Roll, chairman of the Butler County Defense Board.
City Manager Russell P. Price announced the start of the Salvage for Victory program in Hamilton Jan. 26, 1942, seven weeks after Pearl Harbor. James K. Cullen, owner of a sporting goods store, was named chairman.
One of the first items contributed also was one of the most visible contributions — a navy-cannon which had stood in the northeast corner of the courthouse lawn for more than 18 years. The 16-foot gun — a World War I memorial sponsored by the Hamilton Lions Club — had been secured from the Watervliet Arsenal in New York by Congressman Roy G. Fitzgerald, dedicated July 4, 1923.
Later that month, a two-day survey of auto graveyards in Southwestern Ohio revealed 5,000 tons of metals which were fed into furnaces of the American Rolling Mill Co. (now known as Armco) at New Miami and Middletown. Public participation in scrap drives gained momentum in February when more than 10 tons of scrap paper, rags, rubber and iron were collected in Hamilton public schools.
Citizens also could deliver their scrap materials to local dealers and receive 60 cents a pound for newspaper, 50 cents a pound for mixed paper, $1.50 a pound for rags, 30 cents a pound for rubber and from 40-60 cents a pound for iron.
The Bureau of Industrial Conservation (BIC) of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce was formed Tuesday, March 24, to catalog usable machinery and collect industrial scrap. Attorney Huntington V. Parrish was appointed coordinator.
BIC's importance was demonstrated when the American Rolling Mill Co. reported it faced a slowdown at its New Miami and Middletown plants because of a scrap shortage. With a three-day supply on hand the situation was critical.
The crisis, however, was short lived and the steel company was back in full production by early April. Armco was the beneficiary of government confiscation April 2 of 10,000 tons of scrap in a junkyard near West Carrollton.
One week later Armco was congratulated by Robert P. Patterson, undersecretary of war, for its March production. It had exceeded by 1,000 tons the previous monthly record for pig iron, by 3,600 tons its steel output, and by 6,000 tons its ingot production record.
Later in the month, nine Armco employees were praised for repairing the New Miami plant while it was producing pig iron which, news reports said, was a feat never previously accomplished in the steel industry. Those recognized were Elmer Miller, superintendent; Frank Watt, foreman; and Arthur Lambertson, Robert Johnson, Orville Moberly, Orville Burnett, Donald Gundler, Eugene Cornett and Dominic Scrimizzi.
By May 7, Hamilton industries had found 264 tons of scrap iron, steel, brass, copper, zinc, tin, paper and other materials on their premises.
By the end of May, Hamilton school children had gathered more than 118 tons (236,365 pounds) of scrap metals, rubber, rags and paper for the war effort.
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Journal-News, Monday, May 18, 1992
Lindbergh toured area after historic 1927 flight
By Jim Blount
When the bells tolled at the Hamilton firehouses Saturday afternoon, May 21, 1927 it signaled a national triumph, not a local tragedy.
Tom Boli, Hamilton safety director, authorized use of the bells on that day, 65 years ago, to celebrate the safe landing of 25-year-old Charles A. Lindbergh Jr. (1902-1974) in Paris. The landing ended his historic 3,600-mile solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
"Lucky Lindy" completed the New York-to-Paris trip in 33 and a half hours in The Spirit of St. Louis, a silver-gray monoplane. He had left Roosevelt Field on Long Island Friday morning, May 20, and landed the next day at LeBourget Field in Paris.
The feat earned Lindbergh a hotly-contested $25,000 award for the first non-stop flight between New York and Paris. The prize — provided by a New York hotel owner — had been unclaimed since 1919.
Area radio stations carried Lindbergh progress reports every half hour, starting with his 6:51 a.m. departure (Hamilton time).
There was no information for 12 hours when Lindbergh started over 1,900 miles of ocean between Newfoundland and Ireland at 6:15 p.m. Friday.
A local newspaper report also said "there were some hours of tenseness when radio announcements were made that there was no confirmation of Lindbergh having been seen over Dover, England."
Doubts vanished at 4:22 p.m. (Hamilton time) when the stunt pilot landed in Paris, instantly becoming a national hero.
"Every record for mass excitement and mass enthusiasm in the age of ballyhoo was smashed during the next few weeks," said Frederick Lewis Alien in Only Yesterday , his informal history of the 1920s. Lewis said the "public's reception of him took on the aspects of a vast religious revival."
President Calvin Coolidge ordered Lindbergh and his plane brought back to the U. S. on a navy cruiser.
An estimated 1,800 tons of ticker tape welcomed the flyer during a parade down Broadway in New York. (By comparison, only 155 tones of paper had to be swept from New York streets after a premature World War I armistice celebration Nov. 7, 1918.)
The excitement was revived in Hamilton almost four months later as Lindbergh toured the nation seeking public support for aviation. Although his schedule didn't permit a landing, Lindbergh accepted Mayor Harry Koehler's invitation to pass over Hamilton while flying The Spirit of St. Louis from Dayton to Cincinnati Saturday, Aug. 6.
"As the morning grew, Hamilton began to take on a holiday appearance," a newspaper reported. "Merchants put out their flags and other decorations went up."
Residents were urged by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce to ring bells, blow whistles, shoot firecrackers, wave flags, throw hats and scream "to let Lindy know Hamilton and you appreciate him and what he has done."
At 1:30 p.m., he circled the city and passed over the Butler County courthouse.
Lindbergh's message said, "We feel that we will be amply repaid for all our effort if each and every citizen in the United States cherishes an interest in flying and gives his earnest support to the air mail service and the establishment of airports and similar facilities.
"The concerted efforts of the citizens of the United States in this direction will result in America taking its rightful place within a very short time as the world leader in commercial flying," Lindbergh suggested.
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Journal-News, Monday, May 25, 1992
Price ceilings were imposed in fifth month of World War II
By Jim Blount
Hamilton residents were still trying to understand price ceilings on the first Memorial Day of World War II. It was observed May 30, 1942, without a parade to save gasoline and because it was just another work day in local war industries.
The wartime price control had been imposed less than two weeks earlier by the Office of Price Administration. OPA had been created in August 1941 and became an independent federal agency in January 1942.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Price Control Bill, Jan. 30, 1942, less than eight weeks after the U. S. entered the war.
By then, Hamilton shoppers were paying the costs of war. From Thanksgiving week of 1941 to mid-January 1942, the price of bacon had jumped from 18 cents to 29 cents a pound, ground beef from 15 to 22 cents a pound and large eggs from 39 to 45 cents a dozen.
OPA's mission was to stabilize the prices of goods and services and residential rents during the war. The agency, which also directed rationing, eventually froze prices for most everyday goods and about 60 percent of foods.
OPA also froze rents in 459 regions known as "defense rental areas," covering about 20 million dwellings. As a result, on the national level, rents rose only an average of five percent between August 1939 and September 1946.
In Hamilton, rents were frozen at their March 1 levels, effective April 28. A government survey found that Hamilton rent increases had averaged less than 15 percent in the previous 90 days while those in nearby Dayton had jumped 29 percent.
Price ceilings went into effect May 18 after efforts to educate local retailers and consumers.
Hamilton retailers met with Hugh Ritchie, chief attorney of OPA's Cincinnati district office, May 6 at Hamilton High School. Ritchie told them that "since September 1939, when the war started, the price of raw materials went up 66 percent, wholesale prices 31 percent and retail prices 25 percent."
A similar meeting for consumers was held May 14, also at Hamilton High School (then at N. Sixth and Dayton streets) with Dr. C. H. Sandage, a Miami University faculty member, representing OPA.
"March has been set as a base month," Sandage explained, "and all retailers have been instructed by the government to sell their goods, with certain commodities excepted, at prices no higher than the highest price they were sold for in March."
Sandage emphasized that the government was not setting uniform prices. "All stores will not sell their goods at the same price after May 18 because all of them did not sell at the same price in March."
The OPA spokesman said the price variations could be explained by the fact that "different stores will have different expenses." Nationally, a 3 percent price cut was expected.
After May 18, some prices fell, some remained stable while others rose, based on a comparison of local grocery ads in the first week of April and the last week of May.
Local Kroger stores sold sirloin steak at 33 cents a pound in April and 35 cents a pound in May after price controls. Ham jumped from 27.5 cents a pound to 35 cents and a pound of butter from 31.5 cents to 37.5 cents at Kroger while new potatoes (B size) rose from 17 cents for four pounds to 17 cents for two pounds. Bread remained nine cents a loaf.
At the Chicago Market, on the northeast corner of Front and High streets, choice center cut chuck roast was 25 cents a pound in both comparison weeks while sliced bacon rose to 29 cents a pound in May from 16 cents a pound in April. Lux soap was six cents a bar in April, and up to two bars for 15 cents in May.
OPA existed from year to year at the mercy of Congress, which mandated new policies and changed existing ones annually. Rationing stopped when the war ended, except on sugar. But price controls remained until the OPA expired June 30, 1946 — and prices immediately jumped almost 25 percent. That prompted Congress to restore controls in 1947.
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