Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Yes! They built them here: Rolls Royce manufacturing in Springfield, Massachusetts

Logo on a Springfield Rolls


Had you just returned from The Great War, say around 1919 or so, you would have noticed that the Wilson Administration’s haphazard efforts to rev up the economy to absorb the many doughboys being mustered out were having a negligible effect.  The economic first fruits of what eventually would be called “The Roaring 20s” were still far from ripe, and the sons of America’s great burgeoning middle class were coming home from Europe to marry their sweethearts and to have kids.

The members of their parents’ generation, born in the late 1870s and early 1880s, who may have served in the Spanish-American War, who suffered economic deprivation in the depression years of the “Gay ‘90s,” and who marveled at the American “Can Do” spirit that constructed the Panama Canal, did well during The Great War.  A great many companies, formed during the darker economic days of the late 19th Century, expanded and profited in the early 20th Century.  They were buoyed by the groundswell of trust-busting and prosperity that characterized the “Oughts” and the “Teens.”

The doughboys returned to jobs as farmers, factory workers, clerks, salesmen, and accountants. Some had money in their pockets…but all were suffering from two to three years of pent-up demand.  One savvy engineer in Detroit, a chap named Henry Ford, figured out how to meet that demand.  He devised a way to produce a four wheeled, self-propelled vehicle called a Model T, on a scale so efficient that the end product — a transportation appliance, if you will — started out being sold in 1907 at $850, but could be sold in the early 1920s for the princely sum of $290.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Club's historic membership roster, part VI: members joining 1916-1941

Editor's note: No new members joined from 1913 to 1915.  In previous installments of our historic membership roster, we've been able to provide a biographical paragraph on most members, largely thanks to the powers of Google to locate sometimes obscure data sources. It turns out, however, that our members joining before 1920 or so are far more Googleable than those joining in 1920 and later, so some of these bios are very brief indeed. As in prior installments, some of the basic information here comes from Harold Hutchins' research in city directories at the Berkshire Athenaeum. If any reader can supplement the information listed here, we would be much obliged — contact Martin Langeveld, the Club historian/webmaster, at the "Contact Us" link at the top of the right column.


Rev. James Edgar Gregg —Born in Hartford, Conn. Nov. 24, 1875; grew up in Colorado Springs; graduated from Harvard University in 1897; attended Harvard Divinity School 1900-1901; taught school in Rhode Island for three years; prepared for ministry at Yale, receiving a Bachelor of Divinity in 1903. Came to Pittsfield as an assistant to (Club member) Rev. William V. W. Davis at First Church of Christ and was ordained at First Church; became the second minister of Pilgrim Memorial Church in Pittsfield. From there, went to Kirk Street Congregational Church in Lowell; returned to Pittsfield to succeed Dr. Davis at First Church in 1912. Presided over the 150th anniversary observances at First Church. Resigned his pastorate in 1918 to accept an unsought appointment as the third president (then called principal) of the Hampton Institute in Virginia where he served until 1929; received a Doctor of Divinity from Yale in 1918. At historically-black Hampton, he was notably involved in a controversial episode in 1927 in which students revolted with a strike against the perceived overly conservative and paternalistic policies of the white administrators. Gregg retired to Pittsfield and rejoined the Club in 1942. He died in 1946.


Elmer Gerrish Bridgham — Principal of Pomeroy School. Born July 18, 1871 in W. Minot, Androscoggin County, Maine. Attended Hebron Academy, Hebron, Maine. Graduated from Middlebury College in 1897, and taught school from that time until he was seventy years old in Pulaski, New York; Gouverneur, New York; Owego; Princeton, Illinois; Sitka, Alaska; Lenox Massachusetts, and Pittsfield. Author of a history of the Bridgham family. 

Rev. Vincent Godfrey Burns — pastor of South Congregational Church. In 1927, his resignation was reported in Time Magazine as follows (April 24, 1927):
Because his flock did not relish his criticism of U.S. Secretary of State Kellogg's Latin American policy, the Rev. Vincent G. Burns of the South Congregational Church, Pittsfield, Mass., recently resigned his pastorate. Said he: "In a day when hypocritical clergymen are mouthing old theologies, in a day when mammon-worshiping, penny-pinching hypocrites are defending the system that exploits millions and sucks the lifeblood out of the workers around the world, in a day when snobs and aristocrats hold up the iron wall of class and caste, I have dared to stand up and tell the truth concerning these soul-blasting tyrannies."