HERSHEY by James D. McMahon Jr. Arcadia Publishing (www.arcadiapublishing.com), 2015, 96 pp., $21.99. ISBN-13-978-1-4671-2331-0. Click here to purchase.
While I can only claim to be a recent arrival to the sweetest town on earth, my wife’s roots originate at the very beginning of Hershey, Pa.’s history.
According to her mother, her family was the 13th to settle in the town and the first Italian one. My wife’s grandfather was a stonemason and worked on most of the iconic structures in town that remain -- and some that don’t, unfortunately.
In the interest of educating her newbie husband, my wife, Deb, came home toting HERSHEY. Author James D. McMahon Jr. remains faithful to depicting a Hershey that once was, and what it evolved into, over the years. Photos depicting very familiar landmarks are often side by side, or top to bottom, and it is amazing how little has changed for some things, except the growth and removal of trees and shrubbery over time. Yet some of the landmarks in my current home town have been lost, such as the Cocoa Inn on the square.
(Ironically, Milton S. Hershey once had a plan to place Chocolatetown in New Holland, Pa., my hometown: the home of the Garden Spot High School Spartans. By the way, my wife is a graduate of Hershey High School, home of the Spartans. The comparisons are numerous and the town similarities are striking.)
But some of the information doesn’t quite jive with the Hershey Story museum archives. The origin of Milton’s chocolate should be on west King Street at Prince; but this author puts it elsewhere. So I am wondering exactly where in Lancaster County Milton got his start, and should I stick with Hershey Story’s version?
A few years ago, the Derry Township Historical Society offered a tour of many of the still-remaining historical landmarks in Hershey. Among them my wife and I saw High Point, the Community Center building and the former Hershey Bank. Unfortunately, visitors can no longer tour the actual factory, which ended the tours to the general public in the late 1970s. (There is still the Chocolateworld tour.) And the photos in HERSHEY brought back our own memories of an interesting past, in which some of the greatest landmarks remain.
It was a fun walk down memory lane for my wife and me, but left me thinking that some things were lost, such as the Cocoa Inn: a shame since some of the history, early on, was not preserved. But thankfully a lot of it remains.