Holly Johnson: More stories outside Hormel’s autobiography

Published 6:30 am Saturday, September 19, 2020

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While we have just begun studying the words of George Hormel in his autobiography in the History’s Sweet Reads series, I am now going to introduce you to another of his works published almost exactly 85 years ago.  Because this is a series on the economy, I would like to start with declaring that I may not understand all of his concepts thoroughly, but I thought summarizing some of his theories would give you a glimpse into the intellect of one of Austin’s leading businessmen.

“Out of Depression Into Prosperity” was a series published in four columns that ran in the Los Angeles Time in September, 1935. Already six years into the economic turmoil caused by the crash of 1929, the morale and security of all in the United States was still at a low point.  Officially, the depression would last four more years, but George Hormel had his ideas about how the country had gotten to where it was and how it could ultimately prevail.

The LA Times prefaced the series with a disclaimer.  “Mr. Hormel’s views are the result of many years of study and observation of economic problems, particularly those of wages and employment. While the Times does not necessarily agree with all of the conclusions of Mr. Hormel, it believes his articles to constitute an interesting and valuable contribution to the general discussion of a subject of enormous importance.”

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The first article is dated Sept. 18, 1935.  In it George refers to himself in third person as ‘the writer’ as you see in his opening statement. “The writer’s object in this booklet is to indicate some simple and direct first steps out of depression and into prosperity.  These steps are not based upon untried theories, nor do they involve any new experiments.

“There is nothing about them original with the writer.  They are the same steps that have been taken in the past, with resulting progress and prosperity for the American people.

“Observations are confined mainly to developments within the writer’s own lifetime because that period covers America’s advance from a state in which subsistence farming was the general rule and other resources were barely tapped, to become the most highly industrialized and also the richest nation in the world.  The experience gained in coping with the problems that have arisen in this time of transition is invaluable.  Experience is the best teacher.”

I will continue with my review of George’s LA Times series for a couple more weeks so as to try and convey his thoughts completely. In his writing he reviewed the era in which he was raised in Toledo and his journey to becoming the leader of a major manufacturer.  He recognized the importance of education and the value of providing for a working man’s quality of life.  I hope I can capture for you how intelligent and socially conscious George Hormel was through my synopsis of this series.

Upcoming Events

History’s Sweet Reads Book Discussion, Week 2

5-6 p.m., Monday, Sept. 21

The Open Road, Autobiography of George A. Hormel

Sponsored by the Hormel Historic Home and Sweet Reads Book Store. Join in person or virtually.  All sessions recorded so participants can join at any time. Pre-registration required on website or by calling the Hormel Historic Home. $5 per session or $45 for whole series. Register at www.hormelhistorichome.org.