20th Century, Americana, Food, History, Minnesota, music, Uncategorized, women

“Hormel Girls”

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The Hormel Girls, hormelfoods.com

1948
The “All GI Girls Spam Post 570” drum and bugle corps becomes the Hormel Girls—a 60-woman troupe of multi-talented entertainers. They star in a network radio show and hit the road in a 35-car caravan, making music and leaving cents-off coupons across the U.S.A.*

To properly put the Hormel Girls in context, one has to define their raison d’être; Spam. Though many of us now associate the term with unwanted solicitations and advertising on our electronic devices, it was and is an incredible food product. So what is Spam?
It’s a brick of spiced ham, sealed over by an edible gel, and then vacuum packed into a compact tin. **

Allegedly, the tinned meat was birthed out of necessity and Midwestern ingenuity. Hormel foods had tons of pork shoulder that would go bad. An employee had the bright idea to pre-cook spices, broth, and the leftover ham and sell it in a tin. Their frugality and common sense started a revolution; a meat product that seemed to keep forever.

As we entered World War II, Hormel already had the right answer at the right time. Over 150 million pounds of Spam were consumed by U.S. forces during it alone. *** In addition, Spam sustained millions around the post-war world through the “Lend-Lease Act”. ****

The incredible success of the Allies in WWII, as well as for Hormel Foods, brought new challenges and convictions to the mind of Jay Hormel. He wanted every vet to have a job and community upon return. Many of these veterans were women who had honorably served their state and nation as: WAC’s Women’s Army Corps, WAVES Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, and SPARS Women’s Coast Guard Reserves (Acronym derived from “Semper Paratus” Latin for “Always Ready”). To this end, Hormel created the all-female American Legion Spam Post 570 in Austin, Minnesota. Post 570, in turn, birthed the idea of the “Spamettes”; an all-female drum and bugle corp that would be an attractive and wholesome promotional tool for his company. *****

Locals, however, were less enthused. After three weeks, neighbors “filed a motion for a temporary injunction to stop the rehearsing.” ******* Maybe the fault was Hormel’s generous incentives to the young women. Given that they started with a base pay of $50/week, (they were only paid $50 a month in the service), they were offered a $100 bonus if recognized for leadership traits, another $100 each if they placed in a contest, and still another $100 if they won first place!?! ****** All their hard work paid off, placing them at 13th of 49 entries; a very respectable showing considering the men’s groups had been together for years. *****

Wanting to capitalize on the goodwill these young women created, Hormel sought to give them wider exposure through radio. Under the tutelage of choir director Richard Wendelken and orchestra director Eddie Skrivanek, the five dozen Hormel Girls landed on a big band sound with safe arrangements of familiar songs of the day. Many likened them to Sammy Kaye or Kay Kyser; hip but palatable for a wider audience. The first broadcast of “Music with the Hormel Girls” aired on a single radio station, KHJ in Los Angeles, on Saturday, March 20, 1948. *****

From this starting point, the group eventually garnered a nation-wide audience broadcast over 227 ABC radio stations. ***** To enhance their visibility, the group played local shows and made in-store appearances coast to coast driving 35 identical white Chevy sedans. Such a long entourage combined with the posters and promises of coupons, samples, and prizes by an advance team more than piqued local interest in the Hormel Girls, and by association Hormel Foods.***** Nearly sixty years later, World War II Veteran and Hormel Girl member Eleanor Jones recalled that “we really did connect with the housewives. They would flock around us and ask for our autographs.” *******

Lord, thank You for being an inventor. Intrinsically, each form of life is a masterful combination of so many refined systems working in balance. Extrinsically, each individual life balances within a framework of relationships within it’s ecosystem. We can be classified by species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, and kingdom, yet we retain the possibility of adaptation. Everything in Your creation seems to point us towards this paradox; we are individuals that operate as a unity. You are Eternal Father, embodied Messiah, and Holy Spirit. Will You guide us to ponder such inward and outward relationships as we remember the Hormel Girls?

To modern ears it may sound like sarcasm, but today we truly thank You for the invention of Spam; this hardy food helped millions outlast bitter times of war and scarcity! We thank You for the unnamed author or authors of it’s recipe. Will You bless the creativity and diligence of our food scientists’ in the present and future of Minnesota? Will You bless all at Hormel Foods from top to bottom? Will You bless the hog farmers, factory workers, truckers, longshoremen and shippers of Spam? We commend their hard work and overtime in an age of such incredible demand! Will You bless our present and future food industry workers to meet and surpass the needs of multitudes like they?

We thank You for Jay Hormel; survivor and Veteran of the Great War (WWI)! We thank You for the sympathy and empathy for all veterans seared into his soul through that experience. We remember and applaud his acknowledgment of the service and sacrifices of these heroic women!

Where others who had made vast fortunes considered its’ female employees a drain on the bottom line, he increased their pay four times! Then gave them bonuses!
Where others displaced female vets, he saw fit that they had their own place in Post 570!
Where others pushed women out of the factory, he mentored them out of the factory into the spotlight!

Sadly, Jay Hormel seemed to be the exception to the rule. War propaganda that taught our sisters and mothers to be “Rosie the Riveter” now pushed them go home. Dear Lord, for some, this about-face worked, but for others life had permanently changed. We have opposed those we could have lifted. We closed our ears and ears to their talents. We broke faith with them. Forgive us where we offended and wronged Your Image by sinning in these same specific ways against: the WAC’s, the WAVES, the SPARS, and all the women who worked the home front.

We thank You for each and every Spamette and Hormel Girl! We thank You for the lessons they absorbed during their time of service that prepared them for this opportunity. We thank You that they said “Yes!” to so many challenges: to the rigors of travel, the discipline of refining their individual talents, learning to perform for a live or radio audience, learning how to sell to a huge variety of people, learning how to professionally present themselves, gaining skills in representing a company, and symbolizing what is possible for the “girl next door”!

Will You bless all female veterans present and future to: take chances, think big, make mistakes, learn from mistakes, and retain such adaptability to go beyond their classification? Will You give them the same spirit of balance in relationships; to exercise moments of individual greatness while remaining a unity? Will You give them the same sense of humility to recognize Your moments’ for them; even if it’s disguised as an everyday, quotidian tin of Spam?
“The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.” I Samuel 2:7 ESV *********

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://www.foodwine.com/food/egg/egg0798/slth0798.html
*** Smith, Andrew (May 1, 2007). “The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink”. Oxford University Press. pp. 559–60.
**** Howard Yoon (July 4, 2007). “Spam: More than Junk Mail or Junk Meat” (npr.org).
***** Sullivan, Jill and Keck, Danelle D. “The Hormel Girls”. pp.282-308 https://www.public.asu.edu/~jmsulli/documents/FINAL_Hormel%20Girls.pdf
****** “It’s A lot of Noise Shippan Point Says: All-Women Drum and Bugle Corps, Seeking Legion Title, Arouses Community’s Ire,” New York Times, Aug. 24, 1947, p5.
******* Jones,Eleanor. telephone interview with Jill Sullivan, April 5, 2007. Cited in “The Hormel Girls”.
******** Want to give the Hormel girls a listen? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-4Ok5qI7J4 “Tater Pie by the Hormel Girls”. ArchiveMan78. YouTube. May 7, 2018.
********* https://biblehub.com/1_samuel/2-7.htm

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20th Century, History, Intercession, Minnesota, Uncategorized, World War II

End of World War II

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V-J crowd celebrating in downtown Minneapolis, 1945**

May 8, 1945 to September 2, 1945
V-E Day (Victory in Europe) occurs on May 8, 1945, when the Germans sign the surrender outside Berlin. V-J Day (Victory over Japan) occurs on September 2, 1945, when the Japanese sign the surrender in Tokyo. The initial announcement of Japan’s surrender takes place on August 15, 1945 (August 14 in North America).

Records are sketchy, but somewhere, sometime during WWII, 326,000 Minnesotans served in uniform. One source lists 209,500 serving in the army and army air corps, 79,300 in the navy, 11,800 in the marines, and 3,500 in the coast guard. Of these, 5,843 died of combat wounds, 412 died in prison camps, and 54 were listed as missing.*

Victory Europe Day (VE Day) was a muted party for many because we were still at war with Japan. It must be difficult to cheer when your neighbor’s loved one(s) are still at sea, or storming the beach somewhere in the South Seas. Maybe the best way to describe the elation of this day, Victory Japan (VJ Day), is to just cite the Minneapolis Morning Tribune coverage of downtown at the exact time the news hit the streets the evening of August 14th. Enjoy!

“A few words from President Truman Tuesday night sent Minneapolis on an emotional “binge” in which all misery and waiting and expectation of four long years were suddenly changed in a few minutes into the joy of the war’s end.
The reaction to the President’s announcement came as tearful relief for some people on loop streets. For others it was wild yelling. For others the unexplainable, odd things that people do when they’re intensely happy.
At 6 p.m., Minneapolis streets were quiet. Then the announcement reached the streets in newspaper “extras”. On Fifth Street and Marquette Avenue, a half dozen women were talking-waiting. The news was brought to them by a Negro man about 50 years old, who came racing down the street aimlessly, tears streaming down his face, crying to everyone: “My God! My boys are coming home safe!”
Then the siren atop the Northwestern National bank building started to scream out the news-at 6:08p.m.-and the automobile horns took up the victorious chant, just a few at first because some drivers were afraid the news might be a false report.
Then the honking increased in intensity and wildness.” ***

M.17.D.3.B Packet 20

Up north, in Duluth, the response seems as intense, yet with a slightly different focus on total peace rather then total victory. Maybe this is a subtle splitting of hairs, but worth noting. How does one describe euphoria? Maybe this headline from the Duluth News- Tribune encapsulates it; “Duluth goes Wild with Joy at Peace”.

“Unrestrained joy, bordering almost on hysteria, gripped Duluth last night as thousands swarmed the downtown area to celebrate the return of peace.
Confetti, feathers, torn bits of newspaper and even popcorn rained down from the top floors of downtown office buildings when home-bound workers caught by the news watched the gathering mob.
But less than an hour after the first whistles blew, thousands of reverent Duluthians bowed their heads in their chosen places of worship.
Meanwhile, shouts and cheers mingled with tears of joy as a tumultuous throng shoved, elbowed, and embraced each other in a barely moving stream down Superior street.”****

G-d Most High, we remember with You these fantastic days of victory and peace in the lives of our state and nation. What do You remember when You think of it? What did we think of You in this moment of when You removed war from our peoples’ shoulders?

Granted, we had Allies against the forces of Axis nations, but even so, somehow You guided us to win a two-front war?!? Even though our soldiers and resources were split and traveling vast distances to the battles? Let’s recount, for a moment, why this is so astonishing.
2445 mi. Distance New York City to Los Angeles
3968 mi. Distance New York City to Berlin
6413 mi. Distance of travel to win Victory Europe

2445 mi. Distance New York City to Los Angeles
2486 mi. Distance Los Angeles to Hawaii
4028 mi. Distance Hawaii to Tokyo
8959 mi. Distance of travel to win Victory Japan

In toto, all our resources and human resources were spread across the earth a distance of 15,362 miles?!

Further, those at home were also doubly split: maintaining regular life, and supplying the food, war materiel for our Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Additionally, Americans supplied our Allied armies and their civilians’ needs with far less Americans in the work force?! How did You sustain them to do these monumental tasks and complete them in 1365 days; just three years, eight months, and twenty six days?!?

We recall, with You, the first incredible victory of the man and nation who was yet to become Your covenant partner(s); Abram. We remember that though he had only a force of 318 men, through You he routed four kingdoms?!? Next, he returned the slaves and plunder to its rightful owners, and took nothing for himself. Ultimately, he responded to victory in celebration, worship, and giving out of a heart of gratitude the share that other leaders would have usually kept for themselves.

“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,
‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
And praise be to G-d Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.’
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Genesis 14:18-20 NIV*****

In the culture of Abram, the lesser king pays tribute to the greater king; in words of acknowledgement, in deeds of service, and in treasure. So why did Abram give tribute to Mechizedek? Will You teach us from Your Unchanging Word, El Elyon, spoken through the author of Hebrews thousands of years later?
“…First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, ‘king of Salem’ means ‘king of peace,’” Hebrews 7:2b NIV******

But who is this King of Righteousness and Peace? We find the best clue in the words of
Psalmist which is talking about Jesus, the Coming Messiah.
“The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.’” Psalm 110:4 NIV*******
Author Chara Donahue gives us a theological reference about this, saying “The Matthew Henry Concise Commentary said this about the Psalm: “[Jesus] is the Priest of the order of Melchizedek, which was before that of Aaron, and on many accounts superior to it, and a more lively representation of Christ’s priesthood.”********

So we bring this back home to the summer of 1945 in Minnesota, Lord. Thank You for giving them this victory over the Enemy of all mankind! We are so proud and grateful for the way our generations’ past remembered You in their exceeding happiness! Help us absorb their tremendous gifts to the King of Justice and their future generations; many gave far more than a tenth of everything they owned! May we remain ever awed and humbled at their generosity!

Will You make us a people, like them, in Your Image? Will You give us such sacrificial love for: neighbor, state, nation, and Your world? Will You help us hear their lesson; peace is not just absence of war, but it’s in acknowledging, serving, and practicing the worthy presence of Jesus, the Eternal Messiah, of the Order of Melchizedek, the King of All that is Right, and the Lord of All Justice? Come Lord Jesus, Hope of the Nations, and make right the wrongs of our broken relationships with You and each other! Come Lord Jesus and be the Eternal Prince of Peace of Minnesota, and of every tribe and nation of the earth!

“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” Isaiah 46:10 NIV

 

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** Photo credit
*** citing Author Unknown, “Minneapolis Goes Wild With VJ Joy”, Minneapolis Morning Tribune, Minneapolis, MN. Wednesday August 15, 1945. Pg. 1
http://www.mnhs.org/people/mngg/web_assets/images/mplsTribune19450815.pdf
**** citing Author Unknown, “Duluth Goes Wild with Joy at Peace”, Duluth News-Tribune, Duluth, MN. Wednesday August 15, 1945. pg.1http://www.mnhs.org/people/ mngg/web_assets/images/duluthNewsTribune19450815.pdf
***** https://biblehub.com/niv/genesis/14.htm
****** https://www.biblehub.com/hebrews/7-2.htm
******* https://biblehub.com/psalms/110-4.htm
******** https://www.ibelieve.com/faith/who-was-melchizedek-and-why-was-he-so-important.html
********* https://www.biblehub.com/isaiah/46-10.htm

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