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This article, found in the archives of Mary Fitz-Gerald Riddle, is undated, but the balloon referred to in this article was manufactured in 1934, so the article was probably written about that time. The picture of the balloon is from Sally Rand kept dancing into her 60s and died in 1979.

Sally Rand Looks to C. of C. Sponsored Plant for Her Balloons

Writer Gives Industrial History of Ravenna Showing how Civic Organization Has Been Responsible for Growth of the Community.


Miss Sally Rand, the dancer who focused the attention of the world upon her slender nakedness and then proved that she could dance, was in search of someSally Rand new and startling medium of the dance which would hide the personal parts of her as would clothes, would fire the imagination of the vulgar, and yet cater to the tastes of the more aesthetic.

Miss Rand hit upon the idea of a balloon dance. If Sally were to dance naked behind great transparent balloons, she would appear at once intriguing, grotesque, and lovely. But where to find such balloons! None like those Sally visioned had ever been made. Could they be made?

Sally’s agent got in touch with the Chicago representative of the Oak Rubber Company. Later he called the company at its home office. The Oak Rubber Company had never made such balloons. But its engineers set to work on the problem and as all now know, Sally’s balloon dance was as much of a sensation at the second season of the World’s Fair as her Fan Dance had been at the first.
oak rubber

Order Not “Just Luck”

The matter of why the Oak Rubber Company was chosen to make those balloons has intrigued the curiosity of many people. Many other people simply “never thought about it” or considered that the order to the local company was just a matter of luck.

But someone had to be on his or her toes. Someone had to think that the Oak might be able to make those balloons. Contacts had to be made with the right individuals. And those contacts are part and parcel of our business and economic system. Probe back farther. Do you remember now that you used to wonder how it happened the Oak Rubber Company came to Ravenna; who started it; who made it apparent that Ravenna was the ideal spot for it to locate? For that matter, have you ever wondered why the State of Ohio picked out Ravenna for the establishment of its Division Garage, or why it chose our city for its National Guard troop?

Sold On Ravenna By C. of C.

The answers to these questions also are to be found in a vital phase of Ravenna’s public and economic system. These things “don’t just happen.” They are the result of serious local planning, of hard work upon the part of individuals, of advertising, and of the results of advertising—contacts.

There is no wish to be dramatic here, so we state simply that virtually all of Ravenna’s industries located here because the Chamber of Commerce sold them on the idea that Ravenna was an ideal spot for young industry to grow and prosper.

Many times you’ve seen in the pages of The Evening Record, or of its predecessors, something like this: “Mr. W. W. So-And-So, president of the Ravenna Chamber of Commerce announces that the John Doe Foundry will move its large aluminum casting company to Ravenna.” You’ve seen it. and in your interest over a new business, you’ve failed to realize the full significance of the announcement. THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BROUGHT THAT BUSINESS HERE

The story of the Ravenna Chamber of Commerce is an interesting one and all the more so since the Chamber has really hidden its light under a bushel ever since its inception.

Board of Trade Came First

Years ago, longer ago than anyone can now remember, prominent Ravenna business men banded together to found the Ravenna Board of Trade. The records of the proceedings have long been lost, but one imagines its membership was large. Unquestionably such men as the late Dan R. Hanna, H. W. Riddle, and A. C. Williams were guiding spirits of its organization.

In 1914 the present Chamber of Commerce was founded. Once again the prominent business men of Ravenna united for the common good of the city. Besides A. C. Williams and H. W. Riddle, there were W. J. Beckley, A. H. Webb, George H. Robinson, F. M. Paltzgroff, and a large share of the prominent merchants of the city. These men organized in an effort to place Ravenna’s business and industrial opportunities before the industrial world, and the fact Ravenna has not slipped into the doldrums of a dead past is tribute to their energy and foresight.

Lost Quaker Oats Plant

In the past, Ravenna has received several blows which might conceivably have proved fatal to its industrial life. Changing courses of economic life caused the world famous Quaker Oats Company to leave Ravenna and to remove its plant to a location closer to the sources of supply.

The loss of this business, even then one which was growing in national importance might have given less courageous people than Ravennans cause to let the grass grow in the streets. But even the successive shocks of other such losses did not deter the old Board of Trade in its determination to keep Ravenna on the industrial map.

In the old days, two of Ravenna’s greatest industries were the glass factories and the Riddle Coach and Hearse Company. Ravenna had had a carriage factory since 1835. Glass factories had sprung up as early as 1857.

Glass Factories Move Away

In the days of the Diamond Glass Factory, founded by George Robinson, D. C. Coolman, H. H. Stevens, and Warner Holcomb, Ravenna was indeed a flourishing city. But changing times caused the glass companies to move to Pittsburgh, a city which ever since has been famous as a glass making center.

The rise of mass production of automobile bodies sounded the death knell of the Riddle Coach and Hearse Company, later the Riddle Manufacturing Company, with its highly skilled corps of carriage makers—men such as Caleb and Will Ebersold, John Beazel, and others of their ability. The once great United Shoe Company went the way of the others, taking with it many dollars of Ravenna capital—members of the Board of Trade had personally helped to finance the project.

Fight for New Industries

But the grass is still not growing in the streets of Ravenna. New industries have come to take the place of the old. Slowly the city has recovered from each loss. Members of the Chamber of Commerce have constantly sought new industries to bring here, and have personally contributed large shares of money to interest the industries in Ravenna.

New business looks for small towns where taxes on building or industrial sites are lower than in the large cities. They look for towns that have an adequate supply of labor. There must be rail facilities for shipping the finished product to the market. Above all, there must be water.

In order that the Jamestown plant of the woolen mills could move here the Board of Review and Control, in response to pressure brought by the Chamber of Commerce, reduced taxes. Long years of struggle against the encroachments of large cities guaranteed the mills adequate water. Large payrolls mean business to Ravenna merchants as well as food and clothing for the worker. The Jones Brothers Structural Steel Company has paid out over a million dollars in wages. Each year the Oak Rubber Company payroll exceeds $100,000. Both companies came to Ravenna because of direct action by the Chamber of Commerce.

Secure 10 Plants in Recent Years

According to Mr. E. J. Smith, long an important cog in the operations of the Chamber of Commerce, ten industries have been brought to Ravenna in recent years. The ten—The Darwell Co., Inc., The Donnelly Manufacturing Co., Jones Brothers Structural Steel, Kent Rubber Products Co., Motor Valve Products Co., Oak Rubber Co., Pollack -Altman Company, Pyramid Rubber Co., State Highway Garage, and the Sta-Warm Electric Co.—have consistently paid out a regular monthly payroll of $60,000 and have employed 600 people.

In the past, some of these industries have failed. That is to be expected. But if a company has paid out wages for even so short a time as six months, it may be considered to have been a success in the respect that it has bought fuel and materials, and indirectly groceries, automobiles, clothes, and all the necessities of living.

The Armory might serve as an example. A bitter battle to get the Cavalry troop was waged by neighboring towns. Ravenna got it, largely because the Chamber of Commerce was able to secure the land from the Fairgrounds association upon which the Armory was later built. This land was presented outright to the State of Ohio.

Now local companies had a great share in the building of the Armory, that is, in supplying materials. Local people laid its foundations. Today its payroll is not large. Yet it must be heated and lighted. Its large troop of horses must be fed, and the troops get a regular pay for their soldiering.

Sell Land to State Cheap

In order to secure the State Highway Garage, Ravenna, through its Chamber of Commerce, sold the State of Ohio the present highway garage site at about 30% of its worth. That it has repaid Ravennans a thousand-fold who can deny?

Recently two new industries located in Ravenna, the Monarch Alloy Company and the Industrial Metal Products Company. Each is gradually entrenching itself in the business world, and each appears on the road to outstanding success. At least three other concerns are planning to come to Ravenna in the near future. Should they come, prosperity will increase in measure. Merchants will see larger turnovers in business as the relief rolls are cut. Houses will no longer lie idle. In short, Ravenna will prosper again.

Support of Citizens Is Needed

sallyAnd that brings us once more to Miss Sally Rand. No one has ever accused lovely Sally of hiding her charms beneath a bushel basket, or even sack cloth. Her lesson of advertizing has been visual exposure. Ours in Ravenna might be at once oral and financial. The Chamber of Commerce needs both oral and financial aid from us whom it represents in order that it may continue the work it has so long struggled to accomplish.




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