The Tradition of Hospitality Started by Milton and Catherine Hershey
Milton and Catherine Hershey created the rich tradition of hospitality in their lives and extended it to Milton Hershey School. The town of Hershey and the school were both created by the Hersheys with the intent of extending goodwill to others and there are many examples of this goodwill in the sharing of meals. Milton Hershey enjoyed hosting dinners for people who were important to him in a variety of ways and as a gesture of appreciation.
Soon after the Hersheys opened the Hershey Industrial School, Mr. Hershey hosted the Board of Managers for a tour of the School on November 10, 1910. A dinner provided by Superintendent George Copenhaver and his wife, Prudence, the School Matron, was part of the day’s agenda.
Milton and Kitty enjoyed entertaining in their home at High Point and hosted gatherings with their friends. They also opened their home to the students of the Hershey Industrial School for a special breakfast each year served either at tables set up on the lawn or on the porch, offering a view of the factory that must have been magnificent to a young boy. One alumnus remembers sitting beside Mr. Hershey at breakfast with Mr. Hershey’s German Shepherd sitting on the floor beside him. The alumnus was afraid of the dog and kept looking down at it. Mr. Hershey reassured him, “He won’t bite you, he’s very friendly.”
Mr. Hershey was proud of his accomplishments and enjoyed sharing them with others. He entertained the head farmers of his 66 farms at the Hershey Inn in October 1935. Everything on the menu was grown on the farms except the salt and pepper. The meal started with a dandelion cocktail and an appetizer of tomato juice and raw carrots. The main course was roast pork with fresh sauerkraut, string beans, stewed corn, potatoes, tomato and cucumber salad, wheat and corn muffins, and grape jelly. Apple cider was the beverage and the guests enjoyed strawberry ice cream for dessert.
Student homes enjoyed anniversary dinners for many years with cake and ice cream. In 1939, one home had a big celebration and everyone who had ever resided at the unit was invited, “thus making the celebration an all most complete reunion. There were many ‘goodies’ to fill our stomachs and many games to keep us hungry. It was a good evening.” Even more special than student home anniversaries are birthdays. Each student receives a cake on their birthday to make their day extra special and in student home Washington in the 1970s, started the day with the birthday celebration.
The hospitality tradition that Mr. Hershey started of bringing together people from different entities in the community is continuing with Project Fellowship. This program partners a Milton Hershey student home with groups or departments from The Hershey Company, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, The M.S. Hershey Foundation, and Hershey Entertainment & Resorts. Many of these relationships begin with a dinner in the student home. The adult groups get together with the students about during the school year including holiday meals with a popular year-ending picnic for all everyone. The program is very successful in building relationships through community outreach and is continuing the tradition Milton Hershey began over 100 years ago; creating a close association of friends sharing a meal and experiences.
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MHS Department of School History works hard to preserve the Hersheys’ values and students’ cherished memories through articles, photos, interviews and artifacts. Follow along with our monthly blog series focused entirely on the fascinating school history and inspiring work of our founders.