Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, August 20, 2006, pg. 11
For many years Albion was a stronghold for the Republican Party. Many of our prominent citizens were there “under the Oaks” at the founding of the Party in Jackson in 1854. One significant event occurred here in Albion on December 9-10, 1938, when all of the just-elected Republican State Senators came for an informal caucus at the Parker Inn Hotel.
This group of men consisted of the 23 incoming Republican Senators, and seven Republican state officials. This included Governor-elect Frank D. Fitzgerald, as well as the men who were to elected to hold the offices of Lieut. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Attorney General and Auditor General, and Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The caucus was held at the invitation of Albion’s own Senator Joseph A. Baldwin (1895-1949) who served as the moderator for the event. It was a “get acquainted” caucus for about half of the participants who had just been elected for the first time. Members discussed legislative organization such as deciding upon a Senate floor leader, and upcoming goals such as urging passing of labor legislation.
The highlight of the caucus was a formal dinner held in the main ballroom during the evening of Friday, December 9. This was a by-invitation only event. No reporters were allowed to this special dinner, and strict privacy was the rule. Miffed reporters who flocked to Albion had to stand outside. The local paper reported, “Visiting newspapermen will be barred from the officials’ dinner but will dine together in the Hawthorne room.” I mention this because the number of persons at that dinner would have had to have been just around forty persons maximum. Musical entertainment was provided by “The Aristocrats,” a trio composed by Albionites: Rolland Manchester, Clarence Wochholz, and Frank Jezisek.
Following the dinner, the Senators were presented with bags of various gifts supplied by companies in Southern Michigan which consisted of a sampling of their products. Included in each bag (you can probably guess some of the companies which supplied these items) were: cereal samples, buckwheat flour, a dust pan, a writing tablet, dog food (I didn’t know it was politically correct to give dog food to a Senator as a gift), talcum powder, canned vegetables, gelatin, and chocolate syrup--all manufactured here in Southern Michigan. Governor-elect Fitzgerald also received an archery set.
During the dinner, each Senator received at his table setting a special item that was manufactured right here in Albion. It was an ash tray commemorating the event, fashioned by the creative pattern makers at the Albion Malleable Iron Company. Cast in a non-ferrous alloy and painted with gold paint, this “deep dish” oval tray measures 6 3/4 by just over 4 1/2 inches. In the center is a large elephant, the emblem of the Republican Party. The inside text states, “Honoring Elective State Officers.” Above the elephant is the Circle-A company logo of the Albion Malleable Iron Company. The upper perimeter legend reads, “Republican Senators Conference, Albion Michigan December 9-10, 1938.” On the back at the bottom in large letters appears, “Albion Malleable Iron Company.”
Judging from the limited number of participants invited to this event, I would guess that only around 50 (or less) of these were manufactured. Because of their political significance and also scarcity, these are very highly collectible objects which rarely have appeared for sale anywhere. Most have remained in the politicians’ families, having been passed down from generation to generation. From our Historical Notebook we present one such ashtray obtained recently by yours truly, and restored to its gold-colored grandeur by Keith Waito. How many of our readers have ever seen one of these Republican ashtrays?
Republican Senators Conference 1938 Commemorative Ashtray
Next: POLL PARROT TEA ROOM
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