Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on Nov. 13th.
25 YEARS AGO
November 13, 1994 – Sunday
“U.S. Losing the Clothing War”
Franklin County’s apparel industry becomes a casualty:
The gray sweatshirt hanging on a rack seems as American as the smiling Mickey Mouse emblazoned upon it. But under the Disney label is a tag that tells a different story: Made in the Dominican Republic.
Displayed nearby in the local department store are other sweatshirts from other countries: Taiwan, Pakistan and China.
The store is typical of many others: imported clothes outnumber clothes made in this country.
It reflects the plight of the United States clothing industry, which faces increasing competition from abroad.
The impact is being felt locally, where the deluge of clothing from other countries has eaten away at workers’ jobs and paychecks.
The Greif Co. plant in Shippensburg, which makes men’s clothing, will close in three months, leaving 164 workers without jobs.
Workers at the J. Schoeneman plant in Chambersburg agreed to take a 7 per cent cut last month to save their jobs. It hasn’t given them much security.
“We are sitting on top of a fence about to go either way,” said Jean Slaybaugh, who has worked at J. Schoeneman for 11 years.
The apparel industry in Franklin and Fulton counties employed 3,000 people in 1982. After Greif closes, the industry will employ about 1,350, all working for J . Schoeneman at its Chambersburg and State Line plants.
The industry isn’t averse to competition. But it finds itself in a heavyweight fight with only one free hand.
“There are a number of countries that pay workers in terms of cents per hour rather than dollars per hour , ” said Robert Kaplan, executive director of the Clothing Manufacturers Association of the USA. “Obviously, you can’t compete when they do that.”
The association, based in New York, represents manufacturers of tailored clothing, including J. Schoeneman.
A decline in the demand for men’s suits has bruised the industry, but hasn’t packed the punch of foreign competition.
The trend toward buying fewer suits does not go back as far as the inroads made by imports,” Kaplan said. “Imports are the biggest problem . . . There’s been little growth and we’ve been losing a considerable portion of the market to imports.”
The recent lifting of restrictions on trade with other countries hasn’t helped.
Workers at Greif and Schoeneman have voiced opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which may be passed by Congress on Nov. 29.
“GATT has got to go,” Slaybaugh said.
Mike Ross, executive director of Franklin County Area Development Corp., said the trade agreements will benefit economic development as a whole, but “the textile industry is to some extent a casualty.”
Said Kaplan: “We feel that the government is our only hope through tariffs and quotas. But these are both being eliminated and this will result in more lost jobs.”
Clothing manufacturers can’t stretch their material far enough to beat the prices of imported goods, but they haven’t given up.
They are staking their future on other attributes: quality, fashion, delivery time and response time.
“They are very competitive in many areas,” said Jan Drummond, a spokeswoman for Sears, Roebuck and Co. “We’re not looking for anything shoddy that we can sell cheap.
“The clothing made in the United States is better,” said Dick Dorey, manager of Wal-Mart in Chambersburg.
A 1994 Gallup survey showed that quality is the most important factor in consumers’ buying decisions. More than two-thirds of the respondents rated United States clothing superior to imports in quality.
Ross believes that Schoeneman will be able to withstand foreign competition.
“Their competitiveness has been predicated on investment in technology,” he said. “They are able to manufacture high quality clothing faster and more efficiently. They have created a competitive niche for themselves.”
50 Years Ago
November 13, 1969 -Thursday
“Women’s Society of Christian Service of Christ United Methodist Church has Christmas Bazaar”
BOUNTIFUL DISPLAY – Members of the Women’s Society of Christian Service of Christ United Methodist Church display homemade gifts to be sold at the Christmas Bazaar, set for Nov. 21. The sale will be conducted in the church from 10 a.m. to 7:20 p.m., with lunch to be served from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. From left are Mrs. Florence Geyer, Mrs. Jean Pinci and Mrs. Jean Johnson.
100 Years Ago
November 13, 1919 -Thursday
“WAYNESB0R0 BOY TURNS INVENTOR AT AGE OF 16”
Sixteen-year-old Allen J. Gardenhour, son of Mr. and Mrs. George H. Gardenhour, of Waynesboro, has perfected and received a patent on a combination electric switch to be used for electric circuits and to prevent the oscillating and closing of circuits on automobiles by unauthorized persons, thus doing away with the lock on cars when they are not in use. The simple turning of a knob does away with the operating key and makes the car safe from invasion. It can also be used on telephones, electric lights, elevators, etc.
Allen Young Gardenhours spare time for the last five years has been spent in the study of wireless and radio telephone and telegraph, electric alarms and switches and other lines of electrical experiments.
** AUTHOR’S NOTE: Allen J. Gardenhour’s obituary states that he died on September 28, 1981 in Chambersburg. He lived in Chambersburg most of his life and graduated from Waynesboro High School in 1922. He attended Penn State University and married the former Marie Jacobs in 1925.
He was an electrician and inventor who started the first Radio Station in Waynesboro. Mr. Gardenhour began his lifelong interest in radio in 1920 when he and his brother, the late Arthur Gardenhour, started WXJ Radio in Waynesboro. He received national and international news by radio.