Templeton souvenir returns after 50 years
The Sussex-Lisbon Area Historical Society Museum recently received a historical artifact from Carol Bolin of Manchester, Ky.
About two years ago she called me, the museum curator, after reading about our display of Kewpie products and accessories from the Templeton-based Mammoth Spring Canning Co. (1920-1996) on the society's Web site.
Bolin said she had, but could not find, a leather-covered 2- by 5- by 1¼-inch thick first-aid kit embossed with "Mammoth Spring Canning Corp./Sussex, Wisconsin/Fine Canned Foods." Bolin asked if the museum would want this company giveaway, if she ever found it again.
I told her the item would be appreciated and exhibited in our Kewpie/Mammoth Spring display case.
I then forgot all about our conversation until a couple of months ago, when a small package arrived in the mail, accompanied by a short letter from Bolin explaining that a move occasioned by a job change had uncovered this small first-aid kit. I immediately responded with documents for her to sign that would allow the museum to accept her donation.
"It was given to me from the estate of Katherine Rice by her son, John Rice," she wrote. "He owned the Manchester Wholesale Company."
This wholesale company brokered the sale of Mammoth Spring Canning Co. canned foods, and a representative of the Sussex company had given him this token of the company's appreciation for his business.
One of the company's principal owners and its longtime president, John P. Kraemer, thought it was important to have giveaways with company identification and logos, especially for its premium Kewpie brand.
The first-aid kit is probably from the early 1960s in the waning years of Kraemer's control before he gave way to Kurt Kneiske.
Kraemer was born April 22, 1894, served in World War I and died Sept. 27 1977. When he arrived in Sussex in 1920, his extended family had preceded him by two years. They had bought the old Holman stone quarry and kiln site for a reported $5,000, with the idea of turning the 8-acre site on Main Street and Waukesha Avenue into a canning company.
The young Kraemer was not only active with the company but in 1922 became a founding father of the Sussex Fire Department and the incorporation of Sussex two years later. In 1939 he co-founded the Sussex Lions Club, and was the man behind the scenes of the 1958 purchase of the 78 acres for Sussex Village Park for about $37,000, starting the Sussex park system.
The miniature first-aid kit advertising gimmick probably had Kramer's hand in its selection. Opening the zipper reveals a small pair of scissors, three band aids, a roll of adhesive tape and two items seldom used today: a tube of Unguentine (a pain-relieving antiseptic ointment) and a small corked glass bottle of Mercurochrome (a topical antiseptic and painless alternative to iodine).
With the opening of the display of Sussex- Lisbon pioneers this month, this item will go on display in the east room.
The Mammoth Spring Canning Co. shut its doors in March 1996, but demolition of the factory did not begin until 2000, and only this past winter did the resulting pile of crushed concrete finally disappear, leaving a site of low rolling ground fronting an unseen water-filled stone quarry – all waiting for future development.
Retrospect: The Big Stinky