Sherburne History Center

Sherburne History Center
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Saturday, March 23, 2019

The USS Sherburne A Tribute to the County

As World War Two entered the fifth year of battles and bloodshed, a little-known event of some pride to the citizen of Sherburne County unfolded in the naval yards of California.  Although unreported in Sherburne County newspapers, on July 10, 1944, the Navy officially launched the cargo ship the USS Sherburne, (APA 250) named for Sherburne County, Minnesota. 

The Navy designed the Sherburne as a Haskell class transport ship, built to haul 1500 troops and their combat equipment to areas of the Pacific Theatre.  After its launching and shakedown exercises, the Sherburne sailed from California to Hawaii, and destinations throughout the Pacific. Her crew sailed to Guam and the Philippines before taking part in the Battle of Okinawa in May and June 1945.  The Sherburne ended the war in Yokohama, witnessing the surrender of Japan. 

As a Haskell class ship, the Sherburne was designed to move rapidly through ocean waters, relying on speed to avoid submarine attacks.  Armed with 40 mm and 20 mm guns provided the ship with defense against air attack. 

With the conclusion of the war, the Sherburne briefly served as part of operation Magic Carpet, to rapidly return troops to the United States.  By 1946 her service was transferred to the Maritime Administration until 1969.  That year the Navy recommissioned and refitted the Sherburne as a range instrumentation ship.  Renamed the USS Range Sentinel, she served until 2012 when she was scrapped. 

Although seemingly insignificant in the greater history of the war, the USS Sherburne served with some honor.  From the initial launching in 1944, until her scrapping in 2012 the ship gave the county a unique position of pride in twentieth century history.   The ship was recognized with a battle star for service in the assault on Okinawa.  With maximum speed over 17 knots, the crew of 500 officers and naval personnel hauled cargo of 1500 to the battle fronts of the Pacific Theatre in the final year of World War Two. One of only a few ships to continue service through the remainder of the century the simple cargo ship warrants greater recognition.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Bank's Business Strategy: Remember the Ladies

The 1915 Bank of Elk River Building located on
Jackson Street.  Although not visible, a side entrance to
 the bank led to the basement lounge for farm families and ladies

Recent efforts to map the Elk River business district provided some interesting results, not the least of these is the development of a ladies’ lounge in the Bank of Elk River basement.  Researching the lounge, shows the businessmen of Elk River very attuned to early 1900s marketing and customer service ideas.  Their efforts to recruit entire families shows an appreciation for a close-knit community.

Fire destroyed the business district of Elk River in April 1915.  The Bank of Elk River immediately developed plans for a new bank building. With the new construction on Jackson Street, the bank also introduced the idea of providing a “rest room for farmers wives and families.”  The idea being to provide “a place for farmers wives and families a place to rest and visit with one another.” 

The opulence of the new bank set a unique standard of excellence for the Bank of Elk River.  “The walls are a soft cream tint,” the Sherburne County Star news reported.  “the wood work in the beautiful cathedral oak.  The wainscoting and counters are Italian marble.”  The new building clearly intended to impress bank clients and customers. 

The lounge promised to be equally luxurious.  The lounge invited the ladies of Elk River and “every woman in the country” to enjoy the luxury of the rest room, while men conducted their business around town.  Electrical lighting, carpets, and comfortable chairs waited to greet every woman as she entered the space. 

The bank provided additional efforts to separate women from the unsavory aspects of business, providing them a separate entrance to the rest area.  The ladies never set foot in the bank to relax in the luxurious lounge. 

The Elk River fire in 1915 allowed the Bank of Elk River an opportunity to create a new image of themselves.  A financial institution interested in the comfort of the entire family, clearly a new strategy for banking and marketing.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Spring Forward and Save!

Daylight Savings Times becomes effective, this year (2019), in slightly more than one week.  Reviewing DST and the history seems appropriate to appreciate the experiment.  The idea originated more than 200 years ago, yet, came into common use with the beginning of World War One.  Even today it remains a confusing experiment in time.

Benjamin Franklin proposed a form of daylight savings time in 1784.  While touring France, he wrote an essay, “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light,” proposing Parisians could save the cost of candles if they were to rise from bed an hour earlier each day. Using natural light to start the work day would lead to significant savings.  Many readers regarded his suggestion as an attempt at humor and was not taken seriously. 
The start of World War One, Germany and her allies adopted a form of daylight savings time to save on the short supplies of coal and other fuels necessary for the war effort.  The United States adopted the Standard Time Act on March 3, 1918.  The idea of daylight savings was so offensive Congress ended the practice with the end of the war in November 1918.

The second war “to end all wars” witnessed the resumption of daylight savings.  Franklin Roosevelt ordered DST beginning February 9, 1942.  Known as “war time” the practice remained in place until September 1945.  In Sherburne County, the newspapers seemed neutral about this unique war sacrifice.  Daylight saving “will not mean so much of a saving this time of year,” the Sherburne County Star News commented in February 1942.  “It will make a big difference in mid-summer,” the paper suggested, “Sherburne county residents will see daylight at 10 pm in midsummer.”  

With the end of the war, DST also ended.  However, some states chose to keep the practice.  For twenty years, confusion of time seemed common. In 1966 the transportation industry insisted a consistent time standard be adopted.  Congress passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966, mandating daylight savings time beginning in 1967.  However, state options to reject, or expand, DST remain in place to this day.