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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

Hudson Answers the Question!

Charles Lane, Pantagraph reporter, traveled to Hudson, IL to ask the residents whether a college education contributed to an individual's happiness.

Charles Lane was a graduate of ISNU and editor in chief of the Vidette in 1936. He came to work for the Pantagraph after graduation, but moved to Chicago in 1940, along with his wife Catherine Hoobler Lane, a Gridley native and ISNU graduate. In Chicago he worked for the Associated Press as a photo editor for two years and then moved to the New York City AP offices until 1945. In 1945 he was assigned as head photo editor in Paris. While there he coordinated the photography at the Nuremberg trials. He worked in Delhi, India for two years before being assigned to the London AP office, where he lived the rest of his life. He was born in Macomb, IL in 1914 and died in London, England at age 83. His obituary appeared in papers all over the United States, but his obit did not appear in the Pantagraph.(!)

Fred Snavely was the manager of the Alexander Lumber yard in Hudson. His answer: "Frankly, I don't. Happiness is a state of mind and a person living in a hut is as likely to have it as a millionaire." He felt that all unhappiness had at its root covetousness. Fred Snavely had completed 2 years of high school according to the 1940 census.

Victor Langdon Rhinehart was the owner of a hardware and implement store and vice president of the Normal State Bank. "A college education helps a man think a little clearer. That helps him earn a living and anything that helps him earn a living tends to make him happier." Victor Rhinehart attended ISNU, and his father, John Rhinehart, was a founding director of the Normal State Bank.

Chester Simpson was a gasoline station attendant in Hudson. He had observed that many people with college educations were having difficulty finding work during the Depression and didn't think that a college education guaranteed happiness. Chester served in the Navy during WWII and afterward worked as an electrician at General Electric for 25 years. According to the 1940 census, he had a fifth grade education.

Susan Kaufman and Esther Volle were both teachers in Hudson. Susan felt that an education did tend to increase happiness. "(I)t tends to make a person happy because it helps him get into work he likes. Of course in recent years that hasn't always worked out as it should." Esther Volle said "A big obstacle to happiness is removed if a person can earn a living doing what he wants to do." Susan Kaufman did not appear in any genealogical record and Esther in only one. Esther had completed two years of college, and a family tree indicates she married and had children.

Hurschel F. Johnson was a grocery store owner in Hudson and I couldn't help noting that his shelves had the same type of price markers as in the Downs grocery and also, had industrial size Jello boxes! Hurschel felt that a college education was helpful in gaining happiness -- because of the confidence gained and the social relationships that would be developed. Hurschel had completed 2 years of high school. He died in Hudson in 1971.

Dr. A.H. Stagner was a veterinarian in Hudson. He definitely believed that a college education did not lead to a happy life. But he went on to answer that veterinarians who only had two years of vet school could be even more successful that vets who remained in vet school for three years. He felt that the cost of an education prevented some people from achieving their education goals. He felt that a college education was too theoretical to lead to a happy lifestyle. Albert Stagner had four children and there is no indication that any of his children attended college.

Junius Thompson was a telephone operator in Hudson. In this image he is sitting at the switchboard and there is what appears to be a twin size bed behind him. Did he have to answer the phone all night long? Was he the ONLY telephone operator in Hudson? On his draft card he stated his employer was Fredice Stinley, who just happened to be his older sister, but her entry in the 1940 census did not state that she was a telephone operator. During the 1930 census Junius had another unusual job -- he was a self employed weaver in Leroy, Illinois. He said that a person with a college education might be able to move in "so-called better circles" but if they had spent money getting an education and were unable to get a job they would be very unhappy.

There are more images of Hudson residents who were interviewed in the Collection!

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Apr 05, 2020

Chester Simpson was a family member and I remember buying penny-candy at Hurschel Johnson's grocery store. Later when Johnson's went out of business the store was rented out to my Uncle & Aunt, Eugene & Edith (Simpson) Lanhardt as their residence. Chester Simpson pictured above was related to Edith Lanhardt.

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