View of Central Hershey mill from period postcard. I'm told it's now called Camilo Cienfuegos.
There's no question the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania barely felt the Great Depression. Milton Hershey built many of the town's most impressive features during the deep downturn in the economy. Hotel Hershey, the Community Center, the Industrial School's high school, the arena, the Rose Garden, the Hershey Inn and others were all built while the rest of the nation suffered. He also started a hospital in the Community Center, the country club in his Highpoint Mansion and even a Native American museum.
M.S. kept people working.
Most people say he could do this because chocolate bars were selling well. Americans didn't have much money, but many could spend a nickle on the "instant energy" of a Hershey bar.
There's probably truth to this. Candy bars continued to sell. But it's rarely mentioned that the sugar operation in Cuba was contributing a large part of company profits. Cuba played a huge role in Hershey, Pennsylvania's prosperity.
M.S. spent lots of his time in Cuba. Who could blame him? The weather's great.
Perhaps he felt a bit freer there, too. In the U.S., after all, he had his image to maintain. On one trip he ran up a $120,000 gambling debt at the casinos.