I love old company newsletters, not only for the major stories, but for the everyday chitchat. It’s so easy to get lost in the little stories. Every now and then, I pull out a copy of The Ball Line just to see what was going on with the company and employees. The Ball Line was started by John W. Fisher in the early 1940s, and, of course, those issues from the World War II years were full of news of both the home front and the people in service.
Everything that is old is new again, or so it seems. During the past few years, ideas for using Ball jars for everything but canning have been everywhere – on Pinterest, in magazines, in craft supply stores, etc. And, of course, is it even possible to have a wedding reception without Ball jars anymore?
Last month, I shared stories of growing up on Minnetrista Boulevard from Janice, Helen, and their cousin Doris Mauck. This month, we’ll check out the memories of sisters Lucy, Margaret, and Rosemary. Their parents were Frank C. and Elizabeth “Bessie” Brady Ball.
Along with the usual contents such as community memorabilia and newspaper articles, there are some very special letters included in the Minnetrista cornerstone. They were written by Janice Ball Fisher, Helen Ball Robinson, Lucy Ball Owsley, Rosemary Ball Bracken, and their cousin Doris Mauck Friedrichs.
Recently, I spent a pleasant lunch hour talking about the Ball family and the history of the company with approximately forty Jarden Home Brand employees. Jarden, of course, holds the license to make Ball jars. The company also manufactures the lids and bands for all canning jars at a facility located on the former site of Ball Brothers Company at Memorial Drive and Macedonia Avenue.
In March, I told you about the renovation work that will be done at Oakhurst this summer. There have been some delays, but the work is starting now, just in time to mark the twentieth anniversary of the public opening of the house on May 27. This year also marks 120 years since George and Frances Ball moved into the house.
Oakhurst, the home of George and Frances Ball and their daughter Elisabeth, celebrates both its 120th and its 20th anniversaries this year. The house was built in 1895 and opened for public tours on May 27, 1995. It was designed by Indianapolis architect Louis Gibson who wanted the house to fit naturally into the oak grove selected by the family. Gibson did not paint the house, expecting that the wood siding and shingles would age naturally. Eventually, though, the house was both varnished and painted.
The Prohibition era of the 1920s and early 1930s generated plenty of colorful stories about rumrunners, bootleggers, and speakeasies. Moonshiners—those savvy entrepreneurs who produced their own high-proof distilled spirits—have their very own colorful Ball canning jar stories.
The history of Ball Corporation in a quilt! In 1976, this is what well-known Muncie artist Barbara Moll created for Ball Corporation’s new headquarters. Her five-panel creation documented the history of the company from its founding in 1880 in Buffalo, New York to the company’s entry into aerospace to the lid shortage of 1975.
Those of us of a certain age remember, with great fondness, the wonderful decorations at Ball Stores in downtown Muncie. Recently, I shared some photos of the decorations with the audience at the latest Tea & Talk at Minnetrista. During tea time, there was lots of chatter at the tables as new and old friends exchanged memories. It was especially great to meet one gentleman in the audience who had worked at Ball Stores for more than thirty-five years. Some of those years were spent working on the windows, and he told us that many of the decorations had originally been displayed at Saks Fifth Avenue!