22 September 2010

Mary Meyer and Manhattan (NY) Trade School

In April 2010 I received a call from Paul Lukas, a writer from New York City.  Paul had stumbled upon a file cabinet full of Report Cards from the the early 1920’s.  My Mother, Mary Meyer, was one of those students at the Manhattan Trade School For Girls  learning the dress-making profession.

The school had been established for you girls to teach them a marketable skill so they would not be forced to work in a sweat shop.  With their skills they could get a better paying job.  Paul Lukas send me copies of Mother’s report cards.  It showed she was energetic, did her assignments well and was a good all around student and worker.

It’s wonderful that Paul Lukas found those report cards and realized the family histories that came out of the education offered to help these  young women.  My Mother was a student there from 1918 to 1922 and learned the skills that allowed her to start a business, which is still alive and well today.

Mother met my Dad in the late 1920’s, they married and in 1933 started their company, Mary Meyer Manufacturing Co., which is still alive and  and growing today in Southern Vermont.

Mother and Dad managed the company and I joined the them in 1955. Mother’s four grandsons (my sons) joined in the 1980’s.  Mother was active in her company until the early 1980’s.  At the age of 78 she said, “I’ve done this long enough” and retired to less stressful jobs, like opening the mail and reporting it’s contents to her Grandson, Kevin, now the president of Mary Meyer.

All of this came from a small beginning at the Manhattan Trade School for Girls and it built the beginning of a family business and jobs for up to 1,000 people during the past 77 years.

The next time you pick up a stuffed toy, look at the label.  It just might say “Mary Meyer – Townshend, Vermont”.  The company has been around for a long time because a young woman learned her skills at the Manhattan Trade School for Women and started a business and a big, happy family and now they are one.

Last week the New York Times had a story about the Manhattan Trade School for Girls.  The link is http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/nyregion/14bigcity.html?_r=1

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