Monthly Archives: September 2012

This is not racist…

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The other day a customer and I were discussing how we are so tired of political correctness!  As I explained in a previous post, HAHN INDUSTRIES has been manufacturing the ‘Jocko’ Jockey Boy statue since 1960.  I’ve had many customers ask me, “aren’t you afraid to be selling such a racist statue?”  My answer to them is always emphaticly the same, “NO… The Jockey Boy is not a symbol of RACISM!”  I proceed to explain the following…  “Some people say this story is urban legend, others say it is true”.  I hand them our pre-printed card and tell them, “decide for yourself”… 

The Legend of the Lawn Jockey

HAHN INDUSTRIES has been making the Jockey Boy Statue since 1960 (click on photos to enlarge)

The story begins the blistery winter night in December 1776 when General George Washington decided to cross the Delaware River to launch a surprise attack on the British forces in Trenton.

Jocko Graves was twelve-years old and the son of a free black man.  Jocko wanted to go along with General Washington to fight the Redcoats. Washington told Jocko he was too young and ordered him to watch over the horses and keep a lantern blazing along the shore of the Delaware River.  This is how he could help so the company would know where to return after the battle.  Many hours later, Washington and his men returned.  They saw the light but found Graves had frozen to death with the lantern still clenched in his fist. 

General Washington was so moved by the young boy’s devotion to the revolutionary cause he commissioned a statue of the ‘Faithful Groomsman’ to place in Grave’s honor at the General’s estate in Mount Vernon. 

The following is fact

Similar cast-iron statues began appearing in the decades after Washington’s crossing of the Delaware in jockey silks, whether for aesthetic reasons or confusion borrowed from Jocko’s name. The clothing worn by the lawn jockeys resembled the clothes worn by black riding jockeys, who have a glorious history. In 1875, the first 13 winners of the Kentucky Derby were black.

By the time of the Civil War, these ‘Jocko’ statues could be found on plantations throughout the South.  Like the North Star that pointed fleeing slaves to their freedom, the Jocko statue’s arm pointed to the safe houses of the Underground Railroad.  Along the Mississippi River, a green ribbon tied to the arm indicated safety; a red ribbon meant danger.

Therefore, contrary to some folk’s thinking these statues are a racial slur, they are a memorial to Jocko Graves, a beacon for Freedom and a tribute to some of the greatest Jockeys racing has ever known.  That’s Not Racist!

Jockey Boy Statues $120
Lined up in our warehouse.

 Later… Barbara

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Sometimes you have to jump…

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First Jump Certificate
(Click on photo to enlarge)

I received this certificate after making my first parachute jump.  It was always displayed prominently when I lived in Colorado and Jamaica as a reminder of what I could accomplish.  Just recently, I remembered I had not unpacked it since moving back to Illinois.  I like how it states… “demonstrated proficiency and personal courage by voluntary emergence from an aircraft in flight”.   Once you voluntarily jump out of a perfectly good airplane, your life is never the same!

Three people and I decided that summer we were going skydiving.  When it came time to go, two of them backed out.  It crossed my mind to find something else to do that weekend too, but I needed to prove something to myself.  I wanted to take a chance and try it.

The thing about skydiving you need to know… you have to pack your own parachute.  You have to take the personal responsibility to make sure it is packed correctly.  If it fails, it is your fault.  If it does not open, you are the one who will suffer the consequences.  If it is packed correctly, you will have the ride and a view of a lifetime!

After the fear of looking at the ground from a plane’s open door, you then have to muster up the courage to take one more step, and jump…  I was afraid… terrified is probably a better description!  I recall my feet peddling like riding a bicycle once there was nothing underneath me, and letting out one of the most blood curdling screams ever. However, it turned out to be one of the most exhilarating events of my life I have never regretted!

Once I looked up and saw an open parachute, I settled down, checked everything out… I was okay… I did it… I enjoyed the ride!  A peaceful feeling came over me in that never heard before silence as I floated to the ground.  In addition with that peacefulness was courage, knowing that I could do anything I set my mind to do.  It is still ingrained in my memory as I stepped out of the plane and out of my comfort zone that day thirty years ago. Although it was scary, I will never regret taking a chance, to develop the personal strength necessary to carry me through the challenges ahead of me in life.

I do not profess to be a great philosopher or scholar, I’m just a girl with insecurities like everyone else. Nevertheless, I can tell you this…  Making some choices in life is like skydiving.  A choice or a change can scare us, and if we do not do everything to prepare properly it can harm us.  However, once we decide to jump or to make a change… we can enjoy the view and the ride of a lifetime!

You will never be the same, it will change you; it very well might amaze you… it could also make you question why you waited so long!

Later… Barbara

We found a Gnome in our barn!

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We have been in the process of barn demolition the past few weeks.  One more fire to go and the last remnants of the barn will be history.

Future Display Area
Click on photos to enlarge

I am sad to see it gone. However, I am excited about dreaming up a new display area for HAHN INDUSTRIES next spring.

On the day the barn came down, and as soon as the dust settled the guys went to take a look when all of a sudden Jeff, my Brother hollered… “There’s something in there!  It looks like a gnome!”  

“There’s something in there!
It looks like a Gnome!”

Everyone rushed over to see. Entangled in the wood rafters, just under the tin roof, there he was, he survived the fall with barely a scratch.

The mystery… no one remembers ever seeing this fellow before.  We thought everything had been cleared out before the demolition.  We have no idea where he came from, or how long he had been hiding there. 

I decided to do a little research…  I learned the 16th Century Swiss alchemist Paracelsus was the first to write about gnomes. He classified them as earth elementals,  very reluctant to interact with humans, and able to move through solid earth as easily as humans move through air.       <now that’s interesting, but why was he in our barn?>

Then I found this… They work at night in the woods and sometimes in human dwellings. In rural areas gnomes often live in the rafters of barns, where, if they are treated well, they keep an eye on the livestock as well as crops. They help plants grow and add color to nature.

Holy moly…  he must have been hiding in the rafters for years.   Now we will have to decide… What are we going to do with him? 

Our Gnome!

A cool link: www.freethegnomes.com  The official site in support of Garden Gnome Liberation.  <I hope they don’t accuse us of keeping our gnome captive!>

Later… Barbara

History of Hahn Industries ~ Part II

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Aerial view of Hahn Industries in the 1970’s
(click on all photos to enlarge)

Milk House ~ 1955

“Change is inevitable. Change for the better is a full-time job.”                                         ~ Adlai E. Stevenson

This aerial view has brought back a few memories and stories.  The former Hahn Dairy and Chicken farm has gone through many transformations over the years.  The warehouse was built in 1964, the attached office and showroom in 1972.  When the folks started HAHN INDUSTRIES at the farm in 1960, the office was in the milk house, next to the house where the garage is today.

Caboose on railroad tracks, being lifted by crane to move to Hahn Industries display area.

Notice the caboose in the display area.  It was an old E.J.&E. caboose used as a gift shop.  It was purchased and brought down the Illinois Central rail line from Chicago.  They used a crane to move it from the railroad tracks to the display yard.  It deteriorated over time and has since been removed.

In the upper left hand corner of the top photograph, the buildings with an enclosed pasture was our little menagerie.  My Great-Uncle Louie raised white-tail deer, peacocks, exotic pheasants and chickens, wild turkeys and monkeys.  Most everyone my age in Cullom will remember our monkey  ‘Coco’.  <I just had someone ask me about him the other day>.  Coco made many trips to school when my Dad would take him for us kid’s show and tell days. <Unfortunately, I don’t recall ever seeing photographs of Coco, he was a character!>  

Many years ago, the area in the top photograph with the six white circles use to be a cow pasture. After they would chase the cows out, the Chicago Bears would practice and scrimmage in Cullom. <I’ve seen a photograph with them, but unable to find it, still searching!>

Hahn Barn ~ 1955

The barn had a round brick silo, which in later years we used as a rubbish incinerator.  The story goes when they went to take the silo down, my Dad and his friend, Clinton Clausen were going to blow it apart to remove it.  They used a bit too much dynamite, rattled every window in town, and blew out the corner of the barn as well.  But, they did get it down!

Barn After Silo Explosion

The barn was demolished this past August, <no dynamite involved> and as of this writing we’re still cleaning up the last remnants.  A new display area is being planned.

Barn Demolition Aug.25, 2012

Over the past years there have been many modifications to the Hahn Farm.

My Grandpa always said…                                          “You don’t make anything too permanent around here, you never know when you will have to change it.”  He was a very wise man!

Later… Barbara

Oh my… maybe President Obama was right!

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Early view of casting shop
(click on photos to enlarge)

I have seen the reports in the media how President Obama stated ‘you didn’t build that business by yourself’.  You know, he might have a valid point.  The other day my Mom and I were discussing some of the first employees of HAHN INDUSTRIES.  I asked her to make a list of who helped over the past fifty-three years in building our business.

For those of you in the Cullom area, look below.  Either your name is listed, a relative’s name, or someone you know.  <Anyone who is aware of someone we’ve missed, please let us know.>

As I look over the names, I think about the first car a teenager was able to purchase, a house payment made, school clothes bought,  help with college tuition, a paid electric or gas bill, a supplement to a farm income,  someone’s first job, or someone’s last job before retiring.  I see many good hard working people.  I also see many unforgettable characters, but I’ll keep those stories to myself.

Casting area

Everyone below knows what it’s like to work with their hands and get them dirty.  They know what it felt like to have a backache at night from lifting too much during the day. When you worked at HAHN INDUSTRIES you know what fresh cement smells like, you even know what it tastes like, and you can recall the distinct smell of the oil coated on the inside of a metal mold.  Many days you felt like you had just as much cement on your clothes, under your fingernails, and in your hair as the statues you were working on.  If you were a football player in high school, you didn’t have to go to a gym to beef-up, your strength training was dipping five gallon buckets into wet cement and lifting them out of the tub during the summers.  You can still hear the snap as wire was cut with bolt cutters, rods being cut with the electric saw, signaling along with the annoying sound of the mixer the next pour was about to begin.

Cement mixer

Each and everyone listed helped my parents build this business.  Of course, they would not have been able to do it by themselves.  As I said, many good people have helped them over the years. In some cases, I see more than one generation of a family.

However… I do not see anywhere a government agency listed below.  So, President Obama… It’s people who build businesses, not the government; you should rethink your position!

Later… Barbara

These people helped build HAHN INDUSTRIES

Anderson, Kathryn Hahn, Derek Moss, Ryan
Baker, Chad Hahn, Jan Murphy, Brenda
Bauerle, Bill Hahn, Jeanette Murphy, Ronnie
Bauerle, Milton Hahn, Jeff Nantista,  Sharon
Beneke, Fred Hahn, Joey Nettlingham, Jamie
Billerbeck, Patsy Hahn, Lester Nydma, Ian
Birch, Charles Hahn, Louis Ommen, William
Boma, Dorothy Hahn, Pearl Page, Dick
Bowen, Richard Hamilton, Jordan Paquette, Audra
Bracken, Danny Hamilton, Kate Parsons, Gene
Bradley, Nathaniel Harder, James Perring, Bill
Brenda,  Quinn Haren, Brian Perring, Jamie
Bushey, James Haren, Galen Perring, Phyllis
Chamness, Oletha Haren, Leslie Polizzi, Dustin
Clark, Betty Haren, Philip Polizzi, Joyce
Clark, Gabe Harms, Alan Polizzi, Kerry
Claussen, Clinton Harms, John Polizzi, Kevin
Clifton, Dale Harms, Kim Polizzi, Kirk
Clifton, David Harms, Theresa Read, Jeff
Clifton, Debbie Harwbaker, Evan Read, Jerry
Clifton, Vera Hayes, Michael Read, Tom
Coash, Elmo Haysalette, Edna Redenius, Melzine
Coash, Larry Heald, Justin Rogers, Pat
Coclasure, Brenda Hensley, Dan Rogers, Tim
Colehouser, Amy Heylin, Charlie Rork, Andrew
Cook, Dan Hills, Margie Roush, Pam
DeMattia, James Horn, Richard Saathoff, Junior
Demierre, Ronald Jenkins, Andrea Satterfield, Dough
Diebel, Kurt Jensen, Jeff Satterfield, Marve
Dietz, Rosie Johns, Viv Schade, Brian
Dohman, Marcia Kane, Paul Schiflet, Mike
Drajin, Cathy Kerrins, Bill Schoop, Ray
Drendel, Fred Koerner, Beth Ann Schramm, Jon
Earing, Kim Kubiack, Nick Shearer, John
Earing, Linda Kurtenbach, Amanda Shelby, Larry
Earing, Margaret Lang, Cammie Smolkovich, Barbara
Edwards, Hollis Lang, Tom Spray, Scott
Edwards, Jayne Larrigin, Linda Sterrenberg, Kae
Edwards, Marilyn Lee, Kenny Sterrenberg, Paul
Edwards, Tom Longmire, Terry Swearingen, Lynn
Emling, Tom Looney, Mac Taylor, Claudia
Falter, Matt Looney, Richard Thiele, Ron
Faust, Pat McCarlen, Jay Torbett, Collen
Feazel, Teri McCaughey, Francis Torbett, Nathaniel
Flessner, Eva McDermott, Bill Torbett, Rachael
Flessner, Terry McDowell, Gerry Ulitzh, John
Floyd, Michael Melvin, Jackie Wahls, Janet
Frantz, Evonne Melvin, Ray Wallette, John
Gash, Travis Meredith, David Wallrich, Angie
George, Betty Meredith, Debra Wallrich, Dallas
Gerdes, (not sure) Meredith, Josha Warren, Terry
Giasson, Cory Mill, Dick Wascher, David
Graham, Larry Mill, James Watton, Steve
Groskreutz, Tina Mills, Amy Wheeler, Paula
Haag, Jess Mills, Jan Williams, Barbara
Hack, Nicole Mills, John York, Alvin
Hahn, Barbara Mills, Rita
Hahn, Beryl Moore, Arica
Hahn, Chelsey Moore, Rick
Hahn, Danny Morrisette, Peggy

History of Hahn Industries ~ Part I

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In 1955, two teenagers were married and had a baby girl the following year… me.  By 1959, they had four children, had one tragically die, my brother Christopher, and started their own business. I tell this only because I so admire what my parents were able to accomplish by the age of twenty-one!  As I remember at twenty-one my only concern was where the next party was that weekend… not proud of the fact, but true!

As the story goes, my Dad had read in Popular Mechanics an article entitled ‘Turn concrete into gold.’  At the time, he was a janitor at Cullom School.  In later years, when he would retell this story, often after a few cocktails, he would repeat… “I read in a magazine how to turn concrete into gold; it just didn’t say how damn hard work it was!”  

He purchased the first mold of a chick from a company called Concrete Machinery, later he purchased the hen and rooster to complete the set.  I have vague memories of him mixing the cement in buckets in the garage.  His first mixer was an antique hand corn-sheller tipped on its side he had modified with an electric motor to mix the sand, gravel and cement.  Another business starting out in a garage, although not quite as successful as Google, Apple, or Amazon… my parent’s business had humble beginnings too.

By 1960, they moved the operation across town to my Grandfather’s farm.  The casting done in the front of the chicken house, and my Mom did painting in the barn.  With the demolition of the barn this past week, she made the remark she had spent more than half her life in that barn painting.

So, how did they deliver all these statues you might ask.  Of course, you buy an old school bus, and remove all the seats, their first delivery truck!  Dad’s cousin Charlie Heylin, lived in Chicago.  He would find garden centers to sell to, and take the orders.  Mom and Dad with kids in tow would deliver in the bus.  It is one of the reasons yet today Mom knows her way around Chicago so well.  In the sixties, there were no expressways; they would have to drive around the city streets in that bus.

Also in 1960, Dad purchased some used metal molds from a gentleman in Chicago, George Allen, which allowed him to expand.  The Jockey Boy and Cavalier Boy are two of our best selling statues yet today.  They were two of the molds he bought used, I can easily call them vintage.  I would also call them a very good investment made over fifty years ago.  Kinda like turning concrete into gold!

Stay tuned,

More Later…  Barbara

Jockey Boy ~ Color $120

Cavalier Boy ~ Color $170