Vegetable washing, poultry killing, Glida Corp, EJ shoes and my mom

This is photo of my mom, Gertrude Williams (later Green), that I have never seen before this week, behind the counter, in front of the scales to the left. My sister Marcia found it and put it on her Facebook page.

Apparently, my mom told my sisters that she worked at something called the Glida Corporation from the time she was 16 for four or five years, and this, apparently, is from there.

There is an obscured chart to the right about Endicott- Johnson, the shoe company that was huge in the Binghamton, NY area, and its sales for the 12 months ending November something, of $142,029,121.32.

So I wrote to Professor Gerald Zahavi, who is a UAlbany professor mentioned in the Wikipedia bibliography. He has written a history of the Endicott-Johnson Corporation, which is publicly available. Specifically, he compiled an appendix, which notes that the sales in 1947 matches the numbers on the board. This would mean my mom would have just turned 20 in November 1947, and the picture was taken shortly thereafter, certainly in cold weather, based on the apparel.

Professor Zahavi also notes that there were E-J food markets in the area. Was this one of them, run by Glida, and subsidized by E-J? And if not, why would Glida be selling food, and noting E-J’s earnings? At this point, I have no idea.

What I found about the Glida Corporation is at a funky site called Fulton history. Glida made canvas products, such as for parachutes, during WWII, and was a peacetime manufacturer of “light fabric bags and baby clothing;” it went bankrupt in the early 1950s, after making some questionably ethical decisions, if I’m reading things correctly.

On the other hand, Endicott Johnson was one of the fairer employers of the period, as the title of the professor’s 1988 book Workers, Managers, and Welfare Capitalism: The Shoemakers and Tanners of Endicott Johnson, 1890-1950, would suggest. The Wikipedia notes: “When asked why no attempt had been made to organize E-J workers, [labor organizer Samuel] Gompers said that E-J already gave workers more than unions had achieved elsewhere.”

And who took the picture? At least a couple people in the photo (the boy to the left, the woman to the right) are aware of the photographer.

Anyone with info about the Glida Corportation or the EJ food markets, please share!

4 thoughts on “Vegetable washing, poultry killing, Glida Corp, EJ shoes and my mom”

  1. Wow! Awesome slice of life photo! I love that kind of stuff. how cool that you had never seen it before. Did your mom wash the veggies or kill the poultry? I’m hoping it was the former.

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  2. Roger, I remember thinking about Mr. Johnson when I rode the free carousel on th eWest Side of Bing in the park… the famous story about not having the nickel to ride, etc. He was revolutionary in the way Ford was, when Ford made the Model T so workers could afford them. Of course, EJ houses still stand, and the phrase at Ellis Island for good workers who spoke no English, “Which way? E-J!” still rings true. He made the American dream possible for thousands….

    LOVE the photo of your mom. I recently found clips about my mom performing at Kutch’s Club in Binghamton from the 60s… her professional name was Jan Long, and she was known as a belter. Wish I could give you info on Glida. Wonder if it was another productive offshoot of EJ, designed to accommodate workers with cheaper food? Hmmm. Thanks for your email exchange, BTW, great stuff. Amy

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