Column: A small town boy made really good more than 80 years agoDo you know the fine, notably large gray house (1225) at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 13th Street where Mr. and Mrs. Doug Obermoeller make their home? That house was built by John Albinson.
By: Ray Crippen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Do you know the fine, notably large gray house (1225) at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 13th Street where Mr. and Mrs. Doug Obermoeller make their home? That house was built by John Albinson. John Albinson was a founder of the lumberyard at the end of 10th Street which continues to this day as Lampert Lumber Co. John Albinson, as a boy, was a student at Breck School at Wilder.
John would board a train at Worthington, stop at Brewster, stop again at Heron Lake. Third stop was Wilder and the Breck School.
Today Breck School might be called an academy. It was a substantial stone and mortar boarding school begun by the Episcopal Church for area farm kids. This was that time when there still were many acres of land unplowed and many farms with no schools close by. There also were some towns with no schools, and there were towns with schools which locals admitted were not great schools.
Oscar Sterling went to Breck School. Oscar Sterling lived in the big house on Seventh Avenue (1310) where Mr. and Mrs. Steve Regnier now live. Oscar Sterling was a partner in Sterling Brothers, the fashionable men’s clothing store which was in the Thompson Hotel building when the hotel was first opened.
Nicholas Kaufman, who opened the big furniture store at Brewster, went to Beck School when he was a boy.
The Rev. Robert Ten Broeck was a pastor at St. John’s Episcopal church, the church which now serves as the chapel at Garden of Memories Cemetery. Mr. Ten Broeck was an instructor at Breck School. He taught science, language and military tactics.
There were many illustrious pioneers of our region, both boys and girls, in the classrooms and dormitories of Breck School. Enrollment climbed to nearly 500 before the school was closed in 1906. It was another one of those bust times on the farms. Enrollment skidded after 1900, until the church could not justify keeping the school in session.
I like especially the story of Frank Mars, who was among the students at Breck. Frank Mars was a farm boy at Claressa, Minn., which is nearly straight north of Wilder, albeit quite a distance north. Frank Mars had polio as a boy. He treasured memories of sitting in the family kitchen and watching as his mother made divinity and fudge and peanut brittle. Some of this candy making was undertaken to keep up the spirits of the ailing boy.
Seventeen years after Breck closed — 1923 — Frank Mars was making candy at his own store in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Midway district. This was the year Frank introduced his carefully wrapped and patented chocolate candy bar. He called the bar Milky Way. Five cents. Frank made Milky Ways with chocolate he bought from the Hershey Co.
Well then — 1930. Frank was calling his company Mars Candy Co. He introduced another bar which he believed was pretty tasty. He called this bar Snickers. Snickers bars had peanuts. Also five cents.
In 1937, Mars Candy Co. began marketing Three Musketeers bars which, originally, had three nougat bars in one wrapper, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. Still five cents.
I have a regret at this point in this story. Mars Candy Co. also marketed a Mars bar which had a runny maple filling and whole almonds, all covered with chocolate. I liked the Mars bar most of all, but that one was taken off the market.
Frank Mars did well, needless to say. He had a son, Forrest, who didn’t want to walk simply in the old man’s footsteps. Forrest Mars went into his own business with a friend, Bruce Murrie. Together, Mars and Murrie developed a high-energy snack food for U.S. servicemen during World War II.
The snack was largely non-perishable — a pill-size colored hard sugar coating with chocolate at the center. They called the snacks M&Ms, for Mars and Murrie.
There was a formula: each packet had 30 percent brown M&Ms, 20 percent red, 20 percent yellow, 10 percent orange, 10 percent green and 10 percent tan. Soldiers were told, “They melt in your mouth, not in your hand.”
Milky Ways and Snickers and Three Musketeers and M&Ms, all with one root in Breck School at Wilder.
You can hardly beat that.
Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.