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Columns

December 21, 2013

Generosity made Christmas special locally in 1923

Here’s a hypothetical question for you. If you received a holiday bonus at your workplace, what would you do with it? Some might answer they’d go shopping, give some of it to the needy, or save it for future use. Locally at Christmastime in 1923, all of these possible uses for a bonus were readily available.

BONUS TO KAYSER EMPLOYEES

“Through the generosity of Julius Kayser and company employes (sic) at the local factory received cash bonuses this year,” it was reported in The Oneonta Star of Thursday, Dec. 20, 1923. For those who had worked at the factory for a year, an $80 bonus was given. An inflation calculator shows that this bonus would be worth nearly $1,096 in 2013. There were 50 employees who received the bonus. The Kayser plant, listed in that year’s Oneonta Directory as 11-15 Wall St., was a manufacturer of silk gloves.

“The payment of this bonus is but one of the many ways in which the company is displaying an interest in the welfare of its employees, mostly girls and women,” the article stated. It went on to describe several amenities of working at the plant. 

If an employee hadn’t worked there a year, there was still a holiday perk, as “This evening the company is giving its local employes a turkey dinner in the building. Caterer Caulkins of the Elks’ club is in charge of the dinner and has promised a rare menu.” As reported the next day, it was an enjoyable event, with entertainment and a gift presented to all employees, as well as encouraging remarks from company management.

If any of the Kayser employees were wise enough to put their bonuses into a savings account, it came in handy in January. It was reported on Thursday, Jan. 24, 1924, that the plant would cease operations within two weeks.

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