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1977197819791980198119821983198419851986198719881989

ROGERS CO. LEAVING TOWN BRINGS MEMORIES
March 9, 1977


Click
Pix of John. B. Rogers Co. first location, South Main Street.

Pix of the following gentlemen:  John B. Rogers, W.E. Munsey, Harry Munsey,
W.W. Munsey

A mixture of shoch and regret must have filled Fostorians, as it did me a
few weeks ago when the Review Times published the story about John B. Rogers
Co. closing their doors.

John B. Rogers, the founder, as well as the company, was a part of this
community for so many years I guess everyone thought it would always be.
Actually John B. Rogers productions have been known from coast-to-coast
and outside of the U.S. borders.  They were well known for staging revues,
musical shows, pageants and minstrels - and using home talent to whip up a
good production in a few weeks.

There may have been many reasons for their success, but you know the old
saying, "everyone wants to get into the act," and every participant usually
had a particular talent to contribute.  On top of that, the company always
had capable directors to coordinate the talent and put the show together.

Consequently, when the curtain went up on opening night of a John B. Rogers
production, everyone knew their lines, their songs, the dance steps and
authentic costumes to fit the occasion had been fitted to the whole cast.

If it happened to be a comedy or minstrel, the acts brought roars of laughter
from the audience, and nearly rolled them in the aisles.  I know whereof I
speak, because I participated in some of those shows, almost 50 years ago.

I remember the summer training schools when the company brought talented
young men and women from all over the U.S. to Fostoria to tryout, and train
for directors.  I sat in on one of those sessions because John B. Rogers
wanted me to be a director,  I decided not to.

The company staged shows for service clubs, lodges, country clubs, junior-
leagues ... any group that wanted to raise funds.

At one time, many years ago, the company had already set records of producing
more than 20,000 shows in the U.S. and Canada, of raising more than
$8,000,000 for charitable organizations and had played 20 to 40 return
engagements in many towns.

The company had the largest staff of expert promotors, coaches, script and
music writers, scenic and costume artists, and the greatest supply and
equipment house in the world devoted exclusively to productions with
amateurs.

John B. Rogers was attending the University of Michigan, studying law, when
a previously injured eye became so seriously infected he was forced to
discontinue his studies.  He returned to Fostoria, depressed that he would
not be able to continue his studies.  As it turned into success.

According to a testimonial letter written by Andrew Emerine, president of
Fostoria's First National Bank of that era, Rogers would often visit their
house and put on stunts and skits, dressed up in Emerine's sister's clothes.
He was reported a "riot"

So, during his period of idlemess, Rogers helped put on a show with home
talent for the benefit of a local charity - just to pass the time.  Owing to
his hitherto undeveloped ability, it was a remarkable success.  He was
asked to repeat the performance in neighboring towns and thus the idea for
his future company was born.

The John B. Rogers Producing Company was formed in 1903.  The first location
was on south Main Street where Peggs Wallpaper and Paint Store is now.  The
company occupied the entire lower floor, while the upstairs had rented
living quarters.

It wasn't long before the company experienced "growing pains," and rented
space in the Security building to supplement their space needs.  Then in 1926
they purchased land from the Auto-Lite Co., land for a new building at their
present location on west Center Street and construction started immediately.

At one time the company owned the property at 957 N. Union Street, where
the Elden Good family lives,and used it to conduct their schools.

Harry Munsey, a young business man, operating a cigar store in Chicago,
joined the company in 1911.  He became a partner and remained with the
company until 1962, when he died.

Lorenz Anderson joined the company as salesmanager, and later became
secretary.   He remained with them until 1931.

John B. Rogers retired from the Company in 1945, wishing to enjoy a well
earned rest, and in 1946 sold his interested in the company to Harry Munsey.
It was at that time that William E. "Bill" Munsey and W.W. Munsey joined
the company.  The latter left the company in 1961.  Bill Munsey has been
president of the company for 16 years.  John B. Rogers died in California
and is buried there.

Other Rogers people that Fostorians will remember are: W.D. Steninger, who
was in charge of supplies; Grace M. Kipka, in charge of correspondence;
Mrs. Alfred Fox, an office secretary; Frank Frable, field director.

Mr. and Mrs. Steininger are still living in southern Illinois.  Frank Frable
still lives in Texas.

Bernice Swartz, Helen Devore, Ruth Klienhen, Francis Eckert, Hazel Eckert,
Lois Page were also employed in the Rogers office.

Employees in the production department that I can remember are: Glenn
Groves, Mrs. Forringer, Mrs. Prebble, Mrs. Albert Krupp, Hazel Anderson.

 

 

 

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