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Jenkins - Part 1
Kay Riley of Cicero, IN with her beloved Jenkins Glass Collection. 6-2-04
JENKINS GLASS - Part I
As the result of a suggestion from Donna Braden, longtime Carnival Glass enthusiast; I was contacted by Kay Riley from Cicero, IN in mid 1996. She was in pursuit of any research we might have concerning Jenkins Carnival Glass. She had been researching Jenkins carnival patterns for two years. As with most research, there are “dead ends”. At that time, she was in hopes of creating a book on the subject, along with sharing her results with “Friends of the Library” in Cicero. This is her story.
Kay Riley was looking for stories, glass, and stories about the glass. For years she had pieced together the history of Jenkins Glass, a brand made in Kokomo and Arcadia, IN during the early 1900's..
The Company history is like a shattered window: Fragments of it remain, but some of it is gone forever. Here is the story she told the Friends of the Library:
D.C. Jenkins started his glass factory in Kokomo in 1901. When the factory burned a few years later, the community rallied to help him rebuild. In 1914, he opened a sister company in Arcadia. “D.C. was a fussy man. He was a proud man,” Riley expounded. “He was meticulous in his dress. He liked to wear white flannel suits.”
Jenkins ran for a Senate seat several times, although Riley has not been able to pinpoint when. He distributed glass watch fobs and punch cups he had signed as reminders to voters to cast their ballots for him.
Jenkins' glass goblets were filled with jelly and sold in grocery stores. Other green, clear or iridescent dishes were free in gas stations, movie theatres and other places. They were shipped across the country.
Some Central Indiana churches still have pieces Jenkins used to donate by the barrel.
Workers turned out some 30 patterns of dishes. They also made storage containers, street lights and fish bowls.
Workers got to take home lopsided or chipped pieces - a mixed blessing at best, for if those had been tempered improperly, they might explode on the living room shelf.
Jenkins' Arcadia plant closed in 1932 in bankruptcy.
Workers left behind boxes of dishes that last day, and today, collectors hunt for pieces such as these.
Kay remembers neighborhood children who used to sneak into the factory and break those dishes.
She says: “My brother, Joe McDonald was one of them. Now, he's going to antique shops to buy it back. He has paid his penance by digging up artifacts from the torn-down plant for me.
No-trespassing signs grace the area near Arcadia Park, but Kay and friend Carolyn Bardonner got permission to dig there. The poison ivy and weeds didn't bother Joe.
“We'd say, don't come out until you've got two pieces,” she recalled.
One of those digs netted her a nearly perfect pitcher that brought many “oohs and ahhs” from more than a dozen Friends of the Library members one week.
Riley's search for information about Jenkins Glass has been a long one. An article by Ethel Lorton of Arcadia in Spinning Wheel Magazine provided the first clues.
Then she met Bardonner, who's collected the glass for four decades and had more articles.
The women found a catalog of glass that included a long list of sources. They set about talking to each of those sources and finding more answers to their questions. “If we hear of anybody who has Jenkins glass, we knock on their door”, said Riley with a chuckle.
Kay is responsible for printing the first book about Jenkins Glass in 1984, co-ordinating efforts with James Measell who provided the account of D.C. Jenkins History found in the 1984 Book, which is now out of print.
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NOTE: In coming weeks, there will be three segment additions surrounding marigold Jenkins carnival glass patterns known to exist. Surprises are in store for many longtime collectors who MAY have overlooked some very pretty patterns, not realizing them to have been “Made In Indiana”! Dean and I were amazed at what we found in Kay's collection on June 2, 2004, when we went there to take photographs. Be assured! There are “finds” still out there which are NOT on record in any Carnival Glass book we know of. We will very likely be showing you examples of some things you have not seen before! Do stay tuned!
Dean & Diane Fry~~July 2004
“I entered the world's great library doors;
I crossed their acres of polished floors;
I searched and searched their stacks and nooks,
And settled at last on the Book of books.” ~~ Anon.
The Bible is old, but its truths are always new.
Should you care to contact the Frys, their email address is:
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