73 years ago: Local business cares for community 'family'

5:35 PM, Apr. 19, 2013  |  Comments
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Each Monday, we turn to a day in the newspaper's history for a look at what the Editorial Board found worthy of comment. We will preserve the punctuation and capitalization of the original editorial column. Here is what we wrote on April 22, 1940:

Family Feeling

A workingman who wrote to the Record-Herald "Brought by the Postman" department the other day had something pertinent to say about the importance of keeping home industry in Wausau. His thesis was that it was up to every element in the community to co-operate to see that employment and payrolls are maintained. It was a sound thought.

In a sense a community is like a big family. In any family some individuals are better off than others, some are better looking, some are more intelligent. But if the family is worth its salt there is an element of real tribal solidarity among them which draws them close together in times of trouble or emergency. Petty differences, jealousies, disagreements cease to count. Everybody contributes according to his ability, because in the matter at stake everybody has not only a material but a moral and emotional interest. All for one and one for all is the subconscious, instinctive rule of family action.

Wausau had a tremendously impressive example of this sort of thing, on the community instead of the family level, just a couple of years ago when the dam at Brokaw gave way and the power house was completely destroyed. The loss was enormous and the mill had been in difficulties anyway. Nobody could have blamed the management for letting the whole thing slide and cutting its losses. To restore operations meant to pour hundreds of thousands of fresh capital into what had been a losing and now was an exceedingly doubtful venture.

On the other side of the picture, however, was personal disaster to hundreds of people if that course were followed. There is no use in laboring the point - closing down the Brokaw mill would have been a community calamity. And it didn't happen. The management took a deep breath and swallowed its loss with a figurative grin - and rebuilt. There is not the slightest doubt that the deciding factor was a spirit of personal and community responsibility. All the cold figures were against it.

Business is often accused of being "cold blooded." But such examples indicate how often decisions are swayed by the human values which are important to business men - who are husbands and fathers and friends, and value the affection and respect of their neighbors like any other normal mortals.

In such situations it is the family feeling, broadened to include the community as a whole, which decides the issue. It is no exclusive possession of any group or class. On occasion labor as well as capital can contribute for its own and the general welfare - for the community family.

In fact the presence of that spirit in any community is the intangible essence of what is called a "good town." Analyze all the elements that make a "good town" and it all comes down to this in the long run: The town has a "family feeling" about itself.

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