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Nonunion workers targeted in 1909 blast in Struthers

December 1-7

110 Years ago, 1909

A scary scene unfolded in Struthers as a home was wrecked by dynamite in an attempt to kill nonunion men. The home of the Harry Briney and Harry Smith families was badly damaged and six lives were shaken by the work of unknown perpetrators. Nearby homes had their windows shattered from the blast.

Smith was employed as a heater and Briney as a roller at the Struthers Mill, where a strike had been on since July. When the explosion happened, Smith and Briney ran downstairs to check on family members. Briney’s elderly father was asleep, and they found him lying on a mattress with the front porch door on top of him. They worked to release him, his feet bleeding from the cuts by broken glass.

Neighbors were awakened by the blast and gathered at the scene with police on their way. Some mentioned seeing two men heading west through the streets of Struthers before disappearing.

A large number of striking mill workers visited the scene, and police soon believed the explosives were placed under the house by strikers or strike sympathizers. Rewards totaling $10,000 were offered regarding the Briney home bombing and an explosion at the Struthers mill superintendent’s residence several months before. The theft of dynamite in Struthers was linked to this explosion. Authorities hoped that various clues would lead them to make important arrests and clear up the series of events that broke out in Struthers since the strike began.

75 Years Ago, 1944

Stockings all over the United States were set to be filled with plastic toys bearing the trademark “Made in Youngstown.” Frank M. Hoover proved to be quite a Santa’s helper when he and his brother, E. E. Hoover Jr., created Hoover Products Inc. Frank Hoover got into the toy business watching his young son play with toys that didn’t seem to be age appropriate. He created innovations in toys for children in the 12- to-15-month range. His solution was found in plastic and combination wood and plastic toys.

Plastics offered Hoover a way to mold different shapes and possess qualities that would attract a baby – color, motion, and non-inflammable for safety reasons. One of the first toys was “Plakies,” a group of colorful disks on a string that moved and made noise.

50 Years ago, 1969

The Youngstown Society for the Blind had its 30th annual Christmas dinner to celebrate a new rehabilitation center with increased services for the blind community. More than 210 people attended the dinner to celebrate the society’s work.

The work is aimed at making life a little more productive for members of its community such as Nick Amadio, Wayne Meeker and Winnie Morehouse, all of whom are blind. John F. Myers, the society’s executive director, told of the plans for the new rehab center, which was set to open the following January. He also thanked Mrs. Benjamin L. Agler for donating a camera and slide projector in the memory of the late Miss Mamie Millsop, former blind teacher and association member. He also thanked Chester Edgerton and William Laird of the Telephone Pioneers group for repairing the Talking Book Machine used by more than 1,000 blind people in a 10-county area.

40 Years Ago, 1979

The scene following an attempted bank robbery in Struthers took police by surprise. An off-duty officer assisted in helping to capture a man and woman who fled from the Dollar Savings and Trust Co. branch after trying to use a stolen savings passbook. The fleeing couple wrecked and abandoned their car during the short chase by police.

According to police and bank staff, the couple was at the drive-through window trying to withdraw money with the stolen savings book. When the police arrived, the pair dropped the bank book and sped off. The chase took off up Youngstown Poland Road and ended when the couple missed a right hand turn and crashed into a stopped car. The two then attempted to flee on foot through various backyards and neighborhoods. The off-duty officer, Robert Norris, lived near the area and heard the call. He went on foot to assist and spotted a man who fit the description. The couple was caught and held for an additional investigation of fraud – further stolen property was found in their possession.

• Compiled from the Youngstown Vindicator by Traci Manning, MVHS curator of education

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