At the urging of one of the stockbrokers at his father’s place of business, Joseph went to school. Though he had no formal education he was accepted as a student at Cooper Union Prep. When he completed his studies there he went on to study at Webb Institute in New York and received his BS in Naval Architecture. He continued his studies and went to the University of Michigan and by 1924 he had a degree in Engineering. I believe that it was during his time at Michigan University that he met and fell in love with Eleanora (my grandmother) who also graduated from there. After he graduated he got work as a test and research engineer at the Republic Iron and Steel C0mpany in Youngstown. My grandmother’s family is all from Youngstown…another hint that he was staying to be near my grandmother.
In 1925 he was reunited with his brother and sister during a visit to Mary Francis’ house in Pennsylvania. As you can see from the clipping above, the town is very proud of the academic progress that each child has made. Pictures of the three children were also taken of this special occasion.
The next summer, in 1926, he and my grandmother were married at her home in Youngstown. Bentley is pictured with his older brother. There is a group picture but it is too hard to tell if Martha was attending as well.
The following year Joseph’s father died in March of cancer. He was a forward thinking man and had undergone experimental treatment, (unsuccessfully) and two operations which did result in diminishing the tumor. His hope was that any observations from his experiment would be helpful to others in a similar condition which is probably why he donated his body to science when he passed on.
Now living back in Pennsylvania with his new bride, my grandfather worked as the plant engineer and assistant secretary for Eljer Company in Ford City and at one point he was also doing mechanical engineering as a second job. Meanwhile my grandmother worked as a social worker. This is at the start of The Great Depression.
One of the few times I did sit and chat with my grandfather he told me that many people could not pay him during the depression. He said in lieu of pay he sometimes received stock. He held on to this stock which later, when the market recovered, was worth something. I do know that he had stock in GE and in Kodak but am not certain if these were some of the stocks he acquired during that time. (He also liked tech stocks and had stock in HP and Apple when they were fledgling companies.) I was fascinated with the whole subject but my grandmother who had heard his stories too many times over the past fifty years shushed him up. I wished I had insisted that he tell me as I never go another chance to ask about it.
In 1934 he moved to Philadelphia and began his career as a marine engineer/naval architect. First at the Philadelphia Naval Yard where he served two years as a naval architect before heading off to Washington to work for the Navy Department as the technical assistant of specifications and contracts for motorships in 1936.
On June 29th, 1936 Joseph’s would find another stoke of good fortune as Congress passed The Merchant Marine Act of 1936 and created the United States Maritime Commission. One of its functions was to formulate a merchant shipbuilding program to design and then have built over a ten-year period 500 modern fast merchant cargo ships to replace the earlier World War I-vintage vessels. This program would help the US economically in terms of employment, trade and defense.
Suddenly all of his hard work and schooling was going to pay off.
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