On June 18, 2018, which was International Picnic Day, we honored those who were involved in the Eastland Disaster. Perhaps you were wondering what became of the annual Hawthorne Works employee picnic? After the hundreds of funerals and burials concluded in 1915, individuals and families picked up the pieces, returned to work, and went on with their lives as best as they could. And, although the 1915 excursion and picnic never occurred, the Eastland Disaster did not end the annual summer entertainment for Hawthorne Works employees. The Hawthorne Club returned to its annual summer merriment, with some revisions, in 1916. Such revisions included:
- Instead of holding an excursion and picnic, the Hawthorne Club called its summer extravaganza an "outing."
- Rather than an excursion across Lake Michigan to Michigan City, Indiana, Hawthorne Works employees traveled to Riverview Amusement Park in Chicago (home of the famous Shoot-the-Chutes and other rides).
- The outing took place in August, instead of late July.
What didn't change was the enthusiasm, merriment, and attendance—over 6,000 people attended the outing in 1917!
Hawthorne Works continued to host summer outings in subsequent years because it was part of Western Electric Company's welfare capitalism, a Progressive Era concept of providing social welfare benefits, such as death and insurance benefits, education and recreational benefits, and the like, to employees. Stay tuned to find out how family members of the Eastland Disaster victims utilized Western Electric Company's death and insurance benefits.