Lane history book review

I’m back for a double – two posts in one day!

I just finished reading the book I ordered, “LANE…Furniture with a Tradition and a Future, The Company’s First 50 Years” by Edward Hudson Lane.  Edward is the son of the founder of Lane furniture.  When I say “book” it is a bit misleading.  The publication is 28 pages long and is really a transcript of a presentation Mr. Lane made to the Newcomen Society in 1962.  Therefore, it wasn’t the detailed history I was hoping for.

Mr. Lane does discuss the “Girl Graduation Plan” and credits its promotion for much of the success of the company.  I have discussed the beginning of this promotion before.  However, to add to that, Mr. Lane states, “This plan has since grown to such an extent that between one-half and two-thirds of all girls graduating from high school in the United States are presented by our customers with one of these Lane miniature cedar chests.  In the 31 years years it has been in operation, approximately seven million girls have received them.”

Remember, this was said in 1962 and we know from other sources that the promotion started officially in 1930.  So, 31 years after 1930 would be right around 1962.  However, as we also know, the company stopped the promotion during WWII for probably 3 to 4 years.  Regardless, what an astonishing promotion!  This program, that many people relate to the 50’s and 60’s had already distributed 7 million units by 1962 with another 30 to 40 years to go!  The promotion, by most accounts was going strong into the late 80’s and as we know, there are boxes that were made all the way up to 2004.  However, I am still trying to determine how robust the graduation program was into the 90’s and beyond.  Boxes were being made, but it appears that the promotion was winding down by the 90’s.

Suffice it to say, Lane distributed MILLIONS of these boxes from 1930 to 2004-ish.  The staying power of these little boxes I believe is linked to the genius of the marketing that Lane undertook for so many years.  Girls, ladies, women are emotionally attached to these little boxes.  They once held prized possessions like graduation tassels, class rings, love notes, jewelry and the like.  Many women would find no reason to get rid of the boxes, let alone throw them away or destroy them.  Think about it, a girl that graduated in 1930 could have passed the box down to her daughter and then to the next and even the next daughter.  We are closing in on close to 4 generations from 1930!  And for some families, these boxes have been passed down through the generations just like their “big sisters” the full size Hope Chest itself.

I continue to ask myself why no one has done the research I am now proposing be done.  What an important little part of the American story!  Let’s keep it going!

Sorry for the long post…the next one will be shorter, I promise.

All in all, I found very little evidence today but am more enthused than ever to get to the bottom of all of this.

Thanks for reading…

Chad

3 thoughts on “Lane history book review

  1. J.M. Lucy was my great-grandfather. I remember when my older sister Cathy got her Lane box when she graduated from high school, and I couldn’t wait to get mine six years later, in 1975. I still have it, and it holds my most precious things. Thank you for the story. It has prompted some happy memories, especially of my father’s cousin Virginia Lucy, who worked at the Missoula Public Library in the children’s room for many years. She always had suggestions for excellent books to read.

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