A. J. Bennett's Resourcefulness

by Bud Walker
(As told to me by Wib and Darlene Orme.)
Issue No. 258 - October 1994

During World War I, while many of our young men were off to war in Europe, the Women's Christian Temperance Union along with an Ohio organization known as the Anti-Saloon League were able to influence Congress into proposing the 18th amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

This amendment if approved would no longer allow alcoholic beverages to be made or sold in the United States. It was ratified and went into effect January 16, 1920. This amendment would remain in effect until December 5, 1933.

If you wanted any alcoholic beverages during prohibition you had to know a bootlegger or speakeasy where it could be purchased. Without the proper contacts, it was impossible to obtain beer or liquor.

My reason for providing this background information is to help in understanding the problems prohibition caused for those who enjoyed alcoholic beverages. A. J. Bennett was one of those who enjoyed an occasional drink for himself and his guests. The liquor cabinet at his summer home in Ventnor, New Jersey was always well stocked.

On one occasion, the routine of having a well-stocked liquor cabinet changed. Much to Mr. Bennett's surprise, upon arriving at the shore, he found that his liquor cabinet was bare. Not being a well-known or full-time resident of Ventnor it was rather hard to restock the liquor cabinet.

Knowing that his son-in-law, W. L. Orme, and his sales organization had attended a glass show at the convention hall in Atlantic City, it was not hard to figure that they had partied and cleaned out his cabinet. Being a man of action, A. J. took the necessary measures to insure that this would never happen again.

Unbeknown to anyone, A. J. had carpenters build a room on the third floor. This room had a vault-like door that was equipped with a tumbler type lock. This was the new liquor storage room. Only one person had the combination and that person was Mr. Bennett.

It is not hard to imagine the surprise when the next impromptu party went to raid the liquor cabinet. A. J. had solved that problem, as he had solved problems all of his adult life.

As we look back at the history of the Cambridge Glass Company, we see that Mr. Bennett was a man of action. He faced his problems head on and with uncanny skill solved them. When the plant ran short of gas, he had his men install a line to a commercial producer. To insure an adequate supply of gas, he drilled his own well. It produced more than the plant required. During one fuel crisis, he purchased a coal mine and a coal gasification plant. On one trip to England, he had two identical homes built for his sisters. When questioned about this, his reply was, one will never be able to say that her sister got more than she.