Interview of Newton C. Robbins of Carlisle by Michael Collins on June 17, 2015. The interview focuses on Robbins early life, World War II experience, work in the State Police, aviation, and founding the Carlisle Crimestoppers.
Overview of Interview:
Grandfather was a railroad engineer and father was a brakeman and fireman on the Cumberland Valley railroad. Grandmother ran a grocery store on North College Street. Moved to Penn St. and turned it into a restaurant. Kruger was the youngest child in his family with his next youngest sibling 14 years older. Raised as an only child. First grade attended a county one room school house. Country Hall on Union Hall Road. Mrs. Straw was a tough teacher who used an 18 inch ruler to keep discipline.
Maternal grandfather was a blacksmith out on the Ritner Highway. Moved to farm in 1938 from Franklin Street where Kruger was born. Blizzard of 1936. Second grade commuted to the Stevens School across the street from the Kruger Dairy. While Mrs. Straw would punish students with a wrap of the ruler across the knuckle the Carlisle Borough school was more relaxed. Only one grade in a classroom. During recess students would throw a ball over the roof of the school. Everyone played. Older students intertwined the Jungle gym with entrance to the outhouse so you could not go to the bathroom.
Students bucketed the coal from the coal shed up to the school. Responsibility of the older students. Same with the water wheel and keeping the water crock full. Carry lunch to school no other way to get food. Students would trade lunches. Kruger's lunch generally consisted of bologna, good cheese, and ham. Others had lard bread from bacon fat grease. Walked more than a mile to school. House was near the First Presbyterian Church's graveyard. Sat on when Mrs. Knight was buried in 1941. Wrote Lamberton essay on graveyard. Graveyard sat between house and barn. Farm on both sides of the turnpike.
After the blizzard of 1936 along Conodoguinet Creek. Experienced the flood of 1936 but it did not reach the house. Next major flood was in 1972 was in 1972 with Hurricane Agnes. More water in meadow than was ever in the creek. Heifers left out in the meadow most of the time but got in before the flood. No concept of that much water. Eber Shadow had the big steam engine that threshed the grain. Often played in his field as his field boarded the school property. Several miles to get to the school. Had to be home to do work so you could not linger too much.
Sat on a hill on what is left over of Meetinghouse Springs Road and watched them build the turnpike. Back to country school through seventh-grade. Ms. Baker was his new teacher. Very nice lady as she cajoled rather than demanded. Friend of his sister as they both were in the Civil Air Patrol together. World War II civil patrol plane had a observation points in a shed on the Kruger property near the Old Gap Road. One of the highest spots in the area. Posters on the wall showing different silhouettes of the planes. Laundry house connected to living quarters. Two rooms with fireplace. Coal burning pipe less heater. Oldest brother Vernon Kruger ran the Dairy while Richard Kruger went to war.
Richard ran the milk route. Still had two horse wagons which lasted until 1939. History of the Kruger Dairy. Father lost job working on the railroad due to injury but was able to go back during first World War due to the conscription of the railroad men for the war. During the war mother Romaine contacted a farmer and was selling milk out of the cans brought by two boys into town.
At the end of the war father lost his job when soldiers returned. Milk business was going well so decided to buy a horse and wagon and went into the milk business. Milk always curdled over night so you either did something with the curds or you threw it out. Father somehow got the idea of chilling the milk. By removing the animal heat from the product it stopped the bacterial growth which stopped it from spoiling naturally. Built the business on the flavor of fresh milk being chilled. By 1924 had four wagons and a truck. At this time Kruger had not bought a farm. The two farms he bought were located at the current Carlisle High School football field. Father died in 1943 living on the home farm. Hard a farmer run one farm where the Wilson building is now. Replaced wagons with special delivery trucks in 1939. Still bought milk as demand outpaced the production they could do on their own farm.
Sold all the by products. Did not make their own butter for sale but bought from Keller's Buttery. Two ice houses in Carlisle including the Old Carlisle Dairy and where Wenger's Meats is now in Carlisle. Heavy cloth bags that you threw ice in and placed on top of crates. Sold raw milk as no one was pasteurizing milk. When pasteurization did come into play you had to have a separate building if you also wanted to sell raw milk. Trained producers how to stop bacteria growth. Pasteurization process.Owned the property at 420 Franklin Street where Kruger was born. Double house and at first only owned the one side.
Kruger remodeled the house in 1956 when he took over the business from his brother Vernon. When father passed away brother Richard was in the army as a baker and a cook. Petioned the draft board for the proper procedure to have brother released from the army. Since farming was an essential they granted his release and came home in the spring of 1944 to manage three farms. Sold the one farm where the School is located now to the tenet. Transferred to Junior High in eighth grade to the old Lamberton Building. Where Kruger met Jim Thorpe in 1941. Thorpe recognized Kruger's father as father worked at the Indian School. Allowed to drive tractor to high school for practice. Brother wanted him to return quickly so he could back to work on the farm.
Three years of football in 1945, 1946, and 1947. Two years at varsity level. Junior year was a tackle and guard. Over the summer before his senior year he was told to take a football and practice being a center. With three other players they made every bail of hay over on the Kruger farm. Toughest guys on the field. Old McCormick Dairy International Harvester bailer that was a wire tie. Fork the hay over into the bail head. Boards with groves in them which you ran the wire through. So when the hay popped out the bail chamber it expanded. Haul the bail into the barn and then stack the bails in the barn. One step up from the loose hay system.
Lost one game over the course of Kruger's senior year to Hanover by one point. Kicker missed two extra points. Carlisle played in the South Penn Conference with Hanover, Mechanicsburg, Hershey, Chambersburg, Gettysburg, Waynesboro, and Shippensburg. Also played Milton Hershey and Susquehanna Township. The big rivalry was with Mechanicsburg that was played on Thanksgiving day. Senior year Mechanicsburg opened the game with a touchdown on the kickoff. Ended the game with a twenty-twenty tie. Also tied Susquehanna Township during that season. Went to Penn State to study Dairy Science. Penn State had a series of Freshman Centers. One in Harrisburg at the corner of McClay and North Second Street behind the Governors mansion is today. The lot where the mansion is today use to be classrooms for the center. Only lasted two years because there was no room on campus for freshman. Went to campus as a sophomore. Checked with draft board due to Korean War and they replied if his number came up it came up. Air Force retirees formed an Air National Guard Unit at State College.
Went to drills over the weekend and camp over the summer. Engineers in the squadron and radar unit aircraft control warning. Able to take units apart and put them together again blindfolded. Rated 95% efficient and unit was federalized. Went on active duty from December 1, 1951. Almost completed senior year. Shipped to New Hampshire for training. Two years on National Duty with Pennsylvania National Guard. When he was released from Active Duty petitioned the college for reinstatement to the curriculum and started back to college in the fall of 1953. Took a whole year rather than just a semster by adding some electives and research work. Graduated in June of 1954 when originally was in the class of 1952. Did labs at the creamery. Worked on the cooling of milk in bulk tanks. Sweetwater style and direct expansion. Difference in expense costs. Designed system to measure it and had to be up at 6 am to get a samples. Not much difference in the end.
Was a able to take a business management course. Was not sure he was coming home to work at the Kruger Dairy. There were a lot of big dairy companies looking for inviduals with Kruger's farm experience and education.