Last June I got an email inquiry from someone in Ohio. She had a small cedar chest imprinted Zlomke-Calvin Furniture Company and was curious about its history. I have written before about my grandfather George, who started selling furniture in St. Paul, Nebraska in the aftermath of World War II, under the business name Zlomke Furniture. In 1953 George Zlomke started his son-in-law Clayton Calvin in business as the Zlomke-Calvin Furniture Company, which they located 40 miles away in Ord, Nebraska.
After a generational shift or two, the business was run by a cousin of mine before it was finally sold to someone else. Luckily the cousin and I are in contact, so I was able to ask him about the chest. Here’s what he wrote:
It was a marketing scheme before telemarketing. The Lane Co was a furniture manufacturer, they specialized in cedar chests. Each year, we would send to Lane the names and addresses of all the graduating senior girls at local and surrounding schools. They would receive a letter from Lane introducing our store to them. They would include a card that the girls brought in to our store and they would receive the small chest as a gift. We of course hoped they would buy the larger size as well. The chests were built by Lane, stamped with our store’s name, and sent to us right before graduation. Your husband is the proud owner of a small cedar chest that once belonged to a girl graduate of Ord High School sometime between 1953 and approximately 1965. It would be interesting to know who that person was. It made it quite a long distance if your husband got it in Ohio.It turns out my correspondent’s husband was himself a Nebraska native, and he was the one who acquired the chest – but he didn’t know how long he’d owned it. She wrote later that they were planning a road trip to Nebraska over Labor Day, with the prospect of further explorations of the mysterious cedar chest. That would put them in Nebraska right now. I suspect the story will continue.