O' America, because you build for mankind I build for you.
As Clifford D. Cooper from Pasadena, California, assumed the reins of leadership for the 1949-50 administrative year, it was becoming abundantly apparent that reorganization of The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce was necessary. The organization had grown so rapidly in recent years that it had outstripped its administrative methods and controls.
Cooper’s board of directors quickly set up a reorganization committee, which ultimately logged some 3,200 man-hours studying “the internal problems pertinent to policy, budget and finance, checks and balances, bylaws, and operational structure of this organization… “ The group called for a thorough revamping, including: a controller to sign all checks; a board of directors with real power, and not one used as a rubber stamp of executive committee and staff decisions; stricter travel curbs on vice presidents and staff; and clearly prescribed duties an powers for the executive vice president.
President cooper was the driving force and inspiration behind the reorganization plans that were carried out by his successor. He didn’t wait, however, to take action on several fronts. His administration left a remarkable $35,000 surplus, part of which was established as a contingency reserve that would grow in the years ahead.
His top program was the promotion of the objectives of the Hoover Commission, a major public affairs involvement that brought maturity and respect to The USJCC. The Hoover Commission had recommended many changes to bring efficiency and cost savings to the federal government. Cooper visited all 48 states, averaging two speeches a day, collecting thousands of Jaycees’ petitions of support along the way.
Former President Herbert Hoover showed his personal appreciation by keynoting Cooper’s outgoing convention in 1950. Hoover received a 10-minute standing ovation from the Jaycees, including many teary-eyed members who rushed to the podium in an attempt to carry Hoover around the convention hall.
Several months before the convention, Cooper and a group of Jaycees chartered a new Pan American Boeing Stratocruiser to fly to 27 countries as a way of boosting Junior Chamber International and winning friendships for the United States. Richard W. Kemler would have the difficult task of following Cooper’s legacy, implementing the reorganization acts ser forth during the 1949-50 administration, and dealing with problems associated with the Korean War, but the new bachelor president proved more than capable.
Kemler was one of the first USJCC presidents to sever all hometown ties and move to Tulsa during his term in office, setting the precedent followed by all subsequent presidents. One of his first acts was to conduct the official groundbreaking for the new headquarters on July 10,1950.
Even with the Korean War causing building costs to rise and membership to drop from 133,000 to 124,000, the reforms that changed the way business was conducted helped to produce a surplus of more that $45,000 by his term’s conclusion in 1951. Kemler still considers the strides made in financial accountability to be among the greatest accomplishments of his year, but ranks the building of the national headquarters in Tulsa as the top achievement in the history of the organization.
Like Cooper before him, Kemler traveled extensively, logging 150,000 miles and visiting every state, as well as Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and Canada. It was while he was in Canada at the JCI Congress in May 1951 that the words, “Faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life,” were added to the JCI Creed.
With the headquarters building nearly ready to be occupied and reorganization almost completed, The USJCC was ready to begin a new and more settled era. Lee Price Jr., a former FBI and OSS agent from Swainsboro, Georgia, was elected to lead the way into the 1951-52 year. He had the honor of being the first president to operate from The USJCC’s new headquarters.
Nestled in a tree-canopied hillside near the banks of the Arkansas River with a clear view of Tulsa’s central business district skyline a mile to the north, the two-story building was a striking, modernistic structure in 1951. Equipped with $15,000 of modern office furniture, the building was ready for operations in July and formally dedicated in early August.
With the Korean War still draining experienced as well as potential members, Price’s administration managed to post modest gains in membership (to 128,749, an increase of 4,500) and finances ($325,000, up $18,000). Youth activities took the spotlight under the Junior Citizens Crusade, a program to curb delinquency through projects such as Voice of Democracy, the Junior Golf program, midget baseball, 4-H club activities, and the work of the Boy and Girl Scouts. Another phase of the program dealt with the rehabilitation of those who had strayed.
Liberty Mutual Insurance Company provided a sizeable $18,000 grant to develop a safe driving “Road-e-o” for teenagers, which was implemented a year later and became an enduring program. A project to ensure under-privileged children had Christmas presents, the Christmas Shopping Tour, had originated in Mobile, Alabama, and was adopted nationally in 1951. In 1995, although no longer a national project, the Christmas Shopping Tour remains a programming staple of many chapters.
Among the resolutions approved at the 1952 Annual Meeting was one calling for Hawaii’s statehood. The young men’s organization again was poised for a lengthy period of significant growth, starting under the administration of 33rd President Horace E. “Hunk” Henderson from Williamsburg, Virginia. Dain Domich, a vice president that year, led the year’s top project, an all-out promotion to boost membership and develop leadership training at the local level. Called “LEM” for Leadership, Extension and Membership, the program established state quotas and an attractive incentive package to sustain active interest.
LEM helped to add more than 15,000 Jaycees to the rolls, bringing membership to a new record high level. Many became intensely involved in the area of safety. The first “Road-e-o” for safe driving attracted teenage contestants from 34 states and Canada, earning special recognition from the National Committee for Traffic Safety. Liberty Mutual was so impressed with the first year accomplishments, it provide an additional grant of $46,000. More than 1,400 of the 2,235 USJCC chapters marked automobile bumpers with Scotch-Lite tape, a new luminous product by 3M. Charging $1 each for the service, the project quickly became a great profit-maker until the exclusive Jaycee rights to Scotch-Lite expired in December 1953.
The most significant achievement of Henderson’s term was the initiation of a campaign for mandatory individual membership dues for Junior Chamber International. Henderson recently said that this eventually “enabled JCI to become an important and effective international organization in the development of democratic leadership in many nations.”
The 1952-53 administration came to an unprecedented climax with the president of the United States keynoting the Annual Meeting. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was high in his praise of The USJCC: “Yours is one of our nation’s most distinguished and enterprising organizations… Because you are both young and responsible, you know what is your greatest responsibility of all – tomorrow – the whole future of freedom.”
Delegates approved a resolution calling for the controlled fluoridation of water and then elected LEM Leader Dain J. Domich of Sacramento, California, as their new president. Domich would rename his membership and internal development program “ELMER,” for Enthusiasm, Leadership training, Membership, Extension and Retention. What the acronym lacked in grace, it made up for in results. Membership, affiliated chapters and income all shot up to record levels during his term.
Domich quickly changed USJCC public relations from a section to a full department. Among other things, the department sold a 13-part series of “Freedom Forum” radio programs to local chapters at $5 per program or $65 for the whole series. “March to the Mike” was created in 1953 by The USJCC in the area of international relations as a key element of the American Heritage Foundation’s crusade for freedom. Chapters recruited prominent citizens to record speeches, the best of which were aired on Radio Free Europe.
Additional projects during 1953-54 included: selling lawn markers through Lite-a-Lawn to benefit all levels of USJCC operations, as well as the Damun Runyan Cancer fund; creating a national Junior Tennis tournament with the help of Holiday magazine, Mars Candy Company and the Athletic Institute; sponsoring the Rookie League Baseball locally in conjunction with the National Baseball Congress for the second year; conducting the second Teenage Safe Driving Road-e-o; staging the eighth annual Jaycee Junior Golf program, attracting nearly 26,000 participants; running the seventh annual Voice of Democracy contest; and honoring the 16th annual group of Ten Outstanding Young Men.
At the 1954 Annual Meeting, Arkansas Jaycees gained enthusiastic backing of their idea to build a White House for subsequent presidents of The USJCC. They secured numerous pledges for furniture, construction materials, services, and accessories from other state and local Junior Chamber organizations. The newly elected president, E.LaMar Buckner of Ogden, Utah, would still have to rent a home while the White House was being built near the Tulsa headquarters, but it would be ready in time for his successor.
Buckner, considered on of the best speakers of the national presidents, followed the acronym theme trend of Domich with “SAL”, for Starting America’s Leaders. SAL emphasized various sports and youth activities designed to develop leadership among those too young to join The U.S. Junior Chamber. The sports activities got off to a fast start with the first Jaycee Junior Tennis tournament attracting 141 contestants to Springfield, Ohio, in early August 1954. Just one month later, the first Jaycee rookie league baseball tourney was held in Salina, Kansas.
The constantly improving Junior Golf program had its successful tournament in Santa Barbara, California, pulling in competitors from all 48 states. Jaycees also were looking ahead to the 1956 Olympic Games in Australia, Raising a stunning $183,000 that fall to help finance the U.S. team. The Detroit Junior Chamber was responsible for $100,000 of that total. The next year, The USJCC raised an additional $217,000 for U.S. Olympic team expenses.
Two major new programs were started under President Buckner, one of which has continued to the present day – the honoring of the nation’s Outstanding Young Farmers with a special awards banquet, first conducted in June 1955. It now is the oldest farmer recognition program in the nation. The other project, Operation Brotherhood, was sparked by Junior Chamber International and rapidly adopted by The USJCC Board of Directors. Operation Brotherhood consisted of massive international fund-raising and help for refugees fleeing the communists in Vietnam. Buckner personally inspected the operation in Vietnam, which eventually raised in excess of $1 million and created 350 special villages for the refugees.
Just after the 1955 Annual Meeting, Junior Chamber International opened its own world headquarters in Miami Beach, Florida, moving from the War Memorial Headquarters in Tulsa. Led by new USJCC President Hugh F. McKenna of Omaha, Nebraska, about 1,000 Jaycees attended the JCI opening banquet after adjourning their 35th Annual Meeting in Atlanta.
When McKenna moved into the newly completed White House, the national organization still was growing. He kept it on that path while efficiently reorganizing the myriad of USJCC projects and overseeing construction of an addition to the War Memorial Headquarters.
During his 1955-56 term, membership jumped from 172,000 to 185,000 and the number of chapters rose to nearly 3,200. Income soared from $470,000 to $546,000. While steady growth would continue for many more years, a natural leveling out soon would replace the post-war boom.
To more intelligently handle services relating to national projects, all were sorted into three categories. Class I projects were the most widely accepted and would receive a continued annual emphasis with project kits regularly mailed to all chapters. Class II projects received less emphasis and promotion, while Class III programs were considered supplementary and material was available on a request basis.
Under a program called Operation Civic Service, participating chapters could qualify for a civic service award by conducting a given number of Class I and locally devised projects, depending on their population division. The result was a 365 percent increase in participation over the SAL program a year earlier, with 1,874 chapters involved.
Activity was the name of a new monthly magazine sent to all Junior Chamber officers to promote available program materials. The following year it would be combined in Action, an existing monthly news magazine for the same audience.
“I am my brother’s keeper” became the theme of a new human relations project entitled Building A Better Community. Sponsored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews with the help of the Junior Chamber, its goal was to improve communities through fostering brotherhood.
Ever increasing printing needs and orders for supplies brought about a decision to build an addition to the lower floor of the national headquarters. Construction, which included the laying of footings to facilitate later construction of a third floor, was completed in July 1956, just as Wendell Ford of Owensboro, Kentucky, arrived in Tulsa as 37th president of The USJCC.
An additional 821 chapters vied for civic service awards in 1956-57, evidence that The USJCC successfully was returning project initiative to the local level where Jaycees could best determine the needs of the community. While several projects were adaptable to most communities and included such standbys as the Teenage Safe Driving Road-e-o, Voice of Democracy and Christmas Shopping Tour, others seemed more appropriate for temporary usage by fewer chapters. In this regard, Our Stake in Better Government, a program backing the second Hoover Report, and the Atoms for Peace program were popular.
Among the innovations was an Outstanding New Jaycee program to encourage activation of new members and Religion In American Life, commonly called RIAL. Usually featured in the month of November for many years, RIAL stressed the importance of religion in the community.
The Junior Golf Championship was enhanced by the addition of Coca-Cola as a sponsor and the backing of the immortal “Grand Slam” golfer Bobby Jones. Eddie Sledge defeated Earl “Butch” Buchholz for the Junior Boys crown at the Jaycee Tennis Championships, but Buchholz eventually became on of the top players in the world.
Farmers from all 48 States, as well as Alaska and Hawaii, were on hand for the third annual Outstanding Young Farmer banquet which, by 1957, had grown in national stature. The Ten Outstanding Young Men event featured the unveiling of the so-called “Hands” trophy, designed by internationally known sculptor and 1954 honoree, Arthur Kraft.
Vice President Richard M. Nixon, celebrating his 10th anniversary as a Ten Outstanding Young Men honoree, delivered the keynote address at the 1957 Annual Meeting that June in Milwaukee. For the first time in 10 years, national dues were raised, climbing from $2 to $2.50 per member.
Charles E. Shearer Jr., a Shelbyville, Indiana, attorney who now practices in Washington, D.C., was elected to lead The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce for the next year. He says his most important accomplishment in 1957-58 was “the inauguration of the Community Development concept. Instead of all programs coming down from Tulsa, we emphasized the importance of communities doing a survey to find the most important need in the community and then developing a program to address that need. (Chapters) were judged on the basis of this process.” The USJCC had realized that local program planning often led to the most important work for a chapter.
Under Shearer’s leadership, the fledgling Outstanding New Jaycee program was refined, renamed SPOKE and administered by Virgil Lebow of Kansas City, Missouri. State SPOKE winners were organized into a national HUB group and recognized at the Annual Meeting. Operation Library gained momentum in its second year with Junior Chamber chapters establishing or improving libraries in many communities. The first 100 percent participation project in Arkansas was Operation Library, sparked by Cecil Edmonds of West Memphis.
He not only succeeded in a three-year battle to build a new library in his city, but also helped make Operation Library a project of Junior Chamber International. During this period, Jaycees contributed more time and money to America’s libraries than the federal government.
Along with the initiation of projects such as Speak-Up for Government Economy related to supporting the Hoover Report, and Decisions ’57, a program where discussion groups considered international relations questions, one long standing project came to an end in 1958. After 10 years, the Voice of Democracy program closed on a high note with a record number of high school participants. President Shearer, however, felt The USJCC had not been getting full cooperation or appropriate credit from the other sponsors. An improved program, My True Security, took its place in 1959, sponsored by Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company.
Hometown boy Jack Nicklaus took the Junior Golf title in Columbus, Ohio, and the Wheaties Sports Federation sponsored a new Junior Chamber youth fitness program that would develop dramatically in the year ahead. Sponsors such as Wheaties were playing an increasingly important role each year in the financial health of The USJCC. In 1957-58, they contributed more than $176,000 to the organization out of a total income of $707,000.
Membership finally swelled just past the 200,000 threshold during Shearer’s year, a long anticipated goal. This brought about an awareness that more preplanning was needed to serve the membership, so delegates to the 1958 Annual Meeting approved a bylaws change calling for budgets and programs to be approved in advance, starting with the March 1959 board meeting for the 1959-60 Junior Chamber year.
Robert V. Cox of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was elected 39th president of The USJCC after a tense, 15-ballot marathon of an election well chronicled in Booton Herndon’s Young Men Can Change the World, presently out or print. Space was getting cramped for the growing national headquarters staff, so construction began in October for a 9,300 square foot third floor at the War Memorial building. It was occupied by the end of Cox’s tern and formally dedicated in July 1959 by his successor.
Community development programming, sponsored by American Motors Corporation, was augmented with chapter development activities in 1958-59. The community development phase called for a survey of community needs, a program addressing some of the needs, and a summary report of results and progress. A chapter in Ketchikan, Alaska, came up with a 64-page report detailing 34 needed projects. It’s no wonder that a Community Development department and Professional Advisory Council on Community Development were organized by The USJCC after the March 1959 board meeting.
In the area of chapter development, fundamentals of operation were stressed – having a planned year’s program and budget, adequate membership, activation of all members, issuing a regular member publication, etc. – ensuring that internal areas were not overlooked while external projects were being carried out.
On the national level, Pepsi helped sponsor the Jaycee Junior Tennis Championships while rival Coca-Cola was behind the Jaycee Junior Golf Championships. About 300,000 took part in the annual Teenage Safe Driving Road-e-o backed by Pure Oil Company, Chrysler Corporation, Liberty Mutual Insurance and the American Trucking Association. The Ten Outstanding Young Men for 1958 included 24-year-old entertainer Pat Boone and 35-year-old national affairs specialist Dr. Henry Kissinger.
Sports Illustrated magazine and the Wheaties Sports Federation helped The USJCC honor the best leaders of Youth Fitness Week programs with a trip to New York while the American Petroleum Institute helped with the annual honoring of four Outstanding Young Farmers. The National Association of Manufacturers provided financial help to Project Tax Reform, a national petition-signing effort to outline the need for certain tax reductions.
Looking back 35 years, Robert Cox now says the greatest accomplishment during his term in office was helping The USJCC become “more precise about the worth of various programs.” How many people were being helped? What kind of exposure did Jaycees receive? These and other questions were required to produce positive answers or a program’s status would be reduced.
Minneapolis played host to the Junior Chamber International World Congress and The USJCC managed to convince 18 states and many local chapters to require members to pay $1 annual dues for JCI. JCI dues would not become a national requirement until 1966, some 13 years after Horace Henderson’s administration had initiated a campaign for it. Also on the international front, the Junior Chamber had a representative at a NATO briefing in Paris. A. Park Shaw Jr., he was the only person from the United States present, as well as the only civic organization representative attending from any of the 15 NATO countries.
At the 1959 Annual Meeting in Buffalo, an estimated 100,000 people turned out to see the Jaycees march in the colorful Parade of States and delegates elected Bob Clark of Des Moines, Iowa, to lead them into their 40 anniversary year. The Tennessee delegation served their famous strawberry shortcake at the convention and even stopped city buses to serve it.
The “Fabulous Fifties” were almost gone. The decade had brought exciting growth and much-needed administrative stability to The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce. Just ahead were some of the most significant programming developments in Junior Chamber history, as well as yet another surge in growth.