In a folio containing Robert Redd’s accounting ledgers and various financial records, we discovered an unusual document: a carbon copy of a cancelled check, issued by Milton Hershey to the White Star Line for a first class stateroom on the RMS Titanic.
Robert Redd had visited Hershey in Pennsylvania in 1913, a year after the maiden voyage of the ill-fated luxury liner, to discuss the foundation of a philanthropy trust. During his visit to Hershey’s company town, Redd remarked that the enormity of the chocolate entrepreneur’s achievements was testament to the value of honest, diligent effort. “Just look what a man can achieve,” he said, “with a strong work ethic, a can-do spirit, and a refusal to quit.”
Hershey had shaken his head, laughing. “Don’t discount the role that luck plays in our good fortune, Robert,” he said. It was his wife Kitty’s illness, after all, that led Hershey to cancel their reservation on the doomed ocean liner the year prior. A minor disappointment, Hershey said, but just as instrumental to the endurance of his ventures as his many years of hard work.
As Redd left, Hershey gave him a copy of the room deposit check as a memento of their conversation.
We’ve rendered the account with the colors Chocolate and Ocean Blue, thus representing the Hershey success story: a mixture of industry and serendipity.