Konrad, Adolf To Labor movement (New Jersey)

Konrad, Adolf (b. Feb. 21, 1915). Painter. Known as the "painter laureate of Newark,” Adolf Konrad was born in Bremen, Germany, one of four children of Roman and Katherine Konrad. His father was a translator of Slavic languages and an employee of the shipping firm North German Lloyd. In i923, after recognizing Adolf’s artistic ability, he sent him to the Scharrelman Schule. In the same year, the family made its first trip to Germany’s Worpswede art colony, where artists were painting works infused with idealism and nature. By i925, as rampant inflation and unrest under the Weimar Republic escalated, Roman moved his family to Elizabeth, New Jersey. Adolf continued his art education at the Fawcett Art School and at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts, primarily under Bernar Gussow.

In 1935 Konrad and fellow students Bernard Rabin and Nathan Krueger launched the "Cooperative Gallery” in their classroom. By 1939, after the gallery’s name was changed to "Rabin and Krueger” and it had acquired its own space, it became an important meeting place for notable artists of the early twentieth century, including Joseph Stella and Reginald Marsh. In the same year Konrad began experimenting with modern movements including cubism, particularly in depictions of buildings composed of overlapping shapes. This interest was further intensified in i936 after he won a scholarship to the Cummington School in Massachusetts, where he studied with Herman Maril.


In 1938 Konrad joined the Easel Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), creating paintings displaying a personal form of realism that combined flat picture planes with an empirical form of perspective. He drew his subject matter from the world around him, particularly Newark, and incorporated symbolism and images reflecting "the sacred in the everyday,” similar to the metaphysical paintings of the Italian painter, Giorgio de Chirico. This study led to Konrad’s masterpiece of the period, End of Day (1952), which reveals mysterious lighting and lonely figures within a desolate city square containing Newark’s deserted Javas Bread Company building.

In i958 Adolf and his wife, Helen, moved to Morristown, where he began to depict Victorian period architecture along with symbolic and nostalgic imagery. In Anniversary (1963), he depicted a Succasunna house with a group of imagined and almost transparent family members, who appear to merge with the sula to invade the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the south. By August 4, the NKPA had pushed ROK and U.S. troops into the southeast. After an amphibious landing at Inchon on September 15, 1950, U.S. forces took Seoul around September 25-27, and the U.S. Eighth Army began driving north, crossing the 38th parallel on October 9. The Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (Chinese Communist) joined the NKPA to push back the Eighth Army advance on November 25, 1950. After withdrawing to Wonju in January 1951, the Eighth Army turned north again, regaining Seoul on March 15,1951, and reaching a position north of the 38th parallel in June. Intermittent fighting continued until a peace agreement was signed on July 27, 1953, ending the Korean War in stalemate.

More than 190,000 New Jerseyans served in the Korean War, of whom 836 lost their lives. Three New Jerseyans received the Congressional Medal of Honor: Army Sergeant First Class Nelson V. Brittin of Audubon; Marine Corps Private Hector A. Cafferata, Jr., of Montville; and Army First Lieutenant Samuel S. Coursen of Madison.

Adolf Konrad, Quartet, 1953. Lithograph, 10 x 7 3/4 in.

Adolf Konrad, Quartet, 1953. Lithograph, 10 x 7 3/4 in.

In recent years Konrad’s travels have inspired works including Mexican, Italian, and North African iconography, including street scenes, musicians, architecture, and ruins. After Helen’s death in 1980, Adolf married Adair Blackwing, an artist and craftsperson who maintains her own studio on the grounds of the couple’s home in Asbury (Franklin Township). There he continues to explore new directions—including still life and a noted series of works recalling the theme of the French painter Edouard Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass.

The Korean War Memorial in Atlantic City.

The Korean War Memorial in Atlantic City.

Kovacs, Ernest Edward (b. Jan. 23, 1919; d. Jan. 13, 1962). Television and radio personality, director, and writer. Ernie Ko-vacs was born in Trenton, the son of Hungarian American parents, Andrew and Mary (Chebonick) Kovacs. Educated at different public schools in his home town, Kovacs graduated from Trenton Central High School in 1936. He subsequently attended various theatrical academies, but his contraction of pneumonia in 1939 led to a recovery period that lasted nearly two years. Kovacs was back in Trenton by 1941, where he produced plays for local civic organizations prior to obtaining a position as announcer and special events director at radio station WTTM-AM. He was also a newspaper columnist for the daily Trento-nian. In 1945, Kovacs wed Bette Lee Wilcox. They divorced five years later, but he retained sole legal custody of their two daughters.

The lure of a new medium led Kovacs to Philadelphia, where he became a pioneer in the field of morning television programming on station WPTZ from 1950 to 1952. Viewers of his programs during the 1950s grew accustomed to seeing innovative comedy sketches created by the man whose trademark moustache, ever-present cigar, and sign-off phrase "It’s Been Real” became nationally famous. Kovacs’s personal motto, "Nothing in Moderation,” also carried over to his television work, which typically featured unusual camera angles, creative editing techniques, odd sound effects, and original scriptwriting to enhance the "improv” feel of content, which would be termed "avant-garde" by later observers of his work. Memorable characters including Mr. Question Man, Percy Dovetonsils, and the Nairobi Trio became synonymous with Kovacs during his television career.

Ernie Kovacs, c. 1950. Kovacs's zany humor made him a national television star.

Ernie Kovacs, c. 1950. Kovacs’s zany humor made him a national television star.

Between 1952 and 1955 Kovacs directed several different programs on the NBC, CBS, and DuMont television networks where he gained national exposure through such daytime shows as Ernie in Kovacsland, Kovacs on the Corner, and the prime-time Ernie Kovacs Show. Kovacs remarried in 1954, to singer Edie Adams; together they had one daughter. A year later, he became the morning radio announcer for WABC-AM in New York City, and also hosted the NBC Tonight show part-time from 1956 to 1957. Early in 1957, the "No Dialogue” episode of the new Ernie Kovacs Show garnered an Emmy award nomination and Life magazine cover for its creator. In the wake of this success, a motion picture contract with Columbia Studios was signed later that year.

Kovacs eventually starred in ten different films between 1957 to 1962, including Operation Mad Ball, Bell, Book, and Candle, and North to Alaska, where he often received third or fourth billing in the credits. During this period he also wrote two books, a novel entitled Zoomar, released in 1957, and How to Talk Gin, which saw print in 1962. In conjunction with his movie and publishing work, Kovacs hosted the television quiz show Take a Good Look along with monthly specials on the ABC network, until a car accident claimed his life. Enshrined in the Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame, Kovacs’s creative legacy and influence has lived on in the subsequent work of countless television comedians, producers, and writers.

Kranich, Edward (b. 1825; d. 1891). Painter. Edward Kranich immigrated to the United States from Germany around 1848-1850, and settled with his parents in Elizabeth, where his father worked for the firm of Kranich and Bach piano manufacturers. By 1856 Kranich had moved to Morristown and established a studio in Washington Hall, facing the Green. In the late 1850s he was advertising in the local newspaper as a landscape and ornamental painter, and sought commissions to paint views of homesteads in the community. In addition, he devoted his talents to painting ornamental window shades and decorative signs.

Some of Kranich’s landscapes are broad, panoramic views, quite topographical in nature, with roads, streams, and ground relief depicted with considerable accuracy. The artist achieved a romantic aura in these paintings by framing scenes with lush foliage, and setting small figures in a darkened foreground. Classic examples of this style are View of Morristown from Fort Nonsense (two views, c. i856)and View of Morristown from the Hill Behind Presbyterian Church (c. 1856). A series of homestead views was painted of the farms and homes of leading citizens in the Morris County area. Examples include The Pitney Farm in Mend-ham, The Sycamores in Morristown, and The Tucker Farm in Morris Township, all of which are standing today. Kranich gave close attention to the architectural details of the houses, barns, and fencing. The scenes are populated with small figures of children, couples, dogs, cows, and horses, adding a naive charm to the paintings. He also painted several commercial establishments, including a panoramic view of the Speedwell Iron Works along the Whippany River in Morristown, and the Heath House resort hotel on Schooley’s Mountain.

By 1868, Kranich and his wife, Vashti, returned to Elizabeth. He continued as an artist there until his death in i89i, with occasional visits to Morristown for sketching and painting. He passed on his skills in the fine and decorative arts to his children, six sons and a daughter, who became artists and artisans. They were listed in the Elizabeth directories until i900 as "painter,” "sign painter,” "ornamental painter,” "fresco painter,” "crayon artist,” and "decorator.”

Krementz and Company. Krementz and Company grew to become the dominant jewelry manufacturer in Newark in the twentieth century while remaining under family management. Its founder, George Krementz, was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1837, and came to the United States that year as an infant with his family. At the age of eighteen, he entered the jewelry trade, first as an apprentice and then as a jeweler before opening a business with Stephen Alling and Alfred Van Cleve Genung. In i869, he formed Krementz and Company with his cousin, Julius Lebkuecher, whose experience in business management and sales enabled Krementz to devote his inventive talent to creating new products and the machines to make them. In i876, Krementz and Company moved into a remodeled factory at 49 Chestnut Street. Two years later, the company opened a sales office in New York, which was subsequently moved to its factory in Newark in i894. With business continuing to grow, the firm reopened a New York office in 1905.

George Krementz was a genuine inventor. In i884, he patented the Krementz one-piece collar button, which catapulted the company to international prominence. By i900, the company was producing most of the collar buttons in the world. He also patented the one-piece bean-and-post cuff button and the bodkin vest button.

In the mid-1890s, Julius Lebkuecher’s son, Carl, joined the company, soon followed by George Krementz’s sons, Richard and Walter M. Upon the deaths of their fathers, the sons took control and, in 1922, Krementz and Company was incorporated with each family receiving half the company stock. In i936, the company was split: the Lebkuecher family (renamed Lester in i9i8) assumed most of the manufacturing of gold jewelry under the name Lester and Company; the Krementz family carried on the popular gold-clad line (gold overlay) under the name Krementz and Company.

From the 1930s through the 1950s, Krementz and Company acquired several Newark manufacturing jewelers, including Bippart, Griscom, and Osborn known for art nouveau jewelry; Carter, Gough, and Company famous for quality gold and platinum jewelry; Eckfeldt and Ackley; Jones and Woodland with expertise in precious gemstone jewelry; Abelson and Braun with a bridal business; Allsopp-Steller with a medium-priced jewelry line; M. and N. Company, a ring manufacturer; and George O. Street. In the next two decades Krementz acquired George Schuler and Company, from Pleasantville, New York; Lester and Company; Frank Krementz Company (formed by George Krementz’s brother); the Improved Laminated Metals Company of Providence, Rhode Island; and McTeigue and Company of New York City with an 18-karat gold and diamond jewelry line. In 1982, Shiman and Company was acquired for its i4-karat gold religious jewelry. In 1991, the McTeigue and Company division was sold to Tiffany and Company.

In 1988, Krementz and Company moved into a larger administrative and manufacturing facility at 375 McCarter Highway. Richard Krementz, grandson of the founder, presides over the five divisions of the company selling its products under three names: Shiman (14-karat gold religious jewelry), Krementz and Company (gold overlay and electroplated brass line), and Krementz Gemstones (18-karat gold and platinum colored gemstone jewelry).

Krol, Bastiaen Janszen (b. 1595; d. 1674). Director general of New Netherland. A velour worker in the fabric industry, Bastiaen Janszen Krol’s career in New Netherland began in 1624 with his appointment as a zieken-trooster, or comforter of the sick, in Fort Orange (Albany). In 1626, he became the Dutch West India Company’s commissary, or agent, at Fort Orange, and in 1629 commander of the fort. As agent to Kiliaen van Rensselaer, he selected the location of the vast patroonship of Rensselaerswyck and negotiated its title with the Indians. On van Rensselaer’s recommendation Krol was appointed acting director general of the colony in 1632, and served in that position until a replacement arrived the following year. Returning to Fort Orange, Krol served there as commander from 1638 to 1643.

Ku Klux Klan. The second Ku Klux Klan flourished between the two world wars, attracting about three million members and wide popular support. Like the Klan during Reconstruction, it was a secret organization, often armed and violent, dedicated to white supremacy and the rule of a traditional elite. It had many friends in Congress and state legislatures, elected thousands of local officials, and controlled several state governments, North and South.

The new Klan had roots in evangelical Protestantism, anti-Catholic nativism, moral reform movements, anti-Semitism, racial theories, and anti-intellectualism. It appealed to millions with its insistence on a strict moral code and its equation of religious fundamentalism with "100% Americanism.” It set out to unite white Protestants in a nationalist crusade against corrupting alien forces, which it identified as Catholic and Jewish immigrants, African and Asian Americans, labor unions and urban politicians, liberals and radicals, and secularists and internationalists. And it assumed extralegal authority to enforce its values.

In New Jersey the Klan recruited about sixty thousand members. In every county, thousands of men and women in hoods and robes held parades and burned crosses. They appeared at church services, often at a minister’s invitation; many congregations were divided between pro- and anti-Klan factions. Klan members rallied to defeat the presidential candidacy of Alfred E. Smith, a Catholic, in 1928. They helped persuade Congress to enact more restrictive immigration laws, setting national quotas based on eugenic theories that some respected institutions and organizations in New Jersey helped to propagate. They worked successfully to place Klansmen in local office, especially in law enforcement, and to drive out teachers, farmers, businessmen, and residents who were not white Protestants.

The Klan fought to maintain racial segregation in New Jersey’s schools, housing, employment, and public facilities. Klansmen were recruited to help break strikes. They promoted state laws for Bible reading and prayer in the schools, condemned the teaching of evolution during the Scopes trial, and pursued violators of Prohibition and Sabbath laws. They threatened or beat people for moral transgressions like adultery, lewdness, and racial mingling, and they terrorized black migrant workers.

Like Klan affiliates elsewhere, the New Jersey Klan, led by Grand Dragon Arthur H. Bell, kept its membership and its internal affairs secret. It spread its message at local "klav-erns,” through published bulletins and letters to members, and in national Klan periodicals

Kuhn, Walter Francis (b. Oct. 27,1877; d. July 13, 1949). Painter, cartoonist, and designer. Walt Kuhn was the son of Francis Kuhn and Amelia Hergenhan, who operated businesses in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, New York. Educated in private schools, Kuhn left Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute at age sixteen. After studying art in Europe for two years, Kuhn returned to Manhattan in 1903 and made a living selling cartoons to Life and Puck magazines and to several newspapers. Though his work was based in New York, Kuhn spent two summers in Cherry Hill (now North Hackensack). He was married to Vera Spier in Hoboken on February 6, 1909, and they lived for ten years in Fort Lee. The Kuhns had one child.

Kuhn exhibited his paintings throughout his life, and is recognized for his portrayals of clowns and circus performers. His promotional abilities were evident in his roles as a founding member and secretary of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, and and a network of friendly magazines. Among the Klan’s most ardent advocates was the evangelist Alma B. White, founder of the Pillar of Fire Church in Zarephath and editor of a monthly magazine, The Good Citizen.

A Ku Klux Klan gathering in Point Pleasant c. 1920s, where even the horses were hooded.

A Ku Klux Klan gathering in Point Pleasant c. 1920s, where even the horses were hooded.

In 1924 the Democratic National Convention narrowly defeated an anti-Klan resolution, and the Republicans avoided the issue. The Democratic presidential candidate, John W. Davis, opened his campaign with an anti-Klan speech in Sea Girt. The state’s parties and most of their officeholders dissociated themselves from the Klan; some leaders in both parties were among its strongest opponents.

The enemies of the New Jersey Klan also included many white Protestants, much of the press, and a wide range of civic organizations. Black, Catholic, and Jewish leaders fought the Klan’s efforts to exclude their people from American society. In cities with strong Catholic influence, mayors and police made the Klan unwelcome. Its activities were sometimes met by violence, most notably in the Perth Amboy riots in 1923.

The Klan had an ambivalent attitude toward the American proponents of fascism, with whom it shared political and racial ideas but often not the same national loyalties. In 1940 the New Jersey Klan’s rally with the German-American Bund at the Bund’s Camp Nordland in Andover received the attention of a congressional hearing in Newark. This spotlight on its activities contributed to the organization’s decline, which had begun in the late 1920s and was caused by a series of violent crimes, scandals, and internal disputes, as well as by greater resistance and a new political atmosphere in the Great Depression.

After World War II a new, far weaker Klan, active in some New Jersey towns, became part of a network of militant racist groups that remains on the American scene.

Labor movement. From a relatively diverse agricultural economy producing grains and livestock for the South, New England, and the British West Indies, New Jersey became in the nineteenth century an important center for both industry and commerce. Textile mills, iron and steel foundries, and later silk, porcelain, and pottery manufacturers became part of the urban New Jersey landscape. Canal building in the first half of the nineteenth century and railroad construction in the second half linked the state to local, New York, and Philadelphia markets.

Although there is evidence of some trade union activity in the decades following the American Revolution, unions of artisans, shoemakers, harness makers, and saddle makers became a force in Newark in the 1830s. They engaged in strikes and in 1834 established the Newark Trades Union, a coalition of over sixteen artisan unions. As was true of New York and Philadelphia at the time, Newark was a center of one of the United States’ first labor parties, the Working Man’s Party, which had an intermittent existence in the city through the 1830s. It advocated public education, an end to debtors’ prisons, a ten-hour workday, and the abolition of convict labor in manufacturing. These artisan unions and incipient labor parties in New Jersey and elsewhere collapsed in the face of periodic economic crises.

Founded in 1869 by Uriah Stephens, a New Jersey-born tailor, the Knights of Labor became the most important national labor organization in U.S. history in the late nineteenth century. It was a major force in New Jersey in the 1880s, founding organizations that later became the basis for the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in the state. Unlike its AFL successors, the Knights of Labor actively organized female and black workers. The first socialist party in U.S. history, the Socialist Labor Party, was founded in Newark in the aftermath of the suppression of the National Railroad Strike in 1877. From the 1890s to World War I, the AFL-affiliated New Jersey Federation of Labor (NJFL) organized skilled workers and became the battleground between conservative business unionists, who followed an exclusionary policy toward the unskilled, women, and blacks, and socialist trade unionists, committed in principle to broader, more inclusive unions. Building trades unions, a stronghold of business unionists, emerged as the leading force on city central labor councils and in the state federation in this period.

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a trade union founded by socialists and other radicals in Chicago in 1905, sought to organize textile factory workers in the state. The Wobblies launched a series of strikes in 1912 in Paterson and in other New Jersey towns. Although some of these small strikes were successful at negotiating contracts, employers often reneged on agreements. A major strike in 1913 involved leading figures in the IWW, including Big Bill Haywood, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Carlo Tresca, and John Reed. Nearly 2,500 strikers were arrested. The strike’s defeat had negative national consequences for the IWW, but the pageant held by New York writers and artists at Madison Square Garden in support of the strike represented the first major coming together of trade unionists and intellectuals in a solidarity campaign in U.S. labor history. The IWW, the Socialist party, and subsequently the new Communist Party, USA, faced widespread repression by business and government during wartime and the postwar Red Scare.

Conservative business unionists in New Jersey allied themselves with the Woodrow Wilson administration and experienced important gains during the war, only to see those gains lost because of postwar repression and the antilabor policies of conservative Republican national administrations in the 1920s. Through its Trade Union Educational League, however, the Communist Party developed an overall strategy of building industrial unions, "boring from within” the established unions to achieve that end, and developing class consciousness and militancy within the labor movement. In 1926 Communists led one of the most important strikes in the United States in the decade, the Passaic silk industry strike. Like the later textile strike at Gastonia, North Carolina, it was defeated, but provided experience for many who would later build the industrial unions of the Committee on Industrial Organization (CIO) in the 1930s.

The Great Depression produced both an upsurge of workers seeking to organize unions and the New Deal government, which in 1935 enacted the National Labor Relations Act. The act established for the first time in U.S. history a democratic system permitting workers to choose union representation. It also introduced important changes to labor law, making illegal many of the worst employer abuses. At the AFL convention of 1935 in Atlantic City, John L. Lewis of the mineworkers led a walkout of industrial unionists. He formed the CIO, and began in earnest the organization of mass-production workers and the unskilled, which had been both delayed and defeated for half a century.

In New Jersey, the Textile Workers Organizing Committee and the Left-led United Radio, Machine, and Electrical Workers (UE) were the most important industrial unions in state campaigns. The UE won important victories at RCA’s Camden plant in 1936 and at Westing-house and General Electric plants in Trenton. Johnson & Johnson, a powerful corporation in New Brunswick, successfully evaded unionization, however, first by organizing directly controlled "company unions,” then by establishing indirectly controlled "independent unions” that on paper conformed to the NLRB Act. National CIO victories against General Motors and United States Steel, the two largest industrial corporations in the world in 1937, represented a qualitative breakthrough for the American labor movement. Although many strikes were defeated, the period saw the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act (1938), which established minimum wages and the forty-hour workweek in the United States. Congresswoman Mary Holmes Norton of Jersey City, as chair of the House Labor Committee, was the most important congressional figure involved in the development of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Mayor Frank Hague was successful in using the Jersey City police force to fight CIO organizers in 1938. However, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, Hague v. CIO, declared that peaceful picketing was a protected right. Hague v. CIO was an important victory for the labor movement, whose right to picket had long been challenged by state and local laws and ordinances.


The labor movement grew even more substantially in New Jersey than nationally during World War II, as the number of members in CIO unions tripled. During the cold war era, however, the Taft-Hartley law (1947) restricted union growth and instigated anti-communist, anti-radical purges in CIO unions particularly (one of its most important clauses barred Communist party members from holding union office). Over time this weakened the labor movement nationally and in New Jersey. The UE, a Left- and Communist-led union, had been one of the most powerful in the state. After workers refused to remove its leftist leaders, a rival union, the International Union of Electrical Workers (IUE), was formed. By the 1950s, government-induced purges, dual unions (which were created to weaken existing unions by competing for membership), and raids caused the number of workers in New Jersey unions to drop by 5 percent, losses that were about half the national average, but still substantial. While New Jersey labor was able for decades to hold its own, Taft-Hartley encouraged employers to relocate to relatively cheap labor southern and southwestern "right to work” states, especially as industrial air-conditioning technology made that more practical.

Nevertheless, compared to many states, New Jersey labor remained strong. This was due to a number of factors. First, the UE and other Left-led unions, including a collection of leftist unions that formed CIO District 65, remained on the scene in New Jersey more than in other states. Also, the AFL-CIO merger, established nationally in 1955, was not implemented in New Jersey for a number of years. When the merger finally was completed, a state Industrial Union Council continued to exist as a check on conservative business unionism.

The establishment of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which joined the CIO in 1949, and its organization of Bell Telephone and other workers, was a postwar bright spot for labor. The CWA was led by Joseph Beirne, an ardent anticommunist but also a militant industrial unionist. The CWA was to play a major part in organizing both state employees and high-tech workers after 1970, when the shift of industrial jobs to both "right to work” states and abroad greatly affected New Jersey. Other white-collar unions, most importantly the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) grew substantially and became important forces in the state labor movement after 1970.

New Jersey benefited from the fact that prominent trade unionists often held important positions in state governments. Carl Holderman, a founder of the CIO in New Jersey, served as commissioner of labor and industry in the administration of Gov. Robert Meyner (1953-1961). Other prominent trade unionists were able to influence the Democratic administrations of Richard Hughes, Brendan Byrne, and James Florio, while lobbying effectively with the "liberal Republican” administrations of William Cahill and Tom Kean. Unlike most other states, New Jersey labor was able to prevent the establishment of a conservative antilabor government in Trenton until Christine Todd Whitman’s election in 1993. Labor contributed to New Jersey’s emergence at the beginning of the twenty-first century as the state with the highest median family income in the country. New Jersey also maintained some of the most advanced state and local social welfare and health care systems in the United States, although it lagged behind other industrial states in support of higher education.

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