Edith Daley Salsina Packing article

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Workers at Salsina Plant Smile Easily

By Edith Daley

July 24, 1919 San Jose Evening News

Salsina isn’t a man’s name. I know, because I inquired for him at the Salsina Canning and Packing company’s plant. Salsina is Italian for the delicious basil and paprika-flavored tomato paste that gives the factory its name. This big canning plant is one of San Jose’s new industries. It commenced operations last year with the tomato pack and over 30,000 cases of Salsina, 200 cans to the case. That output gave the machinery the habit of moving and this year with only 30 days’ preparation the apricots began their seasonal itinerary from box to tin can. Over 300 employes are handling an average of 2500 cases every day. The installation of peelers and slicers for taking care of the peaches is under way.

Salsina’s present quarters are already outgrown. Plans have been made for a new two-story warehouse and the attractive Mission style office will soon be ready for occupancy. The company is well “officered.” Gus Lion is president; A. Lambrosa, vice-president; and William J. Leeet treasurer and general manager. On the way to the cannery some one gave me a particularly nice “side light” on this manager. “He’s a prince to work for,” said an employe. “He doesn’t forget to drop a little word of commendation now and then. That’s the kind of thing that counts.” Evidently, “Bill” Leet doesn’t lose his geniality in the rush of big business. Those “words of commendation” may account for the satisfied lot of employes. They smile easily and they’re a bright lot of folks. Most of the “first families” are represented. There’s a dignified high school professor from San Francisco happily at work on the fruit grader. There are sons and daughters of doctor, lawyer, merchant, chief, and they are making from $20 to $25 per week.

The Salsina company has experienced no labor difficulty. Help is plentiful, the very best kind of help, and the very capable forelady, Mrs. L. Addington, speaks in high praise of her efficient workers.

S. Taconi[1], who is in charge of the office, and J. Turner, who is the “reception committee” for the fruit, find the apricots of superior quality. They tell you that while it is thought a good average to get 50 per cent of the three high grades of fruit in the day’s pack, the apricots are running 80 to 82 percent high grade stuff.

On the top floor of the factory there are eight enormous copper kettles, each with a capacity of 200 gallons, where the “solid pack” apricots are cooked for “pie”. This method disposes of all the ‘cots that are too ripe for high grade canning. Later these copper kettles play an important part in the manufacture of Salsina. Twenty times more tomatoes than last year have been contracted for, and the Salsina pack will be tremendous. Most of this unique and highly concentrated product in its attractively labeled cans go to the east. It is sold principally to the Italian trade, but the Americans are discovering the piquancy of Italian flavors. Up-to-date kitchen cupboards are incomplete without Salsina for gravies, soup, and all dishes requiring tomato flavoring.

The Salsina Canning and Packing corporation is in its infancy, but it is a decidedly lusty infant Over 2500 cases of ‘cots a day is a good record—one that compares rather favorably with the older canneries. It is a live enterprise and evidences plans looking to the future. These plans include not only warehouses and an artistic office, but cafeteria and kindergarten. Nothing is to be left undone that will add to the comfort and convenience of the employes.

The plant is sunny, well-ventilated, and a pleasant place in which to work. The management has a way of making things comfortable and keeping folks happy. One hot day recently the ice cream wagon stopped at the Salsina cannery—and everybody had a treat—on the office! Who says that “Billy” Leet isn’t a good manager? Happy people do the most and the best work—and everybody smiles at this plant. I had a nice time even if I didn’t get to meet “Mr. Salsina.”

  1. Possibly Tony S. Taconi, who in 1915 shows up as a bookkeeper at Central California Canneries. Polk-Husted 1915 San Jose City Directory. Taconi lived at 344 North 3rd Street.