Written by: David Retzlaff
At the age of 22, Florence Sloup was ready to find a full time job in Oconto. She previously had been performing various household jobs, but with the high demand for industry labor it was time to make the move. The year was 1942, she had applied for work at the largest employer in Oconto County, the Bond Pickle Company, and quickly learned that she got the job. The Bond Pickle Company, established in 1917, had become the largest pickle producing company in the world. The five Bond brothers, Clarence, Edward, Truman, Leon and Arthur, had purchased the old Oconto Pea Cannery in 1921 and with booming sales had quickly grown in size adding on to the building in 1933, again in 1939, and with one final large addition in 1942. With that last addition in 1942 the company had also installed a bright new Bond Pickle Company sign on the southeast corner of the new building making it clearly visible for all to see. The 24-foot sign with a large image of a pickle behind it was illuminated with neon lights making it even more eye catching at night.
Florence had started her employment that year joining the many other women in the plant, starting at an hourly wage of thirty two and one half cents until after six months where she received a five cent raise. Not long after starting she had met a fellow male employee, Marvin Zimmerman, apparently hitting it off pretty well because the following year, 1943, they married. Working at Bonds during that time there was no automation for packing pickles into the jars. The women hand-packed all of them sometimes with factory temperatures reaching a sweltering 100 degrees. This was during WWII where fifty percent of the pickles produced were shipped overseas to support our armed forces, from the European theater to the jungles of New Guinea. Itâ€™s also worth noting that even years later the pickles were served in the chow lines in Vietnam.