PHILIP HENRY BAKER. From farm boy to Cleveland man of business.. Written by a business associate who has for
three years been in a position to appreciate his capacity for hard work and intelligence in its performance. Philip
Henry Baker, better known as "Phil Baker," first saw the light of day, on April 7, 1885, at Stone Creek,
Ohio, a village of less than 100 inhabitants. His father's home cornered up against the railroad station at the
edge of the little village. The old saying that "the boy is the father of the man" was well born out
in Phil's case, for he could scarcely walk when he fell in love with horses. He looked upon them as almost human,
and to see one of them roughly handled cut his little heart to the very quick. As he grew older his chief delight
was to organize his boy playmates into a trading community, and it was always observed that certain long sticks
set by Phil at intervals along the fence were "horses," each with a name, and any of them for "sale
if the boy buyers had the price." The first real rough and tumble fist fight he ever had was with a little
village lad, and bigger than he, too, who made the mistake of declaring that those animals were not horses at all,
but mere pieces of board from the Baker woodshed.
When little Philip was ten years old the Baker family moved from Stone Creek to a farm one mile and a half west
of Tuscarawas, Ohio, in what is known as Sharon Valley, where the boy soon became very homesick for his former
playmates in the village. He was a total stranger to the forty odd children in the country school he now attended,
but being naturally of a friendly disposition he soon niade many chums among them, and further showed his best
toward organization by inaugurating a "spelling bee," with added attractions in the way of recitations,
songs, etc., such as he was used to in the village. A program was arranged, but when the night for the entertainment
arrived and the teacher called upon the different children to recite, their nerve failed them. Little Phil Baker,
with a courage that nothing could daunt, jumped into the breach, so to speak, and saved the entertainment by giving
the audience three recitations and as many songs, which were not only loudly praised by the teacher but which made
him the acknowledged leader of the school. Later he received a very good common school education there, but did
not move on to high school, as he felt his father needed his service on the farm. He now says frankly that this
was a mistake, and he always advises boys to get a thorough schooling, no matter at what cost.
At the age of fifteen Phil was the only one of the three brothers and one sister of the family Jeft at home, and
as his father fell sick, all the work of the farm was done by Phil, with the help of a hired man and a hired maid.
Two years later his father sold all the stock and implements of the farm and retired from work, an older brother
moving his goods home and taking charge. That year, 1903, Philip worked for a River Valley farmer named John Wolf,
whose farm was a large one, conducted very systematically, giving the boy a good insight into business methods
as applied to agriculture. He constantly kept his eyes open for new ideas, and when in the following spring he
decided to come to Cleveland he was well supplied with health and courage for taking on more responsible duties.
Thus in the spring of 1904 he began to work for the Telling Brothers Ice Cream Company, where for the better part
of twelve years he toiled in various capacities, from doing common labor to handling deliveries and assisting in
The following incident, which had a good deal to do with his promotion, and which illustrates his natural faculty
for "sticking" to any task assigned him, shows how he began to learn the streets of a big city. He had
been placed on a retail delivery wagon taking in every street north ofEuclid Avenue and east of what is now known
as East Fortieth Street, clear, out to the city limits. His first trip was on Thanksgiving day and his wagon, containing
seventy private orders, he had loaded, without proper instructions, in a haphazard manner, instead of the load
piled according to the streets and their numbers in succession. Here was Phil, knowing absolutely none of the streets
to be traversed excepting Hough Avenue, Euclid, St. Clair and Superior avenues. It was a day full of trouble. He
left the factory at 9:30 in the morning and should have had all the orders delivered by 1 o'clock in the afternoon.
He actually did return at 5:30 and brought back five orders for houses he could not find. A good deal of his time
had been spent consulting city directories in corner drug stores, you see. All along the way he had worried, and
became thoroughly disheartened, but the good old Pennsylvania German in his blood made him stick it out. He sure
had visions that raw cold day of losing his job, and probably returning to "the old home town" to get
his second wind before tackling the big city again. Imagine then his surprise and relief when the foreman actually
praised his work, saying he had done better than he expected, as the task was about the biggest even an experienced
driver could ever tackle, and had been given Phil because they were desperately short of help.
So, while several more experienced men were laid off at the end of the busy season, Phil went along regularly with
his wagon the entire winter. Soon he was promoted to a wholesale wagon delivering to stores, and three or four
years later was made a route foreman. In speaking of his experience along about this time Phil recently said: "Most
men promote themselves, by this I mean that when an employe goes out of his way, regardless of regular hours of
work, to do things for the good of the concern he is working for, you can safely bet that it counts to his credit.
I know it was so in my case. Instead of dodging when the wagons were fully equipped with drivers, I took many hours
of such days to go out along the different routes and try for new customers, or devoted my time to working out
new ideas for the betterment of the ice cream business; and I say it without wanting or meaning to boast, that
every improvement upon cabinets and ice cream delivery wagons that was made by that company during the last seven
or eight years I worked there was originated by me."
"When did you come into close touch with Mr. Tabor?" the writer asked.
"It was soon after I went on the delivery wagons. Mr. Tabor was general sales manager and secretary of the
company, and naturally took an interest in the men responsible for delivering his products to the trade. He was
quick to notice and compliment me upon my disposition to make friends for the company among the retail dealers.
I also worked with him when he was establishing the Akron and Youngstown branches ; securing stores also in many
other Northern Ohio towns. As a result when Mr. Tabor decided to orgamize a company of his own he asked me to join
him, and I did so in spite of very flattering offers then made to me by the older company, which I had served twelve
years. (In fact my former employers suddenly concluded my poor services were worth 50 per cent more than ever before.)
I am a little proud of the fact that I was the first man on the job with the Tabor Ice Cream Company. I assisted
Mr. Tabor in laying plans for the new business, buying equipment, etc., and was with him day and night in the strenuous
battle for stores that was waged, and in fact is still going quite merrily and successfully on. Today we are operating
sixteen auto trucks, wagons, and over 100 men are in the delivery and sales department under my immediate direction.
I am personally acquainted with all but a very few of the store owners we serve, and know nearly every one we do
not sell to. I know every street and avenue in Cleveland, and about every road and cross road in nearby towns,
which naturally helps me in my delivery arrangement. I am particularly fortunate in having loyal and experienced
men about me, many of them at one time working for the other company, and others who have been taken on since.
Upon all young men I try to impress the fact that they can promote themselves, it all depends upon their loyal
interest in the work and ability to forget the 'clock' when there are things to do that will advance the interests
of the Tabor Ice Cream Company."
On March 15, 1919, after a large interest purchased the controlling interests of the Tabor Ice Cream Company, bringing
in many new acquaintances into the forces, I could see no further future for myself, and on that day I resigned
my position with the Tabor Ice Cream Company and formed a new company known as the Baker Ice Cream Company, located
at 4605 Dennison Avenue, and having a large acquaintanceship among dealers. This company has made a great success
from the start. After being in business three years, with a large volume of business, it consolidated with a Youngstown
company operating factories in Youngstown, Wheeling and Huntington, West Virginia, and is now known as the Baker
Evans Ice Cream Company, Mr. Evans being a former associate, with a well known reputation, which helps to strengthen
the Baker forces. The Baker Evans Ice Cream Company employs more than 250 employes, and sales for 1924 will be
approximately 1,500,000 gallons. Mr. Baker is president of the new corporation and supervises his own business,
and keeps in close touch with all his employes, and his organization is made up of men of practical experience,
trained under his supervision for a great many years. Many men have been with him as long as twenty years, and
have gone with him in every change he has made.
A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924
Cuyahoga County, Ohio Biographies
Names A to G
Names H to P
Names Q to Z
For all your genealogy needs visit Linkpendium