We left our church family and our town last month, mourning the increased losses of our local men due to the new action in the European theatre coupled with the action in the Pacific. Much of our news of this period comes from the Girard News, our weekly newspaper, published every Friday. The first issue in October, October 4th gave the weekly Girard casualties: 2 men killed, 3 wounded. All 5 casualties occurred in France over a month earlier. It is so hard for us here in 2019 to comprehend the slowness of receiving news 75 years ago. Based upon the good news folks were receiving over the radio and at the newsreels about our boys moving across France while pushing the Germans back, some people were thinking that the war might be over soon. It seems hard for us to understand, given the casualty numbers from just our own small town, but the local Girard Ministers were actually planning a V-Day celebration. Sitting here in 2019 looking back, we know that later news over the winter would seriously postpone the V Day celebration.
I only know of the Philathea Class because of their postings of meetings in the Girard News. It seems to have been composed entirely of women and was of pretty good size, as it had at least three units that met separately during the week to work on some kind of projects. Unit 3 seemed to be the most reliable poster in the News and in the October 4th issue they reported that the past Tuesday, 9 of them met at the home of Mrs. Harold Rees for their regular meeting, which was spent sewing. Their next meeting would be October 17th at the home of Mrs. George Williams. I wonder what they were sewing.
Playing at the Wellman Theatre: “Pride of the Yankees” starring Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig. This is a movie I have never seen in its entirety, only the “luckiest man on the face of the earth” clip from his farewell speech on July 4th, 1939. Someday if I see it listed on Turner Classic Movies, I will watch the whole movie. It received 11 Academy Award nominations.
The next issue of the Girard News had no casualties to list. That was good news. It also had another piece of good news –The company that announced in the beginning of September it was going to occupy the old A M Byers Company and produce equipment for the war effort, now announced that it, The Leader Specialty Company, would also move its Main Office to Girard.
The October 20th Edition of the News, reported on two casualties of Girard boys. One who was killed in action of the South Pacific, and one injured in France.
Also reported in that edition was a story of the McElhaney’s being honored by the Friendly Sunday School Class in a surprise party at their new home on Morris Lane. George McElhaney had organized that class fifteen years before, and been its first teacher for a number of years. Now, in 1944, Fred McLean was the teacher. The class had over 100 members and was the largest class in the church. And as promised a couple weeks earlier, Unit 3 of the Phillathea Class met at Mrs. Williams’ home Tuesday evening. The next meeting would be October 21 at the home of Mrs. Martha Williams on East Kline Street.
Our church family and people all across America would not know it at the time, but, now, in the month of October would occur one of the largest naval battles of the war, and possibly the largest naval battle in history. It would involve 300 ships on our side. 67 on the Japanese side; 1,500 planes on our side, 300 planes on the Japanese. The naval battle was in support of the invasion of the Philippines and the return of General MacArthur to complete the freeing of the Philippine Islands from Japanese occupation. It began on October 23rd and was over by October 26th. In the battle, our Navy was combined with the Australian forces. We overwhelmingly outnumbered the Japanese who lost just about all that was left of their navy in the battle. At the end of the battle, the Japanese had no carriers left and lost 3 battleships, all 300 of their planes, 10 cruisers and 11 destroyers, with an estimated 12,500 casualties. Their navy would not be a threat again. But, it was also the first time the Japanese used Kamikaze attacks. We had about 3,000 casualties, and lost 1 light carrier, 2 escort carriers, 2 destroyers, and about 200 planes. It enabled us and our allies to invade the Philippines practically untouched by the Japanese navy. But their soldiers on the islands would fight to the very last man.
October of 1944 – 75 years ago in our church, our town, and our country.
During the time that Jesus was experiencing the night before his crucifixion, He prayed for us, His church. It was so important to our Savior, that he spent a great deal of time praying for HIS followers. He knew he would not be with them much longer and His work with them was done. He began praying that they would be allowed to enjoy the fruits of a life filled with fellowship and community. There is nothing like a body of believers on a mission together to not only reach those within their environment, but also to enjoy the fruit and blessing of this mission.
In his book The Pursuit of God, author A.W. Tozer wrote the following:
“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”May we enter each day into a covenant with one another and with God so that we grow together and bring others closer. Reaching out is a great first step. In fact, just picking someone in your congregation and saying a prayer for them daily can open up the floodgates. Can you imagine if each person in the congregation picked one person to pray for daily for a month? Just praying for God’s blessing on their lives can be a huge game-changer. Maybe this challenge intrigues you. If so, pick a person in our church and pray daily for them. You don’t have to tell them you’re doing this and it doesn’t have to be a long, elaborate prayer. It will make a difference, I guarantee you. Let’s see what we can do with one another in unity so we can move forward and reach even more. Don’t get greedy with God’s love and peace. We want to share it and a quick prayer for another believer can make all the difference.
“I pray not only for these followers but also for those who will believe in me because of their teaching. Father, I pray that all who believe in me can be one. You are in me and I am in you. I pray that they can also be one in us. Then the world will believe that you sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me. I gave them this glory so that they can be one, just as you and I are one. I will be in them, and you will be in me. So they will be completely one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you loved them just as you loved me. John 17:20-23 ERV
We left our Church Family and our Town in August of 1944 with their lives completely dominated by the War, and with the sudden rise in wounding and deaths of our local servicemen with the escalation of the war on the European theatre beginning with the D-Day invasion at Normandy, France in June. Each weekly edition of the Girard News, brought the story of more Girard boys injured or killed. However, nationally the war news was positive. Our troops along with our allies were pushing the German army back toward Germany and out of France. In late August Paris was liberated with much jubilation by the small but valiant Free French Army led by General Charles De Gaulle. The casualty count simply reflected the greater number of our troops in battle as the European theatre proceeded on several fronts attacking the Germans from the north, south and west.
The September 1st edition of the News told of a new war plant to occupy the old A M Byers plant which was now empty. They were going to hire 40 to 50 workers, needing press operators and die setters. All production would be devoted to the war effort.
The casualty rate for this week was 6 men wounded, and 1 missing in action. Meanwhile, our church family members not away at war, continued with their church work. The Alethea Class met for a corn roast on a Tuesday evening, September 7th at the home of Mrs. L. C. Underwood. Mrs. Hotchkiss led the discussion of the Study Book for the coming year, “Highlights of the Bible”. The next meeting of the class would be at the home of Miss Edith Howells, 2257 Volney Rd, in Youngstown.
The September 8th edition of the News reported casualties for the week of 1 wounded and 1 killed. The edition of September 15th reported 2 Girard men missing in action and 1 wounded.
On September 13th the Friendly Class met at the church in the evening for a dinner meeting, with over 40 present. After dinner entertainment consisted of Donald Robinson playing several violin selections accompanied by his wife on the piano.
The September 22nd edition of the News reported 1 man killed and 2 wounded.
The WSCS met Monday evening at the church for their regular monthly meeting at 7:30 on September 25th.
The Friday, September 29th edition of the News reported “Five War Casualties This Week”. Two men were killed in action, 3 wounded, and one man who had been reported missing in action had, happily, been found and was now back with his regiment.
That edition of the News also reported that, on the previous Saturday evening, thirty members of our MYF enjoyed a Hayride at North Jackson in place of their regular meeting.
Our church attendance during the month ran from 263 on Labor Day weekend, to 287 on the last Sunday of the month.
This was our church and our town in September, 1944 – life dominated by the war, but still attending church weekly and going to their small group meetings regularly.
We left our church family at the end of July, 1944, knowing that the invasion at Normandy had been successful, but hard fought. News trickled in slowly, the dreaded telegrams telling of the death of a loved family member, only arriving after a period of several weeks. As always much of the information in this blog comes from the Girard News microfilm archive from Girard Free Library, along with our church archives.
It is hard for us to realize how different life was seventy-five years ago, especially the slow pace of the news. Girard lies between Youngstown and Warren, both cities having a daily newspaper. Niles also had a daily paper. Girard is closer in distance to Youngstown but they lie in different counties. Girard folks had their choice of three daily papers, but their weekly paper, the Girard News, gave them the local stories, so it was well supported by the community. National news, especially war news came over the radio every evening, along with newsreels seen at the local theaters.
The fifth national war bond effort had begun in late May, just before the D-Day invasion. Sales were slow, many families feeling tapped out by their previous purchases of bonds. However, when news of the successful invasion came, people finally felt the war was progressing. We were freeing our ally, France, and driving the Nazi regime back to Germany. The change of mood was reflected in support for the bond campaign. The headline of the August 4th edition of the Girard News read “Bond Sales Total $ 949,066”. This was more than $300,000 over the quota for the Girard-McDonald combined campaign.
These figures are impressive even today. However, back in 1944, folks did not begin to earn as much money as we do today. Of course, the dollar back then bought more. But, just to make clear what the average wage was, I looked back at our church records for the month of August, 1944. Total church expenditures were $630.96 for the month. This included utilities, salaries, and supplies for Sunday School and church services. Of the list of expenditures, our pastor, Rev. Arthur Maly, received two checks, each one $ 115.00. Thus, his monthly salary was $230, and his annual salary was $2,760, which was probably a fairly average yearly wage.. Of course, the $949 thousand was the face value of the bonds, an amount redeemable a number of years in the future. The actual amount paid was not given in the article. I believe it varied depending on the type of bond purchased. However, there was no doubt of the support of everyone in our country for the war. It was a rare family who had no one who had either volunteered or been drafted – uncles, cousins, brothers. They were putting their lives on the line, and, of course, their families supported them.
That same August 4th edition of the News also carried bad news. The names of Girard men killed or wounded in the invasion were still coming in. Pfc. Clyde R. Aubel, Pfc. Ken E. Whitfield and Pvt. Patsy Gallo were wounded during the Invasion of France. Cpl John Holmes was wounded in the Battle of Saipan in the Pacific, and John W. Brooks, who was reported missing in action during a bombing raid on Germany back in January, was now confirmed dead.
The August 11th edition brought more bad news: Two Girard men wounded and 2 killed, one in the Pacific and one in France. Also, one missing in an air battle over Germany.
The August 18th edition reported 5 casualties that week: Two killed, one in New Guinea, one in France. 3 wounded, two in France, one in Guam. Also announced: Cpl. William W Stewart, 22, was killed in France July 5th. He had been wounded June 8th, when he first arrived at Normandy, but continued fighting until his death one month later.
The August 25th edition of the News led with a non–war headline: “City Schools to Open September 5th” However, they also printed the total war statistics for Girard since the War
began December 8th, 1942.
They were as follows:
18 killed in action 3 killed in service
32 wounded in action
4 injured in service
2 missing in action
4 prisoners of enemy nations
At the end of June, 1944, we left our church family and all the families in our town and in our country, waiting anxiously for news of their boys fighting in Europe following the landing on D-Day, June 6th and the further fighting as they fought against the German Army, trying to force them back out of France. Other families, with their boys fighting in the Pacific, were waiting for word of the invasion of Saipan and whatever islands would come next. It still amazes me how slowly news traveled 75 years ago. There was no TV. Girard’s two movie theaters, the Wellman and the New Mock, ran news features between movies. There movie patrons could see our fighting forces in action, all in black and white and heavily censored removing disturbing images, and always two to three weeks after the battle. So, too, were the dreaded telegrams received by families telling them of the death of injury of their boy in the war two to three weeks prior.
Now, in the month of July, bad news for individual families was still coming in by wire, telling of Girard boys killed or injured either in the original beach invasion, or in the days following in the surrounding countryside, attacking the German soldiers who were able to put up a strong defense using the rural hedgerows as hiding places to pick off our men. The July 7th edition of the Girard News told of the wife of Lester Scott, living at 137 ½ N. Market St., receiving a wire that her husband had been badly injured on June 13th following the initial invasion. His injuries included a fractured skull, a broken nose, and a fractured jawbone. A three week lag time between the event and the delivery of the news seems to be typical. Thus, families were under constant stress . . . wondering. And, still, life in wartime went on. Almost all industry had been diverted from peacetime products to items needed by our military. Ration coupons were needed for almost everything you had to have. Enough gas coupons to get a person to work and back home. Sugar – butter – shoes – meat – clothing – Scarcity was just a part of daily life. Gradually, however, word of the battles in France began to get better. When a working temporary port was constructed in the days following June 6th, then our heavy weapons, especially tanks, became available. Suddenly the hedgerows didn’t provide the German
troops with cover. As more and more of our troops were unloaded in France, the German defenders became outnumbered. Our troops were making steady progress. People all across America began to feel that a turning point in the war had occurred. It wasn’t exactly “optimism” but hopelessness and pessimism became harder and harder to find. Confidence increased. It was evident in Girard. The Fifth War Loan had kicked off early in the month of June, and, by the end of June was only a small fraction of the way to its goal. But, then good news from the Front in Europe came in. Now, by July 14th, the News could report that the bond drive went “over the top”. Girard had met its goal and even exceeded it. And, life went on.
In our church, many of our Sunday School classes and members of WSCS were holding their monthly meetings outdoors because of the wonderful summer weather. Group 3 of the WSCS met on Tuesday, July 25th, at the home of Mrs. Harry Blair on E. Prospect St with 20 members present. Group 4 of the WSCS met on Thursday, July 27th at the home of Mrs. Charlotte Schoenfeld on St. Clair Ave, with 20 present. And the Friendly Class, the largest adult Sunday School Class, met on Thursday, July 13th, with 95 present. Group 3 and the Friendly Class said there would be no August meeting. Group 4 decided to hold an August meeting on the 10th at the home of Mrs. Edward Clark.
The July 21st edition of the News reported that Mr and Mrs Mike Brutka of McKinley Heights received a wire from the War Department that their son, Pvt. John Brutka had been killed in action on June 12th. That was just 20 days before what would have been his 20th birthday.
The war may have turned for the better but there would be many more of those telegrams before it would be over.
That was the month of July, 1944 – seventy-five years ago in our church, our town and our country.
We left our church family seventy-five years ago in May of 1944, celebrating Memorial Day on the last day of May with a Memorial Service both on the Girard Viaduct and tossing of a wreath off the bridge into the Mahoning in memory of our Navy Veterans lost at sea, and then a long march to the Cemetery with further Memorial Service for those Veterans who lost their lives on land in service to their country. I am writing this a few days before the 31st, and I have just participated in a Memorial Day Parade where I now live, in Lake Milton. Now that Memorial Day is celebrated on the Last Monday of May, we often find ourselves with almost a week of days left in May after the celebration. So, while describing a Memorial Day service 75 years ago, I am also savoring the recent honor of driving the Parade vehicle carrying a 92 year old Veteran, Murle McLaughlin, who served in the Pacific theatre of World War II, where he participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima. In our Memorial Day Parade at Lake Milton, we also stopped at the bridge, where Murle’s Wife, Kaye, tossed the wreath over to honor the Veterans lost at sea, and Murle delivered the Prayer for them. Then he got back into our Golf Cart and we proceeded to the American Legion grounds where the rest of the service was held. It is so amazing to realize that the service is almost identical to that service held in Girard 75 years ago, and, while I do not participate in the Girard Memorial Service any more, I know that it, too, is almost identical to that service 75 years ago.
The first issue of The Girard News in June, on Friday, June 2nd, reflected on the Parade held there just two days prior. There were various short stories about Girard men, “somewhere in the British Isles”. I believe I noted in a previous month’s blog, that our men were not allowed to tell their families where they we stationed in the weeks and months leading up to the big invasion. No one could know because the planned landing site was a huge secret. Now, of course, we know that they landed at Normandy, but General Eisenhower and his staff did everything they could to signal that the landing would be at Calais, the closest place across the channel from England. So, our town’s Mothers and Fathers of service men received V-Mail (special letters reduced in size for mass shipping back home) from “somewhere” in England or in the British Isles. An example of this was on the lower part of the front page of the June 2nd issue, “Three Brothers From Girard, All Serving Somewhere in the British Isles”. Then followed pictures of the three men, Paul, Andrew and John Bozin, with a description of when they joined, and their current rank and position. They were the sons of Mr and Mrs Dimitry Bosin, 309 Skoplee Avenue.
I was eager to see what the News would say about the invasion, so I paged forward to the July 9th edition. This was 3 days into the invasion. June 6th was “The Longest Day” – the first day of the largest invasion ever attempted in the history of the world. To my surprise the News said – nothing. They must have known that the invasion had begun. The Girard Ministerial Association announced that during the summer they would hold bi-weekly Sunday evening Union Church services at 7 PM at the High School Stadium, weather permitting, or at the High School Auditorium in case of rain. Each Pastor of the Association was assigned a specific date to preach. Our Rev. Maly was scheduled for August 6th. I am assuming that these extra church services were a response to the invasion which involved so many young sons of Girard families Almost 160,000 troops landed at Normandy, the 6th, with more arriving each day after the initial beachhead had been achieved. By the end of June, 875,000 men had landed, and were fighting their way into France, pushing the Germans back toward Germany.
With little news coming from Europe, our Girard families concentrated on what they could do to help the War Effort. Nationwide, the Fifth War Loan began. Our country needed to raise 16 Billion dollars to continue the war effort on both the European and Pacific theatres, to provide our soldiers with ships, tanks, guns, planes, trucks, and food and clothing so that they could finish their jobs. Of that 16 Billion dollars, our communities of Girard and McDonald were asked to purchase $600,000 in bonds. As of June23rd, the News reported that only $100,000 had been raised. The Chairman of the Girard Bond Drive, E. L. Houser made a plea in the News article of that issue – “At a time when the invasion of Europe has begun, and it seems as if the Jap Fleet has finally come out to fight, we will need more supplies to rush to our troops. The bonds purchased in the present drive might be the decisive blow to defeat the Axis.”
Meanwhile, life at our church continued with folks enjoying the summer weather and the longer days. The women’s groups continued to meet. The Friendly Class, our church’s largest adult class met and had its annual election of officers. Edward L. Clark was elected President, George Minze Vice-President, and Mrs. John W, Nace Secretary-Treasurer. They, along with many other church groups, were planning a picnic for their August meeting.
The January 30th edition of the Girard News finally brought some news from the Invasion of Europe – unfortunately not good. “Pvt. Leighton G. Allison, son of Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Allison, 713 N. State St., was killed June 10th during the invasion of France. His parents were informed in a wire from the War Department.” And, “Cpl. Earl Bundy with the Glider Infantry, was wounded in the invasion of France. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Earl Bundy of 445 W. Liberty St. were informed in a wire received from the War Department Thursday.”
Suddenly the great difference between our families’ lives 75 years ago and our lives today becomes VERY CLEAR. We get our news in the present – on-line or 24/7 news channels, or text. The gliders were the first troops into France. Cpl. Bundy was wounded on the 6th. His parents finally got the telegram on the 29th.
On that sad note we will leave our church family and our town in June of 1944 – 75 years ago.
We left our Church Family back in April of 1944, looking forward to the coming summer, but preparing for a possible outbreak of rabies and also an increased risk of polio, or infantile paralysis as it was often called then.
Much of the material for this blog comes from The Girard News, our town’s weekly newspaper, published every Friday. It was very popular, even up through the 60’s when we first moved to Girard. Many young people had Girard News routes. As a Girl Scout Leader in the 70’s, I often sent the paper photos and stories of our girls’ activities. Our church also contributed stories about church activities. Often the News has more information about our church activities then our church archives have.
Last month I reported that Girard had failed miserably in its goal of raising $17,000 for War Bond Sales. The initial amount raised was only $9,284. After extending the drive for an extra week, the amount raised grew to $13,111, a more respectable figure, but still almost $4,000 short. Now, on May 5th, the News announced that, after receiving the donations of Girard workers in out-of-town mills, Girard had actually exceeded the $17,000 goal. Way To Go, Girard!
Now, however, in the May 19th edition of the News, came the announcement that a new War Bond Sale would be conducted beginning June 12th, with a goal of $600,000 for the entire Mahoning Valley area. It is hard for us in 2019 to look back 75 years ago and marvel at how our country was able to build up a huge army and navy so quickly after being surprised at Pearl Harbor. By May of 1944, a mere 2 ½ years after December 7th, 1941, “a date that would live in infamy”, our navy was dominating both the German navy and the Japanese navy. Our planes were ruling the skies over both countries. And we were preparing to invade Germany occupied Europe with the largest sea invasion ever attempted in the history of the world. Everyone knew the invasion would be coming soon, as thousands of American Soldiers were already in England, and more were on the way. All this was possible because of our huge industrial complex, working 24/7, and the purchase of war bonds by virtually every citizen. And, of course, there was the rationing of everything from tires to meat to provide food and equipment for our fighting men and women. Thus, almost all of the news about our church folks back in 1944, was dominated by the war.
At the end of May, Girard High Seniors were looking forward to graduation. There were 110 of them in 1944. Most of the boys would probably be drafted sometime in the near future, or maybe they would enlist so that they could have some control over which branch of the military they would serve. They faced an uncertain future.
Memorial Day in 1944 came on May 31st, as it always did back then. No long weekend holidays – in 1944 it fell on a Thursday. So, on Thursday morning, May 31st, the parade formed up at 9:30 at the Girard Viaduct, where a wreath was dropped into the Mahoning to honor the Naval dead of Girard. Then, participants reformed in front of the City Building to march to Liberty Union Cemetery to honor the dead of other branches of the Services. There was a flag raising ceremony by the Boy Scouts, and a speaker, Rev. Paul Gerard, pastor of the Hubbard Presbyterian Church. Approximately 500 people took part in those weekday morning Memorial Day services.
Our Church Family and our Town in the month of May, 1944 – seventy-five years ago during World War II.
We left our church family back in March of 1944 looking forward to Easter which would occur on April 9th seventy-five years ago. Much of the information I can find about our church during those past years comes from The Girard News, a weekly paper published every Friday and available on microfilm at the Girard Free Library. On the last issue in March of ’44, on the 31st, the News indicated that the City of Girard had failed badly in raising its $17,000 for the latest War Bond Drive which concluded on the last day of March. Our town had only raised $9,284, just a little over half of the goal of $17,000. Peter Wellman, owner of Girard’s two movie theaters and a very active supporter of all of our town’s civic life, said that “The quota assigned to Girard was out of proportion to its population”. The deadline was extended one week, and the April 7th headline of the News proudly proclaimed that in the past week Girard people had raised almost $4,000 more and had a much better amount of $13,111 toward that still too high quota of $17,000.
April 7th was also Good Friday and the News gave each church in Girard as much space as needed to describe their Easter Sunday’s Services. Rev. Maly simply reproduced the entire order of worship from the Organ Prelude through the Postlude. I will share the highlights: The Choir Anthem was “Now Is Christ Risen From The Dead”. After the Responsive Reading followed several prayers including lighting of candles for each service man and woman. The Offeratory Solo was “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” sung by Blodwyn Evans. The Sermon was given by Rev, A. E. Maly and was untitled. A Reception of New Members followed the Sermon. Then the Benediction and a Seven-fold Amen by the Choir, and finally, the Postlude ended the Easter Service. Sunday School attendance was 399. Church attendance was probably similar. Then everyone went home to an Easter Dinner with family and/or friends. A & P Grocery Store offered whole ham at 38 cents a pound, 2 dozen eggs for 59 cents, and a Jane Parker Easter Cake for 53 cents. Many of those Easter Dinners had an empty chair where a service man or woman used to sit. Many Girard families were counting the number of Christmas and Easter Dinners with an empty chair, and hoping that this one would be the last.
You may remember that, back in November I reported that Girard High School students were beginning a bond drive of $75,000 to purchase a P-51 Mustang Fighter Plane for the War effort. Now in the April 14th edition, the News announced that the drive had been a huge success with the students coming in $45,000 over their goal. So there was now a P-51 Mustang named Girard High Indians to go along with the B-25 Mitchell Bomber named City of Girard flying . . . somewhere . . . in the world of war.
The April 21st edition of the News announced that the War Manpower Commission ordered a 48 hour work week effective May 1 for all companies employing 8 or more workers. That was a sobering order. All defense production had been working 24/7 from the very beginning of the war. Now everyone, except for a few mom and pop stores, would have to work a full 6 day week, or, perhaps five days with longer business hours, to provide the folks who were working so long and hard, a better chance to purchase food and other necessities. It is hard for us to comprehend, but, back in the day most stores closed at 5 PM, 6 at the latest.
Another difference in the lives of our Girard Church Family who lived through WWII – Recap Tires – Again, this is something we just cannot comprehend. Even new tires back in the years after the war, barely got ten thousand miles before they died. Re-treads, about the only kind of tire available to civilians, were notorious for delaminating or falling apart if they got too hot. Here is a Firestone Spring Savings Ad from that same April 21st edition of the News: “Factory-Controlled Recapping - $6.70 for a 16” tire – No Ration Certificate Required – The Firestone Factory-controlled method assures you highest quality materials and the finest workmanship by factory-trained experts. You get longer mileage, guaranteed satisfaction.” I don’t know how much satisfaction was guaranteed. My Dad, like most people, was thrilled to be finally able to purchase real new tires when they became available sometime after the end of the war.
Here is another difference in our lives today and the lives of our families back in 1944. The April 28th issue of the News featured announcement from the Girard Board of Health. Seeking to stop a possible Rabies Epidemic in the coming summer months, they would shoot and/or impound all stray dogs . That sounds pretty drastic. But, it was the only way they could deal with it back then. Now, with all pet dogs receiving rabies vaccinations, practically our only acquaintance with the disease is through contact with wildlife such as raccoons. But there were no rabies vaccinations available back in ’44. Rabies epidemics were real and frightening. They always seemed to occur in the summer. Another disease that seemed to occur most often in summer was polio. In 1944 there was no preventive vaccine for polio. The President of the United States was in a wheelchair because of it. It would not be until the 60’s that we would all line up to get our dose of the vaccine. We tend to forget about diseases like polio and rabies when we go to classic car or boat shows, and look back to what, to us, seem like simpler times. They weren’t.
So, with summer weather just around the corner, we will leave our church family back in April of 1944 – still deeply enmeshed in World War II – Seventy-five years ago in our church and in our town.
We left our church family in February of 1944, performing their usual work, family and church activities against the backdrop of bond drives, scrap drives, paper drives, blackouts, and ration coupons required for almost all necessities of life including gasoline, tires, milk, coffee, meat, shoes, and winter clothing. Everyone knew that something big was being planned to continue the war in Europe. Many of the young men who had recently been drafted or volunteered, were able to visit back home before being assigned to this unknown next part of the war. Our Sunday School Secretary had decided to note in the Sunday School Record Book the names of Service Men and Women who happened to be home that particular week. Last month I reported on those who were home during the month of February. Now, in the month of March, 1944, she noted on March 12th that “Howard should come home for a few days.” On March 19th, “Alberta is home for a week.” Finally, on March 26th she reported that “The weather is very warm. The sun is shining bright. Lieutenant Alice Gosnell is home and Alberta is home. Tommy Dorsey was at the Palace (a Youngstown theater) last night. Everything clicked. I got a raise.” Reading these 75 year old notes, I could feel her happiness on that warm spring Sunday. I don’t know where she worked for that “raise” she referred to. Anyone who is remotely connected with working in our church knows that the raise was not related to church work. The only church employees were the Pastor, Custodian, the Organist and Choir Director. No one ever got rich working for the Methodist Church.
More happy news, this time from the Society section of The Girard News: “Evelyn Bundy Weds Harry Bundy on March 5th”. They were married Saturday evening in the Methodist Parsonage, Rev. Arthur Maly officiating. Cpl. Bundy will return to Shreveport, Louisiana where he is stationed, and Mrs. Bundy will make her home with her parents for the duration.” So many young men and women got married before they were to be separated by the war – not just in Girard, of course, but all across our country. By the time the war was finally over, these young couples, married but living separately because of the war, would create an unprecedented need for housing. This need would be answered by new construction of large tracts of housing located outside of the already crowded cities, creating suburbs, and a new way of living with greater emphasis on the automobile. But that is something we know; it was to be discovered by our families of 1944 in the future, a happy time for those who made it through the war.
Back to our church happenings in March of 1944: The Friendly Class held its monthly meeting the evening of March 8th at the church. They had an outside speaker as well as a dinner meeting. Their speaker was I. W. Sherman from the Mahoning County Experimental Farm in Canfield.On March 10th, Group 3 of the WSCS met at the home of Mrs. J. B. Burtsfield for the first of a series of Vanishing Tea meetings. Twelve women were present. On Tuesday evening of the 21st, Mrs. Wormer was the hostess for the second in a series of Vanishing Tea meetings for the benefit of the WSCS. Fifteen women were present. The March 24th Edition of The Girard News announced that our church would hold special services every night beginning Monday, March 27th and ending Good Friday, April 7th. Services would begin at 7:30 PM each evening. Rev. Maly would be doing most of the preaching with Dr. Paul G. Mayer of Cleveland delivering the sermon on Monday and Tuesday nights. Special music would be provided. And George McElhaney would lead the singing.
With this special Lenten series of services, we will leave our church family in March of 1944. One final little historical note from March, 1944 -- On March 2nd, the 16th Academy Awards ceremony was held at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Casablanca won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
We left our church family in January of 1944 in the midst of a City of Girard War Bond drive to raise $500,000 worth of U. S. War Bonds. The drive ran from the beginning of January through February 15th. This was a huge amount for a town of Girard’s size. The $500,000 figure represented the face value of the bonds. The actual price was lower, but not that much lower. I remember, in school, purchasing twenty-five cent stamps to fill a small book. When filled, the book contained $18.75 worth of stamps. This was then traded in for a $25.00 bond. If that 75% ratio applied to the Series E Bonds which were being sold in this bond drive, it would mean that Girard folks would have to give $375,000 to purchase $500,000 worth of bonds. That is a huge amount of money, much more than could possibly come from a small town like Girard. On Friday, February 4th, the Girard News, Girard’s weekly newspaper, announced that the Girard merchants were donating prizes for auction bidding to help the Bond Drive. The auction would be held on February 12th at 8:30 PM at the Girard Theaters. The Theaters, of course, were the Wellman and the New Mock, side by side on Liberty Street, and both owned and operated by Peter Wellman, a very civic minded gentleman who often volunteered his theaters for worthy causes. (Here is a typical worthy cause that Pete Wellman supported: Back when The Wizard of Oz came to local theaters, probably in the spring of 1940, Mrs. John Powers, Chairwoman of the Dandelion Eradication Committee of the Girard Women’s Garden Club, asked every elementary child in Girard Schools to pick 100 dandelions and put them in a paper bag. These were to be turned in to their teachers, who would then give them a ticket to see The Wizard of Oz at a special Saturday showing at the Wellman Theater. The results were so great that a second special showing of the movie had to be held for the dandelion pickers.) Even with the auction for prizes, the Bond Drive fell short, but still reached the three-fourth figure of $375,000 worth of bonds sold. If the 75% ratio applied to these series E bonds, then Girard residents contributed a little over $281,000 toward the Bond Drive. That is still a great amount of money, and this of course was not the first nor would it be the last War Bond Drive. The War was a constant part of life in 1944.
Still, church life continued as well. On the last day of January, the WSCS met at the home of Miss Roma Lambert of 516 E. Kline St., per the February 4th edition of The Girard News. (Clyde and I purchased that very house from Miss Lambert back in ’65 of the last century. We raised all four of our children there. Our youngest daughter, Becky, and her husband, Michael, bought the house from us a number of years ago, and still live there. It is a lovely big old house with a large front porch, and a walk-up attic to which Clyde and I added a full dormer extension, so that all four of our children could have their own bedrooms – which brought a semblance of peace to our family life. Just a few houses up from there resided the Jack Powers family – Jack was the son of Mrs. John Powers referred to in the story of the dandelion eradication project. They were wonderful neighbors, and Jack was one of the Saints of our church. As a young man he made the Cross that we all look at on Sunday morning, hanging over the choir. He was always active in our church, and a great encourager of others in the church. I always saw him as a good neighbor and a friend. Researching this month’s blog has brought back many fond memories. Jack never missed Church or Sunday School. Because he was brought to Sunday School by his parents as a very young child, his perfect attendance records were just a few years shy of his age. I believe his records went well into the 70th decade. Maybe someone else knows the exact number. Somewhere in his later years, he broke his arm. It snowed the following Saturday night, not a lot, maybe 4 inches. We all had snow blowers at that time and I blew out our drive and sidewalk, then, remembering Jack’s arm, I blew a path up to his house and blew out his drive, too. It didn’t take more than 15 or 20 minutes. No big deal. Then back home and got ready for Sunday School and Church. In church that morning, Jack handed me a beautiful orchid which he had raised in his little greenhouse on the rear of his home. That is the kind of guy he was.. All the children in the neighborhood knew that, if they had to sell something for school or scouts, they should stop at Jack and Norma’s house first because they would always buy. As I said, this blog is bringing back old memories)
Back to the WSCS meeting at Roma Lambert’s house: Miss Lambert was assisted by her sisters, Mrs. Harriet Bowser and Miss Anna Lambert. They entertained Group #3 of the WSCS. Group 2 of the WSCS met Tuesday evening, February 22nd, at the home of Mrs. David Phillips, 417 E. Liberty St. During the meeting, plans were made to serve dinner to the Kiwanis Club Tuesday, March 2nd. And, again, Group 3 of the WSCS met on the evening of February 28th at the home of Mrs. E. Hood of E, Prospect Street. We have no information about Group 1, or even if it existed. So, from the last day of January to the last day of February, the ladies groups of our church were meeting regularly.
The Sunday School and Church held their regular Sunday Morning meetings. We don’t have church attendance records but we have Sunday School notes. The attendance for the month of February, 1944 ranged from a high of 303 to a low of 263. The Sunday School Secretary often commented on individual people for that Sunday. At first I thought she was referring to young students when she noted that so-and-so was home this weekend. Duh!! I finally realized that she was referring to members of the military who were home that weekend. I keep saying that World War II took over all aspects of our church families’ lives. I should have realized it much sooner. On February 6th, she noted that Foster Hotchkiss was home this morning, and Howard was moved to Tennessee this week. No remarks on the 13th. On February 20th, the following: “ Jack Powers was here last Sunday. We checked. Howard is going to be a navigator. Alice Gosnell went to Army two weeks ago.” And on the 27th, “ Mary Jo and Alberta are home. David Maly came home Friday.”
So, what went on in February of 1944 on the war front? In the Pacific, our troops landed in the Marshall Islands and captured them. In the European theater, on February 14th, General Dwight D Eisenhower established the SHAEF headquarters in London, England. SHAEF stands for Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. It was moved to London in preparation for what would be the D-Day invasion in June. SHAEF would consist of all Allied Airborne divisions, brigades and paratrooper transport wings, The First Canadian Army, the Second British Army, The First United States Army, the Third United States Army, the Fifteenth United States Army, the French First Army and the Seventh United States Army – All of these would be moved to England.. General Eisenhower would begin preparations there for the largest naval invasion in history. Of course, our church families did not know that. They suspected that something was coming. They would find out when it happened.
February, 1944 - as experienced by our church family, our town, and our country
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