We left our church family at the end of April, 1942, still getting used to being in what we call World War II. Some of the information reported in these glances back 75 years ago in our church and in our town come from our own church archives. Some comes from The Girard News, our town’s weekly newspaper, available on microfilm at Girard Free Library, and some of the war information comes from Wikipedia. Most folks today tend to forget how awful the first year of the war was for our poor soldiers and sailors. The news coming back to the families of those young men from our church and our town was so ominous, I am sure their mothers, fathers, wives or sweethearts worried incessantly.
So they did whatever they could to help the war effort from the home front, volunteering to work on scrap drives, collecting books for the young men to read when they had a break, sending letters, and donating anything they could to the war effort. Thus the Headline for the Girard News May 1st issue: “Pledge Drive Opens Today” The article went on to state that, “Every person with an income is expected to formally promise to pledge part of that income regularly for Defense Savings Bonds and Stamps.” Volunteers were going to canvass the entire city of Girard so that each person would be personally asked to pledge.
We do have the minutes of the Official Board of our church for the month of May. If you may recall, back during their March meeting, the Board had to deal with the sudden resignation of our church janitor, Fred Crum, beginning April 1st. We don’t have the minutes for the April meeting, but in May it was the decision of the Board to increase the pay for the janitor $15 per month from $50 to $65 which was adequate to keep the janitorial services of Mr. Crum. We have to remember in 1942, the janitorial duties included very hard physical labor of shoveling coal into the boiler at regular intervals in addition to the regular cleaning activities involved in a church of our size. With so many young men being called up to go to war, the Janitorial Committee probably could not find someone to replace Mr. Crum. So, a compromise was found.
Other church meetings also occurred on their regular schedules. We don’t have these meetings in our Archives, but the News mentioned the meeting of Group 2 of the Women’s Society of Christian Service, and the Dinner Meeting of the Friendly Class at the church. On Saturday, May 9th, Margaret Crider and William Campbell were married in our church, Rev. Maly presiding.
The May 15th edition of the Girard News brought the effects of the war to a very personal level for a Girard City Official, Brooks Church, our City Engineer. He had just received notice that his brother, Samuel, had been interned in a Japanese Camp in Hong Kong. Samuel, who was employed by the National City Bank of New York, had been sent to their Hong Kong Branch. Now, he, along with many other civilians from Britain and the US, were, in effect, prisoners of war. Hong Kong had fallen to the Japanese back in December, right after Pearl Harbor. From the occurrence back in December to receiving the news in May, was pretty typical of the time frame of war happenings. There was a general need for secrecy. “Loose lips sink ships.” So news, especially bad news, was not reported right away, that our enemies might not know how badly our ships, planes, etc. losses really were.
We will leave our church family on a happy note. The May graduating senior class of Girard High School was the largest ever, at 109 graduates. But what would the future hold?
This was our church family, our neighbors in Girard, and our country in May of 1942, seventy-five years ago.
Matt 15:8, These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Do we "talk a good game" when it comes to our faith, or are we just giving "lip service" to Jesus? Jesus doesn't just want us to talk the talk, he wants us to walk the walk. Is it important for us to serve on committees at our church? Is it important for us to do fund raisers that help the church? Is it important for us to attend that small group, or go to church regularly, or give to the church, or be a "good person ", or read our bible. The answer to all of those questions is an obvious yes. Any "good Christian" knows that. However, where are our hearts? Are they far from Jesus? When I look back at some of the "good things" I've done in my life, my heart was surprisingly far from Jesus.
Yes, I helped with that fund raiser, but it was only so I could have control over the money we raised so that it didn't go to things I didn't want it to, or to programs I didn't deem worthy, or to groups not deserving. That money was never mine to begin with, it was meant to do God's work, not mine. Yes, I thought my intentions were worthy and God centered, but I don't remember Jesus being exclusionary in service to His Father. What about when churches refuse to change because that's the way they've always done it and that's what makes them most comfortable?
When Jesus gave the great commission to go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, He didn't say, but you can exclude those that don't look like you, or think like you, or worship like you, or don't "fit in". And He didn't say, go make disciples of those that do what you want to do and what makes you most comfortable. In all that we do, in all that we say, is it for our own self satisfaction and to make us feel better about ourselves and to make us comfortable, or is it in service to Christ?
We as a church can't say we are accepting of all, but then do things that are the exact opposite. And I don't just mean with those new to our church, I mean with those we've been worshiping with and serving with together for years. What are our intentions when we do or say specific things in the church? Is it for the betterment of all, is it in love, is it in true, heartfelt service? Or is it just lip service? It looks good on the outside, but on the inside it's spiteful, or hurtful, or gossip filled, or worse yet, just plain mean. Where are our hearts? Jesus doesn't just want us for an hour or so on Sunday mornings, or to do His Father's work because "we're supposed to". He wants all of us all the time and especially our hearts. Are our hearts in it?
We can't honor Him with our lips, when our hearts are far from Him. Jesus not only wants our hearts, He knows what's in our hearts as well. We can hide our true intentions from the world, but Jesus knows what's inside. I was recently asked the following question. What is our greatest asset as a church? My answer was, our love of Christ. It was then followed by this question. What is our biggest fault? My answer was, remembering our love of Christ.
In John 13:34-35 Jesus says, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love each other. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
We left our church family at the end of March, 1942, looking forward to Easter and warm spring weather. Easter was on April 5th in 1942, over a week earlier than it is this year. On Palm Sunday, the last Sunday in March, our church had joined the First Christian, First Baptist and Trinity Lutheran for a community 4 PM Vesper Service, with the four choirs uniting to present a Lenten Cantata, “The Crucifixion”. The event was held at our church. The above information was provided by the microfilm archives of The Girard News, our town’s weekly newspaper for many years. It is available for anyone to see at the Girard Free Library, and I often use it to supplement our own church archives.
As I had reported in the Glances of January, February and March 1942, the news of the War was all bad, with the Germans and Japanese apparently conquering at will in Europe and the Pacific. Now, on April 1, 1042, a Wednesday evening, our Congressman, Michael Kirwan, spoke at a dinner meeting of the Girard Businessmen’s Association at the Mahoning Country Club. He predicted that the bad news from the war front would at least continue for six months. That had to be a sobering assessment for those Girard families who already had sons who were drafted and serving.
Then came Easter Sunday, on the fifth. We will assume that Rev. Maly did get those special Easter Bulletins as the Official Board had requested, and that the Sunday Worship was beautiful and moving as always, when we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
On Wednesday evening, the 8th, the Friendship Class held their monthly meeting at the church. Mr and Mrs Wendell Thomas were in charge of the dinner. Rev. Walker Schutz, a Missionary in Africa, home on furlough, was the speaker.
I’m sure that the Official Board of our church met in April. However, that page is missing from our archives. The expenses for the month, however, are available. We can see that they collected a total of $624.93 from the four Sunday collections. The monthly expenditures were $491.86. The two largest expenditures were $91 to Rev. Maly, his salary for the first and second half of the month of April. This reinforces a truth known to anyone who has served on the Finance Committee, or the Staff Parish Relations Committee: The road to wealth does not run through service as a Methodist Minister.
The war news continued bad during the month of April, as Congressman Kirwan predicted it would. In the Philippines, the Bataan Peninsula fell, and the Bataan Death March began, a horror for our captured men that would only become fully known much later. Several extermination camps were opened by the Germans in Poland. Again we wouldn’t find out about them until near the end of the war. And, the City of Exeter in England was bombed by the Germans.
There was one piece of very good news in April. On April 18th, a small force of sixteen B-25 Mitchell Bombers, led by Lieutenant-Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle, bombed Tokyo. The planes took off from the USS Hornet, one of our aircraft carriers. However, because the bombers were too large to land back on the carrier, they were to proceed to China, where most of them landed (or crashed) safely and their crews were able to get back to US forces. One landed in Vladivostok, Russia. The crewmen were safe but held for a year by the Russians. One plane crashed into the Pacific with the loss of one crewman; the other eight were captured by the Japanese, with three being executed by them, the other five surviving the war in captivity. The raid was, against all odds, a success. However, it showed that our bombers could never reach Japan unless we had a closer takeoff and landing point, something that would not be achieved until years later after the battle of Iwo Jima.
One last bit of news from the home front in April, the News headline of the April 17th edition: “Bitten by Dog. Joan Barton, 11, dies of rabies.”
On that sad reminder of the “good old days”, we will leave our church family – seventy-five years ago – April 1942.
Let us continue looking back at our Church Family seventy-five years ago, that is in March of 1942, the third full month of our nation at war with both the Axis powers in Europe, essentially Germany and Italy, and Japan in the Pacific. Ever since the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7th, there had been a string of bad news from the war zone. To review what had happened, the next day after the Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese attacked the Philippines which was occupied by U S forces under General Douglas MacArthur. In spite of having the example of the surprise attack at Pearl, General MacArthur also was surprised and not prepared for the Japanese, who invaded Luzon and destroyed all the American Aircraft on the ground at Clark Field. The Japanese army there quickly advanced, and by the end of February had the U S Army trapped on the Bataan Peninsula on the Island of Corregidor in the Philippines. The news from our European Allies was just as bad. It seemed as though each day brought news of a ship lost to submarines, or battles lost to the German or Japanese armies.
Through all of this bad news, our people went about their day’s work, albeit with new rationing rules in effect, along with daylight saving time year round until the end of the war. There were community drives for materials needed by industry to produce the planes, ships, trucks, guns, etc. needed for war – scrap metal, including tin cans, old tires, old newspapers, books, etc. There were practice air raids, where all lights were turned off so that enemy bombers could not easily find centers of population.
The Girard News, our weekly
newspaper, printed a chart to tell how to distinguish enemy aircraft from ours. The trick was to look at the insignia on the underside of the wing, and then you could confirm it by the insignia on the tail rudder of the plane. For example, the German planes had a black cross (with all four sides of equal length) on each wing, and on the rudder a black swastika in a white circle with a red field as background. The Japanese planes had around red rising sun emblem on the wings and an unmarked rudder. The Italian one was more tricky. The rudder of the Italian planes had the Italian colors of green, white and red vertical stripes, with the Royal Arms symbol in the center of the white stripe. The wing insignia was unrecognizable to me. It was a Roman “fasces”, which is “a bundle of rods bound together with an ax protruding from it”. This was an ancient symbol of Roman power, and, according to Wikipedia, that same symbol has been appropriated for identification by some current white supremacist groups. I have just now learned this new word – fasces (rhymes with “at ease” if you are trying to pronounce it) – and more about its current meaning than I really wanted to know. I lead such a sheltered life. I would have recognized it right away if I spent more time with white supremacist groups. I guess the reality is, I will probably never have another occasion to use it, either in print or in polite conversation. I was only 4 years old in March of 1942. If I had been 10 or a little older in 1942, I know that I would have spent some hours holding that Girard News article in my hand, while looking at the sky for possible enemy planes.
But, to return to our church family 75 years ago, we do know that March had five Sundays in 1942. Sunday School and Church attendance was excellent – 284, 289, 300, 282, and 339. We only have the numbers for the Sunday School, but assume Church attendance was similar or perhaps better. On Wednesday, March 4th, the Official Board attempted to have its monthly meeting that evening, at 7:30. Unfortunately, only four people showed up: W E Hotchkiss, Bert Shank, Henry Crider and John Wiand. They waited until 8:30 PM when they gave up and went home as they did not have a quorum. They set March 19th, as the date when the meeting would be made up. We have two copies of the minutes of this make-up meeting. One is in pencil, very rough, with half of it crossed out with a big X. It is written on the back of the words to various songs, a couple of which I recognized: “We’re Marching to Zion” and “Shall We Gather At The River”. The other three songs: “Joy-bells Ringing In Your Heart”, “I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go”, and “I Shall Know Him, I Shall Know Him” were not familiar to me. But it was neat to read those words that our family was singing 75 years ago, probably in Sunday School Class. The other copy, a more formal one, is written in ink in a pleasing hand. Both copies dealt with the apparently sudden resignation of the church janitor, Fred Crum beginning April 1st. The Board deferred to the Janitor Committee to recommend a competent person to replace Mr. Crum. The Pastor’s Report came next. Rev. Maly reported that the Evangelistic Campaign had been successful. He also reported on choir robes and the Cross, with no details given about either. The last piece of business was a motion by Mr Crider, seconded by Mr McElhaney that the Pastor get special Bulletins for the Easter Sunday Service. Motion carried. There was no reason given for the lack of attendance on the usual meeting day – I would speculate that some sort of “bug” was going around, resulting in many folks coughing, sniffling, etc., and just deciding to stay home that evening.
The March 13th edition of the Girard News mentioned that Girard Schools would practice Air Raid Drills every day for a two week period, to prepare the teachers and children in case the real thing occurred. It also reported that nine people in the city had been treated after attacks by rabid dogs. It was sort of a small article that didn’t even give the names of the people bitten. That is a fact about the “good old days” that we tend to forget. With all dogs requiring licenses and documented rabies shots, our biggest danger now for that disease is from wildlife. And the county is even dropping food laced with rabies preventative where wildlife can find it. Rabies is a disease most of us don’t even think about.
On a happy note, that same edition of the News also reported on a birthday party held at our church. Mr Lyman Lease was honored by the Men’s Bible Class for his 88th birthday. The News noted that Lyman Lease was the oldest man in the Bible Class at our church.
With that, we will leave our church family for the month of March, looking forward to Easter, and warm spring weather, and just maybe, a piece of good news from the war front. This concludes our monthly visit to the past - March, 1942 – seventy-five years ago.
We left our church family at the end of January 1941, their first full month of experiencing our country at war. It was a month when everyone in our church and in our town wanted to do whatever they could to help our country. They bought U S Savings bonds, they organized First Aid classes, and they were planning a patriotic Party and Dance at the High School Gym, with the proceeds going to the Girard Chapter of the American Red Cross. The news from the war itself was almost all bad in the early months. Following the attack at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the Japanese also attacked the Philippines which were occupied by American troops under Gen. Douglas MacArthur and by Philippine troops. Japanese troops invaded the Philippines, holding US and Philippine troops under siege on the Bataan Peninsula, while Japanese warplanes bombed Manilla. Now, in February, there was more bad news. Singapore surrendered to Japanese forces. On the very next day, the 18th of February, two very bad accidents killed more than 200 American sailors when their ships ran aground near Newfoundland. On the 19th, Japanese warplanes bombed Darwin, Australia. A Japanese submarine actually fired 17 high-explosive shells toward an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California, on February 23rd, doing little physical damage but great psychological harm. And, finally, on Feb. 27th, in the Java Sea, a force of Dutch ships were defeated by a Japanese force, causing approximately 2,300 deaths of Dutch sailors, leaving the Japanese Navy in control of the sea in East-Asia. With all this awful military news, there were a couple executive decisions that affected folks’ personal lives. The first, on February 8th, was a nationwide adoption of daylight saving time. The second, on February 19th, allowed the United States Military to define areas as exclusionary zones. These zones affected the Japanese on the West Coast, and Germans and Italians primarily on the East Coast. This would eventually lead to thousands of American Citizens, primarily Japanese, being interned in camps for the duration of the war.
So, against the backdrop of unrelenting bad news and change and disruption in their lives, our church family, as did all American families, tried to go about their lives as best they could. Sunday, February 1st, people came to Sunday School and Morning and Evening Worship. The Sunday School attendance was 276 people including students and teachers.
On the evening of Thursday, the 5th, the Official Board met at the church. One of the reports by the Sunday School Supt. noted that for the last quarter, the average attendance increased by 18 pupils. Mr. Crider reported that the repairs had been made to the heating plant, and all were working properly again. He moved that the Janitor Committee confer with the Janitor about extra pay for his extra time worked due to the heating trouble and during the repair. Then, on Sunday, after the morning service, in response to the announcement about continuous Daylight Saving Time, there was a special meeting of the Official Board. They moved, seconded, and passed a resolution that that the church will adopt and conform to the National Change of Time to Daylight Saving.
In its Friday, February 6th edition, the Girard News announced that the Tire Rationing Board No 78-3, which governed the sale of tires for the entire city of Girard, was allotted 13 passenger car tires and 19 tubes for the month of February. Trucks were allotted 12 tires and 10 tubes. That was pretty strict rationing, that would greatly affect how much driving each family could do. The News also reminded folks that farmers would be liable for filing Income Tax Returns for the first time this year.
In that same edition, the News advised that the Employment Services were seeking Aircraft Workers. The Employment Service was assisting the U S Army Air Corps in recruiting approximately 100,000 aircraft workers, nationwide.
In the Friday, February 13th edition, the News stressed that all men, not previously registered, between the ages of 20 to 45, must register. In Girard registration was at the Stern Building or the American Legion Home from 12 noon to 6 PM on Saturday, the 14th, or Sunday, the 15th. Or, they could register on Monday, from 7 AM to 9 PM. This notice got my full attention. I was so young then, not quite four years old. But my Dad would have been 32 years old in February of 1942. He was on the older end of potential draftees. And, he had a wife and one child (me). My brother, John, would be born one year later, in February of 1943. In 1944 my parents purchased their first (and only) home, an older (built in 1872) home which needed extensive repairs. I can remember my Dad coming home from work every evening and working on the house until it was his bedtime. Later, I learned that he had been classified 1A by the Draft Board, and he was so afraid that he would be taken away from us before the house was safe for us to live in.
As it finally played out, he was never called up. However, his younger brother was called, served as a paratrooper, was dropped behind the lines in France on D-Day, and made it through, fortunately.
I know that the combination of coming of age just at the start of the Big Depression, and then later, the fear of going off to war marked both my parents, and probably a great many of my friends’ parents, too. I think I was a member of a very lucky generation. We came of age in a time of peace and prosperity. We had great confidence in our futures – more than our parents did. Our parents had lived through the bad times of both depression and war. We (mostly) never experienced that. And so, I will conclude this glance back 75 years ago in our church, in our town, and in our country. I saw it all as a child – but my parents and all of the people their age and a little younger – they lived it and did their best to protect us, their children, from the reality of it.
We left our church family late in December of 1941, getting used to the idea of our country being at war. Indeed, on the 22nd of December, the Local Draft Board had inducted 35 more Girard young men, who had reported for duty on December 29th at Fort Hayes in Columbus.
The Friday, January 2nd edition of the Girard News reported that our church did indeed go forward with its New Year’s Eve plans for special services, beginning at 10 in the evening with games and snacks, then concluding with the moving picture (with sound) “King of Kings”, ending the old year and beginning the new one. And so began our church family’s venture into the year 1942.
That same edition of the News also announced that beginning with the first Sunday in the New Year, January 4th, the evening service at 7:30 would be called the “Happy Hour” service and the Methodist Men’s Chorus would furnish the special music for it.
The January 9th edition of the News reported that Girard folks had purchased $159,075 worth of U S Bonds and Savings Stamps in the period from Dec. 7th through Dec. 31st. I remember the Savings Stamps. When I began First Grade in January of 1944, we could purchase them for a quarter apiece. When you got enough to fill a book, ($18.75) you would be given a Savings Bond worth $25, ten years in the future.
On Thursday evening, January 8th, at 7:30 the Official Board of our church met. The meeting was called to order by Rev. Maly, who acted as chair. He opened the meeting with a prayer. After the reading of the minutes and the financial report and the acceptance of same, there being no old or new business, Rev. Maly gave his report. He noted that the fourth Sunday in January, the First Quarterly Conference would be held, and Dr. Secrist (spelling? – the District Superintendent? I do have trouble reading these handwritten minutes.) would be present. There was a covered dish dinner planned. He reported that there had been 46 members present at that 1st “Happy Hour” service.
Mrs. L. Williams reported for the Women’s Society of Christian Services. They were sponsoring a Red Cross First Aid Class for the first 30 ladies who registered before January 20th.
Civilian Defense was then discussed. After discussion, the following motion was made by Mr. Crider, seconded by Mr. Knauff, and passed: That the Chairman of Civilian Defense be notified that this Board be placed on record as a Religious Organization to help in any way possible with Civilian Defense. The carbon copy of the letter was included in the minutes.
I’ve looked at attendance at Sunday School, the one church record consistently available in our Archives from 75 years ago. In December, 1941, it ranged from a low of 263 on the last Sunday of December to a high of 364 for the Sunday before. Perhaps the low number of 263 reflected that a special event was planned for New Year’s Eve which followed a few days later. Now in the new year of 1942, the total attendance for the four Sundays is 275, 268, 348, and 340. The first two Sundays in the month were much lower than the last two. Why the large difference in pupils attending from week to week? I have no idea. I do know we would be very happy, indeed, if our attendance for Sunday School in 2017 came anywhere near these totals. I really wish we had the attendance numbers for Morning Worship. I have heard some older church members say that Sunday School was more popular than the Morning Worship. Was it? If anyone has some records from the forties with numbers in them, I would be very happy to share with all.
The Friday, January 30th edition of the News announced that there were plans for a community Patriotic Party and Dance to be held in the High School Gym on February 12th – all proceeds to be donated to the Girard Chapter of the American Red Cross. .
And with that, we’ll conclude our look back at January, 1942 – our church’s and our town’s first full month in World War II – seventy-five years ago.
This came from one of my Facebook posts, but I thought that others could use it here:
Anyone who knows my family situation knows that my youngest child doesn't like me much. You might think I'm joking, but it is true. He screams bloody murder every time I have to change him or put him to bed especially when Angela is home.
Well, tonight was no different. I decided to try to sing to him to calm him down but to no avail. So, after getting him all squared away, I held him close while he wriggled and screamed. I kept singing.
I held him with that kind of hold that said to him that no matter how much he fought and screamed I wasn't going to let him go.
A few minutes in, he stopped screaming and snuggled in. Every time I would come to a pause in the song, he would stir. I'd start back up and he'd snuggle in closer.
Finally, the song was over. As I laid him down, his eyes met mine and his mouth got really wide. His face said, "I see who you are now."
As I played this scene over and over in my head, I remembered the third song of our worship service today, Just Be Held. When we allow ourselves to be held in the comfort of believing in the unknowable, we find that we actually widen our eyes in recognition of something greater than ourselves. Just like Tony looked at me seeing me for the first time, when we stop fighting against love, we are able to see God clearer.
When you fight against love, you cannot offer it. When you cannot offer love, life becomes meaningless. Thank you, Tony, for reminding me that there is always the potential to stop fighting, to start loving, and to see God and others more clearly. - Shane Russo
Connect with Pastor Vicky, Dave DiBernardi, Sally Wagner and Shane Russo as they share what God is doing in our lives and what we are learning as we grow.