We left our church family in late October of 1942 getting used to the new Sunday morning schedule which had the Morning Worship service at 9:30 and Sunday School at 10:30 with the end of Sunday morning activities at 11:30 rather than 12 noon. My guess was that the shortening of time spent in the church on Sunday morning was in response to a nation-wide government request to save coal – nay, stronger than a request – coal was rationed. Our church boilers were fired by coal in 1942. Other items rationed were gasoline, tires, sugar, coffee, and meat. New cars were no longer available for purchase and would not be until sometime after the war’s end in 1945. (Cars were manufactured in late 1945, but they were the 1946 models.) Many industries were converted from supplying items for domestic use to supplying items needed for the war. Price controls were established to ensure that the scarcity of so many products wouldn’t result in their being sold for much higher amounts than the average family could afford. Life for everyone in the U.S. had changed rapidly since that devastating Sunday in December of the prior year. Just south and west of Girard by about 25 miles, a new dam was being constructed on the upper part of the Mahoning River in Berlin Township. Its purpose was to ensure that water could be held back from flooding the steel mills during spring rains, and then released during summer droughts to ensure that the mills had sufficient water to produce steel at maximum production. The Milton Dam had been completed in 1916, creating the lake in 1917. The increased steel production since that time required more ability to control the flow of the river. The dam in Berlin Township was completed in late October of 1942. Both dams would be guarded around the clock to prevent any sabotage, as they were essential to providing the steel we needed to produce the planes, ships, tanks, shells, and any other steel related items needed for the war.
In spite of being bombarded with constant war news, church life went on. The Official Board met on November 4th. The meeting received good financial news from both the Sunday School Supt. and the Trustees. The Sunday School could now donate $1,000 to the Building Fund. The Building Fund had suffered terribly during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The new church had just been completed before the Stock Market crash of 1929. During the depression years of the early and mid thirties, the church simply could not afford to pay on their large mortgage.
Many times the Board would wonder which bills it could pay that month. Our prior Minister, Rev. Hilberry, often got his paycheck several weeks late. Now, with our country at war, the steel mills were working around the clock. The unemployment rate was practically zero. And our church was finally able to seriously tackle the building fund. And they did. The Trustees report to the Official Board was that the Building Fund was in good shape. They would keep working at paying off that mortgage throughout the war years until it was paid off at last.
Near the end of November came Thanksgiving Day. It has always been a family celebration and the year 1942 was no exception. Our church families gathered around their tables, and gave thanks for living here in the U.S., not where the war was raging in Europe, Asia, Africa and the high seas. They prayed for family members already in the fight, and for those about to be drafted. And they prayed for our country, and our country’s young men and also young women going wherever they were sent to defend us all.
November, 1942 Our church family seventy-five years ago.
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.