We left our church family in the month of May, 1943, heartened by better news from the war front, and a portrait of “Rosie the Riveter” by Norman Rockwell gracing the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, one of the very popular magazines of the day. The City held its Memorial Day Parade on Sunday, May 30th, beginning at 11 AM on the Girard-McDonald Viaduct where Sailors who had died in our Country’s service were honored. The Parade then proceeded to Liberty Union Cemetery where all other branches of the services were honored and Congressman Michael Kirwan was the speaker. (As a former Girl Scout leader, and Band parent, I remember vividly those Memorial Day marches. First we would gather at the War Memorial in front of City Hall where the flag, in a solemn ceremony, would be hoisted to the top of the pole, then lowered to half-staff, the playing of taps, the 21 gun salute, the march to the viaduct and up to the west to the place over the center of the Mahoning River where the wreath would be tossed down to the water, which would eventually flow down to the Ohio River, then down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico where it would become part of the sea. Then would follow the long march back down the viaduct to State Street and then north out of town to the cemetery, where the flag ceremony would again be repeated along with the playing of taps and the gun salute, and a speech by an invited local dignitary. To me, and my children, these Memorial Day services marked the beginning of summer. But in 1943, with many Girard families whose sons, or husbands, or fathers were away at war, and some Girard men already killed in that war, Memorial Day observances were much more personal.)
With the arrival of the month of June, our church family from 75 years ago, was also thinking about the beginning of summer. On Wednesday evening, June 2nd, the Official Board met at the church. They were making plans for the upcoming Quarterly Conference on June 16th, at 6:30 PM. Mrs. Swegan moved that the Friendly Class be in charge of the covered dish dinner for the evening. Motion carried. The Pastor Parish Relations committee recommended to the Official Board that Rev. Maly be returned to Girard for the coming year. Brother Howells moved that the recommendation by the PPR Committee be accepted. This also carried. The PPR Committee also recommended that Dist. Superintendent Dr. Secrist be returned to his position. This, too, carried.
The following Wednesday, June 9th, the Friendly Class held its monthly dinner meeting at the church. Mr and Mrs Thomas Weaver were chairmen for the dinner. The program, under the direction of Mrs. Wendell Thomas, consisted of piano selections by Phyllis Gosnell, songs by Tammy McLain and Charles Gilchrist, a reading by Barbara Parris, and a Women’s Quartet consisting of Mrs Rose Williams, Mrs Edward Clark, Miss Blodwyn Evans and Mrs. Stark.
As I had noted in earlier monthly reports on the past, life on the home front during WWII was constantly affected by blackouts and rationing. Coupons were distributed for most of life’s necessities such as coffee, sugar, meat, butter, gasoline, tires, shoes, etc. No cars or trucks were manufactured for civilians. Our family had a ‘29 Nash which my Dad drove to work and back home all through the war. That was about all the driving he could do with his gasoline allocation. We could occasionally go to a grocery store down on Mahoning Avenue. When he had enough gasoline saved up, we could visit his mom and dad out of town on Tippecanoe Rd. That was it. After the war, when new cars became available, and gasoline plentiful, my dad, like many American men. felt a pent-up need to drive . . . somewhere . . . anywhere! In the late 40’s and early 50’s, we kids were packed into the back seats and taken for long drives through the countryside, usually while listening to Jack Graney delivering the Indian’s game on the car radio. But those days would come about four or five years later. In June of 1943, President Roosevelt, our country’s great encourager, announced that he favored people having enough coupons for ammunition so that they could hunt in hunting season. My Dad liked to hunt so he would have been happy with that announcement. I don’t remember much about it. I was only five in 1943 and getting to know my new baby brother, John, born in February of 1943.
War news from June of 1943 continued to reflect the positive turn of the war from Africa where the allies had prevailed, to plans for the invasion of Europe. Winston Churchill had insisted that they must attack the “soft underbelly” of Europe through Italy. So GI’s in Africa were now preparing to cross the Mediterranean and head north through supposedly soft Italy. The Atlantic convoys to Europe were now successfully completing their crossings, with the U-boats greatly diminished. On a more somber note, a British passenger plane on a routine flight over the Bay of Biscay was attacked and shot down by 8 German planes, killing all aboard. One of the passengers was Leslie Howard, the actor who had played Scarlet’s forbidden love, Ashley Wilkes, in the very popular movie “Gone With The Wind”.
That concludes our Glance back at our church family in June of 1943, seventy-five years ago.
We left our church family in April of 1943 celebrating a very late Easter Service on April 25th, the latest possible date on which it could occur. The following Friday, the April 30th edition of the Girard News, in the “Church Notes” section of the paper, Rev. Maly offered a thank you for the excellent church attendance and a challenge: “We had an excellent attendance last Sunday. Try to keep up the good work. Now that we are started, let us have a fine turnout for the services this Sunday.” As I closed last month’s report on our church family 75 years ago, I observed that to ask for Easter attendance on every Sunday was a bit much. At the time I was writing that, I did not know what the attendance was, because we simply do not have that information in our Archives. However, in preparing for this month’s Glance, I found the actual attendance number in the notes for the Official Board for May 6th meeting at the Church. In his report to the Board, Rev. Maly noted that the Easter attendance had been 505 people! That is a large turnout indeed. I then decided to check the Sunday School attendance for Easter, as we have Sunday School numbers for quite a few years, recorded in brown bound volumes called “The Hammond Record Book”. There were four Sundays in April of 1943. Easter, falling at the absolute latest date of April 25th, was the fourth Sunday of the month. Here are the attendance numbers for the Sundays: 327, 325, 335, and 382. Easter’s attendance at the Sunday School level was up by more than 50 pupils.
As a little side note about life of our church family seventy-five years ago in 1943 - our church had no church secretary. Thus, most of our church records from that time are hand-written, usually in pencil. It was the Pastor’s responsibility to send out any information which would be published in the Girard News “Church Notes”. Thus, the thank you and challenge Rev. Maly issued was personally written and sent in by him. In that Friday, April 30th issue, Rev. Maly also noted that “Dr. Wolff from the Berea Children’s Home will be the Preacher of the morning.” As I prepared for this May history, I checked the “Church Notes” from the entire month of May and also of June. That same message appeared for our church in the weekly newspaper. For two solid months people consulting the paper would assume that Dr. Wolff would be preaching at the morning service! Apparently this part of the News was not consulted frequently by Rev. Maly. He probably just forgot about changing it. He really could have used the services of Ethel Weaver who would become our first Secretary sometime later in our church history. It is hard to believe that we did without a Secretary for so long! Apparently we did without a telephone, too. In the entire list of expenditures for the month of May, 1943, there is electric - $10.74, gas - $6.51, and coal - $79.41, but none for a telephone!
During the War years, the Girard News was printing a lot of information about Girard young men in various branches of the Services. For example, in the May 7th issue, the News reported that “Three Demas Brothers Serving in US Forces: Jimmie Demas S-2C in the Navy, joined in September of 1942, Pfc. Becky Demas joined the Army in December, 1942, and Carl Demas, S-2C joined the Navy in December 1942.”
The war news that our church family was hearing on their radios and watching at the movie newsreels was beginning to get better. In North Africa our troops, along with our Allies, had recorded some significant victories against the Germans and the Italians. On May 13 the German and Italian troops surrendered to the Allied forces. The news would start shifting to the European theatre. On May 16 and 17, the RAF used “bouncing bombs” to breach dams in Germany’s industrial Ruhr Valley. And, on May 29th, those members of our church family who subscribed to the Saturday Evening Post would be greeted by a Norman Rockwell cover portrait of “Rosie the Riveter”.
On this happier war note, we will leave our church family, our town and our country, seventy-five years ago in the middle of World War II, the month of May 1943.
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