We left our church family and all Girard families last month celebrating the New Year’s arrival with hope and expectations, but anxiety and fear about the war affecting so much of the world. As I noted from their advertisements in the Girard News, some places offering New Year’s Eve entertainment, such as the Blue Crystal Nite Club, no longer exist. But, even after seventy-five years, the Mahoning Country Club and The Royal Gardens are still here providing hospitality and friendly faces, the Royal Gardens still under ownership by the Acerra Family. New Year’s Day had come on a Wednesday in 1941, and, two days later, the Friday, Jan, 3rd edition of the Girard News noted that New Year’s Eve had been a quiet one in Girard and the surrounding area. As always, much of what I have discovered about our church’s group meetings, special church events, and even sermon titles, comes from the Girard News, our town’s weekly newspaper, now available on microfilm at Girard Free Library.
The first Sunday in January, the 5th, members of our Sunday School who had achieved perfect attendance for the past year were honored. Twelve members had perfect attendance for one year, seven for two years, four for four years, four for five years, two for six years, two for eight years, one for nine years, two for ten years, one for thirteen years and, finally, one for sixteen years. Many of our church’s older members have already guessed the name of the person with sixteen years perfect attendance back in 1941. It was Jack Powers who would finally retire from tallying perfect attendance when he had well over fifty years of them.
I always check Wikipedia for events that occurred during the month I am reporting on. The following event has a personal connection to me and, I hope, some other readers. “On January 6th, the keel of the Battleship Missouri was laid at the U S Navy Yard in Brooklyn.” I realize that no one from our church family or probably any family in Girard was aware of this event at the time. But we, looking back, know of this storied ship’s history and, some of us have been lucky enough to board her, and stand near the spot where the surrender of Japan occurred, ending World War II. Sometimes, you can read about history from books, but you suddenly can understand what the people must have felt when you can actually be at a place and see and feel what they must have felt. An example: When Clyde and I were just married we spent our honeymoon in New England. One of the things we did was to board the replica of the Mayflower at Plymouth harbor. Only then, when I was in it, did I suddenly realize just how little that ship was and how a long voyage in such cramped quarters would feel. Another example: Years later we visited Antietam and stood in the sunken road and looked out at the cornfield where the Union troops would be marching out, right in our gunsights. Despite reading of the battle and studying maps, only then did I really understand both the vulnerability of the Union troops in the beginning of the battle, and then the vulnerability of the Confederate troops after the sunken road had been flanked.
So, what is my personal connection to the Missouri? Back in 1991 Clyde’s Uncle Art mentioned that he had read that December 7th would mark the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which, as we all know, put us into World War II. He had been there when it happened, too old for the draft, but as a civilian electrician hired by the Navy. He thought he would like to go to the events which were planned. As he was approaching 90 at the time, Clyde and I, along with our son, Mark, offered to go with him. We arranged transportation, housing, and a rental car. Uncle Art got us tickets to all the events. President H W Bush and Colin Powell addressed us on the 7th, a Saturday. The next day, Sunday, was open to sight-seeing, and a suggested tour of the Battleship Missouri, at Pearl Harbor specifically in honor of this 50th anniversary celebration. We went – we saw – guided by young sailors we saw everything we were allowed to see. We took photos of us beneath the huge number 63. But mostly we stood in awe by the plaque that marked the signing of the surrender that ended World War II. Standing there, Clyde and I both had our own memories of that day in history. We were both still kids. Our memories were similar: The great happiness and jubilation – the incessant honking of car horns, each driver’s own attempt at joyful noise. I will always carry the memory of standing there on that great ship, reaching back to my youth and reliving that day. But, Missouri’s keel was laid on Jan. 6th, 1941 and no one in Girard thought or knew about it. The ship would be built over the next three years. She would be launched on Jan. 29th, 1944, christened by Miss Mary Margaret Truman, 19 year old daughter of Harry S Truman, senior Senator from the state of Missouri. At that time no one knew that her father would go on to become Vice-President the next year and would succeed to the Presidency at the death of Franklin Roosevelt. As President he would have to make the decision to use the Atomic Bomb to force Japan to surrender without an invasion. The Joint Chiefs at that time believed that invading Japan would have caused many thousands more deaths of our soldiers. Everyone was sick and tired of the costly, bloody war. Two bombs were dropped. And so, when Japan surrendered, we sent our largest and newest grand battleship, The Missouri, christened by the President’s daughter back in 1944 when he was just a Senator and she was just a college student, to host the signing ceremony at Tokyo Bay. The Missouri was the last large battleship built by our country. You can still board her today. She is in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. She is a museum ship, and, if you go there, you, too, can stand by that plaque and feel the history.
Back to Girard history - On Tuesday evening, January 7th, Miss Edith Howells entertained members of the Methodist Sunday School Board at her home on East Broadway. F. K. Teeter, the Superintendent of the Sunday School, presided. Plans to purchase new songbooks were discussed and a committee was appointed to research the matter. A social hour followed the meeting.
The Friday, July 17th edition of the News under the heading “Church Notes” had the following: “Evening services at the Methodist Church have been resumed, and all those who do not have evening services at their own church are invited to come and worship. The service begins at 7:30 PM. Rev. Arthur Maly, Pastor, will speak on the subject “Frozen Assets”. There will also be special music.” (Looks like our new preacher was doing a little extra advertising. Hope he didn’t ruffle any other church’s feathers.) That Sunday, at morning worship, Rev. Maly preached on “Being Found Out”. Later at 3:30 in the afternoon, there was a piano recital at the church by Norma Clark and Carl Peterson. And, yes, the evening service sermon title was, indeed, “Frozen Assets”.
Next week’s News announced that the Sheet and Tube’s Men’s Chorus would sing at our church’s evening service at 7:30 PM. The Sheet and Tube Chorus was highly regarded for its excellent music, and apparently Rev. Maly was hoping it would attract new people to the evening service. Unfortunately we have no records of attendance at our church services from 75 years ago, so we will just have to wonder if the little advertising bits worked.
The sports section of the News also did a little advertising for our church in its own way with the following short article: “Methodists First Half Champions of Church Basketball League”. It went on to note that the Methodist Church had beaten the Christian Church in the playoff game 36 to 34. The article went on to state that Evans was the Methodist Sparkplug with 20 points. The News had (to me) a maddening habit of referring to players with only their last names, sometimes with initial but not in this case. My guess would be Jack Evans but that is only a guess.
The headline for the January 31st edition of the Girard News read as follows: “Girard Draftees to Start Training – 47 Girard Draftees left Thursday morning for the Cleveland Armory for final entrance exams before leaving for Camp Shelby, Mississippi”. On that sobering note we will leave our church family in 1941 – seventy-five years ago in our church, our town, and our country.
After Pastor Vicky's amazing, motivating and personally convicting message Christmas Eve and her most recent sermon series "Best Gift Ever", I thought I would re-post my Christmas blog from last year. It was appropriate then, is now and will be in the future. And if you didn't hear Pastor Vicky's Christmas Eve message, or want to again, it's on our church web site. You can also view it on YouTube, just search iFireGirard on YouTube.
As Christmas gets closer and closer, stress levels for many get higher and higher. The list of things that stress people out at this time of the year are mind boggling, therefore, I am not about to list them because our minds tend to get "boggled" enough just with every day stuff. However, I am going to touch on one of the "biggies" and that is, what in the world am I going to buy for _____________? You fill in the person's name.
Well, I am going to relieve some of that holiday stress and give your bank account a break all at the same time. I have the perfect gift to give someone this year and it's extremely inexpensive. Sit down and write a letter to someone that has played an important part in shaping any aspect of your life. Maybe it's someone that influenced you to succeed in your chosen profession. Maybe it's someone that turned your life around when you were younger and made you realize you were special, you did matter and you could do anything. It might be your parents, or your significant other, or even that person who caused you to truly see the light and opened up your eyes to all that God and Jesus want to give to you. It could be anyone and be pertinent to anything in your life.
I am positive that almost everyone of you already has someone in mind as you read this. This is a practice I started a few years ago and though it is most definitely a work in process, I continue to try to improve. In fact, when I spoke in church a few weeks ago, that was sort of a little thank you letter to so many of you in the church that helped bring me to where I am today in my faith. Except I didn't get to send it to you, I had to read it out loud. Send yours for now and just trust me on that.
I'm going to tell you a short (hopefully) story and in doing so, it will end up being one of my letters to someone. As I wrote this, I started thinking about the many who brought me along in my faith, well maybe brought isn't the correct word, it was more like pulled, dragged and pushed. It's easy to remember those most recent, especially as I get older and my memory gets worse by the minute. What I really did was look back.
I thought of my Mom first, then my sisters, followed up by my upbringing in the Catholic church, but when I got into my late teens and early 20's, I started drifting away, even though I still attended church, which was really about all I did. I could honestly say that at times, I walked around with a little chip on my shoulder and had that "the whole world has it out for me" mentality. I wasn't always like that, but definitely had my days. I could be a little bit of a hard?ss (hope I can sort of say that word in a church blog). Around that time is when I met Wendy. Always happy, never in a bad mood and pretty much liked everyone. As we started dating and into our married life, she corrected me often, as a "good wife" does. Many of the things she let up on, as did I with her, as we began to figure each other out, but one thing she never let up on was those times when I acted like a tough guy, or a hard?ss, or give it any name you want.
She was relentless, always telling me I was wrong when I acted like that, even though I didn't think I was and continually doing it until one day I must have finally heard her. That is when I started to change. And as I write this, I now realize that she was the one!!!! The one who really softened up my hardened heart The one who did the prep work. The one who got me ready for that next step. It's exactly what we as Christians are supposed to do. When you see that opportunity. When you hear that call, you have to respond. We have to be always on the ready. We don't know when that opportunity may come, but if we aren't ready, we'll miss it.
In life, there will be some who are behind us and some who are ahead of us. Wendy didn't leave me behind, she reached back and pulled me ahead with her until I figured it out and readied me for that next step in my walk. So there's my story and my first letter. I can honestly say that Wendy has never heard that and won't until she reads this post.
So there you go. You now know something bad and good about me and I also gave you an idea of how this letter thing works. Don't wait until tomorrow, or next week, or after Christmas, do it now. I promise you that you won't regret it and the person that will receive the letter will be blessed. It's the season of celebrating the greatest gift any of us will ever receive, Jesus!! And I can't think of a better way of doing so than to reach out to someone and tell them how much they mean to you and how thankful you are to have them in your life.
I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the most spiritually prosperous New Years ever!!
We left our church family in late November of 1940, looking toward Christmas and wondering what would happen next in the war raging in Europe, Africa, and the Far East. Already some young men of Girard had been summoned by the draft and had reported for duty. We can only imagine what their families were thinking about as they prepared for Christmas, knowing there would be an empty seat at the holiday table. As always we are indebted to The Girard News, available on microfilm at the Girard Free Library, for much of the information provided here.
December 1st came on a Sunday, and Rev. Maly’s sermon topic was “Silent Christmas”. I have to wonder where he went with that title, knowing how much of our favorite Christian music involves Christmas. It might have referenced conditions in the war-ravaged parts of Europe and China and Northern Africa, all of which were home to fellow Christians trapped by the war being fought around them, often with intentional “collateral damage”. We can only guess at his sermon topic. We have some members who could have heard that sermon seventy-five years ago as children. But they probably weren’t paying attention or perhaps they were in Junior Church which had just been started under the direction of Mrs. Dan Harris.
Friday, Dec. 6th, the Althea Class held their monthly meeting at the home of Mrs. James Lewis of Morris Ave with Miss Zeila Garrett as co-hostess. Then, on Monday evening, at the church, the December Quarterly meeting of the Women’ Society was held. Mrs. Ross Williams presided over the business session and Mrs. Margaret Krehl had charge of the devotional service. She introduced Mrs. Carl Mieding who reviewed a book, “The Three Sisters” by Cornalit Spenser. This was followed by Chinese songs delightfully sung by Miss Beatrice Bullen accompanied by Miss Bernice Price on the piano.
The following Wednesday, the 11th, the Friendly Class had their monthly dinner meeting at the church. This was their Christmas Party also. The Friendly Class was probably the largest class of our church Sunday School. It was mostly composed of couples. Members were asked to bring their own table service, and bread and butter. There was a ten cent gift exchange for both men and women. [Sometimes, these little bits of seemingly uninteresting trivia just astound our 21st century brains. Just try to imagine a ten cent gift exchange! Whenever you younger folks become impatient with those of us who are youthfully challenged, particularly with understanding the costs of some things, just try to remember where we came from. The world was very different seventy-five years ago.]
But, in many ways, it was very much like our world. We Methodists always like to eat together. Saturday, December 14th was the annual Turkey Dinner, served in Fellowship Hall by the Ladies’ Aid. They also took orders for aprons that day, which was a money maker for them.
On Monday, the 16th, the Philathea Class met at the home of Miss Mary Elizabeth Evans on E. Kline St. Miss Ida Belle Hood presided over the business meeting and also had charge of the Bible Study period. They made plans to pack Christmas baskets for the needy.
On Friday evening at 7 PM, Dec. 20th, our Sunday School held its annual Christmas party. One hundred eighty children attended. The program included songs, recitations, and two playlets – “Santa Claus’s Necktie” and “The Little Gray Lamb”. Santa Claus also visited with a small present for each child.
The Sunday before Christmas, Rev. Maly’s sermon title was “No Room for Christ”. Our church celebrated Christmas week with two extra, special services. The first was the Sunday evening service which consisted of a program of scripture reading and song by the choir followed by a Communion Service. The second special service occurred on Tuesday, Christmas Eve, at 11:30 PM, a service of carols and lights. The Girls’ Choir directed by Miss Elizabeth Frack led the singing of carols. Rev. Maly gave a brief message on ”The Privilege of Participation”. For an hour preceding the service, a program of Christmas Carols was broadcast from the church tower. This is the first reference I have found for our usual Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve. In the preceding year, the youth group had conducted one on their Sunday evening meeting before Christmas with the public invited. But, this is the first Church-wide Candlelight Service I have found - December 24th, 1940. It was a time when our church family – as all American families – was anxious about the future and in need of a service of carols, and light, and hope.
After Christmas, of course, comes New Year’s Eve. The News had ads for various places of entertainment. The Blue Crystal Nite Club on South State St. offered dance music to the music of Don Ricard’s orchestra, with five floor shows, one every hour, beginning at 9:30. There was a $1 cover charge. The Blue Crystal is, of course, no longer. But the Mahoning Country Club is still around, albeit under different management. It offered the music of Chet Hagen and his orchestra, along with “great food, finest liquors, favors and noise-makers”, all for $3 per couple, and that included breakfast. Another place, right in downtown Girard, still in business and still run by the same Acerra family: The Royal Gardens offered “floor show, music, dancing, good drinks, good food, noise makers and favors” with a $1 cover charge.
That was the last day and evening of the year 1940 – seventy-five years ago in our church, in our town, and in our country.
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.