We left our church family in late September, 1943 with the announcement of the marriage of June and Bill Maggs. They had actually been married in Oklahoma City back in January, about the announcement was just revealed in September. Many young Girard couples were married in other towns because of the war. Now in the month of October, another young couple from our church announced their wedding. Dolores Humble and August Colapietro had been married in St. Louis, Missouri on September 19th. They had a brief honeymoon in St. Louis and Cleveland before Corporal Colapietro had to return to Camp Polk in Louisiana, while Dolores returned to her parent’s home and to her job at Ravenna Arsenal.
The stories of these two young couples from or church family are similar to stories of hundreds of thousands of young couples throughout our country. It is hard for those who did not live through World War II to comprehend how much the war affected all aspects of daily living. Almost everything was rationed. There were regular “drives” for scrap metal, old tires, paper and cardboard. There seemed to be a perpetual sale of Wartime Savings Bonds, with new quotas every month. The Girard News proudly announced in October that Girard had oversubscribed its quota with the huge sale of $857,807 in War Bonds.
From our time in 2018, we know that both of these young couples, married in distant cities in 1943, made it through the war, raised families and lived long and happy lives together, sharing their gifts of music, enthusiasm, reliability and encouragement as important members of our church family.
Unfortunately, not all Girard men made it back alive. In that same edition of the News, was the announcement that First Lieutenant Frances Stegna, son of Mr. and Mrs. Francis J. Stegna of 22 E Second St., had been killed in a plane crash at Portia, Arkansas on September 30th. Sometime when you are not in a hurry, you ought to walk across Main Street and check out the World War II memorial. According to the 1940 census, there were 9,805 people in Girard back then, fairly similar to today’s population Fifty-nine men from Girard made the ultimate sacrifice in World War II. Their names are listed on the memorial.
The first Sunday in October fell on the 3rd of the month. In the October 1 edition “Church Notes” column of the Girard News, Rev. Maly had noted the times of the Sunday School and Church Service as well as announcing Holy Communion at the Church Service, and that the church would be celebrating both Rally Day and World Wide Communion at the service. Remember how he left the after Easter Sunday announcement of “Church Notes” run all summer long which must have amused people who consulted it weekly. Now, he did it again, running the same Rally Day and World Wide Communion announcement through the next three Friday editions of the News. Finally, in the October 3rd edition the ‘Church Notes” column for our church read simply: “Sunday School 9:30 to 10:30, Church Service 10:30 to 11:40. Now, probably with a sigh of relief, he could just let it slide unless something really noteworthy had to be announced.
The Headline for the Girard News October 23rd edition read: “This is The Army Opens Here”. The main article went on to explain that Irving Berlins’ musical proudly produced by Warner Brothers, would open Thursday night at the Wellman Theater. It would run through November 3rd. The movie featured George Murphy, Joe Louis, Joan Leslie and Ronald Reagan, along with real men from our armed services. All money would benefit the Army Emergency Relief Fund. I had never heard of this movie, so I googled it. It had been proposed by Irving Berlin to the war department early on. It was a sequel to an early musical production he had done back in World War I. It was all done to benefit the Relief Fund. He insisted on using, along with professional stars, regular men from the armed services who had been in the entertainment field before the war. He also insisted that the cast be integrated. This was too much for the Armed Forces with were definitely NOT integrated at the time. (They would be in 1948 by President Truman, but that is another story.) A compromise was reached that the cast would be integrated, but would not appear together at any time on the screen. This was probably the first integrated company of men in the modern Armed Forces, but only when they were no on the screen. Anyway, the movie premiered at the Warner’s Earle Theater on August 12th, 1943, roughly 2 ½ months before it got to Girard. It grossed $9,555,586 for the A.E.R.F. Many of the soldiers who had participated in the movie held reunions every five years after the end of the War. Their 50th and final reunion in 1992 was in New York’s Theater District.
With that interesting little story we will leave our church family and other Girard families at the end of October in 1943, at the Wellman Theater watching “This is The Army” – seventy-five years ago in the history of our church and of our town.
September, 1943 began with Labor Day weekend, and then back to school, a reverse of 2018 when our children go back to school before Labor Day. Back in 1943 Superintendent Moore was very concerned about losing high school students to valley mills and other employers. The draft had taken so many young men that, in August, they had announced that young fathers would now have to be called up to meet the military’s needs. Local companies scrambled to replace their drafted employees. Many Girard boys (and some girls, too) who were 16 years old or close had already been hired over the summer. Now, Supt. Moore tried to make a plan that would allow those young workers to attend school and work, too. He wanted the schools to offer “staggered classes” for these students. He was quoted in the September 3rd edition of The Girard News, “If our plan to stagger classes works out, it will permit many of the students to continue their school work and still allow them to spend several hours at their jobs. In this way our Girard youth may continue their education, and at the same time earn some money and help the war effort as well.” Detailed plans would be firmed up after the opening of school on the following Tuesday.
It is hard for us to understand how World War II dominated the lives of everyone in America from late 1941 through 1945. The next edition of The Girard News described the Third War Loan Drive of the year. The goal was to raise $495,120 from Sept. 9th through the 30th. 300 “Bombardiers” (young women) would canvass all homes in the city of Girard during the drive. There was a full page ad in the Girard News that week with the following message, “Today . . . Your country looks to YOU to back the INVASION.”
What invasion would that be? On September 3rd the Allies invaded the Italian mainland for the first time. On September 8th, General Dwight D. Eisenhower publicly announced the surrender of Italy to the Allies. It would not be quite that easy though. The King of Italy had surrendered and had imprisoned Mussolini, the former head of the government of Italy. On September 12th, German Paratroopers rescued Mussolini from captivity and later he would become the head of The Italian Social Republic, a part of Northern Italy which would fight on against the Allies.
The headline of the September 17th edition of the Girard News read “Girard-McDonald Pass One-Third Mark in Bond Drive” “$171,176 in Bond Sales - 14 Days to Complete Drive”
In this same Edition of the News at last a change: Remember that, back in the April 30th Edition of the News, under “Church Notes”, Rev. Maly had posted the following on the Friday following Easter Sunday – “We had 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. Dr. Wolff from the Berea Children’s Home will be the Preacher of the morning.” As our church had no secretary back then, Rev. Maly had to provide the information to the newspaper every week. Apparently, he forgot. From the April 30th edition through the September 10th edition, that same message had occurred every Friday, until, at last, a new one on September 17th.
“Sunday School 9:30 – 10:30
Church 10:30 – 11:40
Special Service: The Ladies of the Eastern Star will worship in a special service Sunday morning. Rev. Maly’s message will be ‘The Alpha and the Omega’. All members of the Eastern Star and of the church are cordially invited.”
It is hard to believe that no one thought to tell him during that five month time. Or, maybe someone did see it, and thought, “I wonder how long it will keep on going like this?” Thanks to the ladies of the Eastern Star for requesting a special service, and ending the five months of “keep up the good work” and “Dr Wolff Preacher of the morning”.
We’ll end September of 1943 on a happy note. In that same September 17th edition, the following article: “Carroll-Maggs Marriage is Announced
Mr and Mrs John A Carroll, 123 E Howard St announce the marriage of their daughter, June Virginia to Cpl. William E Maggs, son of Mr and Mrs Garneile Maggs, 157 Churchill Rd, at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on January 7, 1943.”
Our Church Family and Our town during World War II – September, 1943 – Seventy-five years ago.
We left our church family in July of 1943, 75 years ago, almost totally engulfed in World War II. Just about every family had a relative, spouse, or good friend serving . . . somewhere. Their letters home couldn‘t tell where. All mail was read by censors before being sent back home. If they accidentally mentioned something that would reveal where they were, it would be blacked out by those censors who were just trying to protect the troops but the folks receiving those letters with huge black areas didn’t see it that way.
Girardites had begun in the month of July to attempt to meet a new goal in their fundraising for the war. In addition for their usual quota of War Bond purchases, they were trying to raise $175,000 to purchase a B-25 Bomber which would be named “The City of Girard”. They had kicked off the campaign in the month of July. Now in August they would have a Ladder Climbing Event on August 14th held in the first block of West Liberty Street. The ladder was 80 feet tall, mounted on a huge Fire Department truck loaned to Girard by the City of Warren, because Girard Fire Department had nothing approaching that size. At this event, held on a Saturday afternoon, the master of ceremonies would climb the steps of the ladder as the pledges came in, announcing them into the microphone that he carried so that the crowd could hear him. The Ladder Climbing Event netted an additional $17,000, bringing the total collected to $162,000. They were close – only $13,000 to go. They extended the drive one week, but there was no mention of the B-25 Bomber “The City of Girard” in the following week’s Girard News. The August 27th issue of the News was concentrating on the coming school year, with Girard students returning to school September 7th. I have to assume they did not meet their goal and there was no Bomber named “The City of Girard”.
Our church family in the month of August, 1943, continued with the usual summer activities. Sunday School attendance held steady as did church attendance. Gasoline rationing was quite strict. People with cars were only allowed to buy enough gasoline to get them from home to work and back during the week. Driving elsewhere was greatly discouraged, if not impossible. Vacations, if your employer gave you one, were probably spent at home. Tires were also rationed and they did not begin to get the mileage from a tire that we expect today. Victory gardens were encouraged. By 1943 many people had planted one in their yard. By August they would be harvesting their favorite vegetables.
By 1943, war movies were coming out of Hollywood, and Girard’s two theatres were playing them to audiences. Newsreels always were shown between movies. Much of the war news reached Girard folks from these newsreels. In August of ’43 they would have been watching news of Operation Tidal Wave when 177 B-24 Bombers of our US Air Force bombed oil refineries at Pioiesti, Romania on August 1st. The next week’s batch of newsreels would have probably featured movies from the Battle of Vella Gulf in the Pacific theatre, as the Americans defeated a Japanese convoy and the Army drove the Japanese from Munda airfield on New Georgia. Next week would feature the meeting held in Quebec City of our President Roosevelt with Canadian Prime Minister MacKenzie King, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. And the newsreels from the last week in the month would probably celebrate the meeting of the US 7th Army under General George S Patton and the British 8th Army under General Montgomery at Messina, Sicily as they celebrated the completion of the Allied Invasion of Sicily on August 17th. The newsreels seen in the theatres tended to be a week or more behind the actual event. The news heard on the radio might be a bit more up to date. Bad news was not always reported right away. By 1943, however, things were starting to turn around. U S industrial might was beginning to show itself. On August 4th a brand new carrier, the USS Intrepid was launched in Newport News, Virginia. Our auto and heavy equipment companies were turning out trucks, jeeps, tanks, and all kinds of construction and earth moving equipment. Ship companies were turning out all kinds of vessels. Small boat companies were making landing craft for beach invasions, as well as river and PT boats. Locally, our steel mills were producing steel products around the clock. The Arsenal at Ravenna also ran 24/7. So many extra people were needed in the workforce that women were being hired to perform jobs traditionally done by men. Girard’s School Board was anticipating a drop in enrollment for the coming school year because so many older students had been hired over the summer by local employers. The Board feared, with good reason, that many of those who were 16 or older would simply not go back to school.
This was our church family and our town in August, 1943 – 75 years ago.
We left our church family in June of 1943, getting used to the various changes in the rationing laws, and pondering the news that the famous actor Leslie Howard, traveling on a passenger plane for a routine flight, had died. along with everyone else aboard, after being attacked and shot down by German planes.
The Fourth of July came on a Sunday in 1943. Sunday School attendance was somewhat lower than usual, possibly because of the holiday, or because of the weather, which was “very rainy”. A Civilian Defense Parade and program had also been planned for that day, for 6 PM. It was postponed, however, because of the rain. Meanwhile, our church family members of the Friendly Class held their summer picnic at Liberty Park on Tuesday evening, July 13th. Eighty-three people attended. Then, on Wednesday. July 14th, the postponed July 4th Parade and Civilian Defense Demonstration was held, again at 6 PM. The parade formed up at the intersections of Wilson and State, and Second and State. It began at the intersection of Liberty and State, proceeded north on State St to Churchill, then east on Churchill to Ward Ave, then south on Ward to Liberty St, then north to Highland, then south to the Stadium, where all were seated to watch a Civilian Defense Demonstration, followed by fireworks. The fireworks were sponsored by the Girard Businessmen’s Association.
On Wednesday, July 28th, the Women’s Society of Christian Service of our church also held their summer picnic at the home of Mrs. Harry Blair of East Prospect Street at 12:30 PM.
The Chamber of Commerce and the Businessmen’s Association would soon sponsor another War Bond drive. Remember, back in April, Girard families purchased over $400,000 in War Bonds. Now, in mid-July, they announced a new bond drive of $175,000, the amount needed to pay for a B-25 Bomber, which would be named the “City of Girard”. The Bond Drive wouldrun through 4 weeks from late July through August. To kick it off, a Bond Rally was held on West Liberty Street in the block between State Street and Market Street. Traffic was banned on that block during the event, which was held on Thursday evening, July 29th. The main speaker was Lt. William Crawford, from Niles, local hero of the Battle of Bismarck Sea. He gave a rousing speech which inspired many people to purchase War Bonds.
As our church family and all of Girard closely watched the news of the War, the month of July marked a turning point. Allied troops turned their attention away from Africa to Europe. On July 10th they began invading Sicily. In the northern part of Europe, beginning on July 24th, the Allies began bombing Hamburg, Germany. The British and Canadians would bomb by night; the Americans would bomb by day. By the time this operation would be concluded in November, 9,000 tons of explosives will have killed 42,000 people, and destroyed most of the city.
With that we will leave our church family in July of 1943. News of the war was beginning to look more optimistic than in the prior year. However, almost everyone had family or friends in the military, so everyone felt anxious for their safety. Here it felt safe and normal, but a glance at the headlines, the news on the radio, and the newsreels at the movies showed how awful it was. July of 1943 – 75 years ago in our church, our town, and our country.
Before I get started, I want to introduce you to a man named Herman Edwards. He played and coached in the NFL for many years. He's now a sports analyst and motivational speaker. He was once speaking to a group of NFL rookies about social media and he said a button should be added to phones that says "don't press send". It was his advice to those rookies before they posted something on social media. I'd like to add one more thing to his advice and that's this, "THINK" before you post. My daughter Alyssa brought this up one week in our Sunday morning Cornerstone group when we were discussing what comes out of our mouths and how hurtful words can be. And not just our mouths, but what we put out there on social media. There are many pieces of scripture about the tongue, which can also be related to social media posts. Look them up, you'll be amazed and boy will they make you "THINK". This is probably my favorite. I suggest you stop reading now or after finishing this, go read James 3:5-12. That will make you "THINK" before speaking. Any way, before you post just "THINK".
T-is it True.
H-is it Helpful.
I-is it Inspiring
N-is it Necessary
K-is it Kind.
I'm sure most of you are familiar with John 3:16. You sometimes see it on a big poster behind field goal posts at NFL or college games, or some guy with a multi-colored curly wig is holding up a sign with it on TV. It's possibly the most quoted piece of scripture. However, how many are familiar with John 3:17? "Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." Here's one more to look at, the first half of Matthew 20:28, "just as the son of man came not be to served, but to serve." Now what if we handled our social media life and postings like we are supposed to handle our life of faith and in Christ, putting others first, thinking about others first? It's definitely something, I believe, worth looking into.
So is our time spent with social media really social "ME"dia? Is it all about ourselves? How many likes or hits we can get. How many comments we'll get, how many retweets and better yet, maybe it will go "viral". So here's my suggestion, let's start making social MEdia less about ourselves and more about others. Let's call it social WEdia and implement THINK before we post or hit send. And let's not care about the self gratification we'll get, but be more concerned about our life on social media helping others, benefiting others and building others up! Let's make our social media world a beacon of light for others to see. A light so bright that it can't be ignored. I'm not saying we still can't have fun on social media and post goofy stuff, etc., but don't forget to also post the stuff that is helpful to others. The stuff that's not beneficial by worldly standards or by instant gratification, but instead, the stuff that's eternally beneficial, both for others and for ourselves.
So the next time you're ready to post, or hit send, or put something out there for all to see in a fit of anger or to be hurtful or judgmental, first THINK. Then next, remember Jesus' life on this earth and why he came. Is what your about to post serving others, helping others, or is it self serving? I believe if we can be more focused on the needs of others and concern for everyone, as we post on our various social media outlets, we can not only change our own little corner of the world, but maybe, just maybe, do even more than that.
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.
We left our church family in March of 1943, living with war rationing, and watching newsreels of some of the good news from the front, and knowing that there was also bad news that was not being publicized. In the meantime, all Girard citizens were doing what they could to help the war effort. One way was to purchase war bonds, thus lending money to our government to finance the war effort. In mid-April the Girard News announced that a $400,000 quota had been set for War Loan purchase during the month of April. As the News noted, “Every Girard citizen will be expected to buy War Bonds to the full extent of their ability. . . . Our boys in the armed services are giving their lives and you are expected to lend your money.”
Meanwhile, our church family was preparing for Easter. Easter Sunday in 1943 occurred on April 25th, the latest possible date on which it could occur. The last time this had happened was in 1886. The next time would not be until 2038. I am sure that our church members remarked on the lateness of the event just as we all did back in 2008 when Easter occurred on March 23rd, almost the earliest possible date. It had not been that early since 1918, and would not come that early again until 2160. It is also possible for Easter to fall as early as March 22nd. However, that has not happened since 1818 and won’t happen again until 2285.
Anyhow, early or late, our church celebrated Easter with a lot of music and much planning and preparation, just as in this year when it falls on April 1. The Prelude in 1943 was “Easter Morning on Mount Rubidoux” composed by Harvey Gaul. This was followed by the Processional Hymn, Invocation, Scripture reading, and Prayer. The Offeratory Anthem was “My Redeemer and My Lord” by Dudley Buck. The Easter Meditation was given by Rav. Maly which was followed by 2 hymns: “Sing With All the Sons of Glory” and “Now is Christ Risen From the Dead”. After that Mrs. Maly and Miss Blodwyn Evans sang a duet – “Spring Bursts Today”. Then the Choir had two Anthems: “Christ is Risen” by Moulder, and “Jerusalem” from Gallia by Gounnod. Then followed an organ solo : “The Bells of St Anne de Beaupre” by Alexander Russell. This selection was played annually in memory of Mrs. P J King, the donor of our organ. At last came the Benediction, followed by the choir’s “Sevenfold Amen” by Steiner. With all that rousing music still ringing in their heads, our church family went home to Easter dinner.
On April 23, the Friday before Easter Sunday, the Girard News announced that the War Bond Drive sales had gone over the $285,000 mark toward the $400,000 goal. “Now,” said the Editor, “The toughest part of the drive is ahead.” Then in the April 30th Edition, the Headline: “Girard Goes Over the Top In Second War Bond Drive – Raised $445,707.”
Also in the April 30th edition of the News, under “Church Notes” was a thank you and a plea from Rev, Maly: “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.” From 75 years in the future, I have to admire his enthusiasm. However to expect to replicate Easter and Christmas attendance figures on every Sunday is just not realistic today and probably wasn’t then.
So, on that note of 2018 cynicism, we will leave our church family and our town of Girard – 75 years ago – April of 1943.
We left our church family in February, 1943, living with war news every day, watching their young men going off to serve, listening intently to the evening news on the radio or in the newsreels between the movies in the local theaters, while still going about their usual daily activities.
A large 32 county blackout was held on the evening of March 4th, a Thursday. This would have been more serious than the previous dimouts. Street lights would be off, traffic would be limited to essential only, whatever that was determined to be. No lights were permitted to be on in houses or offices, unless the windows were completely covered by heavy, black, light-blocking curtains. People were to remain in their homes for the duration of the blackout. Of course, anyone working in a factory producing something essential for defense could not stop for a practice blackout. Thus, all the steel mills along the Mahoning River were busily working 24 hours a day, with the glow of the molten steel and the lights of the mills the only light visible in the entire Mahoning Valley. Looking back, it seems silly to black out all the homes, etc. while leaving the very necessary mills producing steel fully exposed. However, people wanted to know what they should do if we were attacked, and these practices helped to put in place plans for dealing with that possibility. Stopping the production of steel was out of the question.
That same evening, apparently earlier, our Official Board held their regular monthly meeting. This must have been one of the shortest in our church history. Two items were considered. #1 – the Minister was given permission to purchase colored bulletins for Easter and, #2 – All bills due should be paid. And then they turned out the lights, and went home to prepare for and participate in the blackout.
On Friday, March 5th, Women’s Society of Christion Service Groups #1 and #5 met respectively at the homes of Mrs. Mildred Patterson, 49 Howard St., and Mrs. Reese Evans of Morris Lane.
On Sunday, March 7th, we have from our archives the report of the Sunday School. Attendance was 270. The collection from these scholars was $13.81. The weather was noted as “cold” and under Remarks, “Paul S. home on leave”. Next Sunday, the 14th, the weather was noted as “fair and warmer”, and the attendance was up, too, at 317. March 21st was also “fair and warmer” with attendance at 316. Under Remarks, “Alberta and Oscar have the measles.” The last Sunday in March was the 28th. The attendance was 332 with a collection of $20.66. The weather was reported as “Bright sun but cold. Spring is here!” Remarks – “Marjorie’s got the measles.”
On March 4th, the 15th Annual Academy Awards ceremony was held in Los Angeles. Of course there was no TV then, but it was probably broadcast on the radio. Mrs. Miniver won the Best Picture Award. Girard had two movie theaters, the Wellman and the New Mock. Both were well attended. Movies were much cheaper then and probably attended by a higher percentage of the population than today because there was no competing way to experience movies at that time. You generally watched a double feature with a newsreel and a cartoon in between. What would have been in the newsreel during March of 1932? Probably footage from the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, which had occurred on March 2nd and had a lot of both movie and still footage. In this battle of the South Pacific, both US and Australian forces sank numerous Japanese convoy ships. It was good news and it probably helped to keep up the morale of our families at home worrying about our boys at war. Unfortunately, also in March occurred two very bad convoy attacks in the North Atlantic of our ships by German U-boats. The early one on March 9th and 10th sank 7 of our ships. Later, on March 16th through the 19th, 22 US ships were lost in the largest North Atlantic “wolfpack” attack of the war. Bad news like that was often held back from public knowledge. These attacks most likely would not have been shown in the newsreel between movies at the Wellman or the New Mock.
On a happy note, and probably completely unnoticed by anyone in Girard, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma opened on Broadway in New York City on March 31, 1943, beginning a run of 2,212 performances which would not end until May 29th in 1948, a record-setter at that time.
So, with that small ray of sunshine, we will end our Glance back at the month of March, 1943 – our church family, our town, and our country 75 years ago.
We left our church family at the end of January, 1943, practicing the City of Girard’s first blackout or dimout as it was called, because street lights and signal lights at intersections were left on, and essential driving was permitted. Houses, however, had to be dark. The first issue of The Girard News in February – Friday, the 5th – pronounced the first dimout to be a success, along with a second one held Tuesday evening, February 2nd. A real blackout would be scheduled later. The News also reported that the first Tin Can collection would be held February 8th. I remember tin can collections vividly. They, along with regular other scrap metal collections, would become a routine part of our lives right through the end of the war. Most of us at the time had small hand-held can openers. You pressed down on the top of the can hard with the pointy part of the cutting edge so that it cut through the metal. Then, using the top edge of the can as a fulcrum, you worked the opener up and down like a lever, gradually cutting and working your way around the top until you reached your original opening, freeing the lid. After pouring the contents of the can into your pan or whatever, you had to rinse out the can, and then turn it upside down, to repeat the process on the other end. After both ends were removed, the can was flattened by standing on it, and the ends were carefully slipped in between the flattened sides. The cans were put out once a week or so in a box or some kind of container for pickup. One reason I remember can collections in particular, is because of what happened to me because of a can collection. It was a warm, late spring Saturday afternoon, with dandelions blooming profusely in all the front yards. I was visiting my new friend, Mary Johnson. She lived on Lakewood Avenue, several blocks from my home, but not involving crossing a major street. It was probably the spring of 1945, when I had just turned 7. I wouldn’t have been allowed to travel that far from home if I had been younger. We were playing out in the sidewalk, with boxes of flattened tin cans by the curb in front of every home. Suddenly we noticed that one of the box’s cans had smooth lids that kept falling out of the flattened sides. We had never seen a can opener make as smooth lid like that. Neither had her older brother. Richard. He told his sister to pick a dandelion and hold it our wither one hand, without moving it, and he would bring the edge of the lid down upon the stem and see if it would cut it off. It did! She held out another one. It cut that one off smoothly, too. I held out one. Swoosh! Richard was a dkind, sweet boy, just a couple years older than us. He had stated that he wanted to be a priest when he grew up He patiently cut off every dandelion we brought to him. It was great fun. Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh! And then, somehow, he misjudged, or maybe I moved, and suddenly the can cut right into my left thumb, missing the dandelion clenched in my fist. I felt it, looked at the blood pouring out and started bawling and running home, with Richard called after me, “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to hurt you.” When I go home, my mom bandaged the wound and it healed pretty quickly. But it left a smooth little scar, just at the base of my left thumbnail, to remind me in coming years, how I had learned about modern can openers. Later the Johnson’s would move from Lakewood Avenue, and out of my life I never did find out if Richard became a priest.
Back to February of 1943: On February 4th our Official Board held their regular monthly meeting a the church. It was pretty uneventful. Rev. Maly requested that the Secretary of the Board write a letter of thanks to Mr. Martin for his work in painting the Pastor’s office. After hearing and passing acceptance of routine reports, they adjourned. However, on February 18th they called a special meeting to take care of important business. You may remember that Mr. Blossom had replaced Mr. Crum as Janitor, beginning January 1st. Now, at this special meeting, the Janitor’s Committee was recommending that Mr. Crum be rehired beginning March 1st, and that Mr. Blossom only continue work through the month of February. And we have no idea what caused this change. Did Mr. Blossom want to leave the job? Was he drafted and had to leave? Probably no one among us knows the answer. The Official Board passed the Janitor Committee’s resolution and the meeting was adjourned.
On a much happier note, Pearl Marie Sayers and Pvt. Lynn Miller were married at the Methodist Parsonage on Monday, February 8th by Rev. Maly.
On Wednesday evening, the 17th, the Friendly Class held their 8th Anniversary Party dinner at the church – 82 members and guests. One of the special guests was Rev. Charles Stoneburner of Cleveland. Rev. Stoneburner had been Pastor at our church when the Friendly Class was organized. And on a Friday evening, the 26th of February, the Wesleyan Class met at the home of Mrs. E.O. Hood of E. Prospect St. with Mrs. I. R. Howells as co-hostess. The Girard News issue of the last Friday of February, 1943, announced that the big 32 County wide Blackout was set for Thursday, March 4th.
And with that, we will leave our church family, our little town, and our country – living day to day with war news still mostly bad, watching young men going away to serve, many of them, like Lynn Miller and his new wife Pearl, trusting in God and their love for each other, making lifetime commitments before they parted.
The month of February, 1943 – 75 years ago in the history of our church family.
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.