We left our church family in January of 1944 in the midst of a City of Girard War Bond drive to raise $500,000 worth of U. S. War Bonds. The drive ran from the beginning of January through February 15th. This was a huge amount for a town of Girard’s size. The $500,000 figure represented the face value of the bonds. The actual price was lower, but not that much lower. I remember, in school, purchasing twenty-five cent stamps to fill a small book. When filled, the book contained $18.75 worth of stamps. This was then traded in for a $25.00 bond. If that 75% ratio applied to the Series E Bonds which were being sold in this bond drive, it would mean that Girard folks would have to give $375,000 to purchase $500,000 worth of bonds. That is a huge amount of money, much more than could possibly come from a small town like Girard. On Friday, February 4th, the Girard News, Girard’s weekly newspaper, announced that the Girard merchants were donating prizes for auction bidding to help the Bond Drive. The auction would be held on February 12th at 8:30 PM at the Girard Theaters. The Theaters, of course, were the Wellman and the New Mock, side by side on Liberty Street, and both owned and operated by Peter Wellman, a very civic minded gentleman who often volunteered his theaters for worthy causes. (Here is a typical worthy cause that Pete Wellman supported: Back when The Wizard of Oz came to local theaters, probably in the spring of 1940, Mrs. John Powers, Chairwoman of the Dandelion Eradication Committee of the Girard Women’s Garden Club, asked every elementary child in Girard Schools to pick 100 dandelions and put them in a paper bag. These were to be turned in to their teachers, who would then give them a ticket to see The Wizard of Oz at a special Saturday showing at the Wellman Theater. The results were so great that a second special showing of the movie had to be held for the dandelion pickers.) Even with the auction for prizes, the Bond Drive fell short, but still reached the three-fourth figure of $375,000 worth of bonds sold. If the 75% ratio applied to these series E bonds, then Girard residents contributed a little over $281,000 toward the Bond Drive. That is still a great amount of money, and this of course was not the first nor would it be the last War Bond Drive. The War was a constant part of life in 1944.
Still, church life continued as well. On the last day of January, the WSCS met at the home of Miss Roma Lambert of 516 E. Kline St., per the February 4th edition of The Girard News. (Clyde and I purchased that very house from Miss Lambert back in ’65 of the last century. We raised all four of our children there. Our youngest daughter, Becky, and her husband, Michael, bought the house from us a number of years ago, and still live there. It is a lovely big old house with a large front porch, and a walk-up attic to which Clyde and I added a full dormer extension, so that all four of our children could have their own bedrooms – which brought a semblance of peace to our family life. Just a few houses up from there resided the Jack Powers family – Jack was the son of Mrs. John Powers referred to in the story of the dandelion eradication project. They were wonderful neighbors, and Jack was one of the Saints of our church. As a young man he made the Cross that we all look at on Sunday morning, hanging over the choir. He was always active in our church, and a great encourager of others in the church. I always saw him as a good neighbor and a friend. Researching this month’s blog has brought back many fond memories. Jack never missed Church or Sunday School. Because he was brought to Sunday School by his parents as a very young child, his perfect attendance records were just a few years shy of his age. I believe his records went well into the 70th decade. Maybe someone else knows the exact number. Somewhere in his later years, he broke his arm. It snowed the following Saturday night, not a lot, maybe 4 inches. We all had snow blowers at that time and I blew out our drive and sidewalk, then, remembering Jack’s arm, I blew a path up to his house and blew out his drive, too. It didn’t take more than 15 or 20 minutes. No big deal. Then back home and got ready for Sunday School and Church. In church that morning, Jack handed me a beautiful orchid which he had raised in his little greenhouse on the rear of his home. That is the kind of guy he was.. All the children in the neighborhood knew that, if they had to sell something for school or scouts, they should stop at Jack and Norma’s house first because they would always buy. As I said, this blog is bringing back old memories)
Back to the WSCS meeting at Roma Lambert’s house: Miss Lambert was assisted by her sisters, Mrs. Harriet Bowser and Miss Anna Lambert. They entertained Group #3 of the WSCS. Group 2 of the WSCS met Tuesday evening, February 22nd, at the home of Mrs. David Phillips, 417 E. Liberty St. During the meeting, plans were made to serve dinner to the Kiwanis Club Tuesday, March 2nd. And, again, Group 3 of the WSCS met on the evening of February 28th at the home of Mrs. E. Hood of E, Prospect Street. We have no information about Group 1, or even if it existed. So, from the last day of January to the last day of February, the ladies groups of our church were meeting regularly.
The Sunday School and Church held their regular Sunday Morning meetings. We don’t have church attendance records but we have Sunday School notes. The attendance for the month of February, 1944 ranged from a high of 303 to a low of 263. The Sunday School Secretary often commented on individual people for that Sunday. At first I thought she was referring to young students when she noted that so-and-so was home this weekend. Duh!! I finally realized that she was referring to members of the military who were home that weekend. I keep saying that World War II took over all aspects of our church families’ lives. I should have realized it much sooner. On February 6th, she noted that Foster Hotchkiss was home this morning, and Howard was moved to Tennessee this week. No remarks on the 13th. On February 20th, the following: “ Jack Powers was here last Sunday. We checked. Howard is going to be a navigator. Alice Gosnell went to Army two weeks ago.” And on the 27th, “ Mary Jo and Alberta are home. David Maly came home Friday.”
So, what went on in February of 1944 on the war front? In the Pacific, our troops landed in the Marshall Islands and captured them. In the European theater, on February 14th, General Dwight D Eisenhower established the SHAEF headquarters in London, England. SHAEF stands for Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. It was moved to London in preparation for what would be the D-Day invasion in June. SHAEF would consist of all Allied Airborne divisions, brigades and paratrooper transport wings, The First Canadian Army, the Second British Army, The First United States Army, the Third United States Army, the Fifteenth United States Army, the French First Army and the Seventh United States Army – All of these would be moved to England.. General Eisenhower would begin preparations there for the largest naval invasion in history. Of course, our church families did not know that. They suspected that something was coming. They would find out when it happened.
February, 1944 - as experienced by our church family, our town, and our country