We left our church family in July of 1941 participating in the usual summer activities but with their lives increasingly affected by the events in the world around them. Already many young men from Girard had reported to duty to defend our country if it were to be attacked. More were being called each week. Much of our information from seventy-five years ago can be found in the Girard News, Girard’s weekly newspaper, published every Friday, and available today on microfilm at Girard Free Library.
In the August 8th issue, the News reported that Mrs. J S Burtsfield had entertained the Afternoon Guild of the Women’s Society of Christian Service on Wednesday afternoon, August 5th, at her home on East Kline Street. After lunch the business meeting was led by Mrs. Mark Stone, President, presiding. Mrs. Burtsfield gave the devotional. Mrs. John Wiand reviewed two booklets: “Uprooted Americans” and “Family Pulls Up Stakes”. Mrs. G B McElhaney reviewed “The Heritage”. (Every time I report on activities of the women of our church, I find myself wondering what their real names were. Only the occasional unmarried woman was identified by her given Christian name. Once married, a woman apparently lost not only her maiden last name, but also her first name. The title, Mrs., was always followed by her husband’s name, or sometimes just his initials, never her own name. I sometimes wish I knew what their real names were.)
From our records, we know a little bit about Sunday School. For a number of years records were kept in bound books which we have in our archives. So, on August 3rd, 1941, we know that there were 195 people in Sunday School; 16 were teachers, 8 were visitors, and the rest were scholars. The total collection for that day was $9.46 of which $5.45 came from the adult classes. On August 10th, there were 210 present, which included 10 visitors. The total collection was $10.93. These figures were typical of the rest of the August Sunday School attendance records. The amounts collected each Sunday seem very small by our experience. However, Rev. Maly’s entire yearly salary was only $2,200. This amount per year was not atypical. We were still experiencing the money woes of the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
Only the need for all kinds of war materials would finally bring us out of the depression to the good financial times we remember from the 1950’s. Still, setting aside our astonishment at the small amount of money collected each Sunday, consider the number of people attending Sunday School. I cannot find the number of people attending the morning Church service but it was most likely similar or probably larger. These figures are from the hottest time of the summer, when some folks would be off on vacation, or would prefer just to take a lazy weekend and not bother attending because of the heat. Back in 1941 people always dressed up to come to church. Men wore white shirts and suits. Women wore dresses, hats, and stockings with real shoes. Flip flops had not been invented. No one would ever wear shorts to church – or jeans – or a tank top – or canvas shoes (called tennis shoes back then). Those folks would be astonished at how we dress today. But I’ll bet that after they got over their surprise, and found out how comfortable we are today, they would gladly trade their heavy and hot clothing for ours.
On a Thursday evening, August 21st, Norma Moore and Jack Powers, who had announced their engagement at a tea in July, were married in our church with two pastors presiding – our own Rev. Maly and Rev. Phillip J Sinner of Trinity Lutheran Church.
On that happy note I will conclude our Glance back at 1941. I’ve purposely left out the bad news coming out of Europe and the rest of the world from the war. It was always in the background, affecting every decision one made about the future, including marriage. That was life for our church family in August of 1941 – seventy five years ago.