a glance at the past
We left our church family at the end of March, 1942, looking forward to Easter and warm spring weather. Easter was on April 5th in 1942, over a week earlier than it is this year. On Palm Sunday, the last Sunday in March, our church had joined the First Christian, First Baptist and Trinity Lutheran for a community 4 PM Vesper Service, with the four choirs uniting to present a Lenten Cantata, “The Crucifixion”. The event was held at our church. The above information was provided by the microfilm archives of The Girard News, our town’s weekly newspaper for many years. It is available for anyone to see at the Girard Free Library, and I often use it to supplement our own church archives.
As I had reported in the Glances of January, February and March 1942, the news of the War was all bad, with the Germans and Japanese apparently conquering at will in Europe and the Pacific. Now, on April 1, 1042, a Wednesday evening, our Congressman, Michael Kirwan, spoke at a dinner meeting of the Girard Businessmen’s Association at the Mahoning Country Club. He predicted that the bad news from the war front would at least continue for six months. That had to be a sobering assessment for those Girard families who already had sons who were drafted and serving.
Then came Easter Sunday, on the fifth. We will assume that Rev. Maly did get those special Easter Bulletins as the Official Board had requested, and that the Sunday Worship was beautiful and moving as always, when we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
On Wednesday evening, the 8th, the Friendship Class held their monthly meeting at the church. Mr and Mrs Wendell Thomas were in charge of the dinner. Rev. Walker Schutz, a Missionary in Africa, home on furlough, was the speaker.
I’m sure that the Official Board of our church met in April. However, that page is missing from our archives. The expenses for the month, however, are available. We can see that they collected a total of $624.93 from the four Sunday collections. The monthly expenditures were $491.86. The two largest expenditures were $91 to Rev. Maly, his salary for the first and second half of the month of April. This reinforces a truth known to anyone who has served on the Finance Committee, or the Staff Parish Relations Committee: The road to wealth does not run through service as a Methodist Minister.
The war news continued bad during the month of April, as Congressman Kirwan predicted it would. In the Philippines, the Bataan Peninsula fell, and the Bataan Death March began, a horror for our captured men that would only become fully known much later. Several extermination camps were opened by the Germans in Poland. Again we wouldn’t find out about them until near the end of the war. And, the City of Exeter in England was bombed by the Germans.
There was one piece of very good news in April. On April 18th, a small force of sixteen B-25 Mitchell Bombers, led by Lieutenant-Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle, bombed Tokyo. The planes took off from the USS Hornet, one of our aircraft carriers. However, because the bombers were too large to land back on the carrier, they were to proceed to China, where most of them landed (or crashed) safely and their crews were able to get back to US forces. One landed in Vladivostok, Russia. The crewmen were safe but held for a year by the Russians. One plane crashed into the Pacific with the loss of one crewman; the other eight were captured by the Japanese, with three being executed by them, the other five surviving the war in captivity. The raid was, against all odds, a success. However, it showed that our bombers could never reach Japan unless we had a closer takeoff and landing point, something that would not be achieved until years later after the battle of Iwo Jima.
One last bit of news from the home front in April, the News headline of the April 17th edition: “Bitten by Dog. Joan Barton, 11, dies of rabies.”
On that sad reminder of the “good old days”, we will leave our church family – seventy-five years ago – April 1942.
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