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.