We left our church family at the end of April, 1942, still getting used to being in what we call World War II. Some of the information reported in these glances back 75 years ago in our church and in our town come from our own church archives. Some comes from The Girard News, our town’s weekly newspaper, available on microfilm at Girard Free Library, and some of the war information comes from Wikipedia. Most folks today tend to forget how awful the first year of the war was for our poor soldiers and sailors. The news coming back to the families of those young men from our church and our town was so ominous, I am sure their mothers, fathers, wives or sweethearts worried incessantly.
So they did whatever they could to help the war effort from the home front, volunteering to work on scrap drives, collecting books for the young men to read when they had a break, sending letters, and donating anything they could to the war effort. Thus the Headline for the Girard News May 1st issue: “Pledge Drive Opens Today” The article went on to state that, “Every person with an income is expected to formally promise to pledge part of that income regularly for Defense Savings Bonds and Stamps.” Volunteers were going to canvass the entire city of Girard so that each person would be personally asked to pledge.
We do have the minutes of the Official Board of our church for the month of May. If you may recall, back during their March meeting, the Board had to deal with the sudden resignation of our church janitor, Fred Crum, beginning April 1st. We don’t have the minutes for the April meeting, but in May it was the decision of the Board to increase the pay for the janitor $15 per month from $50 to $65 which was adequate to keep the janitorial services of Mr. Crum. We have to remember in 1942, the janitorial duties included very hard physical labor of shoveling coal into the boiler at regular intervals in addition to the regular cleaning activities involved in a church of our size. With so many young men being called up to go to war, the Janitorial Committee probably could not find someone to replace Mr. Crum. So, a compromise was found.
Other church meetings also occurred on their regular schedules. We don’t have these meetings in our Archives, but the News mentioned the meeting of Group 2 of the Women’s Society of Christian Service, and the Dinner Meeting of the Friendly Class at the church. On Saturday, May 9th, Margaret Crider and William Campbell were married in our church, Rev. Maly presiding.
The May 15th edition of the Girard News brought the effects of the war to a very personal level for a Girard City Official, Brooks Church, our City Engineer. He had just received notice that his brother, Samuel, had been interned in a Japanese Camp in Hong Kong. Samuel, who was employed by the National City Bank of New York, had been sent to their Hong Kong Branch. Now, he, along with many other civilians from Britain and the US, were, in effect, prisoners of war. Hong Kong had fallen to the Japanese back in December, right after Pearl Harbor. From the occurrence back in December to receiving the news in May, was pretty typical of the time frame of war happenings. There was a general need for secrecy. “Loose lips sink ships.” So news, especially bad news, was not reported right away, that our enemies might not know how badly our ships, planes, etc. losses really were.
We will leave our church family on a happy note. The May graduating senior class of Girard High School was the largest ever, at 109 graduates. But what would the future hold?
This was our church family, our neighbors in Girard, and our country in May of 1942, seventy-five years ago.