Last month I shared with you the delightful copy of Rev. Maly’s report to the District Superintendent in August of 1942. This month I will report on what was happening in our church in September of 1942, seventy-five years ago.
The first Sunday in September fell on the 6th and the attendance for Sunday School for that day was 226 counting both teachers and students. The collection for that day was $14.29. Next Sunday, the 13th, attendance was 315, with the collection $18.58. The third Sunday’s attendance was 310 and the collection $16.67, while the final week in the month of September had attendance of 257 and a collection of $14.15. These attendance figures sound wonderful to our ears. However, the collection amounts seem so low, we cannot help wondering how they could possibly pay expenses for books and other teaching materials. When we check a conversion table, however, $100 in 1942 is roughly $1,557.63 today. These figures don’t apply to all purchases, but probably Sunday School teaching materials, at least printed ones probably would be in line with that ratio. So, the roughly 63 dollars collected in the month of September would be about 981 dollars today. If our Sunday School collected that amount each month, we wouldn’t have trouble purchasing teaching materials for approximately 300 students for the year. I wish I had the attendance figures for the Sunday morning worship, along with the collection figures. If these exist in our archives, I have yet to find them.
On September 3rd the Official Board held their monthly meeting at the Church. Their reports of minutes of the meetings are all handwritten, which I often struggle to decipher. They opened with prayer by Bro. Crider. Then they read the minutes of the August meetings, and approved them. Then Mrs Powers, Chairman of the Membership Committee, reported that “members plans for (illegible word – looks like it starts with a c – changing?), and may need help”. Then, Mrs Powers made the following motion, seconded by Mr Wormer: “That present arrangement for Sunday services be carried through October”. Motion carried. This was followed by a motion from Mr Crider, seconded by Mrs Powers that Financial Secretary be instructed to send October statements to membership. Motion carried. Then there was a motion to adjourn which passed. Nine members were present for this meeting.
The Women’s Society of Christian Service reported receipts for October, 1942 of $2.82 with disbursements of $1.00 for New Guides. This figure may be misleading, however, as it may be for only one unit. There were five or six different units. In addition, there was a note at the bottom of the page that Mrs. Baumgartner received $3 from Mrs. Guss and $2 from Mrs. Jones to send four boxes to our men in the service. The amount for boxes, cards, and postage was $4.56 or roughly $71 in today’s money. What we have from these ladies is only the financial report. It would be nice to know what goodies they included in the boxes and the names of the four young men who would receive the boxes, and where they were stationed.
Our country and our church family were only about ten months into World War II. It had been impacting our community since September of 1939, however, when Girard residents Arthur Fisher, a young teenager, and his mother were coming home from a summer vacation in England on The Athenia. This ship had the dubious distinction of being the first passenger ship torpedoed by the Germans in World War II. Arthur’s mother was rescued; Arthur was lost at sea. Along with all Americans, our church family watched unfolding events with feelings ranging from growing unease to increasing horror. Then, on December 7th1941, we weren’t watching anymore; we were in. Now we know that by September of ’42, we had at least 4 boys from our church serving our country. With the draft ever escalating, we know many more would join them. The early war news was generally bad. The Philippines had fallen although Gen. Douglas MacArthur, his family and key members of his staff had been smuggled out by PT boat to safety in Australia. German submarines operated off the Atlantic Coast with seeming impunity, picking off ships from convoys, 6 here, 4 here, 2 or 3 here or there. They were even picking off ships in the Gulf of St Lawrence and in the Gulf of Mexico. The Japanese had invaded some of our Alaska islands. Now, in September, a Japanese float-plane had dropped incendiary bombs near Brookings, Oregon. This was the first bombing of the continental United States. As I said earlier, there is little in our Archives that tells us the thoughts and fears of our church family at that difficult time. We can only imagine how we would have felt had we been there, mothers and fathers of young men and women of age to fight for our country. Most of us who lived through the war were just kids at that time. We can remember practice blackouts, neighborhood air raid wardens, our moms writing letters to cousins or uncles, our dads working overtime, saving our tin cans for scrap drives, rationing cards for sugar and shortages of meat.
With that said, we will leave our church family in September of 1942, seventy-five years ago.