We left our church family in December of 1943, doing whatever they could to help the War effort, including buying War Bonds, collecting scrap metal and paper, enduring rationing of almost all necessities, and praying for their family members and friends in the armed services fighting for our country.
On New Year’s Eve, they might well have listened to Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians on the radio, broadcasting live from New York City’s Roosevelt Grill in the Roosevelt Hotel. His Auld Lang Syne was always the first song to be played after the stroke of midnight, and maybe it still is in Times Square. Its message of remembering old friends, and taking a cup of kindness seems like a good way to begin a new year, both 75 years ago and right now.
New Year’s Day fell on a Saturday in 1944, so the next day was the first Sunday worship in the New Year. We only have the Sunday School attendance, and it was down considerably from the Sunday before Christmas attendance of 308. At 233 though, it was more than the attendance of the last Sunday in the year 1943, which was only 181.
The following Tuesday, Unit 3 of the Philathea Class met at the home of Mrs. Raymond Miller at 637 E. Kline St. A luncheon was served after the meeting. The next meeting would be at the home of Mrs. Hazel Rees on Forsythe St.
A new Bond Drive of E Series Bonds was launched beginning in January. Girard’s quota for this drive was set at $500,000.
Remember that in last month’s Glance, D. J. Rees was alone in his bank in mid-December, when three men walked in, forced him into the basement and locked the door, and then escaped with over $1,000 cash completely unnoticed by anyone in our town. They apparently got into their car and drove away.
Now, in the January 14th edition of The Girard News, came the welcome news that the bank robbers had been caught in Akron. They had both escaped from the Moundsville, West Virginia State Penitentiary back in October. Their names were William Spencer, 39, of Massillon, Ohio and Ellwood V, McClure, 39, of Charleston, West Virginia. These guys sound like they were professional thieves, and Mr. Rees was probably fortunate to escape any harm during the robbery.
Also in that same issue of the News, was an ad for a subscription to the Girard News. There was a photo of a young man in Naval attire with the caption, “Harry D. Humble Receives The Girard News Every Week. Does your boy?” There was a coupon to be filled out with the service information. Cost was only $1.50 per year, in Advance.
And, finally, in the same issue: “June Evans is the lovely Bride of Sergeant John Kielb, married in the Church Parsonage at 4 PM, Friday, Jan. 7th, by Rev. Arthur Maly. Sgt. Kielb has returned to Camp Reynolds and Mrs. Kielb has resumed her work at the offices of the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corp.”
Readers of this history blog will remember how, in reporting on our church during the decade of the thirties, there were many times when the minister and other staff members were paid whenever funds became available, often weeks after they were due. The indebtedness of the church had originally been $50,000. It simply could not make the payments as required after the stock market crash of 1929, and the Great Depression which followed. The church was saved from foreclosure by the fact that it was a church, and there was absolutely no market for a church in the Depression. Still the Trustees felt the moral responsibility of reducing their debt, and so they announced in the News Edition of January 22nd, that a drive to reduce the debt of the Methodist Church would be conducted during the month of February. I. R. Howells, Chairman of the Trustees, asked that church members purchase a War Bond in the Church’s name during the first two weeks of the month. Then, during the last two weeks the Trustees would also solicit cash and subscription pledges. This would be a good time to have the congregation work on the debt of the building constructed about fifteen years ago. Many members who made pledges to help pay for the new building had lost their jobs, or found their pay reduced drastically during the 1930’s. Now, however, because of the war, there was full employment, and wages were rising. So, the Trustees were making a realistic proposal to get the congregation back on the path of paying the debt incurred when our beautiful church was constructed.
Meanwhile, in World War II during the month of January, in Europe, our men were working their way north through Italy. They would become bogged down in Anzio for months. In the Pacific, the war became one of island hopping, attacking islands held by the Japanese to enable the U S forces to control the Pacific Ocean, always moving toward Japan. In the end of January they began moving on the Marshall Islands. As noted before, our church family and just about everyone in the US, got their information about the war from newsreels, radio newscasts, and their daily newspaper.
January, 1944 – our church family, our town and our country - in the midst of World War II.