We left our church family in November of 1943, enjoying their Thanksgiving dinners, many with an empty chair at the table because so many families had sons, fathers, or brothers in the armed forces, fighting in the Pacific Ocean or islands or in Europe, in Italy at this point in 1943.
However, before we get into December activities, the first edition of the Girard News in the month of December, reported on a lovely surprise party held at our church on the Monday before Thanksgiving. Miss Edith Howells, who had taught for 30 years in the Philathea, Alethea and Wesleyan Classes of the church, thought she was merely attending a Sunday School meeting. Instead she found herself the Guest of Honor at a Tea and Program that had been put together in secret by her class members. She was also given a gift of jewelry.
Now on to the news of December, 1943: You will remember that back in the August, 1943 history, the folks of the City of Girard were trying to raise the huge amount of $175,000 to purchase a B-25 Bomber, which would be named “The City of Girard”. This was in addition to their usual quota of War Bond purchases. But, at the conclusion of their August fund raising drive, they were still $13,000 short of their goal. There was no story in the News stating that the goal had been reached . . . until now, in the December 13th Edition of the Girard News was a huge Headline: “City of Girard, Ohio” Now In Combat.
There was also a photo of a B-25 Mitchell Bomber beneath the headline. The News went on to report that the majority of the money had been raised during those two large rallies back in the summer, and that the remaining $13,000 was made by some individual donors who helped the City meet its goal. So, somewhere out there, in the awful skies over World War II, was a bomber with the name of “The City of Girard”. I can just imagine how proud everyone was to have a bomber named after our own town. I wonder if, when the Moms, Dads, and Wives and Children of Girard’s men at war were praying for their safety, if they also included the men flying bombing raids in “The City of Girard”? Maybe some of our members into their nineties can remember those prayers.
The December 17th Edition of the Girard News certainly commanded attention: “GUNMEN Rob Bank In Daytime Holdup”. D. J. Rees was alone in the Bank when the three men walked in. They forced him into the basement and locked him in. Then they left with over $1,000 and got into their car and drove away. No one outside apparently noticed the men or what kind of car they drove. They attracted no attention. Police Chief Flory called in the FBI from their Youngstown office to help with the investigation. To Be Continued. . .
Meanwhile, Christmas was coming. Christmas Day fell on a Saturday in 1943. There is nothing that I can find about a Christmas Eve service. I don’t believe they were as popular then as they are now. The Sunday before Christmas was the 19th, and that was the special Christmas Service.. We have the Sunday School attendance books for this era. That Sunday’s attendance was 308 scholars and teachers. The Sunday School Secretary noted that the weather was a little warmer after being very cold the prior week. She also reported that she and Betty were preparing boxes of candy for the church party. That might have referred to the evening service when there would be a Young People’s Concert. The morning Church Service consisted of a “program to be presented in a form of a service depicting the Nativity of Jesus. Christmas Music by the Church Choir will be a part of the Service.”
With that, we will leave our Church Family in December of 1943, enjoying their Christmas as much as they could, while praying for those family members in the war. - Seventy-five years ago in our Church and in our Town.