We left our church family last month, busy with the usual back to school activities, trying to maintain a sense of normality while reading, or hearing on the radio, news of war, most of it bad. The entire year of 1942 would be filled with bad news, as our country scrambled to adjust from peacetime to war, hurriedly calling up men to serve, training them quickly, and dispatching them to distant islands where they found the Japanese soldiers to be veterans, well trained and well equipped. Girard’s population was just short of ten thousand in 1942. If you counted Avon Park which is now part of Girard, with its 200 people, we were just over 10,000. We were not large enough to support a daily paper. Most Girard families probably subscribed to the Vindicator, but much of Girard news came from the weekly newspaper, published every Friday, called the Girard News. It was not free as many weekly papers are today. People subscribed to it, and many young boys and girls of school age had paper routes for it every Friday afternoon. It can be found, free, today, on microfilm at Girard Free Library, and I often peruse it to supplement our church archives. On the first Friday of October, 1942, the News headline read “Local Board Inducts 87 From Girard”. That was 87 more men plus the many inducted in previous months.
If you read my blog from last month, you will remember that I wrote of Mrs. Powers” report mentioned in the minutes of the Official Board that was partly illegible (handwritten in pencil 75 years ago) about what appeared to be the word “change”. The meaning immediately became clear when I read the “Church Notes” section of that same issue of the News. Under the heading “Girard Methodist Episcopal” was the following: “United Service 9:30 – 11:00, Morning Worship 9:30 – 10:15, Sunday School 10:15 – 11:00.” Now, that was a radical change. Not only were they switching around the times for church and Sunday school, but they were also shortening them to 45 minutes each. Sunday morning services would be finished by 11 AM, an hour earlier than before. I quickly checked the “Church Notes” of all the News issues of that month. They all said the same thing. When I got home from the Library I turned to our archives – especially the notes of the Official Board for the month of October, 1942. They met on Thursday evening, October 1st.
Among other business I found the following: “Motion by Mr. Crider, seconded by Mrs. Powers, that the Official Board is on record of changing the Sunday Services as follows: From 9:30 to 10:30 Worship Service; from 10:30 to 11:30 Sunday School. Motion carried.” There it was plainly written at last, still in 75 year old pencil. They were switching around the times for the worship service and the Sunday school. Apparently, the News was mistaken about the 45 minute part. The time on Sunday morning was reduced by ½ hour, ending at 11:30 rather than 12 noon. There was no explanation on the minutes for the change. Was it a wartime effort to cut down on the use of coal to heat the church? The transition time between Worship and Sunday School was eliminated. Perhaps they felt that if the old order of Worship following Sunday School was followed, the Worship service would either have to start later when everyone got to the Sanctuary from Sunday School, or they could start on time and many people would be late. By having Worship first, it could start and finish on time, and the Sunday School classes, consisting of many small units, could better deal with the loss of time during the change from Sanctuary to classroom. That is only a complete guess on my part. Maybe it had nothing to do with the war. Maybe they just wanted to try it that way. I have no idea. We’ll just have to let it be a mystery.
Another article in the News called “This Week On The Home Front” had suggestions for dressing children for school when the government recommended indoor high temperature was 65 degrees. The recommendation was corduroy pants for the boys, corduroy skirts for the girls, and warm long sleeved underwear under long sleeved shirts or blouses.
Meanwhile the news our church families heard or read about was continuing grim. Our Atlantic convoys of ships carrying supplies were regularly attacked by German U-boats (submarines), with many ships sunk and crew members lost. On October 13th, the U-Boats attacked convoy SC 104, and sunk seven ships. The next day, a U-Boat attacked and sunk a civilian ferry boat, the S S Caribou off Newfoundland, killing 137 people. On October 30, 1942, a diversionary convoy SL 125 was attacked heavily by the German U-Boats, sinking eleven ships. However, the troopships carrying our soldiers for Operation Torch invasion forces were untouched.
With that we will leave our church family in October of 1942, carrying on their home front duties as best they could, hoping and praying, that the wartime news would somehow get better as more and more men joined in the fight against the German and Japanese militaries.