We left our church family in April of 1943 celebrating a very late Easter Service on April 25th, the latest possible date on which it could occur. The following Friday, the April 30th edition of the Girard News, in the “Church Notes” section of the paper, Rev. Maly offered a thank you for the excellent church attendance and a challenge: “We had an excellent attendance last Sunday. Try to keep up the good work. Now that we are started, let us have a fine turnout for the services this Sunday.” As I closed last month’s report on our church family 75 years ago, I observed that to ask for Easter attendance on every Sunday was a bit much. At the time I was writing that, I did not know what the attendance was, because we simply do not have that information in our Archives. However, in preparing for this month’s Glance, I found the actual attendance number in the notes for the Official Board for May 6th meeting at the Church. In his report to the Board, Rev. Maly noted that the Easter attendance had been 505 people! That is a large turnout indeed. I then decided to check the Sunday School attendance for Easter, as we have Sunday School numbers for quite a few years, recorded in brown bound volumes called “The Hammond Record Book”. There were four Sundays in April of 1943. Easter, falling at the absolute latest date of April 25th, was the fourth Sunday of the month. Here are the attendance numbers for the Sundays: 327, 325, 335, and 382. Easter’s attendance at the Sunday School level was up by more than 50 pupils.
As a little side note about life of our church family seventy-five years ago in 1943 - our church had no church secretary. Thus, most of our church records from that time are hand-written, usually in pencil. It was the Pastor’s responsibility to send out any information which would be published in the Girard News “Church Notes”. Thus, the thank you and challenge Rev. Maly issued was personally written and sent in by him. In that Friday, April 30th issue, Rev. Maly also noted that “Dr. Wolff from the Berea Children’s Home will be the Preacher of the morning.” As I prepared for this May history, I checked the “Church Notes” from the entire month of May and also of June. That same message appeared for our church in the weekly newspaper. For two solid months people consulting the paper would assume that Dr. Wolff would be preaching at the morning service! Apparently this part of the News was not consulted frequently by Rev. Maly. He probably just forgot about changing it. He really could have used the services of Ethel Weaver who would become our first Secretary sometime later in our church history. It is hard to believe that we did without a Secretary for so long! Apparently we did without a telephone, too. In the entire list of expenditures for the month of May, 1943, there is electric - $10.74, gas - $6.51, and coal - $79.41, but none for a telephone!
During the War years, the Girard News was printing a lot of information about Girard young men in various branches of the Services. For example, in the May 7th issue, the News reported that “Three Demas Brothers Serving in US Forces: Jimmie Demas S-2C in the Navy, joined in September of 1942, Pfc. Becky Demas joined the Army in December, 1942, and Carl Demas, S-2C joined the Navy in December 1942.”
The war news that our church family was hearing on their radios and watching at the movie newsreels was beginning to get better. In North Africa our troops, along with our Allies, had recorded some significant victories against the Germans and the Italians. On May 13 the German and Italian troops surrendered to the Allied forces. The news would start shifting to the European theatre. On May 16 and 17, the RAF used “bouncing bombs” to breach dams in Germany’s industrial Ruhr Valley. And, on May 29th, those members of our church family who subscribed to the Saturday Evening Post would be greeted by a Norman Rockwell cover portrait of “Rosie the Riveter”.
On this happier war note, we will leave our church family, our town and our country, seventy-five years ago in the middle of World War II, the month of May 1943.