We left our church family in June of 1943, getting used to the various changes in the rationing laws, and pondering the news that the famous actor Leslie Howard, traveling on a passenger plane for a routine flight, had died. along with everyone else aboard, after being attacked and shot down by German planes.
The Fourth of July came on a Sunday in 1943. Sunday School attendance was somewhat lower than usual, possibly because of the holiday, or because of the weather, which was “very rainy”. A Civilian Defense Parade and program had also been planned for that day, for 6 PM. It was postponed, however, because of the rain. Meanwhile, our church family members of the Friendly Class held their summer picnic at Liberty Park on Tuesday evening, July 13th. Eighty-three people attended. Then, on Wednesday. July 14th, the postponed July 4th Parade and Civilian Defense Demonstration was held, again at 6 PM. The parade formed up at the intersections of Wilson and State, and Second and State. It began at the intersection of Liberty and State, proceeded north on State St to Churchill, then east on Churchill to Ward Ave, then south on Ward to Liberty St, then north to Highland, then south to the Stadium, where all were seated to watch a Civilian Defense Demonstration, followed by fireworks. The fireworks were sponsored by the Girard Businessmen’s Association.
On Wednesday, July 28th, the Women’s Society of Christian Service of our church also held their summer picnic at the home of Mrs. Harry Blair of East Prospect Street at 12:30 PM.
The Chamber of Commerce and the Businessmen’s Association would soon sponsor another War Bond drive. Remember, back in April, Girard families purchased over $400,000 in War Bonds. Now, in mid-July, they announced a new bond drive of $175,000, the amount needed to pay for a B-25 Bomber, which would be named the “City of Girard”. The Bond Drive wouldrun through 4 weeks from late July through August. To kick it off, a Bond Rally was held on West Liberty Street in the block between State Street and Market Street. Traffic was banned on that block during the event, which was held on Thursday evening, July 29th. The main speaker was Lt. William Crawford, from Niles, local hero of the Battle of Bismarck Sea. He gave a rousing speech which inspired many people to purchase War Bonds.
As our church family and all of Girard closely watched the news of the War, the month of July marked a turning point. Allied troops turned their attention away from Africa to Europe. On July 10th they began invading Sicily. In the northern part of Europe, beginning on July 24th, the Allies began bombing Hamburg, Germany. The British and Canadians would bomb by night; the Americans would bomb by day. By the time this operation would be concluded in November, 9,000 tons of explosives will have killed 42,000 people, and destroyed most of the city.
With that we will leave our church family in July of 1943. News of the war was beginning to look more optimistic than in the prior year. However, almost everyone had family or friends in the military, so everyone felt anxious for their safety. Here it felt safe and normal, but a glance at the headlines, the news on the radio, and the newsreels at the movies showed how awful it was. July of 1943 – 75 years ago in our church, our town, and our country.