We left our church family and our Girard friends in late January of 1945, receiving news of casualties almost daily, most from the European Theatre of the war, from the Battle of the Bulge although the Pacific Theatre also sent bad news to some families as the sailors there were regularly encountering kamikaze bombers. Yet, for all the fighting and dying, life went on. President Roosevelt had been inaugurated on January 20th to his 4th Presidential Term. No other President before had been elected that many times, and none ever will, thanks to the 22nd Amendment.
Now, in February, in addition to the rationing, the scrap drives, the paper drives, and the bond drives, Girard was faced with a shortage of coal. COAL? Yes, until well after the war, most people heated their homes with coal. Girard folks were serviced by 5 local coal dealers. Four of these had no coal at all. The fifth one had 20 tons on hand. The “Critical Coal Situation” was headlined in the February 2nd edition of The Girard News, Girard’s weekly newspaper, delivered every Friday. The coal crisis must have been temporary, as later issues of the News never mentioned it. Of more immediate concern was that two local boys had been injured in France, and were recovering in England. One other boy had been seriously wounded in Belgium. The next issue of the News, on February 9th, had bad news, indeed. One Girard boy had been killed in Germany, two in Belgium, while two were wounded, one in Germany and one in Belgium. Thankfully, the rest of the News issues for the month of February were without reports of death or injury of our fighting men.
Meanwhile, our church family continued to worship regularly and the ladies of our church were engaged in their monthly meetings of their little groups. The WSCS (Women’s Society of Christian Service) had at least three groups. The Feb. 2nd edition of the News reported that Group 3 had met on Monday evening, Jan. 29th, at the home of Mrs. Charles Wormer at 236 E. Kline St for election of officers. Mrs. Elmer Long was elected President. 20 members attended. Also, Group 4 of the WSCS met on Thursday evening, Feb. 15th at the home of Mrs. E. E. Heinzman of St. Clair Avenue. Their next meeting would be on March 8th at the home of Mrs. Cletus Phillips of Hazel St. That meeting would feature a covered Dish Dinner. And on Friday evening, February 16th, the Wesleyan Class met for their monthly meeting at the home of Mrs. E. O. Hood, of East Prospect. Twenty-one members were present. In addition to the ladies’ meetings, the February 16th issue of the Girard News announced the newly organized Church Basketball League which would play on Tuesday nights at the City Gym. The games would occur at 7 PM, 8PM and 9 PM. The first would be on Tuesday, the 20th, and the games would be as follows: 7 PM St Rose vs the Lutheran Church, 8 PM Christian Church vs Methodist Church, and 9 PM Baptist Church vs Presbyterian Church. Of course, our church held our regular Sunday morning Sunday School and Morning Worship, with an attendance of approximately 200 people each week. And our youth groups met regularly on Sunday evenings.
Also, in February of 1945, our town took on a new Red Cross Drive to raise $12,500 for our local Red Cross. Remember that our town had just finished a bond drive in January where they met 125% of their goal of $535,000. I am constantly amazed at our town’s record of support for our country in World War II. From December 7th of 1941 our town, indeed our country - everyone worked together to defeat our enemies. In doing so, we would later emerge as the strongest industrial nation in the world.
That was life in our church, in our town, and in our country – 75 years ago – February, 1945.