July 4th came on a Thursday in 1940. The News, which was published the next day (always on Friday), reported that Girard would have its first Annual Fourth of July celebration that weekend in Liberty Park. It also announced that the results for the City of Girard from the Census Bureau showed that Girard had actually lost a few people from the count in 1930. Girard’s 1940 population was 9,809, down from 9,859 in 1930. The next week’s edition of the News said that about 3,000 people attended that First Annual Fourth of July celebration in Liberty Park. That’s almost one third of the entire population of Girard. Not bad!
On the 10th of July, a Wednesday evening, the Friendly Class held its summer picnic, also in Liberty Park. Seventy members attended. Wilden J Moore was elected Class President for the coming year, Glen Woods Vice-President, and Mrs. Edward Clark Secretary-Treasurer. That same day, in Europe, the Battle of Britain began. France had surrendered to Germany in mid-June. Now the Germans turned their attention to England with massive bombing raids. On the14th of July in a worldwide broadcast, Prime Minister Winston Churchill vowed that Great Britain would fight alone against Germany no matter what the outcome, stating, “We shall seek no terms. We shall tolerate no parley. We may show mercy. We shall ask none.” On the 15th of July, the Democratic Convention began. (1940 was a Presidential Election year.) The Democrats nominated Franklin Roosevelt their Presidential Nominee for an unprecedented third term. The following Sunday, July 21st, Rev. Hilberry tried to give some guidance to his anxious congregation. His sermon title: “Christ and The World Crisis”.
Of course, Girard folks didn’t just sit by the radio all day listening to the news. Our people were much involved in the usual summer activities, along with working, shopping, cleaning house and yard work, washing clothes, and cooking dinner every night. Sports were always important in the summer. Baseball fans followed the Cleveland Indians on the radio , most afternoons or evenings. There were also visits by nationally known entertainers. In 1940 in the month of July: in Girard, the movie cowboy, Tom Mix and his horse, Tony, came to the New Mock theatre; and Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played at the Idora Park Ballroom in Youngstown. In 1940, I was too young to know if my Mom and Dad attended that year, but several years later, I remember they always went dancing when Guy Lombardo came to town. My brother, John, and I would have a sitter for the evening while our parents put on their best dress clothes and were gone, returning after we were in bed. This only happened once a year; our parents were not party people. But Guy Lombardo was very special to them. He would always play to a sell-out crowd. Also, a few weeks before, Duke Ellington had come to the Lake Milton Dog Track to entertain with his world famous orchestra. And of course, our church family held picnics, the youth as well as the adults. On the Friday the 26th, the Epworth League held an ice cream social on the church lawn.
But, always, the ominous war news intruded. Congress was considering a bill to require all men of a certain age to register for a draft. The News headline of the July 28th issue read “Girard’s Quota Would Be 425”. That was the number of men that the current version of the bill would require to be conscripted into the armed forces from the city of Girard. The bill would pass and be signed in September, with the numbers changing with world conditions. Being drafted would be a life changing experience for many Girard men, including, of course, those in our church family. Even with the United States a neutral country, this war was going to impact people’s lives.
On the last Sunday of July, Rev. Hilberry’s sermon topic was “The Violent”. On that note we will take leave of our church family in July of 1940 – seventy-five years ago in our church, in our town, and in our country.