Monday, December 28, 2015

50. The Legendary Coach Forney and Basketball in 1946

In January of 1946, George Forney returned to Gettysburg High School, after serving in the Navy during World War II. He immediately reassumed his duties coaching the basketball team which finished the season winning seventeen games and losing only three.

In 1946, basketball was a very different game than fans watch today. First, we dressed differently. We wore black high top sneakers, belted short shorts, sleeveless jerseys tucked into our shorts and black leather kneepads which no one wears today. 

The free throw lane, or key, was only six feet wide in 1946. There was no three point shooting, and there was no shot clock which meant a team could freeze the ball forever. The result was a game which emphasized defense more than teams do today. 

When George Forney returned as coach in January of 1946, his team averaged 41 points a game and their opponents averaged only 29! In a conference game that season Gettysburg beat Waynesboro 45 to 6 which suggests that Waynesboro didn’t score a goal in at least one period.

The freewheeling style of basketball we know as “run and gun” was never practiced while Nancy and I were at Gettysburg High School.

George Forney coached football, basketball and track at Gettysburg until his retirement in 1973. He is  a member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, and the current gymnasium at the high school bears his name. He died in 1993 at the age of 95.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

49. Christmas in Gettysburg in 1945

Christmas, 1945 was a very special time for millions of people in our Country. World War II was over, and those who had served in the armed forces here or overseas were welcomed home. For some, it had been three years or more since loved ones were together at Christmas.

Bing Crosby sang the most popular song in December, 1945, and it expressed the sentiment of many when he sang, 
“Kiss me once and kiss me twice, and kiss me once again. It’s been a long, long time.”
I was in the Marine Corps from 1952 until 1955, and during that time, Nancy and I spent every Christmas apart. It was a painful experience, but my life was never threatened like those who served during the war.

Nancy’s uncle who served as a chaplain in Italy and Germany, was discharged in August of 1945, and my Dad, who was a Seabee, was discharged in December of  that year. It was a very happy Christmas for both families.

While millions of Americans celebrated the Holidays with loved ones when World War II ended, there were others mourning the loss of  loved ones who never came home. Many would return, not as they left, but with serious injuries suffered in service of our Country. 

Nancy and I continue to observe Christmas in Gettysburg as participants in the National Wreath Project sponsored by the Sgt. Mac Organization. Each December we help decorate Christmas wreaths and place them on the graves in the National Cemetery. Members of the family we dreamed about when we fell in love in the Forties join us for this memorable experience.

Monday, December 7, 2015

48. Remembering Pleasant Aromas

Several students from Dr. Michael Birkner’s Historical Methods course at Gettysburg College have asked Nancy and me about our memories of specific streets in our home town in 1945. Responding to these requests has brought to mind places we haven’t thought about since we left Gettysburg as a married couple sixty-two years ago.

One location is Ernie's Texas Lunch on Chambersburg Street between the Lutheran Church and Washington Street.  With a menu that reminds guests of a diner from the Thirties, Ernie’s features old favorites like chili cheese fries, onion rings and classic hot dogs including chili dogs and one with everything.  

If you were blindfolded while walking on Chambersburg Street, you could find Ernie's Texas Lunch from the distinctive smell of onions, peppers and hot dogs cooking on the grill in the front window.

And if you crossed to the south side of the street, there was another business you could find with your nose before you saw it. A roasted peanut machine stood  in front of George’s shoe shine parlor and shoe repair business, and for a couple of pennies, you could buy a small bag of roasted peanuts in their shells. The aroma of those hot roasted peanuts could be recognized up and down the block.

One more place we remember where the aroma was exhilarating was Henning’s Bakery in the first block of York Street. It was the wonderful scent of warm bread that stimulated the senses and made the place so memorable.

I hope our comments about places we remember in 1945 are helping the Gettysburg students with their history assignment. It certainly has been fun for us to recall the charm of those businesses mentioned above.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

47. No Television in 1945 But We Were Entertained

According to a website titled The History of Film, Television and Video, there were fewer than 7,000 working TV sets in the country in 1945. If there were any TVs in Gettysburg in 1945 when we were growing up there, neither Nancy or I knew about it. 

The first TV we remember was in the window of Baker’s Battery Service on Baltimore Street which was one of the first stores to sell TVs in Gettysburg. Because there were only nine stations on the air in 1945, and the closest was in Philadelphia, we doubt if there was a TV in Baker’s window at that time.

In 1945 we found our entertainment in school activities, listening to music on the radio and records and going to the movies. It was not unusual to attend two movies a week, and each show included a cartoon and a newsreel as well as the feature film.

The Academy Award for the best film of 1945 was Lost Weekend, the story about an alcoholic writer on a four-day bender. Our favorite that year was Anchors Aweigh, a musical comedy starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. Both movies are available on YouTube.

Nancy’s diaries reveal that she often listened to Your Hit Parade, a radio program that aired on Saturday nights. The popular program, sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarettes, played the most popular songs from the previous week. The two most popular songs in 1945, remained at number one for nine weeks. They were Till the End of Time by Perry Como and Sentimental Journey by Les Brown.  

Despite the lack of TV in 1945, we were always entertained.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

46. 1945 Football and Returning Veterans

The Gettysburg High School football team in 1945 ended their season in the middle of November with a 32-13 loss to Mechanicsburg. In seven straight losses, the team was outscored by a total of 155 points. In three consecutive seasons, the varsity football team won only one game. Students and all football fans in Gettysburg were hungry for a win.

On December 6, the Gettysburg Times reported absences in the Gettysburg Schools of more than 25 per cent. The wave of illnesses was the result of grippe and colds. Today, we call the “grippe” influenza.

With the end of World War II in 1945, our veterans were returning home in large numbers. On December 6, for example, ten countians were discharged from Indiantown Gap, the U.S. Army Post northeast of Harrisburg.

Sterrett “Duke” Dorsey, who left  the Class of 1946 before graduation, did not come home to finish his degree. He died on December 3, 1945 of injuries sustained while serving in the Navy in the South Pacific. Twenty-five other graduates and former students of Gettysburg High School made the supreme sacrifice for their country in WWII.

Many of those who did return home after the war attended college on the GI Bill which paid for veterans’ tuition and living expenses. The Gettysburg College basketball team boasted eight veterans playing during the 1945-46 season.  Under coach Hen Bream, the team won seventy-five percent of their games and set a new gym scoring record against LaSalle winning 79-34.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

45. Dad Westerdahl’s Tour of Discovery

Back in the Forties, if you wanted to tour the site of the 1863 battle at Gettysburg, you could find a uniformed, licensed guide on the village square. When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties, Dad Westerdahl often took our family visitors on a very unique Battlefield tour. Dad’s trip covered the same sites as the licensed guides, but he added a few additional  stops that weren’t provided by an office guide.

For example, on a stone bridge over Plum Run on South Confederate Ave there are three dinosaur footprints which were always part of Dad’s tours. The one pictured here was made by anchisauripus sillimani, a lion sized meat eater that walked on two legs and roamed Pennsylvania 200 million years ago.

Another stop on Dad’s tours, was a sulphur spring southwest of Gettysburg on or near the Water Works Rd. Sulphur water smells like rotten eggs, and it was a particular feature of York Sulphur Springs, the first summer resort in Adams County where George and Martha Washington came to bathe in their curative water.  

Dad’s “Tour of Discovery” often included a trip to Brooke Avenue on the Battlefield near Plum Run where a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers might be seen and heard in the forest there.

A tour in the spring of the year was sure to include visits west of Gettysburg to view huge fields of daffodils and another stop off Rt 15 south where a large wooded area was covered with blue grape hyacinths.

Dad’s unique and unforgettable tours often ended at dusk with a visit to a field off the Taneytown Road check out a herd of deer might be seen feeding on the new grass at the edge of the woods. 

Licensed guides charged a fee for their tours. Dad’s tours were free.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

44. The Forties Look at Gettysburg High School

When Nancy and I were freshmen at Gettysburg High School in 1945, did we look any different than the students entering high school seventy years later in 2015? A check of our 1945-46 yearbook and a trip down memory lane reveals there were definitely differences. 

For example, no one wore blue jeans in 1945.  During WWII, blue jeans were declared an essential commodity and were only sold to people who worked in the war industry. Jeans didn’t become popular with teens until the Fifties.

In our 1945-46 yearbook, most of the girls are pictured wearing white sox and loafers. It was the traditional footwear for that time, and it resulted in the name bobbysoxer.  Bobbysoxers had the reputation of screaming and swooning when they attended a concert by a heartthrob like Frank Sinatra.  The yearbook photos also show girls in blouses and knee length skirts. Slacks were never worn to school in the Forties. 

The only shoes the boys wore that were different were clodhoppers, large, heavy boots that a few of the boldest guys painted with names of girls, sports teams or movie stars. No one wore sneakers. They were for gym class only.

We don’t remember boys wearing shoulder length hair, pony tails, beards or mustaches. Moms and coaches would have objected. Some of us had crew cuts or flat tops. I got my haircut every two weeks at the Varsity Barber Shop on Baltimore Street where the conversation was typically about high school, college and professional sports.

Finally, low cut blouses, T shirts and clothes made from an American flag were never seen in the halls or classrooms of GHS. Shorts were only worn for gym class.

Gettysburg High School freshmen may have dressed differently than they do in 2015, but inside we were the same, anxious about our place in our new school and uncertain about the future.

Monday, November 2, 2015

43. Novelty Songs from the Twenties and Forties

When I was growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties, my parents had a Victor phonograph that was in my grandparents house when my Mother was growing up in York, Pennsylvania in the Twenties. The wind up non-electronic acoustical record player held dozens of 78 records which I  played over and over because they were so entertaining.

Some of my favorites from the Twenties were the novelty songs like Crazy Words, Crazy Tune and Don't Bring Lulu.  Readers can find both these and many other songs of the Twenties on uTube.

When Nancy and I grew up in Gettysburg in the Forties, we enjoyed a number of novelty songs, sometimes called nonsense songs. Here are a sample of the lyrics to several which became big hits in the Forties.

One song we remember best was Mairzy Doats, which first made the pop charts in 1944 but was featured in movies and television as late as 2000. 

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?
Yes! Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?

Chickery Chick by Sammy Kaye was number one in 1945. I don’t remember jitterbugging to the song. Mostly, we just got a kick out of singing the silly lyrics:
Once there lived a chicken who would say "Chick-chick""Chick-chick" all day
Soon that chick got sick and tired of just "Chick-chick"
So one morning he started to say:
"Chickery chick, cha-la, cha-la Check-a-la romey in a bananika
Bollika, wollika, can't you see Chickery chick is me?”

The Hut Sut song was supposed to be Swedish. It isn’t

Hut-Sut Rawlson on the Rillerah and a brawla, brawla sooit,
Hut-Sut Rawlson on the Rillerah and a brawla sooit.
Hut-Sut Rawlson on the Rllerah and a brawla, brawla sooit,
Hut-Sut Rawlson on the Rillerah and a brawla sooit.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

42. Gettysburg Is Still the Small Town We Remember

Nancy and I entered Gettysburg High School in the fall of 1945 when an article in the local paper reported that approximately 16,000 people visited the National Military Park the preceding year.  By the time we graduated in 1949, the number of visitors increased to  over 43,000, and in 2012,  the Gettysburg / Adams County Chamber of Commerce reported that 1.2 million people toured the historic site.

While visitors to the Park increased dramatically over the years, the number of residents in the borough has not. When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg the population of the town was 7,000. Today, it is 7,600.  

The reason the town doesn’t grow is because it is surrounded by the Battlefield. The fields and hills where rivers of blood ran freely in 1863 prevent the growth of the town we remember when we growing up.

Today, there are more tourist shops and restaurants, and the high school and athletic fields where we competed are gone, but many of the streets  we travelled are virtually the same. Of course, the Battlefield with a few exceptions is also the same. We hope it will always endure as a shrine to the brave men who fought and died there.

There are also ghosts in Gettysburg now. We don’t remember ghosts in the Forties. We suspect they were always there. They just needed someone to look for them, find them and promote them.         

Sunday, October 18, 2015

41. Gettysburg High School Sports

I played in my first game of football at Gettysburg High School in October of 1945. I didn’t start in that game against the Carlisle jayvees, but I came in as a sub and blocked two extra point attempts. That earned a mention in the Gettysburg Times and a starting position for the rest of the season and the rest of my football career in high school and college.

In 1945, Gettysburg High School was a member of the South Penn Conference for football, basketball, baseball and track. The other schools in the Conference were Carlisle, Chambersburg, Hanover, Hershey, Mechanicsburg, Shippensburg and Waynesboro. 

While Nancy and I were students at GHS, our teams were competitive in basketball typically winning more games than we lost. In our junior year, we lost to Chambersburg in the Conference Championship game. 

As we reported in previous posts, Nancy played intramural field hockey, basketball and volleyball, because unfortunately, there were no opportunities to compete against other high school teams at that time.

Basketball, when Nancy played, involved three girls on offense (forwards) and three on defense (guards) with a mid-court line neither group could cross. All players were only permitted two dribbles each time they handled the ball. Full court, five players basketball was adopted by girls in 1971.

Nancy and I are amazed at the level girls play basketball today, and I truly believe a good team now could beat almost any boys’ team I played on in high school. Given the size, speed and skills of some of the girls who play basketball now, we wouldn’t have an advantage in any area.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

40. Slang and Expressions from the Forties

When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties people used words and expressions we don’t hear much anymore. For example, when writing in her diary in 1947, Nancy described a boy in her class as “swell.”  I remember calling a cute girl as “a real dish,” and a classmate was quoted in the Maroon and White suggesting a boy was “hubba hubba.”

Does anyone “neck” any more?  That’s what Nancy and I did with our “kissers” in the Forties. 

Bud Abbot and Lou Costello were one of the most popular comedy teams of the Forties and Fifties, and if we enjoyed one of their thirty-six movies, we might have told others, “It was a gas.” meaning it was funny and we had a good time. We might also tell others that it “Cracked us up!”

Nancy and I are both descended from the Pennsylvania Dutch, and if one of us visited Grandma, and her cookie jar was empty, she would never say, “The cookies are all gone.” To her,  the cookies were simply “all.” Our Grandmas also referred to paper bags as “pokes” or “toots” pronounced like the double oo in “foot.”  

If one of us got in trouble at Grandma’s house, she might scold us saying, “You daresn’t do that.” That rebuke was sometimes shortened to, “You “dasn’t do that.” If we thought we were scolded unfairly, we might think to ourselves, “Why is Grandma “raggin’ on me?” We would never actually say that to her.

Expressions of disbelief we haven’t heard for many years include “piffle,” “fiddlesticks,” “horse feathers” and  “poppycock.” Any one of those words from the past would describe most promises by our politicians in the present.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

39. Hangin’ Out after School in 1945

When Nancy and I were freshmen at Gettysburg High School in 1945, classes were over at 3:30. After school, Nancy often participated in interclass  competition in volleyball, basketball or field hockey. Unfortunately, seventy years ago, there were no interscholastic sports for high school girls.

On days when she had no games or other extra curricular activities, Nancy would leave school, and go “upstreet” with her girlfriends to Britcher and Bender, Fabers or the Delecto for an afternoon treat.

The most popular place to meet friends after school for treats was the Sweetland on the southeast corner of the square. Every afternoon and evening the booths at the Sweetland were filled with students enjoying sodas, sundaes or cherry cokes.  

On Saturday nights, the upperclass guys hung out in front of the Sweetland and watched the girls go by. The boys whistled and the girls giggled. 

I played Junior Varsity football as a freshman, so I had practice or games after school, but I still found time to join my friends on weekends.  

Varsity football during our freshman year was very discouraging. During the  two previous seasons, GHS won only one game, and in the fall of 1945, we lost the first two games by identical scores of 26 - 0. During the same period, our JV team won two of their first three games. There was hope for the future.

We have mentioned before that our teams in 1945-46 were called the Little Bullets, but that was only until our senior year when the Student Council proposed a school vote to change the name. From 1949 until today, teams at GHS have been the Warriors! Nancy and I still consider ourselves Warriors, but now we fight all the problems that go along with aging!

Friday, September 25, 2015

38. Slow Dancing and Jitterbugging in 1945-46

When Nancy and I were freshman at Gettysburg High School in 1945-46, one of our favorite activities was dancing with friends to the popular music of the day.

Music for dancing was available from several sources including the radio, the Teen Canteen on Baltimore Street, Woodlawn on the Chambersburg Road or school dances. If we had a favorite song we wanted to play over and over, we bought the 78rpm,10 inch record for seventy-five cents and played it on our personal record player.  

The most popular place to dance on a weekend or a holiday was the Teen Canteen where a juke box usually provided the music. On Labor Day in 1945, one hundred and seven teens showed up and danced to the music of the Junior Jivesters from Gettysburg High School.

Nancy and I danced often at the Teen Canteen, but not in our freshman year. We'll save those stories for another day.

When we started dating as juniors, one of our favorite places to dance was Woodlawn on the Chambersburg Road. A colorful jukebox was available with the most popular music of the day, and each song cost a nickel.

Our favorite bands when we were freshmen were Harry James, Les Brown and Woodie Hermann, and our favorite songs were Sentimental Journey for slow dancing and On the Atchison, Topeka & the Santa Fe for jitterbugging.The most popular novelty song was Chickery Chick.

Nancy and I don’t dance much any more, but we still listen to the music from our high school days on Big Band Jukebox on Live 365 and Forties on Four on Sirius Radio. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

37. Rationing in World War II

A report in the September 9, issue of the Gettysburg Times in 1945 announced that the end of World War II shoe rationing could end by October 1. The article reminded us that we have written about the rationing of food during the war, but haven’t mentioned more than a dozen other products that were controlled.

Shoes are almost as important to a military machine as food and weapons, and in World War II, the military had a great need for leather for shoes and combat boots.  Just two months after the War began, each civilian man, woman and child was limited to three pairs of leather shoes a year.

Two million trucks were manufactured during the War, and they all ran on rubber tires, the very first product to be rationed. The Japanese controlled the rubber producing regions of Southeast Asia, and we did not yet have adequate manufacturing capacity for making synthetic rubber.

To save wear on tires and improve mileage, a nationwide speed limit of 35 mph  was enforced on all highways during the War. The reduced speed saved wear  on our cars as well, an important consideration since no new cars were manufactured until after the war.

Nylon stockings weren’t rationed during the war. There weren’t any. All supplies of nylon were essential to the war effort for parachutes, ropes and netting. American female ingenuity met the challenge by carefully applying a makeup liquid that looked like stockings and finished it off with an eyebrow pencil  to resemble a seam.  Fake nylons only lasted until the real thing was once again available. Thank goodness! 

Nancy and I don’t remember any specific hardships growing up in Gettysburg during the War. Despite rationing, we had adequate food, clothing and shelter, and any inconveniences we experienced didn’t seem to bother us.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

36. Growing Up in Gettysburg: High School Football in 1945

The fall of 1945 was a time of great anticipation for many families in Gettysburg. World War II was over, and the men and women of Adams County who had served in the military were on their way home. Joyful reunions with loved ones who were apart, sometimes for years, were occurring all over the County that fall.

At Gettysburg High School, students were anticipating another football season. After winning only one game during the past two years, the team was making a fresh start under a new coach, Bill Ridinger, who had an enviable record at Columbia High School.

Those of us who were just beginning to compete in high school football were nervous and excited wondering how we would perform playing the game which in 1945, looked a bit different from what we watch today.
As a freshman, I played Junior Varsity football. We played in hand-me-down uniforms and equipment including unpainted leather helmets with no face guard. Matter of fact, I played football from 1945 through 1951 and never wore a face guard which was only available if you had a broken nose.

Our football jerseys were made of  wool, and the pants were  a canvas material that hung loosely on our legs. Our shoes were also hand-me-downs from the Varsity, often disfigured from many years of wear.

We played the game on a natural grass field.  I still remember the pleasant odor of newly mown grass on a chilly fall evening under the lights.  Sometimes after rain, we played in mud, and when a grass field was frozen, it was like playing on concrete. Artificial turf on a football field was unknown until 1966 when it was installed for the first time in the Astrodome in Houston

The game was different as well. I didn’t experience two-platoon football until I played in college in 1950. All through high school I played offense and defense, and substitutions were rare. Quarterback were trusted to call the plays and a no-huddle offense was unknown. Passing was limited.

Although the uniforms, fields and formations may have changed since 1945, the human element has not. Football is still a game played with passion, commitment, perseverance and enthusiasm by those who love it. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

35. Class Schedules, Sports and the Teen Canteen

On our first day as freshmen at Gettysburg High School in 1945, Nancy and I found our homerooms with no problem, but locating our classrooms for English, Algebra, Biology, Civics and Latin were a bit more difficult. Yes, we took Latin, and we were bored.  

When it was time to consider clubs and activities, Nancy was elected to the Student Council and chose to work in the library. She was also very enthusiastic about joining the Girls’ Athletic Association, and over the next four years she was very active in basketball, volleyball and field hockey. Unfortunately, there were no interscholastic teams for girls at that time. I played JV football and basketball and won a letter in Varsity track in the spring.   

An article that fall in the Maroon and White, our school newspaper, reviewed the previous two varsity football seasons reporting that the team only won one game. During that time, they were outscored 409 to 42. We wondered what it would take that year to make the team a winner?

An article in that same paper urged students to “do your bit to give your athletic teams a new name.” Unfortunately, Nancy and I were seniors before our teams would no longer be called, “Junior Bullets” or “Little Bullets.” names borrowed from the “Bullets” of Gettysburg College.

Outside of school, Nancy and I were socially active with our friends often at the Teen Canteen on Friday and Saturday nights. Opened in 1944 in the YWCA on the square, it was later moved to a vacant building in the first block of Baltimore Street. We slow danced and jitterbugged to the music of Harry James, Les Brown, Johnny Mercer and the other bands of the Swing Era.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

34. September 1945 : Freshmen at Gettysburg High School

Nancy and I began our freshman year at Gettysburg High School on Tuesday September 4, 1945, a day after Labor Day and less than a month after VJ Day and the end of World War II. 

The local paper reported that tourist travel over the battlefield during Labor Day weekend was the largest since 1940 and topped all wartime figures by a huge margin. The National Park Office reported that 11,390 tourists had visited the battlefield that weekend, more than all the visitors that came during all the war years combined.

Nancy and I entered the High School just a block off Baltimore Street, in the approximate location of the current renovated Middle School. The school’s front door was less than 100 yards from the backdoor of Nancy’s home on Baltimore Street.  I lived on East Middle Street, just a four minute walk from the school. We were fourteen at the time, and though we knew each other well, we wouldn’t be dating for another two years.

As we began this next chapter in our lives, we were excited and eager, but often confused moving through the long and unfamiliar halls looking for our next class.

Thanks to the generosity of fellow classmate, Barb Seiferd, Nancy and I have many copies of The Maroon and White, our school newspaper which was so well done and which received many national honors during our four years at GHS. We will refer to the paper often in future posts.

The October 10 issue of that paper reported that we had 175 students in our freshman class. Nancy and I were surprised to see that number, because four years later only 140 students were in our graduating class. Sadly more than half the classmates with whom we shared our joys and our successes over four years are deceased.

At the time, we had no thought about building memories that would last a lifetime. We just wanted to find the next class and arrive on time.

Monday, August 3, 2015

33. August 1945 in Gettysburg

Three of the most significant events in American History occurred in August of  1945,  just as Nancy and I prepared to enter our freshman year at Gettysburg High School.

On August 6, 1945, President Harry Truman announced that a single bomb, more powerful than 20,000 tons of TNT, was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. It was an atomic bomb, the most powerful explosive ever used in the history of warfare, and it killed between 70,000 and 80,000 people.

The United States was now in a position to obliterate rapidly and completely every major industrial center in Japan, the nation that had attacked Pearl Harbor without warning on December 7, 1941.

On August 9, three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki, an important port and industrial center.

News of the Japanese surrender arrived in Gettysburg on Tuesday at 7:00 in the evening on August 14, 1945, and the town “went wild.” Fire sirens, factory whistles, horns and church bells sounded constantly for over a half hour, and people filled the square talking about the good news.

Nancy and I still have an original copy of the Victory Edition of the Gettysburg Times published that day. The good news was reported in three inch bold face type on the front page. The bad news appeared on page two where it was reported that 118 Adams Countians were killed or died in the service in World War II. Eight were still listed as missing in action. Hundreds were wounded and two county men were still listed as prisoners of the Japanese.

The other good news was more personal. The end of the war meant Nancy’s uncle and cousin and my father and uncle would soon be coming home.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

32. More About the Summer of 1945

In our most recent post about  summer activities in 1945, we referred to our unproductive attempts to earn money by picking cherries That reference prompted a response from our classmate and good friend Bill Snyder. Bill’s name must be in the Cherry Picking Hall of Fame for his exploits in the summer of 1947 when he picked 432 quarts of berries in one day.

For that remarkable achievement, Bill earned $17.28 or the equivalent of $1.44 per hour, substantially higher than the average hourly wage in the country in June of 1947 of $1.10 an hour.  

Bill also reminded us of one of our favorite summer activities growing up in Gettysburg ___swimming. Gettysburg can be very hot in the summer, and low cost window air conditioners were not available until 1947, so we frequently looked for opportunities to go for a swim.

Jack’s Pool was an easy bike ride downhill and south of Gettysburg on the Baltimore Pike. The return trip on our bike was not so easy. Our bikes, like everyone else’s in 1945, were single speed bikes, so the ride back up that hill after a swim left us needing another swim to cool off.  

If you didn’t mind the slugs and snakes, a six mile bike ride to Marsh Creek Heights, south of Gettysburg on Route 15 was a natural swimming hole and free. Unfortunately, there were many hills on that road but none as steep as the Baltimore Hill.

Caledonia, a half hour west of Gettysburg by car, was a great place to picnic by a mountain stream or swim in a public pool where the water was always beautiful and clear. Laurel Lake at Pine Grove Furnace State Park north of Gettysburg was also a little over a half hour drive. Both Parks are still in use today.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

31. Summer of 1945

After graduation from eighth grade in Lincoln School in the spring of 1945, it was time to look for a summer job.  Adams County is home to one of the finest fruit producing regions in the United States, and there were lots of opportunities to  work in the orchards north and west of Gettysburg.

After I thinned peaches for a few weeks, Nancy and I both turned to picking sour cherries, which in the summer of 1945 paid forty cents for an eight quart bucket.  Unfortunately, although we were motivated, neither one of us was very proficient at the job, so our daily wages were minimal. 

After cherry picking, Nancy spent the rest of that summer helping her Dad in the Victory Garden, and preparing beans, cherries, peaches and tomatoes for freezing or canning. I went on to work in the kitchen at a church camp in Connecticut until the middle of August.

For entertainment, Nancy and her friends cheered for their favorite softball team, attended movies at the Majestic and the Strand, visited the Teen Canteen on weekends, and drank lots of cokes at the local soda shops.

World War II in Europe was over in June, but the conflict with Japan continued,  and many soldiers, sailors and Marines would be casualties before the middle of August when the war finally ended. 

The most popular song in the summer of 1945 was Sentimental Journey  by the Les Brown Orchestra and sung by Doris Day. Nancy and I would dance to that song many times over the coming years, but not in 1945. Not yet!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

30. VE Day and Beyond

When victory over Germany was declared on VE Day, May 8, 1945, the Allies were still fighting Japan in the South Pacific. American troops in Europe now began training to be relocated to the Far East.

Local newspapers continued to carry stories of County residents who were missing, wounded and killed in action. On June 8, 1945, for example, the front page of the Gettysburg Times reported that Donald Little and Paul Tate were wounded and Robert Grissinger and Nesbur Brandt  were  killed.

More men and women would lose their lives as the war continued for more than two months before the Japanese surrendered.

Throughout the war, military units used the hills, fields and forests of the Gettysburg Battlefield for training exercises, and often visiting soldiers were   given an understanding of what actions led to victory in the conflict in 1863. Military convoys passing through Gettysburg were often given space on the Battlefield to rest before moving on to their new duty stations.

In addition to the war news, the June 8 issue of the Gettysburg Times also carried a story about  62 students who graduated from Lincoln School, and would enter Gettysburg High School in the fall. Nancy and I were among those who looked forward to our high school careers.

At Lincoln School, we had been “top dogs.” Now we would be freshman, the new kids on the block subject to intimidation and hazing by upperclassmen. On the bright side, we looked forward to new friends and new opportunities in sports, music and other extra curricular activities.