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.