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.