Wednesday, July 20, 2016

77. Memories of the Gettysburg National Cemetery

Each year on November 19, residents and honored guests gather in the Gettysburg National Cemetery to remember the occasion when President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address on the same date in 1863. When Nancy and I were sophomores at Gettysburg High School in 1946, students were dismissed early to attend the 83rd anniversary program.

More than a thousand persons grouped around the Soldiers National Monument which the local print media reported “marks the spot where Lincoln spoke.” That same article indicated that the main speaker, Congressman Jennings Randolph, “stood where Lincoln stood.”

The fact is that President Lincoln did not deliver his famous Gettysburg Address in the National Cemetery because there were open graves and fresh reburials  everywhere. The dedication ceremony in 1863 occurred in the adjacent Evergreen Cemetery which, incidentally, is where Nancy’s parents and many of her relatives are buried.

When we were growing up in Gettysburg, Nancy’s home was at the bottom of the Baltimore Street hill before it rises again to Cemetery Hill. If she had lived there in 1863, she could have waved to President Lincoln going to the dedication ceremony and returning to the diamond as the center of Gettysburg was known then.

When Nancy and I were dating, we often walked through the beautifully landscaped Gettysburg National Cemetery. We still visit the hallowed ground each December to participate in the  Christmas Wreath Program sponsored by the Sgt Mac Foundation.

Each year, hundreds of volunteers prepare Christmas wreaths which are placed on the headstones of graves in the Gettysburg and Quantico National Cemeteries. The project was initiated by the parents of Marine Corps Sergeant and Gettysburg native Eric McColley, who was killed in the line of duty in 2006. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

76. The 1946 Football Season and Big John Huzvar

When Nancy and I were sophomores at Gettysburg High School in the fall of 1946, our varsity football team won three games and lost six. At least, we were no longer the Conference doormat.

What I remember best about playing football in 1946 is defeating Hanover for the first time in ten years, but I also remember the worst defeat of any team I ever played for in high school or college. That was the night I met Big John Huzvar the fullback for Hershey High School.

John Huzvar was 6 ft 4 in and he weighed 247 lbs when he played fullback for North Carolina State, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Baltimore Colts. As a senior at Hershey High School, he probably weighed less, but when he came roaring around my end on a sweep, it looked to me like Huzvar was already a Pro and was loaned to Hershey for the night.

I was 5 ft 10 in, weighed 157 lbs and was almost two years younger. I distinctly remember John loping toward me on legs that must have carried him ten or twelve feet with every long stride. It took Big John just under two long threatening steps to get to me bravely guarding the Gettysburg left flank.

I used to think John Huzvar ran over me and left his cleat marks in my back, but I have reconsidered my actions that night, and now I’m almost certain I made a feeble attempt to tackle Big John but bounced off of him several feet as he rumbled up the sideline for a long gain. 

That night, Big John Huzvar scored fourteen points. That night, Big John Huzvar would have scored more if he were given the ball a few more times. That night Big John Huzvar was a man competing against boys. The final score was 42 - 0. It was the worst “whoopin’” I ever experienced.

For more information about the truck I tried to tackle that crisp November night in 1946, Google “John Huzvar.”

Thursday, July 7, 2016

75. The Adams County Library

In an earlier post on Growing Up in Gettysburg in the Forties, Nancy and I wrote about the Adams County Library which opened in January of 1945 when we were freshmen at Gettysburg High School. 

Many years ago, Barb Seiferd, a member of the Class of ’49, gave us copies of our school newspaper, the Maroon and White, published when we were students. Recently, I found an article in the November 20,1946 issue reporting that the Library’s collection now totaled 8,000 books. 

That article prompted us to recall the changes we observed in the Library as it moved from Carlisle Street to the former jail building on High Street to the current location on Baltimore Street, formerly the Gettysburg Post Office.

One of the most dramatic changes in the Library is the increase in the number of volumes now available to the public. To determine that total, I called the Library and was informed by the staff that there are now 172,156 books in the collection.

The article from the 1946 Maroon and White also reported that 36,000 books were borrowed the previous year, and over 60 percent were borrowed from the Bookmobile. The Bookmobile continues to be a major asset today as it visits over fifty locations throughout Adams County.  What a joy that must be for the children throughout the County when they see the  Bookmobile arrive at their school.

I have  no proof, but I feel certain Nancy and I were among the original members of the Library which has served the people of Adams County so well since we were freshmen at Gettysburg High School.