Saturday, August 27, 2016

81. Winter, 1947

81. Winter 1947

The resources available to Nancy and me as we write about growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties include her diaries from 1947, 1948 and 1949.  She was very faithful to record her activities every day, and we will refer to her  journals often as we continue to post entries on our blog.

For example, in early January of ‘46, Nancy wrote that it snowed 3-4 inches. When we read that, we tried to recall snow days when school was closed because of bad weather. We couldn’t.  A Google search supported our recollection.

A headline in the February 21, 1947 issue of the Gettysburg Times reported that 15-18 inches of snow fell in Adams County the previous day. As a result, schools in six county communities closed in the afternoon, but Gettysburg Schools were open all day with about 50 percent in attendance.

Nancy and I never realized we were such a hearty people.

Nancy’s January, 1947 diary reveals she was a dedicated player and fan of basketball. She participated in basketball for a sophomore club team, went to all varsity and JV home games and most away games, attended Gettysburg College home games and even attended a few junior high games.

One varsity game, Nancy didn’t see occurred at Hershey on January 10.  Here’s how it was reported in the Gettysburg Times:
A one-handed field goal by Bruce Westerdahl in the last five seconds of play gave the Gettysburg High Maroons a thrilling 36-34 victory over Hershey in a South Penn League.
In the eight years I played high school and college basketball, I don’t recall many games, but that shot and that win are permanently fixed in my mind.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

80. Christmas Season, 1946

The 1946 Christmas Season in Gettysburg where Nancy and I grew up was packed with a variety of memorable activities for two busy and enthusiastic high school sophomores.

On Sunday evening, December 15, we attended  a Christmas Concert by the Gettysburg College Choir at the Majestic Theater. The following Sunday, we were part of the crowd that attended the Christmas Concert at the Majestic performed by The Blue and Gray Band. 

The month of December was filled with numerous opportunities for dancing  sponsored by the Student Council, the Elks Club, the Gettysburg High School Alumni, and the Teen Canteen.

Nancy was an avid and adept dancer, and by December 1946 I was no longer shy about dancing with girls, so we are certain we attended most, if not all, those  events.  Unfortunately, I was taught an unorthodox style of slow dancing, and that led to some awkward stumbling with my partners.

Obviously, after seventy years, there is much we have forgotten, but we still  have vivid memories of two events that occurred during the Christmas Season in 1946 and are still popular today. 

The Christmas Song, subtitled Chestnuts Roasting on the Open Fire, was released by Capital records in December of 1946. The song, featuring Nat King Cole, has an ageless charm, and I still get choked up when I hear it.  

The ultimate holiday classic movie, It’s A Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart, made it’s premier in December of 1946, and ultimately, became one of the most  popular movies of the 20th Century. 

The Christmas Song and It’s a Wonderful Life continue to remind us of 1946 when we were teenagers growing up in Gettysburg.  Below is a link to The Christmas Song:

Thursday, August 11, 2016

79. Obsolete Expressions

When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties, our parents and grandparents used expressions which are rarely heard today.

For example, when I was an annoying juvenile, I dropped a water balloon on my kid brother from a second story window. When my Mother saw it, she shouted a stern,  “What the Sam Hill are you doing?” Many years later  I learned the phrase “What the Sam Hill?,” can be traced back to the 1830s and is simply a sanitized version of “What the hell?”

Back in the Forties, when Nancy brought home a report card with straight A’s, her Mother might say, “Now that’s the cat’s meow.” meaning she considered her report to be outstanding. I don’t remember what my parents said when they saw my report card.

We no longer hear the phrase, “Holy Toledo!” used to express astonishment. I have been to Toledo, Ohio, and it’s not holy by any standard, but in Toledo, Spain, there are 172 cathedrals, and that’s a remarkable bit of trivia. Perhaps that’s where that phrase originated.

Growing up in the Forties, we occasionally  heard the phrase, “Faster than Jack Robinson.” Surprisingly, that phrase was around long before Jackie Robinson played baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers. According to Wikipedia, Jack Robinson was an English gentleman in the 19th century who changed his mind so often you had to be quick to catch him in a decision.

Obsolete words and phrases are part of our heritage, and even if we haven’t heard one in a month of Sundays,” when we do, it brings back fond memories of growing up with our “kinfolk.” We haven’t heard that word recently either.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

78. Thanksgiving 1946

From mid-1945 to mid-1947, approximately 90 percent of the 12 million servicemen and women who participated in World War II for the United States were discharged. 

Thanksgiving in 1946 was a time for many Americans to be truly grateful. World War II was over and millions of servicemen and women had returned home to their families and loved ones.

Yet there were homes where Thanksgiving in 1946 would be quiet and reflective, because a loved one who was killed in the war was not present. Over 400,000 Americans gave their lives for their country during the war.

In Gettysburg where Nancy and I grew up in the Forties,  Dr. Henry Hansen, president of Gettysburg College, told Rotarians “the whole world is in a position where it ought to sit down and be thankful for the things it does have and the hopes it has for the future.”

Incidentally, a full course Thanksgiving turkey dinner including soup, salad and dessert at Mitchell’s Restaurant on the square in 1946 cost $1.25.

At Gettysburg High School in early December, 700 fans celebrated the beginning of basketball season with a win over St. Francis Prep School 29-25.In the first period of the game, neither team was able to locate the basket. As a result, the score at the end of the first period was 4-2. At half time, Gettysburg was winning 16-6. Obviously, there was no shot clock in  1946.