Tuesday, October 25, 2016

88. More about the Summer of 1947

In her diary in July of 1947,  Nancy mentioned that  “Bruce W is in the hospital.”  I had fallen on a tree stump working as a member of the ground crew at Camp Nawakwa and bruised my kidney. The following day, Nancy and her mother brought me flowers.

In August, after I was released from the hospital, Nancy wrote, “In Faber’s today we saw Bruce W. He looked awful. He wore glasses and he limps a little when he walks.” Fortunately, I didn’t look too awful. A few months later, Nancy invited me to go to a party with her. 

Very soon, I would be just “Bruce” in Nancy’s diary, not “Bruce W.”

In July of 1947, an article in the Gettysburg Times reported that Ned Burns, from the Narional Park Service of Chicago and mural painter Carle Ciampaglia inspected the cyclorama painting of Pickett’s Charge displayed in Gettysburg to determine how the famous work by Paul Philippoteaux could be restored.

When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties, the 360 degree cylindrical painting was displayed in the Cyclorama located on the east side of Baltimore Street on Cemetery Hill. The 1863 Inn of Gettysburg is located on that site today.

When our families had visitors who were not familiar with the Battle of Gettysburg, the Cyclorama was often included in our tour. The massive painting was opened to the public in time for the 50th anniversary of the Battle in 1913.

Today, the 377 feet long, 42 feet high Gettysburg Cyclorama  may be seen in a three-dimensional setting in the Gettysburg National Park Visitor Center. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

87. The Summer of 1947

When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties, we loved our summer activities like swimming at the local pool or one of the numerous parks nearby. A favorite of ours for both swimming and picnicking was Caledonia State Park, 18 miles west of Gettysburg. According to news reports in the summer of 1947, Caledonia was officially recognized by Pennsylvanians as its number one State Park.

Yes, the water was always cold, but the setting and the access to forested picnic areas, made a summer visit to Caledonia enjoyable and memorable.  

Over the years, members of our family have continued to visit Caledonia. As recently as this past summer, our daughter and her husband camped at this very popular State Park.. 

Laurel and Fuller Lakes, about 18 miles north of Gettysburg, were also popular. Nestled in the forests of Pine Grove Furnace State Park, the water was just as cold as Caledonia but we still remember those lakes fondly. 

Nancy learned to swim in another popular location a few miles south of Gettysburg called Natural Dam where her parents rented a cottage for family and friends for several summers.

In the summer of 1947, I was a member of the staff at Camp Nawakwa, a Lutheran Leadership Training Camp in Brysonia thirteen miles north of Gettysburg. The Camp had a large pool that was mine to enjoy any time I wasn’t working. The only downside was, I had to clean it every few weeks. 

Also, that summer Nancy was hired as a counter clerk on weekends at Murphy’s 5 & 10 on Baltimore Street. It was a job she held until she entered Shippensburg State Teachers’ College in the fall of 1949.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

86. More about the Spring of 1947

Students who played varsity sports at Gettysburg High School in the spring of 1947 were pleased with the results. The track team went undefeated while setting several new school records, and in their first season since 1936, the varsity baseball team won five games and lost three.

The biggest event in national sports in the spring of 1947 was the news that Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers to become the first African American to play Major League Baseball since Moses Fleetwood Walker in 1884. I was an avid Dodger fan prior to 1947, and I followed the team that year to a National League Championship. I was broken hearted when they lost to the Yankees. 

On April 18 in 1947, Nancy wrote in her diary that she saw The Jolson Story at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg. “It was wonderful,” she noted. I was so inspired by Al Jolson’s extraordinary voice that for the next fifty years I did impressions of the man some called, “The Greatest Entertainer of the Twentieth Century.”  

The musical Jolson opened in London in 1995 at the Victoria Palace and ran for seventeen weeks. In 1997, Nancy and I were delighted to see Jolson at a theater in Toronto, Canada in box seats right next to the stage.Unfortunately, we could never find evidence the show ever ran on Broadway.

Both Nancy and I were members of the school choir and chorus which performed at the Annual Music Festival on May 9, 1947. We were also members of the youth choir at the Reformed Church where we worshipped regularly and where we were married in 1953.