Wednesday, December 28, 2016

95. January 1948

The spring semester of our junior year at Gettysburg High School in 1948 began with impressive wins in basketball over the Alumni and Waynesboro followed by a loss to the perennial Conference Champion Chambersburg. That loss was followed by seven consecutive wins.  Things were looking up for a team on which I was a starting forward.

Basketball scores in the Forties were always very low compared to current contests. For example, in the game against Shippensburg on January 13, the opponents only scored two points in the first quarter and only seventeen for the game. No player on either side scored in double figures.  

Nancy and I began dating as a couple in 1948, or as we said back then, “We are going steady.” In January, however, no one would have predicted that relationship. As a matter of fact, I was dating other girls, and after an evening with girlfriends and several boys, Nancy wrote in her diary on January 2,  “Had a good time. I don’t care about Bruce.”

In 1948 demographers looking into the future suggested, “There is a strong possibility that within a few decades the population in America will reach its maximum size and will begin  to decrease.”

That year, it was predicted that 163 million people would live in America by the year 2000.  Thanks in part to a baby boom, the population passed 163 million by 1955 and soared to over 325  million at present.

In 1948, Robert Heinlein wrote Space Cadet, a novel in which people used cellphones. While the technology for mobile phones was around in the Forties it was not until the mid Eighties that they became widely available.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

94. Christmas, 1947

We loved Christmas in Gettysburg when we were growing up in that famous Civil War town in the Forties. That was long before political correctness, so “Merry Christmas” was still the popular greeting offered and received.  We don’t remember anyone saying, “Happy Holidays.”

Nancy and I were both active in our school choir and chorus, and we sang often for service clubs during the Christmas Season. Our annual Christmas Program at school on December 23 featured the 200 voices  of our combined choir and chorus singing selections from The Messiah by Handel. 

Popular music on our radio, juke box or record player in December of 1947 included a song by Perry Como that was a big hit. The memorable lyrics read like this: 
Oh, Chi-baba, Chi-baba, Chihuahua
Enjilava kooka la goomba 
 Chi-baba, Chi-baba, Chihuahua
 My bambino go to sleep. 
Other songs in the top ten included Ballerina by Vaughn Monroe and That’s My Desire by Frankie Laine. Bing Crosby’s 1947 recording of White Christmas is the version of that popular song heard most often today.

Music on Broadway featured four of the biggest hit musicals ever produced: Brigadoon, Finian’s Rainbow, Oklahoma and Annie Get Your Gun. 

Nancy’s best memory of 1947 was her first prom in the spring of that year. I wish I could report that I was her date, but sadly, I wasn’t.

My best memory was starting at forward on a very successful Gettysburg High School basketball team and earning letters in football, basketball and track for the second year.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

93. December 1947 and 2016 Connected

Two events that took place in the Gettysburg National Cemetery sixty-nine years apart are linked to each other.

On December 11,1947, the Gettysburg Times reported that twenty-eight veterans of World War II were to be re-interred that month in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Sixty-nine years later, on December 2, 2016, members of our family, including four great-grandchildren, placed Christmas Wreaths on the graves of World War II veterans in the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Undoubtedly, some of those who were honored in 2016 were laid to rest in 1947.

Nancy and I have been participating in the National Wreath Project sponsored by the Sgt Mac Foundation since 2008, and this year we were accompanied by fifteen family members and friends. We were among approximately 300 volunteers who decorated wreaths and placed 1620  on headstones in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

On December 20, 1947, the Times quoted William Haskel, assistant to the president of the New York Herald Tribune, who called Gettysburg, “a fresh air paradise.” Haskell visited Gettysburg the previous week to discuss the Fresh Air Program which placed youngsters from New York City in Gettysburg for a summer visit.  

Nancy’s 1947 diary suggests that we were busy sophomores at Gettysburg High School in December of that year. We were both members of the high school choir which performed numerous times leading up to Christmas. In addition, we were both involved in sports, and Nancy worked evenings at Murphy’s 5 & 10. When did we find time to study?