Friday, July 28, 2017

118. Thanksgiving 1948

In an earlier post to Growing Up in Gettysburg, Nancy and I reported that President Harry Truman authorized a 3 cent postage stamp to commemorate the 85th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The stamp went on sale in Gettysburg on November 19, 1948, and shortly before noon on November 24, Postmaster Lawrence E. Oyler announced that total sale of stamps reached 1,123,277. Amazing! 

Thanksgiving Eve dances were scheduled throughout Gettysburg on Wednesday, November 24, 1948. The Girls’ Athletic Association at Gettysburg High School sponsored the Blue Jean Jump in the new gym, and Nancy and I were there with friends. We never missed a dance at school in our senior year. Nancy’s diary notes for that evening suggest we had a good time, as usual.

The Gettysburg Times on November 24, advertised Thanksgiving Day Dinners for unbelievable prices compared to today. The cheapest were Bankerts and the Blue Parrot where a full Thanksgiving dinner was available for $1.25. The Battlefield Hotel at the corner of Baltimore Street and Steinwehr Avenue, asked $2.00, and the Gettysburg Hotel didn’t advertise a price. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

Looking back on Thanksgiving 1948, Nancy and I are thankful that we found each other when we were so young. Forty-nine years later, we are still happy to be together and still very much in love.

Despite four letterman on the Gettysburg High School basketball team, by the Christmas break, we had lost a game to Delone and two games to York. We were still optimistic as Conference games didn’t begin until January 4. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

117. Girls’ Sports in the Forties

Nancy’s high school diaries from the Forties are a major source of information for Growing Up in Gettysburg, and in the fall of 1948, she often mentions the Girls’ Athletic Association (GAA).  While the boys played interscholastic sports, athletic competition for girls was provided through participation in the GAA which offered intramural sports in field hockey, basketball and volleyball.  Nancy was involved in all three.

Fifty-one percent of the girls in our senior class at Gettysburg High School participated in GAA sponsored sports. Today the percent of high school girls across the country particpating in all sports is the same.

Currently, there is a total of more that fifty different intramural and interscholastic sports offered to girls in high schools. Basketball is the favorite, and it was the most popular girls’ sport back in the Forties. It was also Nancy’s preference

The Gettysburg Times archives also provide informaiton for this column, and a front page story in October, 1948 reported that 640,048 tourists visited the Gettysburg National Park from October 1, 1947 to September 30, 1948. The record prior to 1948 was set in 1938 when 1,554,234 tourists visited the P ark for the 75th anniversary of the Battle. 

Today, the Park welcomes well over a million visitors each year.

Back in the Forties, cars were permitted on the Battlefield after dark. Nancy and I took advantage of that often, and we suppose we were counted as tourists.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

116 1948 Football Season Wrap-up

The October 23, 1948 Gettysburg High School football game with arch-rival Chambersburg was emblematic of our entire season. We were so close to having a winning game/season, but no trophy.

With four minutes remaining in the game, we were beating the annual Conference champions 13-0. Then we took a nap. Two quick scores on errors by both our offense and defense, and Chambersburg fans left Gettysburg blowing car horns all the way out of town.

I will never get over the disappointment of losing that game, but that night I buried my  distress cuddled up to Nancy on a hayride with friends. Now that’s a very pleasant memory.

When the season ended, we had won four, lost four and tied one. What the won and loss record did not show was that we outscored our opponents 160 to 60 and we lost three games by a total of 12 points. Considering the losing records of recent football teams, it was an improvement.

The two games we lost by one point were the result of failed extra point attempts by drop kicking which involves dropping the ball and kicking it when it bounced off the ground. The drop kick is no longer used in football, and based on personal experience, that’s a good thing.

When the All South Conference team was announced, Bob Hottle and I were both on the first team, and I was pleased to be selected by our players as the Honorary Captain.

Now that football was over, it was time to prepare for basketball season. With four retuning lettermen, hopes were high for another winning season.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

115. The Freedom Train

Nancy and I were seniors in high school on November 19, 1948, the day the Gettysburg Address was returned to the place where it was delivered by President Abraham Lincoln 85 years earlier. 

The document, reported to be the copy Lincoln held when he delivered his famous speech, arrived in Gettysburg on the Freedom Train. A parade of red, white and blue railroad cars carried exhibits of 127 priceless American treasures on a tour of the entire country.   In over 300 cities where the train stopped, a rededication week of public celebrations of the United States was scheduled. 

In addition to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, the train carried the original  United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, Truman Doctrine, the Bill of Rights and many other national treasures. Each historic document was displayed in a beautifully designed protective case highlighted by indirect lighting.

Despite heavy rain,  7,685 persons visited  the Freedom Train on the 19th.   Nancy’s diary notes that it took her an hour to go through all the cars. She also commented on the  Marines guards in every car. Four years later, Nancy married her very own Marine. Sixty-nine years later he’s still hers.

In addition to the visit by the Freedom Train, Rededication Week in Gettysburg included the issue of a special commemorative stamp honoring Lincoln’s Address, and a patriotic program in the Majestic Theater which was broadcast all  over the country on the Mutual Broadcasting System. Schools were dismissed early that morning so we could attend the program.