‘Letters to Our Boys’

(Editor’s Note: This is the fourth installment of The Express’ weekly “Letter to Our Boys,” written during World War II to let “our boys” know what was happening back in their home towns. We will bring the letters to you weekly, thanks to the efforts of Fred and Anna Snyder, who compiled the letters over several years of research and donated a full copy of them to the Clinton County Historical Society.)

Saturday, November 21, 194


All you fellows can’t realize the big uplift here at home over the news from North Africa and the Solomons. There was a time when some of us thought Uncle Sam’s machine wasn’t hitting on all fours. Sure, we well understood that Hitler and the Japs had a running start on us. We knew darn well once we got our steam up, we’d put the ko on’em, like Whitey Lawrence does to the aches and sore muscles of the T.C. champs. But all of us were anxious in one way or another to get at’em — at least to clear the path for you fellows to hasten your training and get into action.

So, the news from North Africa is as invigorating as the cool evening breeze coming from the West Branch after the heat of the day almost busted Huber Parker’s records. If Eisenhower’s show wasn’t so big, I guess we all would be equally as enthused over the way our Navy and MacArthur are giving the Japs hail Colombia around the Solomons.

After the fighting in the Pacific got under way, we found out that some of our boys were in that scrap. Everybody wondered, of course, who, if any, from our county were in the African fracas. Some of the latest letters received on this side were dated the 28th of October. The Americans landed on the African shores on the night of November 7th. If you are a good judge of time and distance, your guess may be as good as another.

Your old colonel is not tipping his hand against the censorship by way of speculating on troop movements. But the secret has already been made known to the wide world that at least one member of the Service Battery has been enjoying the sights of Oran after the Americans occupied that city. He is Private Harold Finnefrock, whose parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. E. Finnefrock, live at 444 Pennsylvania Avenue, South Renovo, and whose sister is working in one of our local industries.

In their issues Friday, the metropolitan newspapers showed a picture of the South Renovo soldier, sitting in a jeep which was surrounded by a group of soldiers. In the forefront of the group appeared a turbaned Arab enjoying a smoke given to him by Finnefrock, who in the picture sports a broad smile.

Your old colonel phoned the word to Mrs. Finnefrock. The picture was an Associated Press Radiophoto, passed Thursday by the British censor. Usually we get those war pictures for publication on the same days as do the New York papers. Thursday, for instance, your hometown “Distress” had on its front page the same picture — “Yanks Guard Axis Armistice Commission in Africa,” used by the N.Y. Times the same day on page 1.

We have wired the AP to rush the picture to us and hope to get it in time to use in this issue. We have promised Mrs. Finnefrock to send the picture to her.

I think you Lock Haven boys will be glad to know that the outlook is pretty good now to put your names up on a handsome Honor Roll which, through the enterprise of the Kiwanis Club, and with the kind of cooperation of the Elks it is expected, will be be erected on the side yard of the Elks’ property. That suggestion has been advanced before but through some misunderstandings never got anywhere.

When first publicly proposed by the Exchange Club and then taken over by the local Legion post, the idea seemed to be to include the names of all the Clinton County boys. Of course, that would have meant a billboard of very large size — too much for the relatively small sideyard of the Elks to accomodate. Then, too, the original promoters thought it should be more or less of a permanent affair and that if it were going to be such, a memorial stone, such as has been placed in City Park on Water Street, would more acceptably fill the bill.

The first objection to the size of the Honor Roll has been met by many communities of the county already setting up their own boards to honor the boys of their respective communities. These include, Avis, Woolrich, Flemington and Renovo. Tomorrow Mill Hall plans a big celebration in dedicating their handsome Honor Roll. That leaves Lock Haven to care for only its own and perhaps for the adjoining places — Castanea, Lock Port and Dunnstown.

Keeping up a bill-board in good condition would mean considerable expense in the years to come, what with the heat and storms of outdoors. Any such Honor Roll is not intended for permanent keeping — it’s primarily to pep up the morale of the pops and moms here at home and you guys who are out there on the firing line.

Anyway, all this is pretty well understood now. At their regular lodge meeting this week, your old colonel is advised that the Brother Elks voted unanimously to view with favor and to recommend to the lodge trustees, who act on these matter having to do with the property, consideration of the Kiwanis Club desire to erect the Honor Roll in the Elks’ side yard. The trustees are out postmaster, Jimmy Dennehy, Art Bush and Louie Coira. Louie’s boy is a major in the Air Corps, last heard of down around the Panama country.

I hope in my next letter I can tell you everything’s Jake, so far as placing our Honor Roll is concerned, in the only available place in the most traveled section of the old town.

Some of your older fellows may remember William C. Montignani, who was located here about eleven years ago as district secretary of the Y.M.C.A. Well, here’s the story.

Earlier this week a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps wrote that he was standing with his wife near the telephone in the Red Cross building of the Lawson General Hospital at Atlanta, Ga., when he heard a soldier mention the name of Lock Haven to the operator. The soldier was Thomas Grand, of this city, who like the officer was a patient in the hospital. After a long conversation about people and happenings here, the officer, none other than M. C. Montignani, Jr., was impelled to write us, giving use a little family history.

His sister, Marion, is planning to return to London to rejoin her husband, who is a brother of the husband of Marion’s sister, Helen. Sister Grace is also married and living in Catonsville, Md. His father, now 71, is on the Presbyterian board and the son writes, “is still peppy and as hard a worker as he always was.”

Lieut. Montignani says that although he had decided to enter the ministry and had received his B.A. degree, he joined up with the Air Corps “to pay back a little of the damage done to my sister’s homes in England.” They are now refugees with their children in Montclair, New Jersey. The Air Corps rookie managed to earn his wings and was sent over seas on a special mission. How he happens to be a patient in the hospital he doesn’t say.

“Thought you might do me a favor and give my address to my friends in Lock Haven, as I would love to hear from any who remember me.”

“Twas nice to hear from you, Bill, and I hope your friends will pick you up on that request to write. To repeat: Lawson General Hospital, Atlanta, Ga. And when you get to Berlin, put in at least one good socko for dear old Lock Haven.”

Fellows, I find I have rambled along without giving you much of a summary of the week’s local news. You’ll first want to know what happened to our football teams. High School laid off last Saturday, as you know, but has devoted the week to prime up for the big game at Tyrone today. “Beat Tyrone” is the spirit of the school, the students yesterday even wearing placards with that command and having staged a big pep meeting at the High School last night. If the boys play like they did in the closing four minutes of the game when they came from behind to beat Huntingdon, I’m telling you there’ll be nothing to it.

Teachers College was afflicted with a let-down at Mansfield last Saturday and although they made something like a dozen first downs to none for Mansfield, one long run by Manfield gave our opponents six points which could only be tied by our boys. However, we feel we have a half-point better credit rating than does East Stroudsburg, which the same day tanned the hide of West Chester. In our own opinion we are the T. C. champs since a play-off with E. Stroudsburg is problematic.

Max Bossert’s boys were handed a banquet by the two doctors who are so close to the team — Davey Thomas and Bill Welliver. The best story of the evening was Whitey Lawrence’s telling about his boys going to a show one time when they were in New York.

More of those in Uncle Sam’s selective service grouping were called this week.

Recruiting officers for both the army and the navy have been here, the navy opening permanent headquarters at the P.O.

We’re starting to collect tin cans and I hear that Katy Diack is leading the women in what might be called a leg-tease act — surrendering their silk or near-silk stockings out of which you fellows can be supplied with powder bags and whatever silk is used for.

This may be another polite and more practical way of handing you the old sock. Anyway, we want you to accept it in the spirit in which it is sent and not to be disturbed by the scent of it, if any.

Yours to stuff’em down Hitler’s throat or to apply to that yellow streak in the Japs’ neck.

— Col. O’Corn