Letters to our boys
(Editor’s Note: This is another installment of The Express’ “Letter to Our Boys,” written during World War II to let “our boys” know what was happening back in their home towns. The Express will bring the letters to you occasionally, 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, August 18, 1945
Tuesday of this week was Victory Day here on the home front and, to put it frankly, all hell seemed to break loose shortly after the 7 p.m. announcement in Washington by President Truman to tired, long-waiting newspapermen who had kept a steady vigil through four and a half days.
The Express had been ready the preceding Sunday to spring a special edition. Tuesday part of the staff was camped on the teletypes which tap out the news from all over the world. It was one of those tense moments which veteran newspapermen don’t often admit are tense.
At 6:50, the Associated Press wire said the President had called a press conference. We knew that the Swiss government had relayed a message from Japan. We were sure this was “it.”
At 6:59, Col. O’Corn stated telephoning to reach the mayor who was somewhere between his home and his office. We wanted to tell him to be ready for the news. He was located by someone who told him to call The Express. In a few seconds after he called us, the great news was coming in over the printers. We told the mayor this was it.
At 7:03, the sirens began to wail; the whistles followed. Soon a speeding car, with its horn sounding steadily, raced up the street.
In a minute scores were on the Main Drag. Soon there were hundreds. Before an hour had elapsed there were thousands of people jamming the sidewalks and streets. Once the noise started it kept up until after 3 a.m. Bars, theaters, restaurants, virtually everything was quickly closed — except the people’s mouths.
In exactly 2 hours and 56 minutes from the first flash, The Express was rolling with a special Peace edition of 12 pages — all news.
The celebration was a great one.
There was not a single arrest. The only law-breaking was a small robbery in Mill Hall.
Although prior plans called for the Victory Parade to be held at 10 a.m. the following day if the news came after 6 p.m., the people made their own parades. Local bands and drum corps hastily gathered and the show was on.
The string of cars were so long that traffic lights did not mean a thing. Yet there were only three minor motor accidents. No one was injured.
The following day, Wednesday, all places were closed except hotels and these did not operate their grills. Thursday, only The Express staff and some factories and offices worked. The theaters reopened. all stores were closed except the groceries which locked up at 12:30 p.m.
Friday things drifted back to normal.
Yes, this was “it” — final victory although some of the Allies were still fighting.
Since you boys in the service will be drifting back to us gradually, there cannot be any spontaneity of welcome such as you might have been given had you been here Tuesday or Wednesday.
But, the old Colonel hopes, on the first anniversary of the ending of this, the most terrible of all wars, everyone of you will be on hand for a real welcome. We hope you are all home much sooner than that but that date seems to be the appropriate one at the moment for us to figure on getting you all together for a day which will be unlike anything since the gay welcomes which followed World War I.
F1/c Ray G. Wolfe almost waited until the war was over before he wrote Col. O’Corn. He is in the Pacific with a landing craft unit. He writes:
“For the last 19 months I have been the only one from LH in this outfit but the last two days have been big exceptions. I met an old friend out here by the name of Ray Vilello. I was certainly glad to see him and vice versa, too.
“He was glad to know I have The Express sent to me. The Express out here is a very precious possession.
“Ray came out here after a 30-day leave last February.”
Malcolm Bauman, Castanea, to Cpl. Harold Welsh, to Sgt. Harold Bartholomew, to S/Sgt. Freeman Putman to S/Sgt. Edwin F. Renner, Flemington, to Cpl.
Cpl. Joseph Halderman, Renovo, Bronze Star. Pfc. Donald E. Allen, 23, Bronze Star.
S/Sgt. Stanley Taylor. S/Sgt. Harry Haines, Howard R.D. 1. S/Sgt. Joseph Rine, Flemington. 1st Sgt. Richard Ruhl, Mill Hall. 1st Lt. Max McSherry. Charles Fye. Charles Chaplain, Renovo. Byard Rupert, Beech Creek, Robert Bixel. Leslie Campagne. Ralph Sorgen. Sgt. Clair Dutton. Sgt. Kenneth E. Haas, Renovo. Pvt. Alva Brungard and Pvt. Robert Pletcher, both of Howard. T/4 Jack High, Flemington. Pvt. Edward Haas, Renovo. T/5 Henry Bennett. Byard Rupert, Beech Creek. Robert Bixel.
Pfc. William Gramley to Maude Bridge, an English nurse, in Oxford, England, July 28.
Sylvania Corporation discloses that although some plants in the organization may close, that at Mill Hall is slated for peace-time production — probably radio tubes. Rebecca Gillespie resigns from LHHS faculty after 48 years of service with Lucetta McKibben replacing her; salary of school physician, Dr. Thissell, was boosted from $1,320 to $1,820; two nurses, home-school visitor and school dentist to be employed; school open Wednesday, Sept. 5.
Marian Angus named director of nurses at LH Hospital; Jean Metzger, Pittsburgh, chosen nursing arts instructor. Piper makes first commercial Cub since April, 1942; ship goes to Klamath, Wash., for patrol of Indians’ forest lands; backlog of peace-time orders exceeds 3,000.
Mrs. Lou Widmann sells National Hotel to Paul Higgins. Mrs. Ferd Lucas recuperating at LH Hospital after compound fracture of arm followed by heart attack. Arthur Wren, 67, father of Bill, Harold and Capt. Fred Wren, dies.
Elwood Rohrbaugh, of Beech Creek, elected principal of Clearfield Junior High School. Fred Hoffman, formerly of LH, who has been teaching at Williamsport, is named instructor in industrial engineering at Penn State. Series of five robberies here cleared as police arrest Williamsport and Montoursville boys, 18 and 19.
Bowling league organized to state season next month. LH and Mill Hall HS state football practice Monday. Hunting licenses go on sale. Don Welsh’s Katrina Volo wins Bedford Fair race; owner gets silver platter from Gov. Martin; Luther Hanover, owned by Kline Wolfe, Howard, second in money.