Thursday, October 29, 2015


Virtually everyone who grew up in the 1950s remembers the drill:

Well, the other drill too.

It went something like this: Communists are atheistic horrible subhuman evil tyrants who want to turn you and your family into sheep. You're likely to hear that today, depending on which blog you read.

That was the voice of the Cold War, a time that Dwight D. Eisenhower feared would spawn the growth of the "military-industrial complex" ... whereupon a perpetual state of war was only minutes away.

Eisenhower, who had seen war, understood war and governed in the face of it, feared that the United States would literally spend itself out of existence if the Cold War continued.

Up the river in Fairfield, we didn't understand much of that. We just watched Herbert Philbrick lead three lives on his popular television show about the FBI agent who infiltrated the Communists and revealed their nefarious plans.

Cold indeed was the war.

The endless preoccupation with all things "communist" seemed to finally die sometime in the 1990s but has been resurrected through the aid of hate media. In the 1950s, the fear was real enough because we were constantly being reminded that the Soviets had actually promised to "bury us."

In what seems a macabre comic-tragedy that lasted far too long, the campy narratives of the time were anything but amusing. "Tail-gunner Joe" McCarthy had ranted on about communism to the point that anything might have been possible. It's said that some people joined the Communist Party just to spite the Wisconsin senator.

The end of the Korean war spiked the punch and gave the Cold War its impetus.

What happened after that was difficult to measure.

Sputnik weighed about 70 pounds.
In 1957, the Soviets defied our common logic and sent aloft a satellite called Sputnik, which sent useless but impressive radio signals back to Earth. Nobody ever really knew what the signals meant, but it scared the holy Hell out of the Americans and Eisenhower's fears began to come true before his very eyes.

Congress and every academic "expert" this side of the Atlantic was convinced that the radio signals were designed to brainwash us, shut down our communications and fire ray-gun beams at our schools and businesses. Worse, the rocket that had propelled the craft into space would soon be equipped with a nuclear warhead.

After that ... pffffffffffffffff ... we were history.

The U.S. military budget ballooned to endless proportions, and ... we spent the next three decades deciding whether to go to war with Russia or just make sure everyone else did.

Sputnik, an impressive feat in its own right, did lead to a space race that eventually did yield positive results, but the ongoing arms race was nothing short of tragic. U.S. and Russian atomic tests were common, polluting the atmosphere with radiation, costing billions of dollars that Eisenhower wanted to spend building highways, schools and hospitals.

Ike had seen war.

That other drill?

We called it "duck and cover."

Civil Defense units formed in virtually every town in America. People built bomb shelters and prayed that something horrible would happen to an entire continent of people who didn't speak our language and couldn't find Chicago on a map.

Fear of Armageddon was very real.

Sputnik just went round and round, beeping and scaring us into spending even more money to protect ourselves what what appeared inevitable.

Everybody was lying.

And the "military-industrial complex" was quite all right with that.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The day Rolland Jinks became a criminal

The old principle that nothing is a big deal unless it happens to you might have applied to Rolland Jinks in early November, 1939.

According to the Brookville American:

Parked Car
Is Damaged On
The Highway

Rolland Jinks Pays Fine
For Failure to Comply
With Law

"There was an unusual case before Justice Alfred P. Wise Monday night in which a new Indiana law was (sic) envoked, in which Rolland Jinks, of Fairfield, a truck driver, was charged with having struck an unattended car on the highway, belonging to Mrs. Ruth Drewes, and leaving the scene of the accident without reporting it to the authorities or the owner."

(Extra points for long sentences!)

The article explained:

"The law which was enacted at the last session of the Indiana legislature is found on page 303, section 42, of the Acts of 1939, which reads:

Unattended vehicle--Striking--Duty Upon Striking Unattended Vehicle--The driver of any vehicle which collides with any vehicle which is unattended shall immediately stop and shall then and there either locate and notify the operator or owner of such vehicle of the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle striking the unattended vehicle, or shall leave in a conspicious place in the vehicle struck a written notice giving the name and address of the driver and of the owner of the vehicle doing the striking and a statement of the circumstances thereof."

One wonders why the law had reached a degree of urgency in 1939, given the fact that vehicles had been around for several years prior to that.

Perhaps they were waiting for Rolland Jinks to smash into Ruth Drewes' car, which was apparently alongside the road.


Lucky she wasn't in it, since a different law might have applied.

Either way, Rolland pleaded guilty to the egregious crime "and was fined $1.00 and costs, amounting to $5.00 and was given a warning and released. This is the first time this law has been envoked."

Clearly, the state planned to reap huge profits from this law. A buck at a time.

The day the church celebrated

Fairfield Methodist as it appeared in 1950.
June 24, 1945 ... the war was coming to an end, and the Fairfield Methodist Church was in a joyous mood.

Repairs to the steeple, a new roof and interior paint ... and the town celebrated with a day-long event, featuring dinner, music, a festive event, indeed.

The secondary headline in the Brookville American said:

Fine Program Given
And A Large
Crowd Attends

"Sunday school, with Miss Evelyn Klein, Superintendent, was held at the usual hour. The usual worship service was conducted by the pastor, Rev. George Curtis. Visiting ministers were present and had a share in the services."

Actually, it appeared that some Methodist "heavyweights" were present for the service, including  District Superintendent R.O. Pearson, whose address came from 21 Chronicles 22-27.

Mrs. Melvin Luker sang "Open The Gates of The Temple" and Carolyn Willhite of Brookville performed two accordion numbers while singing "Ivory Palaces" and "God Bless America."

"The afternoon service was more informal," the American reported. Mrs. Donald Boyd of College Corner and Mrs. Melvin Luker performed solos and the Rev. Boyd gave a sermon.

"John Kelley, treasurer of the Board of Trustees, gave a brief report of the work that had been done on the church building and the cost, etc. The laying of the new roof and repairing and painting of the belfry was done by John Hartman."

Donations covered most of the interior repairs, the newspaper said.

"The main auditorium and two back rooms were papered. The five rugs and aisle runners were cleaned. Woodwork and floors were cleaned and painted and other odd jobs done. Much remains to be done, however, and the officials feel that the outside should be painted now to protect the weather board, which appears in excellent condition after the many years it has been there.

"Mr. Kelly stated that a barrel of paint will be required for the outside and all feel that the needed repairs should be done now. It's hoped that every friend of the church and member will rally to the task ahead and take pride in helping all they can in this worthy cause.

"The public is cordially invited to attend any or all of our church services. The work of the past few weeks has been led by the pastor, who has done much of the actual labor. Rev. Curtis has returned to the Fairfield-Blooming Grove charge with an increase in salary."

Oh ... by the way ...

"The group ministers sang the "The Preacher's Song" for the closing hymn. The day and its fellowship was considered enjoyable and helpful."


Pieces of our past -- Part 2

We go through modern life, often not remembering when the ordinary about us was anything but that. We've just "always had" running water, paved highways and television, right?

Sometime in 1926, the federal government gave radio station WKBV the right to broadcast at any time it wanted. The Brookville newspapers carried the "good news to the listeners of WKBV." The station manager, William Knox, said that "due to the consideration for the listeners of this community," the station would broadcast only one night a week, even though licensed to be "on the air at any time if he so desires."

The status of radio in those early days is perhaps alien to us now, but the government kept a tight rein on the medium.

For the record, WKBV's origin was Brookville. A few years after he set up shop, Knox moved his station to Connersville, probably to take advantage of more advertising opportunities. Later, the station moved its transmitter to Richmond, where it broadcasts today on 1490 on the AM band.

The letters WKBV actually stand for "William Knox, Brook-Ville."

*   *   *

Ah, electronics .... Franklin County prepared for the 1950s like all other towns did, by installing better street lights, sewers and traffic signals.

In 1950, the good news came for Sheriff Jim Hixon.

Franklin County
Sheriff To Get
Two-Way Radio

"The County Council approved a special appropriation of $2,500 ... for the purchase of a two-way radio for the department.

"Plans call for the installation of a central transmitter in the sheriff's office in the Court House, a remote control line to the jail and a receiver and transmitter for the sheriff's car. Thus the sheriff making a run could be in instant touch with the office, which in turn could contact state police at Connersville, Rushville and Shelbyville. In order to operate the station, Sheriff Hixon would have to apply to the Federal Communications Commission for an operator's license. Lawrenceburg and several nearby community are also installing sheriff's radios."

Another $600 would let the Brookville town police hook up with Hixon, the report continued. That was to require a different meeting, a different council and a different budget.

Again, federal oversight of radio communications, a system that is still largely intact today.

*   *   *

The tooth, the whole tooth .... a voluntary program in the fall of 1950 proposed to take advantage of new science in dental hygiene.

Hey! Kids! Look What It
Says - No Toothaches

"A lot of kids in Brookville are going to have fewer toothaches if they take advantage of the opportunity to have sodium fluoride applied to their teeth this summer.

"Letters and request slips will be sent home .... Parents are urged to cooperate in signing and returning the request slips. There will be no charge for the application.

"A series of four applications of a 2% solution of sodium fluoride when applied to children's teeth will reduce the incidence of decay by at least 40%. Children in grades one to eight and pre-school children who will be eligible for school in September, will receive this treatment.

"School buses will be provided to bring children from rural communities into the Lew Wallace School for treatment. Cards will be sent to parents informing them of the date and time their children will be picked up."

Curiously, it would be another 5 years before Procter and Gamble committed funds to researching a fluoride-based toothpaste. A mid-50s study at Indiana University finally netted the first stannous-fluoride toothpaste, Crest.

*   *   *

Beware of the bite .... The early 1950s were a test for Whitewater Valley residents, one that had potentially fatal consequences.

Health Officer
Issues Warning
About Rabies

"Dr. H.N. Smith, Franklin County health officer, has issued the following statement regarding rabies being prevalent here and in other counties.

"Rabies is very common in animals and in our county several dogs have been killed with the disease. In man, rabies is fatal. One exposed to a rabid animal can be protected by taking vaccine.

"People should be careful of all stray dogs. If your dog does not act natural he should be penned up. If the animal is alive at the end of a week, he does not have rabies. If someone has been exposed to a rabid animal, the head should immediately be sent to the State Board of Health for examination.

"In destroying a rabid animal, do not destroy the brain as this is the only organ where the disease can be diagnosed.

"To protect you and your children, all stray dogs not muzzled will be destroyed by the Sheriff or any officer."

Dr. Smith did not mention a rabies vaccine administered to animals. Hell, we never paid any attention to stray dogs in Fairfield.

Too late now.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pieces of our past -- Part 1

Over the course of the four-ish decades that I included for my random searches for anything and everything that seemed interesting about Fairfield, there was no real shortage of Page 1 news in the Brookville newspapers.

By definition, "news" in those days was anything local that was fit to be reported and set into type.

A few samples:


Gant Report Says 
Attendance Is Good

"Albert N. Gant, Franklin County Attendance Officer, has issued his report for the second six-weeks period of the 1949-50 school year. He states that the attendance for the first 12 weeks of the school year is the best in the past four years and shows a vast improvement over the years previous to 1946."

"Some sickness was reported such as mumps at Oldenburg, scarlet fever at Blooming Grove, whooping cough and one school reported impetigo. No school was hit hard by these diseases and on the whole the county is reported to have very good health record."

Scarlet fever?


Daylight Saving
Time Given O.K.
By Town Fathers

Brookville Falls In LIne
With Surrounding

"Brookville will follow in step with most other communities in this section by adopting Daylight Saving Time again in 1950. A committee ... representing the Chamber of Commerce appeared before the Town Board ... and reported the local Chamber favors adopting fast time. The board passed a resolution favoring the adoption of Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, April 30, at 2 a.m."

Standard and Daylight time did not become federally regulated until 1967.


Fairfield Lady
Completes Her
99th Year

Mrs. Christina Kurtz
Is Franklin County's 
Oldest Resident

"Mrs Christina Kurtz of Fairfield celebrated her 99th birthday on Wednesday, June 20th, at the home of her grand-daughter, Mrs. Walter McCarty. The noon-day meal was enjoyed by the following: the guest of honor, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Snider and daughter Alice, and Mrs. and Mrs. Walter McCarty and family. The day was spent quietly."

Page 1 news if ever there was some.


Fire Destroys
Joe Glaub Home
Near Fairfield

House On Same Location
Burned Twenty-three
Years Ago

"The farm home of Joe Glaub, located north of Fairfield, was completely destroyed by fire on Tuesday morning of this week. The Rural Fire Department, from Brookville, and the Liberty Fire Department responded to calls for help. The fire, fanned by a strong wind, hjad gained so much headway by the time of the arrival of the fire departments that the building was consumed. Several nearby buildings were saved."

"Mr. Glaub, who is an invalid makes his home with his daughter, Mrs. Mabel Davis. he was carried from the building in a wheel chair. Neighbors helped save some of the contents."

"This was the second time that fire had destroyed a house on the same foundation. A house located there was completely demolished in 1928."

Sad stuff, the reality of living in the country.


And Howard Snider, who had a woodworking shop in town, didn't escape the wary eye of the reporter in this 1951 tidbit (not Page 1):

"While using a shaper in his woodwork shop last Wednesday, Howard Snider suffered the loss of the end of his left index finger at the first joint. He was taken to the office of a physician where the injury was dressed and cared for."


Friday, October 23, 2015

The day the jet plane crashed

An F-86 Fighter of the 1950s
A crisp wind blew across the East Fork of the Whitewater River on a drab and rainy day on January 14, 1953.

Let's allow the Brookville American to tell us the rest:

U.S. Air Force
F-86 Jet Plane
Crash Lands

On Alden Naylor Farm
Wednesday Afternoon
About 3:00 P.M.

A crash-landing F-86 jet plane of the U.S. Air Force, came to a stop on the front porch of the home of Mr. and Mrs. Alden Naylor of near Fairfield, about 3:00 P.M. on Wednesday afternoon of this week.

The plane, piloted by Lt. Clement Bittner of the 94th Fighter Squadron of George Air Force Base in California, was one of four planes en route from Scott Air Force Base, St. Louis, to Wright-Patterson Field at Dayton, Ohio.

The other three planes crash-landed at Mt. Healthy Airport near Cincinnati. None of the pilots were injured seriously in the landings.

A helicopter, which was piloted by Captain Noll, accompanied by a flight surgeon, picked up Lt. Bittner and started for Dayton when mechanical trouble developed with their chopper and a forced landing was made on a farm about three miles south of Liberty.

The planes ran into murky weather and were unable to land at Dayton. They then tried to make it to Lunken Airport at Cincinnati but ran out of fuel en route.

Lt. Bittner estimated his plane was traveling 170 miles per hour as it crossed the road in front of the Naylor residence.

Lt. Bittner, 26, is married and the father of a 2-year-old daughter. The wife and daughter live in San Francisco.

*   *   *

It appeared to be a bad day all around for the Air Force.

The plane did minimal damage to the Naylor front porch and there's no expanded report on what happened to the downed helicopter.

Much of this sort of news was reported on a need-to-know basis for the public, though it did get regional coverage in the Cincinnati press. One can assume that an inquiry of sorts followed the drama, which clearly could have been much more serious.

How four jet fighter planes could all run out of fuel is somewhat bizarre but perhaps points to the nature of how the Air Force was managed. The objective was Dayton; Plan B was apparently not part of the agenda.

The plane came down across the road through the Dimmitt Butcher farm. Since it was January, no damage was done to any crops. And, no ... there were no petunias on the porch.


Is it possible that his squadron flying over Fairfield was this unit?
Bittner was killed in a squadron accident in Greenland in June 1953.



Cold War -- Part 2

Cartoon turtle was campy propaganda tool
Dozens of books about the Korean War have been written, and there are still questions about the genesis of the conflict and what might have happened had the UN actually defeated the North Koreans.

By 1952, America's military escapades had begun to wind down and headlines announced:

Many Korean Vets
Being Returned
To Civilian Life

"As of January 31, 1952, there were 655,000 living veterans (living?) with U.S. military service since the Korean conflict began. This is an average discharge rate of nearly 35,000 a month for the 19-month period (since the start of the war in 1950)."

Most of that report dealt with numbers that had been released by the Veterans Adminstration regarding wounded servicemen who were being treated or were rehabilitating. The VA said that about 4,000 veterans were receiving some kind of care or compensation as a result of action in Korea.


"Albert N. Gant, fund chairman of the 1952 county Red Cross drive, reports that the drive is proceeding satisfactorily. The general public is requested to have their contributions ready when solicitors call."

(Albert, of Fairfield, wore many hats, including that of county truant officer and township trustee at one time.)

But the really big news came in March 1954:

Franklin County
Considered To Be
Non-Target Area

"If Russia should choose to launch an all-out saturation type bombing on the United States, the state of Indiana might have to bury 214,185 of her citizens, provide medical treatment for 114,635 injured citizens and care for 462,180 disaster affected people."

Seems to be somewhat specific in the numbers, but they could be off by two or three, I suppose. In any event, those were figures released by the Indiana Department of Civil Defense, the guys with the white helmets who also directed traffic at the football games on Friday nights.

However, the CD warned that "these figures would be increased considerably if more powerful atomic or hydrogen bombs were used."

Yeah, that makes sense.

Fred Cretors, who was in charge of producing the 80-page document, was quoted in the Brookville Democrat as saying "it would take up to half of all able bodied citizens in every county to handle the dead, injured and homeless in such a catastrophe."

Cretors had this down to a science that boggles the mind.

Either that, or he was guessing at it.

Whoa, a real A-bomb!
The document was designed to give "detailed instructions for setting up both State and county Civil Defense programs."

The whole thing was carved up into 40 or so variables, all managed from a central location in Pendleton, which of course the Soviets would be unable to hit with any sort of weapon.

Every county was to construct a plan based on the overall agenda Cretors had laid out. Obviously the areas where most of the people lived were considered primary targets, though it would take a complete doofus to miss that connection.

After that, the criteria seemed to waver a little, depending on where the county was located in relationship to Indianapolis, Gary, Fort Wayne, Evansville or South Bend.

Dearborn County seemed vulnerable because, darn it, Cincinnati was close, and that was in ... sigh, Ohio, where Cretors had no jurisdiction.

Franklin County, it was finally revealed, met none of the major target criteria, which meant that the Operation Skywatch teams were on the lookout for ... Dumbo the flying elephant.

The American Civil Defense fear propaganda apparatus spent millions of dollars promoting silly cartoons and publishing pointless documents all telling us what to do in case an atomic bomb were to be dropped.

Kids were told to "duck and cover" under their desks. Air raid shelters were set up in store basements and private bomb shelters could be built and stocked with food and fresh water.

All the while, the government kept testing atomic weapons.

Cold War -- Part 1

The actual start of the Cold War between the U.S.-led alliance and the Soviet-dominated East Bloc probably precedes the end of World War II. For all tangible reasons, it's probably safe to assume it came after the Treaty of Potsdam in 1945. (Links at the end will explore details of that conference.)

Typical propaganda cartoon in 1951
In August 1949, when the Soviets exploded their first atomic weapon, the scramble was on. Fear had set in, and it would be decades before anybody blinked.

Soon after the atomic blast, the struggle for control of the Korean peninsula began. After nearly a half-century of Japanese domination, Korea became a focal point in the "crawl of communism" across the Pacific Rim.

Japan, defeated in the world war, was being rebuilt by the Americans, who feared that the islands would be absorbed by the expansionist plans of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Mix in China and that's the short course on the history leading up to the Korean conflict.

The war itself didn't gather much more than scraps of weekly interest in the Brookville newspapers, short of a weekly propaganda cartoon and a few servicemen's notes in a regular column that had begun just after the start of WWII. Reasons for that might be apparent, might not be. Korea was clearly not a threat to America, specifically. Generally, however, it was.

American involvement in Korea is ongoing and has been since 1950, though the war itself actually reached a truce in 1953, when the North and South grudgingly agreed to split their assets along the 38th parallel. In actual fighting, nearly 34,000 U.S. soldiers and sailors were killed. (The South and North are officially still at war.)

Bruce Cumings, who wrote a 2010 history of the Korean War, summarizes the results of the conflict, which wasn't even considered a "war" at the time in Washington.

"The true tragedy was not the war itself (4 million died overall), for a civil conflict purely among Koreans might have resolved the extraordinary tensions generated by colonialism, national division and foreign intervention.  The tragedy was that the war solved nothing, only the status quo ante was restored, only a cease-fire held the peace."

FWIW ... reviews of Cumings' "The Korean War" are not always positive, so use your own judgment.

To some degree, the happenings in the Whitewater Valley were more comical in retrospect than a suggestion that there was real trouble.

The Cold War was real, spurred on by regular jibberish about "red spies among us" and FBI stalking ... and the infamous Red Scare by the unsettled Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who steered the Army-McCarthy hearings that ferreted out "thousands" of Communists or their sympathizers.

Truly, a cruel joke.

But back home, a few people took the conversation seriously and agreed to set up a network of volunteer sky-watchers. Their objective: To keep an eye on the horizon for anything that might resemble a Soviet warplane.

According to the reports in the Brookville American, the "skywatchers" groups began organizing in 1953. They'd meet here and there, sometimes in Fairfield at Jim Purdy's place, and spend a couple of hours scanning the skies for "incoming" vessels.

One can imagine a few cans of beer, some Hank Williams on the radio and a pair of binoculars.

In one American report:

"An estimated 130 persons will receive wings for having served 10 hours or more on the local Operation Skywatch. The wings will be issued at a meeting in the Court Room on August 17. Air Force personnel from South bend will be on hand to answer questions and give some new information on ground observer operations in the state and the nation.

"A new movie, One Plane, One Bomb, One City will be shown. Names of skywatchers eligible for wings will be published in next week's paper."

For what it's worth, the Soviet "menace" was partly real, mostly contrived and clear evidence that an entire society can be manipulated by fear.

Still, Korea was real. Blood drives continued and young men were still conscripted to fight in the war that was officially designated as a United Nations police action. The UN at that time was generally inert though, for the first time, actually had established itself as a legitimate organization.




Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mrs. Beesley

As we all learned to accept in those days, teachers came and teachers left ... at times in mid-year. A few of the more durable ones held out until the end.

Rarely did the departure of a Fairfield teacher rate as Page 1 news in the Brookville papers.

In one case, however, it did, in the summer of 1955:

Mrs. Helen Beesley
Retires as Teacher

"Mrs. Helen Beesley, who has been a teacher in the Fairfield School for the past 11 years, is retiring after 24 years of teaching in the public schools of Indiana and Ohio.

"Mrs. Beesley received her training at Ball State Teachers College at Muncie and at Miami University at Oxford, Ohio.

"Mrs. Beesley is an active member in church work, teaching a church school and is a member of the W.S.C.S. She also belongs to a Franklin County Home Demonstration Club and is a member of the Delta Theta Tau sorority at College Corner."

Mizz Beeswax, as we were fond of calling her out of earshot, lived in Bath.

Changing of the schools

The old school
Sometime in late 1950 or thereabouts, the powers that were evidently decided, perhaps with some consternation, that the Fairfield school needed to be replaced.

At least one reference to the building appeared in the 1915 August Reifel history of Franklin County, where the school was described as a "fine two-story structure."


One wonders what condition the building was in when the decision came to replace it. A few Fairfielders are around who attended the old school.

Two rooms, with the first four classes on the first floor and the upper four classes on the second floor. Toilets outdoors, wood stoves for heating. Um, talk to the tune of the hickory stick.

Russel Poe built the new school, paid in two installments of about $3,500 each.

The Brookville newspapers didn't make a very big deal of it, which comes as no surprise but the legal advertising was published, per state law.

The new school opened on Sept. 7, 1951, with an enrollment of 91 students, according to a census from Superintendent Marcus Esarey. "Mrs. Helen Beesley will teach the primary department."

Chester Bosse taught the upper three grades and Opal Hogue taught the middle room.

Where went the old building?

"The Fairfield School building and its contents were sold at public auction Saturday afternoon. The two story, two room building was bought by Robert Lanning of Brookville for $860. It will be torn down and moved from the site by January 1, 1952."

Lanning dismantled the old building and used most of it to build a house on East 6th Street in Brookville, which is still standing with major modifications from its original construction.

Later, the replacement school (called the Metal School) was demolished by Steve Bruns, who used some of the materials for farming purposes. That was in 1967.

The new school
I did find one curious item from October 1951 that makes little sense. "Word has been received here that Mr. Taylor, a teacher in the Fairfield School, was seriously injured in an automobile collision as he was enroute to his home at Cannelton, Indiana, for the weekend."

I find no "Mr. Taylor" listed as a teacher at Fairfield. Whatever happened to him probably connects to the auto crash. In any event, the oddities of newspaper reporting in those days can be mind-boggling.

A lot of Fairfield Township school history is covered in other blog items here as well a in a memorial publication by Marilyn Luke Gausman and Julie Schlesselman that's available at the Brookville library.

The book is chock-full of photos, recollections and personal stories, including the names of the teachers over the decades, dating back to at least 1873.

As an aside, Mrs. Beesley earned about $270 a month; a variety of men served as principal, earning slightly more than that. Transportation costs in the early days were about $200 a month, which included busing students to Brookville.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

1954 -- Milan and Fairfield

1954 county champions
Two significant final scores in 1954 marked Indiana as the hotbed of amateur basketball.

One of these, practically everyone knows.

Milan 32, Muncie Central 30.

The other, a bit closer to home.

Fairfield 34, St. Michael's 31.

The Milan legend has been beaten like a slow mule, almost to the point that the tellers of the story keep creating facts as a way of making it more interesting.

A paragraph in the Brookville Democrat on the same weekend that Milan had advanced to the Indianapolis Semistate en route to their improbable title:

"The Fairfield Grade School basketball team played against St. Michael's Friday evening at the Springfield Twp. gym, and won the trophy. The Fairfield teams have no gymnasium so have to do their practicing out-of-doors. They were honored with a party in Johnston Hall after the game."

They won the trophy -- the Franklin County Grade School tournament.

The Big Kahuna.

March Madness. The Gold and Blue rule!

Coach and Principal Chester Bosse led the team to victory, marking the only time Fairfield would ever accomplish that goal, though the Hotshots would gather several third- and fourth-place finishes before the school closed in 1963.

The tournament became a county-wide affair in 1951 and Fairfield lost the first game to Brookville. The 1953 Fairfield team finished fourth. Fairfield had beaten Brookville earlier in the season, the Democrat reported.

Typically, the title went to Brookville, though Enochsburg took the 1955 crown in its first year as a participant.

The 1954 tournament appeared to be a gala affair and the Fairfield news correspondent reported that "Our little town is more than proud of our basketball team of 1954, as they have played good ball and are good sports."

There seemed to be a dispute about the sportsmanship from Joyce Holmes, who reported on the St. Michael's end of the game in what could be considered overt bias. More on that later.

The Hotshots' first opponent on Feb. 26 was hapless Metamora, which fell 43-14 to Bosse's charges.

The big shocker that night was a Blooming Grove 35-31 win over heavily favored Brookville.

The Hotshots the following week sent Blooming Grove packing, 36-25, to set up the title clash against St. Michael's, which was led by the fabled Jimmy Cooper. The Saints had crushed St. Peter's and Laurel to reach the championship game.

Title game box score
With Joyce Holmes on the call for the Democrat:

"Fairfield Junior High emerged victorious 34-31, in a close, hard-fought contest with St. Michael's last Friday night, and copped the trophy symbol of victory in the Junior High Tourney."

Holmes reported that the "Saints couldn't get started" and had fallen behind 5-0, with the Logan brothers -- Chuck and Burnell -- leading the way.

Fairfield led 8-3 at the end of the first quarter (6 minutes) but at halftime, the Hotshots were clinging to a 15-13 lead.

"The third quarter found St. Mike's hot and by the early moments of the fourth quarter, the score was almost even. Then Cooper fouled out on a slightly questionable call. (Dick) Weston came dribbling down the court and hit Jimmy in the face with his fist. Cooper was called for blocking. The St. Mike's crowd gave him a standing ovation as he left the game. Not long after, (Ronnie) Jarrett and B. Logan left the game on five personals.

"St. Michael's made a valiant effort to pull even but they couldn't quite make it.

"The trophy was presented to the Fairfield co-captains, Weston and B. Logan, by Mr. Esarey, who made a nice speech congratulating the victors and consoling the losers."

Esarey would have been Marcus Esarey, who was superintendent of Franklin County schools in those days.

Fairfield team members that year:

Burnell and Chuck Logan, Steve Snider, Ronnie Jarrett, J.C. Linegar, Eldon Cornelius, Butch Alvey, Dick Weston, Dale and Bobby Poe, John Bowers and Freddie Smith.

Of the group, only Eldon Cornelius played varsity basketball at Brookville. He was a senior on the 1958 undefeated team, the only one in school history. He was not, however, the leading player on the FGS title team.

That honor went to Burnell Logan, who typically scored most of the team's points.

The Fairfield basketball program would endure for several more years, wearing those gold shirts with the blue "F" in front. It would not be until about 1962 that the uniforms were replaced.

By then, there wasn't much more tournament ahead for the Hotshots.

But we have 1954 -- and if it works for Milan, it works for Fairfield.

The Fairfield "gym" had seating for ... um ... 4.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


If your history search across Hoosierland doesn't stop at the scorer's bench, you're in Eerie, Indiana.

The real one has a net on either end.

The nature of basketball in Indiana has been a source of fascination for decades, though arguably the appeal has tarnished in the last 20 years.

I hope to visit several components of the sport in a blog that I hope is long on wow and short on yawn.

The one-and-bonus, so to speak.

In ancient days, meaning the time after the end of the first World War, schools were being built and basketball teams were forming. Anyplace that could be heated in winter served as a gymnasium.

Alquina, always a tough team
Separating the "city schools" from the township entrants isn't particularly difficult in the Whitewater Valley.

In Franklin County alone, high school teams competed from Brookville, Laurel, Springfield and Whitewater townships. In Union County, schools competed from Liberty, Brownsville, Kitchel and College Corner. From Fayette, Alquina, Orange, Fairview, Harrisburg, Bentonville all tried to oust Connersville.

Teams from such diverse places in Rush County: Milroy, Raleigh (The Sir Walters!), Manilla, and New Salem. Bright and Guilford came up from Dearborn County. You could also play Reilly, Ohio.

In most years, it was difficult to determine which school was better. Bentonville was as likely as anybody to play Connersville for the sectional title

Obviously, the rivalries were intense and games were often shifted to larger gyms to accommodate the crowds. In Brookville, the tiny Lew Wallace gym didn't have nearly enough room for all the fans, who were required to buy tickets on an even-odd basis.

A town lottery would be held for seats to the sectional tournament in Connersville.

Laurel played most of its home games in other gyms until around 1958.

Brownsville's gym was mostly a barn with sidewalls cut out to allow for seating.

There were moments, like 1950:

"James Jackson and his powerful Greyhound squad brought glory to Brookville Saturday night, as they trounced the surprising Blue Arrows from Alquina 55-38.

"The old town was in a blaze of glory after the game as the Greyhound fans built a big bonfire in front of the Valley House and gave the players a hearty welcome as they returned from the tourney."

The win had given Brookville its first real sectional title ever, and marked the end of a peculiar decade that saw perennial powerhouse Connersville come up short as often as not.

Connersville, by far the largest school in the sectional, also hosted the tournament in a cramped fieldhouse. Most years, the township schools battled for the right to lose in the final game.

Wartime changed some of that, with a large number of Connersville boys opting out of sports to work evenings in factory production, a practice that was not only accepted, but was indeed encouraged.

As a result, odd sectional winners emerged, though the Brookville title in 1950 was more the result of a talented team than watered-down competition.

Some of the winners during that decade:

1942 AND 1943 -- Kitchel
1945 -- Liberty
1946 -- Brownsville
1947 -- Everton

Oddly, it was Everton's final year as a school. A year earlier, the Everton team had lost only one game.

Marker in Kitchel denotes sectional titles
The Kitchel phenomenon defies description but I've discerned that brothers Clinton and Darrell Bostick were standout players for the Cowboys. I can find no detailed information on either player, though it was Clint who had made the winning shot in 1942. Darrell was the team's top player. Both are deceased.

The 1943 sectional story was succinct. Kitchel had already manhandled Brookville in the regular-season finale and the two were scheduled to meet again in the first game of the sectional. A dozen teams were entered.

"The Greyhounds will enter the tourney at 10 o'clock Friday (weekday morning games were common) against the highly touted Cowboys, who just recently handed the 'Hounds their worst drubbing of the 1942-43 season, 47-29. However, since Kitchel and Connersville are picked to clash in the finals, the 'Hounds would have to reckon with the Cowboys sooner or later in the fray, so it might just as well have been in their first game."

The report in the Brookville paper spent some time cheerleading. "Nevertheless, dope buckets have been upset, and should the 'Hounds spill the dope, and win from Kitchel, they will play the winner of the Whitewater-Everton game at 7 o'clock, Friday night, etc."


The 30-17 Kitchel win sealed the 'Hounds' fate.

Kitchel went on to beat Connersville 36-35 in double overtime to take the crown. Harry Dils made the winning shot.

But Kitchel had already etched its name on the walls of sectional history a year earlier.

Brookville American scribe Marion Cox with the call:


20-Time Winners Dethroned
By Kitchel Cowboys

"The sectional tourney at Connersville last week wrote finis to the 1941-42 basketball season for fans in this section. This year's tournament was different. It was different in that the Connersville Spartans, favorites to win as had been the case year after year, were corralled by the Kitchel Cowboys, who galloped all the way to face the stalwart Spartans in the final, winning undisputed right to the pennant, by the score of 40 to 38 in a double overtime game.

"Connersville holds the most enviable record of winning the sectional 17 consecutive years up to 1938 when Liberty was victorious; with Connersville returning to the win column until this year."

The report contained no details on the game but two consecutive double-overtime sectional titles was fodder for the ages.

In those days, the first TWO points in the second overtime gave a team the win. A first point did not, however. So, do the math on 1943.

As an aside Kitchel, actually won first-round games in each of its regional appearances before being eliminated and cast into the trivia bin of basketball history. Keith Stroup was the coach.

Laurel did not have a team in 1942.

For its part, Brookville's program was, at best, fairly ordinary. It was not rare for Whitewater or Laurel to beat the Greyhounds. Although ... one somewhat interesting near-success occurred in the fall of 1954.

"A hard-fighting Brookville squad was edged by the Milan Indians, 37-36, in a nip-and-tuck contest Tuesday night at the Milan gym.

"Coach Robert Mode's Greyhounds showed more spirit than they had displayed in their previous two contests ... and were leading the much heralded Indians during most of the contest. Milan grabbed the lead with a little better than two minutes left to play.

"Big Dick Cly, who started for the first time this season, had a chance to tie the contest and give the Greyhounds a victory as he was fouled just as the game ended. He received two free throws but missed them both."

Ah ................... choke!

Milan, for the record, had won the 1954 state tournament in its storybook upset of Muncie Central.

Brookville's basketball fortunes began to turn in 1957 ahead of its only unbeaten team the following year.

By the end of the 1950s, the consolidation script was on the wall and it would soon be apparent that the Kitchel Cowboys would be sent to that dude ranch in the sky.

In fact, the 1959 Brookville sectional championship team opened the tournament by easily defeating a Kitchel squad that was identified as "hapless."

Neither Whitewater, Springfield nor Laurel ever won a sectional tournament though all were finalists at one time or other.

Springfield holds a unique record, having shut out Fairview 51-0 in a 1938 sectional game. There has never been a sectional shutout that lopsided in Indiana history.

Not many people know that.

Teams that played in the Connersville sectional up until the mid-to-late 1950s:

Brookville Greyhounds (Purples)
Laurel Panthers
Springfield Cardinals
Whitewater Elkhorns

Alquina Blue Arrows
Bentonville Trojans
Connersville Spartans
Everton Bearcats
Fairview Yellow Jackets  (Fayette Central Chiefs)
Harrisburg Hornets  (Fayette Central Chiefs)
Orange Tigers (Fayette Central Chiefs)

Brownsville Lions
College Corner Trojans (usually played in the Ohio tournament)
Kitchel (aka Harrison Township) Cowboys
Liberty Warriors (later, the Lancers)


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Block that kick!

Big doin's occurred in the spring of 1950. Life had stabilized in the Whitewater Valley and it was time to expand our horizons.

What better way than with ...


Good old Grade-A American gridiron competition. (Soccer? What's that?)

Brookville High's basketball team had won its first sectional tournament championship a week or so earlier, but the headline in the Democrat on March 6, 1950, blasted out the news:

Chamber of Commerce Backs Football

Extensive Drive Planned
To Raise Funds To Start
Sport at BHS This Fall

Editor Raymond A. Everett had the call:

"The bark of the quarterback calling his signals, the dull thud of his toe kicking the pigskin, the yell of the crowd. 'We want a touchdown' -- all this and more too may be heard in Brookville this fall if plans now being formulated by the Brookville Chamber of Commerce are successful."

The Chamber was the driving force for developing a fund-raising strategy to outfit the first interscholastic team at the high school, citing a need for $2,500 to purchase the equipment.

1950s football uniform
"It was finally agreed to sponsor a drive for funds with a canvass of businessmen and civic minded individuals. It is hoped that a number of firms and individuals will volunteer to furnish the equipment for one player (the approximate cost is $70). Several persons have already signified their willingness to do this."

The plan, the strategy and the effort paid off. By summer, coach Jim Jackson (who also coached basketball) welcomed his first group of players. The games were to be played at the Town Park (in the valley) on weekday afternoons, since lights were not available.

On a Monday in early September, the Greyhounds played their first game against Cambridge City. The Wampus Cats were also playing their first-ever game as well.

It didn't go well for the 'Hounds, who lost 30-0.

"The Cambridge City outfit was built around Grinstead, a sophomore transfer from Florida, where he is reported to have made all-state in the backfield in his freshman year. Their offense looked a lot smoother than Brookville's and they had little trouble in rolling across five touchdowns."

If at first you don't succeed, the Brookville motto ...

The first home game was on Sept. 21, 1950, against Morton Memorial.

"The starting time is three o'clock. As most of the business houses in Brookville close on Thursday afternoon, a large attendance is anticipated. The price of admission will be 60 cents for adults and 25 cents for students."

The high school band was to get its first chance to perform, though "handicapped by poor weather for marching practice and by a recent change in music directors, some entertainment will be provided by the group at halftime."

It wasn't long before football took hold. As well, the cry for lights at the ballpark grew louder.

At one point, the Chamber of Commerce's appeal suggested that if the attendance couldn't improve, the program might be dropped.

"The need for recreation and activity for the high school age group is becoming increasingly evident. One of these activities, football, is in danger of being discontinued in another year," the Chamber wrote for the Democrat. "Many of the boys have learned to love the game after playing for three years, and would hate to see the school have to ban the sport."

The plea was somewhat disjointed, based on perceptions that could otherwise not be proven, including an estimate that the school was "losing" about $100 per game because the crowds were too small.

Without lights, the plea said, "... it is impossible for most people to attend because of their work."

In August 1953, the lights were installed.

On September 4, the first night game was played at the ballpark, with Brookville gaining revenge on Cambridge City, 26-6. Previously, Cambridge had never lost to Brookville. By then, the team was coached by Raymond Anderson.

The Greyhounds also played such teams as Batesville, Hagerstown, Aurora and Oxford McGuffey in those first years.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Before we went boating ...

So, what did we do for fun in Fairfield before the government gave us a place to go boating?

By the end of the 1940s, the public was on wheels, folks were working and ... getting married.

And having kids.

But most recreation was for adults in those days. It would be a few more years before the baby boomer kids would need something to do to stay out of Mom's hair and in the streets where they belonged.

Actually, playing in the streets in Fairfield in those bygone days wasn't particularly dangerous.

Aside from that, we had ... yes, squirrel hunting.

In fact, the Brookville Democrat made a big deal out of it, posting the annual season report on the front page each August, dating back to the end of the 1930s.

"Harrell F. Mosbaugh, director of the Division of Fish and Game, said that indications point to a better squirrel season this year than in 1943."

Oh, had the squirrels known ... alas, the "Indiana season opens today, Thursday, August 20, and closes October 6."

According to Mosbaugh's estimate, reports from 59 out of 75 conservation officers showed that the squirrel population was higher than it had been in the previous year.

"The harvest of squirrels by hunters during the 1943 season was 320,780 gray squirrels and 1,210,338 fox squirrels."

It is not important to ask who actually COUNTED this "harvest" of furry fun.

*   *   *

So, if you didn't want to traipse the woods in search of cheap meat, then what?

Well, there was horseshoes. The Democrat kept the league standings. Top pitcher in those days was Hubert Lohrey, with Bud Hofer, Vernon Price and Larry Hannebaum usually leading the way. Lohrey scored a ringer about 40 percent of the time, the data shows.

*   *   *

Meanwhile, "at a special meeting of 400 parents, teachers and school patrons held in Wichita, Kansas, it was agreed that sex education should begin in the schools at about the fourth grade. The meeting did not vote to institute the instruction in the Wichita schools."


*   *   *

More genteel recreational activities included many in the valley.

County Home Demonstration programs were annual events.

"The growth of home economics work in the county was discussed briefly (at the annual meeting), following which all those who had been members of home economics clubs for 10 years or more were asked to come forward and presented with a rose in honor of their service. Twenty-three 10-year members were present."

A thrill a minute.

*   *   *

That week, the county's men were making plans to conduct the "Big Fox Drive" at Blooming Grove. The objective was to cull the valley of the pesky creatures. A dead fox was worth a small bounty.

Later, we'll shoot squirrels, right?

*   *   *

4-H for girls was a big deal in Fairfield.

Betty Louden, who was the reporter for the Fairfield Boosters, revealed that the Boosters held their first meeting on May 17 "at the home of our leader, Lucille Burke. Marlene Personette had charge of the meeting. Twelve members were present and 3 visitors."

Officers: Reba Gant, president; Sandra Banning, vice president; Patricia Browning, secretary-treasurer; Betty Louden, reporter; Janet and Janice Smith and Shirley Browning, game leaders; Marlene Personette, song leader; Wilda Snyder, health leader.

Wilda Snyder gave a talk on safety. She gave all members a chance to give an opinion on safety around the household. One gave a good hint. Music by all and refreshments were served."

Game leaders, huh?

Come on! What was the one good hint?

*   *   *

Also, "Mrs. Gradie Boyd took her Sunday School class of boys to see "Prince of Peace" at Brookville Saturday afternoon. Transportation was made by Kenneth Davis in his school bus."

That would be the Morin Theater, Brookville's finest.

*   *   *

"The Young Peoples Class of the Sunday School are planning a chili supper to be held Friday evening of this week."

Hot or mild?

*   *   *

Meanwhile in Metamora ...

"Walter Underwood, Brookville's Hot Rod race driver, is being held in the Fayette County Jail on a narcotics charge. The arrest of Underwood was made at Metamore on Tuesday, when it is reported he turned over a large quantity of mariuana to a federal undercover agend in exchange for marked money."

Reefer madness, no doubt.

*   *   *

By the early 1950s, shuffleboard programs had been implemented in Brookville, as well as tennis, softball, ping pong and horseshoes.

Softball was big in those days, and church league games were well-attended.

The Fairfield Methodist was apparently a powerhouse in 1955. Led by pitcher Vernon Price (wait, the horseshoe expert!) and the Logan brothers, The FFMC juggernaut crushed Springfield 22-8.

No further word on how the team fared is readily available.

Games were played at the Brookville Town Park.

Mosquitoes and all.

This photo from a 1955 Democrat, includes this caption information: Miss Joan Curts, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Curts of Brookville, is shown with a typical meal that will be offered for $1.35 at the cafeteria in the new $300,000 Service Building which will be open for the first time for this year's Indiana State Fair visitors. The State Fair opens today and will continue until Sept. 12. The new cafeteria is designed to serve 1,000 meals per hour. Miss Curts graduated from Brookville High School with the class of 1953.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Our second world war -- Part 9

Alice Butcher Gibbons provided this photo.
Fairfield's contribution to World War II cannot be understated. Over the course of the war, at least 35 township men either enlisted or were drafted into service.

At one point, a sign somewhere in the town listed the men who were part of a Wall of Honor. On it, 28 names.

However, a book produced a few years ago by Julie Schesselman at the Brookville library provides names of at least six other men who served but who are not listed on the sign.

Representative entry in Julie's book
Many of these men are buried in Sims-Brier Cemetery east of the lake just north of Causeway Road.

Julie's book is complex and contains the records of virtually everyone from Franklin County who served in the military, which dates as far back as the Revolution, on through the Civil War ... and includes the Korean conflict, and later, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf wars.

Many of the entries contain photos, personal accounts and anecdotes, depending on who provided the material for publication. Julie estimates that more than 2,000 entries represent Franklin County for World War II. It's at many libraries in Indiana and is available for sale on


Our second world war -- Part 8

The modern woman's dream
An August 1945 headline in the Brookville Democrat proudly announced:

G.E. Will Make

Production to start for
first since April, 1942

"The first complete assembly-line production of household electrical refrigerators since April 30, 1942, got under way at the General Electric Company's plant today."

(G.E. maintained a large presence in Cincinnati/Evendale.)

"The first of 95,000 refrigerators to be made by G.E. in 1945, the 7-cubic foot machines that came off the line were immediately crated and loaded aboard a truck for shipment to warehouses from which they will be distributed to the Army, navy and government claimant agencies."

So ... they really weren't quite ready to sell these appliances to regular customers.

And the company said so.

"G.E.'s biggest job still is to build equipment for our armed forces," (Production VP H.L.) Andrews said. "But since government restrictions on some peacetime manufacture have been lifted, we have reconverted any idle assembly line as quickly as possible."

Andrews made it clear that the "public must continue to wait, probably until next year, before new ones are available. All production will be stockpiled against essential demands until the government permits open-market purchases by the public."

The news was important, primarily because it instilled a sense of confidence among American consumers that the war was finally over.

But it also signaled that private industry was ready to take up the slack when millions of returning soldiers and sailors converted their own lives to peacetime.

There would be jobs.

Jobs that had not existed in 1932 when Franklin D. Roosevelt took office.

Those new G.E. appliances represented no major change in design or capability. They were simply refrigerators that were to have been built in 1941 but were shelved when the war broke out. Essentially, G.E. had spent nothing for advanced research and development.

But it didn't matter. It was peacetime economy.

As soldiers returned home, more changes would occur. There'd be a need for housing, highways and schools as America prepared for its "baby boom generation" that would shape our world into the 21st century.

As a sidelight to that, some components of the process were perhaps accidentally more useful than others. During the war, many factories depended on teen-aged youths to fill vacancies in manufacturing. Those youths gained valuable skills that allowed them to help convert manufacturing for the burgeoning peacetime growth that was soon to occur.

You just don't get these headlines today!
Also, as early as February 1942, farmers had been offered extension training to help repair and maintain their agricultural equipment. "Today, we face the situation which requires the prompt repair and conditioning of all serviceable farm machinery. These schools are designed to assist farmers in this task."

If the training did nothing else, it supported the notion that Americans needed to be self-sufficient. The principle was guiding well after the war ended. Government was consistent, if not slow, in converting from a wartime economy.

One assumes that experts could evaluate the unemployment data immediately after the war but it's a cinch it represented no trends, other than the demand for goods and services by the public would begin to grow. Blame most of that on television, I suppose. (Blame television for everything.)

Eventually, more recreation would be in demand.

The government took on a new role in some cases. They built dams.

GE HISTORY (Some very interesting stuff)


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Our second world war -- Part 7

1945 cartoon in the Democrat. Scary stuff.
Many of the details surrounding the final months of World War II are common knowledge to us, a full seven decades or more after the war ended.

But that wasn't the case during the conflict itself. The War Department was reluctant to share insights into its activities, partly for reasons that were obvious for national security and partly because the complexities made it difficult to "dumb it down" for the average radio listener.

As a result, battles in faraway Pacific islands, aboard battleships and inside tanks, or troop transports ... all based on a need-to-know policy ... and many who endured on the home front were always in the dark about the war.

The standard propaganda painted everything in a positive light, generally because it's good for business, economically and morally.

The need for a lot of wartime rationing had effectively ended by the middle of 1944 but little attempt was made to impart that information. The scrap-metal drives had essentially ended and anyone who was involved in that had begun to pay attention.

D-Day invasion at Normandy in June 1944 was a morale booster for the military but the public back home had no such illusion. Americans had been aware of successes along the Italian front and had heard of the Nazi defeat in their ill-advised attack on Russia.

But the news was slow in coming.

Finally, the Democrat announced:

Victory Brings
End To Much
Of Rationing

Gasoline, and Many Canned Goods Are Off the List

"In an announcement made from Washington yesterday, the government hurled aside many wartime controls, but solemnly pointed out that reaching a fully prosperous peace at home will be neither quick nor easy.

"Reconversion Director John W. Snider frankly painted a picture of wide unemployment which he hopes will be only temporary -- 5,000,000 more within three months, perhaps 8,000,000 by next spring."

The report called for an immediate end to the rationing of gasoline, fuel oil, stoves, canned fruits and vegetables, catsup, grape juice, and chili sauce (chili sauce?).

"The armed services will discharge 7,000,000 men and women within a year or 18 months; perhaps 5.5 million from the Army."

Yep, unemployment loomed. Many of these soldiers and sailors had joined the military right out of high school when the war started and had never held a real job in the first place. Coming home, three or four years older now, they'd be facing a tough time.

As well, price controls were being lifted in a way to spur consumption of a variety of goods, such as jewelry, sports equipment, toys, cigarette lighters, pipes and cameras and film.

The need to ration shoe leather was also expected to end as the armed services numbers dropped drastically. Wool and cotton needs were also expected to decline, "thus freeing thousands of yards for the civilian market before Christmas."

Happy holidays, World!

Rent controls were expected to continue, though it's not clear why. Rail travel was also expected to be under a tight rein as soldiers returning home would need first-chance accommodations.

"Coal for use in this country will probably remain in short supply through next winter. Needs very likely will exceed supplies of meats, fats, oils, sugar and some other important foods."

To some end, the government was guessing. The enormous number of men and women coming home from war to a country that had spent more than 15 years in depression ... and a world that was beginning to modernize ... one that had sustained itself during a most difficult time ... nobody truthfully knew what to expect.

Economists essentially believed that America would somehow "buy itself out of trouble."

To some degree, that happened.

But first there was still the matter of the war in the Pacific, which was being gradually won.

The deal wasn't quite done, even after the atom bomb attack on Hiroshima.

A syndicated column in the Brookville paper wrote this hypothesis:

"As this Bulletin (Aug. 16, 1945) is being written, the world waits for the Japanese answer to the proposal of the Allies sent her last Saturday. The world may be at peace before these lines are being read. On the other hand, the insane militarists of the Japanese empire may determine to continue the slaughter of their citizens and the destruction of their cities and property for a brief period longer."

There was no mention of Hiroshima (Aug. 6) or Nagasaki (Aug. 9) in the article, for reasons that might have been obvious, might not have been.

"But the exhaustion of the Land of the Rising Sun must bring victory and peace within a matter of days at most. When this happens, when V-J Day arrives, there will be the deserved movements of prayerful Thanksgiving and complete rejoicing."

But caution was the word.

"It is our duty now to take everything in stride, and let the conversion from wartime endeavors follow an organized pattern, rather than hopeless confusion."

In a phrase, we trusted the government.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Our second world war -- Part 6

Editorial cartoon from the Brookville paper
I came across this article from an April 21, 1949 issue of the Brookville American. I had no particular reason to read it, other than "war news" was still part of my search agenda.

Funeral Services for
Pvt. Charles G. Lohrey
Held Wednesday

"Funeral services for Pvt. Charles Graydon (Bud) Lohrey, 27, were conducted at the Brookville Christian Church, Wednesday afternoon, with Rev. Gilbert Schreiber in charge. Burial was in Maple Grove Cemetery.

"Pvt. Lohrey was killed in action in Germany April 9, 1945."

The obituary adds the survivors and other standard details.

It took four years to locate Pvt. Lohrey's remains and have them sent back to Brookville.

Sometimes, the war didn't end the day the enemy surrendered.

*   *   *

A curious item from June 21, 1945, or just after the Nazis surrendered:

Liberated from
Prison Camp
in Germany

Sgt. L. Rosenberger
Tells of His Grim

"Sgt. Laurence Rosenberger, who was liberated by the Russians on April 29th of this year from a prison camp near Munich, Germany, is visiting his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Rosenberger, on the Dixon farm east of town.

"Rosenberger, who was a turret gunner in the Air Force, was shot down over western Germany on Aug. 4th of last year and tells a story, the grim details of which this newspaper regrets it does not have space enough to print in its entirety.

"Their plane aflame from anti-aircraft fire, Sgt. Rosenberger and his fellow crewmen bailed out and came down in a hail of flak and flying debris, landing in a tree top. He was forced to jump down and was severely injured in the landing.

"He was rescued, if it could be called that, from irate civilians by German forces and was taken with other prisoners to a Russian prison camp with little or no medical treatment. They were subjected to the most inhuman treatment in an effort to extract information, but were eventually moved on when this proved useless."

Rosenberger told the newspaper that the prisoners were constantly moved ahead of the Allied army's advancement in Germany. The prisoners were moved by rail, in box cars.

"The greater percentage of the prisoners did not survive.

"Among the more hair-raising experiences Sgt. Rosenberger was forced to undergo was that of sitting in a box car in the Frankfort yards while they were being bombed. At another time they were herded into crowded buildings in the heart of the military target of Nuremberg and held there at gun point."

Today, they'd refer to that as the "human shield" defense.

*   *   *

Sometimes, the families knew what had happened to their soldiers, which perhaps made it worse. John Lang of rural Brookville, was captured in early 1944 and was apparently given permission to write home.

County Soldier
Is Held Prisoner

John E. Lang Writes
Parents from German 
Prison Camp

"Dear Mom:

How are you getting along, fine I hope. I am. Feel great. Prison life isn't so bad as you think. I'm treated fine. I sure hope you believe me and don't worry about me. I will be home some day, just like I always told you.

You can send me cigarettes and candy if you want to. Just see the Red Cross, who are really great. I hope the work is about finished for the spring. I'll help with the next one.

My buddy and I are going to make a cake now out of our parcel. It weighs ten pounds and we get one once a week.

Well Mom tell all hello, and lots of love, from your son,

    --   Junior"

One may interpret this as one wishes.

Presumably. Lang made it back home in one piece.

War truly was Hell.

Our second world war -- Part 5

While the county collected tin cans, held blood drives and issued rationing stamps, time trod slowly onward into the second and third years of what soon became a global conflict with real concerns at stake.

This was not a war about water rights.

And with each week, another boy here or there turned 18. The Brookville newspapers were full of snippets about who was assigned where, and how long they'd be on leave ... but usually not where they were going once they went back to their units.

In February 1943, the Democrat listed 21 Franklin County men who had been inducted into either the Army or the Navy ... names you'd probably recognize in one form or another ... and another 16 who had enlisted but were not yet eligible to be inducted. At least three of those names -- Charles Flack, Wright Buckley and Harold Scherer, were from Fairfield.

In all, more than 10 percent of the county's population was actively involved in the war effort, in uniform. How many were sent to the fighting? The records are there.

Some did not return.

The newspapers are full of interesting tidbits about what life was like on the home front and the battle front.


Near Peppertown, Sheriff Cliff Bruns apprehended James O. Quinlan, 31, for desertion from the Army. The soldier was making his second attempt to neglect his sworn duty.

"Quinlan left Fort Benning, Ga., May 25, and since that time had been sought by authorities. Officers had arrested Quinlan five months previous to his second desertion, in a cabin in another woods, and had turned him over to Army officials."

The sheriff said Quinlan was being cared for by relatives in the Peppertown area.


"The fact that the Muncie-Marion-Richmond area continues to be a labor shortage area is proof of the necessity of meeting manpower problems by strengthening tried and tested volunteer manpower programs," said (a labor official blah blah blah) ... "and the programs which are now being applied here hav been tested elsewhere and have proven to be successful."

A mouthful of nothing, it seemed, but the report -- in its convoluted way -- emphasized that wartime manufacturing quotas needed to be met.

How that happened was probably more up to the company than the government, but women were clearly considered vital to the process. It was also not uncommon for high-school students to take time off from their studies to work in industry.

MORE FROM THE WAR ... (all of this from 1944)

  • A report from the Blood Donor Services committee preparing for the two-day visit of the mobile unit here on July 14-15 shows that 196 donors must be secured before the county reaches its quota of 420 for the two days.
  • Coxswain James Fath who suffered an eye injury during the latter part of June has recovered sufficiently to rejoin his ship. He had been confined to a Naval hospital in the New Hebrides Islands.
  • Chief Warrant Officer Evan Burgdoerfer of Laurel, serving with the 9th Infantry in Germany, has been awarded the Bronze Star and an Oak Leaf Cluster for heroic achievment and meritorious service in action during the Sicilian and North African campaigns.
  • PFC Howard Jinks, son of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Jinks of Fairfield, is a member of the 69th Division 273 Infantry in Gen. Hodges' First Army, the unit which first made contact with the Red (Soviet) Army. Jinks was a resident of Richmond when inducted. His wife resides there. 
  • Junior Banning, S2/C, who is with the Radar Division at the U.S. Navy Air Base at Corpus Christi, Texas, has been promoted to the rank of Seaman First Class.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Our second world war -- Part 4

In a world much different from ours in a time that even history books can't completely explain, one component of World War II was consistent.

Americans were ready and willing to sacrifice personal "freedoms" for the good of the war cause. Listening to the politics of modern America, one wonders if modern pundits have a clue about how we got to this point.

Aside from the standard rationing of gasoline, rubber, sugar and electricity, the nation was absorbed with producing more.

More of everything, so long as it was deemed useful for defeating the evil Axis powers in Europe and the Pacific rim.

One story has endured and with good reason: The Victory Garden.

Such a concept could scarcely be considered now.

In March 1942, four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor (12-7-41) the Brookville American ran the following story:

Educational meetings
in several communities

"The Victory Garden program continues to meet with enthusiastic interest throughout the county. Several communities have arranged to hold group meetings for the purpose of effecting the most productive methods of small-space gardening. Colored slides showing the best known insect control policies are being used. The meetings are livened with the screening of a health picture and a "talkie" comedy."

Whoa, the "talkie" comedy would get my attention!

Meetings were planned in Springfield, Bath, Metamora, Peppertown, Oldenburg, Laurel. Though Fairfield isn't mentioned, it's assumed there was at least some interest in the Victory Garden program. It's likely a meeting was held there at some point.

Gasoline rationing ... an everyday event
What seems obvious is that Americans, a full four months into the war, were quite aware that the conflict would exact some heavy demands on the civilian population.

It's also worth noting that the nation had some fairly strong memories of the first World War, which had ended in 1918. Feeding an army was always a challenge. America had the capability, if only her citizens would participate.

And participate, they did.

Farmers were constantly being reminded to stay abreast of changes in rationing restrictions, particularly if they wanted to purchase equipment -- inconceivable in modern America.

"Instances have been reported of persons driving many miles to the nearest War Production Board office, asking for a certificate to purchase equipment, only to find they had gone to the wrong agency."

So, the pressure was on -- produce more food but be prepared to negotiate a maze of bureaucracy if you need equipment to get it done.

They endured.

The premise of the Victory Garden was simple -- grow more than you need, make the rest available to be canned and learn to be self-sufficient. A cannery in Metamora during those early war years issued regular appeals for workers to produce food that could be packaged into ready-to-eat meals for soldiers.

By the end of 1942, the Victory Garden was in full swing. Organizations such as Kiwanis, 4-H, home economics clubs and extension services were structuring useful activities for full-scale implementation in 1943.

Demonstration plots were set up, which helped gardeners control insects, and weeds, as well as teaching them to can their food. For those who didn't have a space to plant a Victory Garden, plots could be obtained. And, a clearing house for surplus vegetables was set up.

The "Big Four" of canning, the newspaper penned, were "tomatoes, green beans, peas and corn."

And "for variety, Hoosiers might plant cauliflower or broccoli or Chinese cabbage." Tips were included on soil fertility and how to buy plants from local greenhouses.

Turnips and onions were also nice choices for storage, the American wrote.

So if you grew too much?

"The Surplus Vegetable and Fruit Committee of the Franklin County Garden Committee in an effort to prevent waste of vegetables and fruit for canning purposes, have worked out a plan to equalize the supply in the county."

(We call that socialism today.)

"Many gardeners will have an over-supply of home-grown vegetables, or fruits, while others who desire to can such produce will not have a sufficient supply."

(OK, we get it.)

"To accomplish this saving, and to provide for equal distribution, the committee has established a 'clearing house' with Mrs. Bessie Dare in charge. Growers having a surplus and persons in need of products are asked to cooperate with the program by calling Mrs. Dare, Phone Brookville 124-M and register their names."

Meanwhile, truck drivers who hauled farm produce were required to "keep a complete weekly record of mileage, gasoline consumption, and tonnage, as required by the ODT. It was pointed out ... that such a record will aid truck owners in getting tire replacements, either recapping service or new tires.

"The statement also emphasized that it will be necessary to have this complete record in order to establish a basis for gasoline needed in the operation of trucks in this classification."


  • Because canned vegetables were rationed, Victory Gardens also helped people stretch their ration coupons (the amount of certain foods they were allowed to buy at the store).
  • Because trains and trucks had to be used to transport soldiers, vehicles, and weapons, most Americans ate local produce grown in their own communities.
  • At their peak there were more than 20 million Victory Gardens planted across the United States.
  • By 1944 Victory Gardens were responsible for producing 40 percent of all vegetables grown in the United States. More than one million tons of vegetables were grown in Victory Gardens during the war.
  • People with no yards planted small Victory Gardens in window boxes and watered them through their windows. Some city dwellers who lived in tall apartment buildings planted rooftop gardens and the whole building pitched in and helped.
  • Many schools across the country planted Victory Gardens on their school grounds and used their produce in their school lunches.

An ad from the 1942 American seeking workers in Metamora