Gratiot County’s Finest Hour, May 1945: “V-E Day – The War Ends in Europe”

Above: Memorial Day 1945 and 7th War Loan advertisements from the Alma Record; Sergeant Melvin Lutz of St. Louis was one of several Gratiot County men whose deaths became news in May 1945 in the Gratiot County Herald.

After almost 42 months to the day since Pearl Harbor was bombed and the United States entered World War II, Gratiot County learned about the end of the war in Europe. Nazi Germany  unconditionally surrendered on May 8, 1945.

However, May was still a month of the war. News of those who died fighting for the county continued to come from Europe. There were more calls for the county’s residents to buy bonds, engage in rationing, and keep Gratiot’s farms running.

In a moment, Gratiot County and the war ended in one part of the world, but its effects continued.

V-E Day Arrives in Gratiot County

By early May 1945, it was not a question of how Nazi Germany surrendered but when it would occur. Towns like Alma announced the news by using a loudspeaker on the city’s streets. People were urged to be calm, go to church, and remember that only one-half of the war had ended. Defeating Japan and ending the war in the Pacific was still down the road.

Newspaper announcements on the day of Germany’s surrender emphasized the need for gratitude for the end of the European war. News of Hitler’s death, followed by the surrender of German armies to both the Western Allies and the Russians, soon spread across the county. Businesses closed in Alma, as did the city schools. The Courthouse in Ithaca locked its doors for the day. However, the county rationing office remained in operation. Parades in St. Louis and Ithaca moved through the streets, celebrating the end of Nazi tyranny in Europe.

 Flags also flew at half-mast in honor of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the President who died in April and who failed to see the war’s end. Mail delivery stopped, and 560 people attended services at Alma’s Methodist Church. Across Alma, most church doors in the city were open to the public on V-E Day for those who desired meditation or prayer. In compliance with President Harry Truman’s plea, industries kept working, and the President issued a proclamation making Sunday, May 13, 1945, a national day of prayer.

Bonds

The Seventh War Loan Campaign started May 14, and the county’s goal was to raise $772,000 in E Bonds. It soon was apparent that sales goal would be hard to attain. After one week sales amounted to only fifteen percent of its target. The city of Alma initially purchased $28 709 in bonds, most of which came from industries. Even schools helped out. Out at the Mull School, Marguerite Brown reported that her students purchased $97.25 worth of defense bonds and stamps. Students at the Mull School were also active by decorating fifty Easter napkins, making ten wash clothes, purchasing $2.00 worth of items for a refugee box, and giving $2.50 to the Junior Red Cross.

Movies made the rounds in the county as a way to encourage residents to purchase bonds. “Action in Anguar” and “Mr. and Mrs. America” were shown at the Pine River Farm Bureau program to encourage people to buy bonds. Two Alma College students, Apprentice Seaman Robert Shelp and Stanley Brink, introduced the movies. When sales at the end of May slowed in Gratiot County, readers of newspapers could easily see the advertisements that read, “Pour out your might in the Mighty 7th – Buy bigger bonds and More of them.”

Rationing, Rationing, Rationing

The Office Price Administration announced that another shoe ration stamp would arrive on August 1. Sugar rationing took a hit when the OPA said that the new yearly rate for sugar would now be fifteen pounds per person, down from twenty pounds.  Lard was no longer worth ten points per pound.

Coal rationing would be cut to 80 percent of regular seasonal allotments for the 1945-1946 coal season. Buyers had to make their decisions for coal by May 15. At the May 3 meeting, the Gratiot rationing board issued 84 tire certificates, most going to Grade 1 tires. Boy Scouts in Alma planned to do a waste paper pickup in Alma on June 16. Previously on May 18, no copper wire would be issued for the remainder of May and all of June. While the county had discontinued power line extensions to farms,  farmers who had electricity no longer had to worry about watching their use of electric lights for their animal units. 

Tin cans remained essential for the war effort because Japan controlled 98% of the world’s tin supply. Both chain and independent grocery stores placed receptacles for tin deposits for people to drop off before entering the store.

Farming

As May arrived, farmers were already hard at work in the fields and farms in Gratiot County. Reports from Saginaw said that farmers would have an ample supply of farm labor for the 1945 farm season. Already 11,500 farm workers had been allocated to get help for the early farm season. Of these, 6,000 Texas Mexicans would arrive to block and thin beets. One group of 425 workers arrived in mid-May to work in mid-Michigan fields, with another 2,500  expected by June 1.

The United States Army continued to promise that 2,000 German prisoners of war would also be available again for farm labor, with a total rising to 6,000 POWs for Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana. Help was seriously needed in Michigan as 33,390 acres of sugar beets had been planted as of May 12.

Schools again encouraged students to help by working on farms. The county agricultural agent worked to place Gratiot County students with needy farmers. Students were urged to come forward and ask how to help local farmers.

Some bad news took place when a stiff spring frost followed a warm spring in Gratiot County, damaging wheat, alfalfa, and some fruits.

Sheep dipping in Gratiot County got off to a slow start due to the cold weather. A demonstration took place at Reo Sievert’s farm near Washington Center, and Guy Whittaker also hosted one on his farm in Hamilton Township. More farmers were dipping sheep at home this year rather than drive and transport flocks, probably due to gas rationing.

Farmers could get their dairy feed payments until June 1 in Gratiot County. Soybean farmers received price support of $2.04 per bushel for green and yellow soybeans. Effective May 13, area farmers had to register with the War Price and Rationing Board if they gave away or sold their meat. As a rule, farmers received a quota of dressed meat that they could sell each quarter. However, all meat sales had to be reported to the local board by the 15th of the month after each quarter. The shipping of eggs to England now changed from sending shelled eggs to dried eggs, as Europe now needed an estimated 10 million pounds of eggs overseas.

All farmers were urged to keep their tractors in the best working condition due to the war, and farmers needed to conduct a spring checkup on all equipment.

A Michigan State College farm expert, Karl T. Wright, reported that Michigan farmland prices were on the way up, with farm real estate prices 54 percent higher than before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Things that continued to remain scarce for Gratiot farmers included copper wire, tires, and lumber. Fertilizer was expected to be more available in the future, but not until after the 1945 farm season ended.

The Draft

Even though America and its allies had won the first half of the war, there was little let-up in Gratiot County’s drafting of men.  A group of fourteen men was inducted into the Army in early May, with a busload of 26 men leaving the county a week later. Several Alma men were in the group, including Gilbert Jones, Loren Humphrey, Verne Todd, Earl Peterson, and Alfred Mephan.  All but two of the men entered the Army; the other two went to the Marines. Still, changes were coming in the draft. Men over the age of thirty were deferred indefinitely while fathers over 29 were now given sympathetic consideration. This included approximately 30,000 older men in the state.  More than 2,300 Michigan men who would have been inducted in May and June now received temporary reprieves. A new p

point system soon allowed 1.3 million men to leave the United States Army if they accrued a total of 85 points to get their discharge. General Eisenhower said that he wished that men who had served in North Africa and Europe would be designated to remain in Europe in the Army of occupation rather than being sent to the Pacific.

In other Gratiot County draft news, Richard D. Gay resigned as chief clerk of the Gratiot County draft board due to health reasons. Gay had served for over three years, and Mrs. Gertrude Lokey now planned to replace him as chief clerk. Gay had previously replaced Lyle Whittier in the summer of 1942.

Service

Men and women who served Gratiot County appeared in the news.

Flight Officer Robert Medler of Alma received an Air Medal for meritorious service while serving aboard a B-17 in the 493rd Bomb Group. He had been in a group that successfully bombed a Messerschmitt factory in Regensburg, Germany. Sergeant Russell Howe of Breckenridge was part of the 101st Airborne Division when the division received a Presidential Citation for heroism and gallantry for the defense of Bastogne in December 1944. Sergeant El Jay Wyeth of Elwell served with the 298th Engineer Combat Battalion near Zwiefall, Germany in October 1944. Wyeth saw the enemy laying communication wire only 100 yards away from him, left the safety of his position and crawled to the wire, then cut it. His actions allowed his unit to hold its position for seven hours until support arrived. Sergeant Arland Murphy of Alma received his fifth Bronze Star for being in battle in five campaigns within the European Theater. He recently crossed the Rhine River with elements of the 17th Airborne Division. Corporal Thomas Cavanaugh of St. Louis received the Bronze Star for service with the 610th Ordinance Base while serving in a maintenance group. Cavanaugh’s mother, Adele Cavanaugh, kept St. Louis and Alma readers aware of the names of local boys through a column she wrote in those newspapers.

 Sergeant Bernie Eagon of Alma was involved with the 8th Air Force when it dropped tons of food to civilians in parts of Holland. The Hollanders wrote messages like “Thank You” on the tops of their houses and waved flags while hoping for food and supplies. Eagon saw how German soldiers ducked beside trees when his plane went over. Corporal Harold Stadleberger of Sumner and Sergeant Maurice Pearson of Ashley belonged to the 609th Ordinance in England. Stadleberger served as a truck driver and Pearson as an automotive mechanic. Corporal Otto Christensen was with a Graves Registration Company somewhere in Europe. From Alma,  he was the manager of Packard Store in town. The Gratiot County Herald featured a picture of three Carter boys from Breckenridge, Corporal Wayne Carter (Army),  Bill Carter (Marines), and Lieutenant Clifford Carter (Navy). All were featured on the front page. Clifford was somewhere in the Atlantic, while Bill served in the South and Central Pacific. Private Steve Hanus of Ashley helped another soldier from the 260th Infantry captured Germans while near the front in Germany. It was odd because both Hanus and his compatriot were cooks who took an afternoon off in an attempt to round up enemy prisoners. It worked when their first captured German was told he would not be killed if he told his fellow soldiers to surrender. They did – all eleven of them, but Hanus was shocked when they got back to camp, and the eleven were identified as French prisoners that the Germans had once held. No one expressed any hard feelings, and they all parted ways. Private Walter Thrush of Ithaca arrived in Austria as the United States Third Army moved from Ansbach toward Hitler’s Redoubt, liberating Allied prisoners and capturing over 14,000 Germans. Sergeant Kenneth Brown of Alma, a 491st Heavy Bomb Group member, flew seven combat missions. He had been in the Army for thirteen months and operated as a turret gunner aboard a B-24. Private Charles Marrin of Alma left for Camp Meade, Maryland, after a twelve-day leave. He entered the service in December 1944 and finished training with the Armored Division at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Out in the Pacific, Private Elwyn Hill, an Alma High School graduate, helped establish the Okinawa beachhead. He had been there one week with the 96th Infantry Division but then had to be hospitalized with jaundice. Billy Newson of St. Louis was only seventeen when he enlisted in the Navy, and he was now a carpenter’s mate in San Diego, California. Newson was assigned to the USS Kalinin Bay. Garfield Harris of Alma received an air medal for service as a radioman-gunner on a carrier-based dive bomber. Harris saw action in the Marianas, Philippines, Carolinas, and Formosa. Harris was also one of 100 Navy men who were invited to attend breakfast at a USO club on Mother’s Day. Each man received a personal letter from their mother.

Seaman First Class Richard Carter of Ithaca was aboard a ship that spent four days close to the Japanese mainland. Carter’s flat top sent waves of carrier planes into Japan for bombing missions against the Kyushu and Honshu Islands. Herbert Wright of Alma was one of three Michigan men on a 26 man patrol on the small Philippine Island of Glan.  The group worked as a reconnaissance unit of the 31st Division and spent time with the people, whose women all wore special dresses, sponsored a special barbeque, and allowed the Americans to ride horses. George Divish of Middleton was promoted to Ship Serviceman-Laundry Third Class on May 1. Divish came home on a thirty-day leave in March but now was back somewhere in the Pacific. Motor Machinist George Mitchell of Ashley, age 39, was reassigned to the Atlantic Fleet’s Minecraft training center at Little Creek, Virginia. Mitchell previously served twenty months in African waters, then six months sea duty in the Southwest Pacific. Machinist Mate 3rd Class Charles Dolloff of Alma returned to Navy duty after a thirty-day leave. Dolloff and his fellow crew on a destroyer survived a Japanese suicide bomber’s attack. Dolloff had previously seen combat in several places such as Attu, Saipan, Guam, Tinian, and the Philippines and the invasion of Iwo Jima. Private Dan Davis of the United States Marines saw the fighting on Iwo Jima. Davis slept the night in his clothes before the attack and watched the bombardment before Marines went ashore. After two days, Davis went ashore as part of the reserves and slept along a ridge with caves. Davis later wrote his wife that he fought his biggest enemy to fulfill his duty, which was his fears. Corporal Bill Stewart of Alma also was on Okinawa. He wrote his wife about living in Japanese houses, watching the native women doing heavy work, carrying bundles on sticks across their shoulders. Corporal Leo Hoffman from St. Louis appeared in a picture on the front page of the May 24 issue of the Alma Record. He was among the first aviation men to land on the beach to help the Marine aircraft unit and served as an ordinance man. Captain Gordon Netzorg of Alma met his cousin, Sergeant Richard Soule, on Kwajalein, one of the Marshall Islands. The meeting took place when Netzorg’s plane stopped for refueling. Lieutenant Jack Redman continued to send long letters home to his family from his post in India. Netzorg now had his bearer who did his sewing, shoes and provided for his personal needs. Soldiers rented bicycles for $1.50 a week, however, sanitation was terrible everywhere, with malaria and smallpox being very prevalent.

Women from Gratiot County also continued to serve. Miss Beryle Virginia Bauer of Riverdale became a second lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps. Bauer graduated from Grace Hospital School of Nursing in Detroit and was now assigned to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. Private First Class Esther Bott from Breckenridge joined the Air WACs in late 1944 and now was in Alaska after being stationed in Great Falls, Montana. Private Edna Webb of Alma received the Good Conduct Medal for service as a WAC. She graduated from Alma High School and was a parachute inspector at Romulus Army Air Field.  Ensign Betty Miller from Ashley passed her physical examination at Great Lakes and was on her way to Portsmouth, Virginia, to enter hospital nursing. Prior to this,  Miller became a Registered Nurse at Hurley Hospital in Flint.

Finally, Sergeant Merle Chapin of Ashley became Gratiot County’s first veteran to be released from the Army on its new demobilization program. Sergeant Chapin was home on leave from the African and Italian war fronts. He was among the first 2500 men to come home to civilian life under the point plan.

The War-Time Initials: WIA, MIA, KIA, POW

The Wounded: WIA

While news about the number of Gratiot County’s wounded seemed lower in May, several men still suffered from the effects of the fighting. Sergeant Merton Peacock of St. Louis arrived at Percy Jones Hospital in Battle Creek, and his family members drove down to see him. One of five Peacock sons in the service, Merton, was wounded in Belgium in January after he had returned to duty from suffering earlier wounds. Private Leland Troub of North Shade had been injured in April while in France. Troub was now in a French hospital after being hit in the shrapnel in the hip. Private Hugh Cole, who had been in Italy for over two years, was seriously wounded in action. Cole was responding to treatment and was said to be recovering normally. Another Gratiot soldier, Lieutenant H.M. Dickinson of Middleton, also had been wounded in Italy and was now in the hospital. He had been with the 34th Division of the 5th Army in Italy for over 14 months.  Private Berfield Acker of Alma, while serving in the infantry on Okinawa, took a Japanese bullet through his back and neck. Acker, who had previously seen campaigns in Attu and Leyte, wrote home to tell his parents about his condition. Lieutenant Robert Ankney of Alma wrote home that his luck “ran out” on April 25 on Okinawa. Ankney was evacuated after being hit in the leg and under his right eye by shrapnel. He was aboard the USS Comfort when the ship was hit by a Japanese suicide plane. A short distance from where the plane crashed, Ankney said a wall in his ward was caved in, but Ankney was unhurt.  Private Enterline from Sumner Center had been wounded on Okinawa with the 383rd Infantry. His wife Doris received word that her husband had been wounded on April 4, but no other news was available. Private Kenneth Dancer of Wheeler was wounded in the hand while in Germany, but Dancer said it was not serious. He served with the 10th Armored Division and had been overseas since September 1944. Private Lorne Loomis of Alma was hospitalized in England after receiving wounds received in Germany on April 12. He had been a milk truck driver in Alma before entering the service. Private Joseph Nixon of Alma received the Purple Heart for wounds he got while taking German prisoners to an assembly area. He was now recuperating at the 127th General Hospital in France.

Those Who Paid the Ultimate Price: KIA

More details came in about Private Robert Oberlin, who died in Luzon while with the 187th Glider Infantry. His commanding officer wrote to Oberlin’s parents that he died while fighting at Mount Macolod and that he had been killed by enemy shellfire. Tech/5 Ernie Earegood of St. Louis died March 8, and a letter from his captain arrived in St. Louis. Earegood was killed near Lintfort, Germany, on the Cologne Plain, near the Roer and Rhine rivers. An enemy artillery shell hit the house Earegood lived in at the time, and he had been buried in Margraten, Holland. Private Fay Hopkins was killed on Luzon on April 12. Hopkins attended Alma Schools before he moved to Big Rapids. Private Dale Gelston died in Southern Germany in late April, and his funeral took place in Highland Park, Michigan. Previously wounded and hospitalized after being in Europe for only 16 weeks, Gelston was interred in Germany. His father had once been a pastor at the Presbyterian Church in Alma.  Private Raymond Myers of Breckenridge died on April 11, and his memorial service took place in Wheeler. Myers saw action on D-Day in Normandy, went through Holland, and had entered Germany when he was killed. Sergeant Anthony Bajena from Alma died from scrub typhus in New Guinea. The news shocked his family as Bajena had been overseas 38 months with the Coast Guard Artillery Corps when he died. Before entering the service on May 5, 1941, Bajena worked at the waterworks in Alma.  Equally shocking was the news of the death of young S/2c Cardwell Hoard of Ithaca. Hoard went to sea in early June 1944 aboard the USS Bunker Hill, but he came home for a short leave in December. Hoard died when his ship was hit by a Japanese suicide plane, and his body was buried at sea. Sergeant Walter Moore of Alma died in action in early January in France with the 12th Armored Division. Moore had been previously listed as missing until his wife received a telegram from the war department telling her that they now announced that Moore was dead. Information was learned about Corporal Oren Patterson’s death in early March after he crossed the Remagen Bridge. One day after crossing it and establishing a position, an artillery shell killed him. Patterson had been overseas only three weeks. Sergeant Melvin Lutz of St. Louis was killed on April 18 in Germany. He had been reported as missing. Lutz served in the 104th Infantry and was engaged to his girlfriend on her seventeenth birthday. The couple planned to marry as soon as Lutz returned home. Finally, after five years in the service and having only suffered minor facial wounds, Sergeant Hugh Rodenbo was killed in Germany in a motorcycle accident when he collided with a truck. Rodenbo was married to Phyllis Franks, a British ATS girl, and they had a daughter. Rodenbo was buried in a temporary American cemetery.

They Were Released: POWs Lieutenant William Gorringe of Alma, a POW since February 24, 1945, had been liberated from a German camp. John Ellis Mix of Alma was released from the Moosburg POW camp. A National Guardsman, Mix had been missing in Belgium for three months until his wife learned of  his capture. Sergeant James Rockefellow, formerly of Alma, sent home an exciting letter to his grandmother concerning his liberation. He was now getting three meals a day and having a good bed to sleep in while being in a Belgian hospital and recovering from an infected foot. Sergeant Nolan Howe of Breckenridge sent word that he had been released. Howe was reported missing in September 1944.  Private Paul Paulson was among some of the first Americans liberated from a German camp who arrived home in Gratiot County. His wife and daughter had been staying in New Haven. Sergeant John Kupres celebrated his liberation on April 25 by sending a letter to his parents. He wrote, “It is sure nice to be back with the Americans again and eating good food after having been a prisoner of the Germans for what seemed like ages.” He added, “I was so glad to see the Yanks who liberated us that I cried.” Private Marshal Mockridge’s mother received the good news that her son was now free. Although now in a European hospital, Mockridge let the people in Wheeler know that he was okay. Sergeant James Grosskopf of Alma was freed. He had spent more time in a German prisoner of war camp than many other Gratiot service members. Grosskopf, born and reared in Alma, was captured after his B-17 went down in a raid over Emden, Germany, and he had been a POW sinc

since December 11, 1943. “All well and safe. Hope to see you soon,” was the message sent via the Red Cross by Lieutenant Dale Beery of St. Louis. His wife had not heard from him since Christmas when a note arrived from Stalag Luft 111. Lieutenant Beery had not yet seen his young son. News about the safety and liberation of Johnnie Gall of St. Louis reached his family. On August 9, 1944 – six months to the day he left St. Louis for training camp and his daughter’s first birthday – Gall was reported missing in action in Europe. A telegram from Gall did not say where he was, but this was good news for his family. Information about other Gratiot POWs also appeared in county newspapers. Sergeant George Jenkins (Breckenridge), Sergeant Herbert Whittaker (home not listed), Sergeant Edmund Moreno (Arcada Township), Private Jack Little (North Star), Private Irvin Morey (Breckenridge), and Sergeant Dean Button (Alma) also were POWs who had been freed. Their families now planned and hoped for a quick reunion in Gratiot County. 

And So We Do Not Forget From May 1945

At Fulton Schools, Norma Downing was Valdictorian and  Doloris Litwiller was Salutatorian for the Class of 1945. Downing planned to work at Bordens in Perrinton after graduation while Litwiller planned to attend Lansing Business University in the fall…”A Song to Remember,” starring Paul Muni and Merle Oberon played at the Strand Theatre in Alma. Admission was 12-35 cents, tax included…Michigan school districts could expect an additional $7 per pupil in state aid for the next school year…Dr. Richard Waggoner spoke to Gratiot County nurses on the topic of “Caudalanesthesia” at the home of Mrs. Albin Rademacher…the Gratiot County Council of Veterans Affairs was told that 80,000 Michigan men would be discharged with the ending of the war in Europe. Living quarters, emergency counseling, and returning men to work were all issues that Michigan faced in 1945…Chapter 108 of the Blue Star Mothers met May 1  in North Star. The group raised $1.50 through a contest of discovering who had a dime hidden in their piece of cake…Alma was in process of locating a new city water well as the test well drilled at Delaware and North streets was found to be inadequate. The next location to drill would be on the east side of Alma…Workers at the St. Louis Creamery delayed a strike and continued their work when employees and management agreed on a date for an election. Workers voted 16-6 to delay the strike. A week later, employees voted 22-3 in favor of joining the American Federation of Labor, Teamsters Union…Arthur Dietz, who operated the City News Stand in Alma for 23 years, sold his business to Kenneth Carter. The News Stand resided at 222 ½ East Superior Street…

A county TB clinic was scheduled on May 29 at Alma Junior High School. Anyone who wanted to be x-rayed needed to call Miss Cecil Wolfe, Alma public health nurse, just telephone 211…the Alma Commission decided that the city needed a new fire truck – and preferably two. The anticipated cost for both would be $7,000 -$10,000…A total of 107 Alma seniors graduated on May 31 at Alma High School…Various war souvenirs appeared in the north display window at the Alma Consumers Power Company. Privates Lester Higgins and Nolan Conrad sent home German knives, bayonets, a German flag, and other articles from Germany. An elaborate German officer’s uniform appeared on the display of the window of Star Dry Clears on East Superior Street…The first Lobdell Emery employee to receive a paid vacation for the summer was Private Donald McGillis, Jr. McGillis came home on his way to Fort Meade, Maryland, on a ten-day furlough…Starting July 1, all newspapers mailed to men in the Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard must be wrapped in a specially marked wrapper. This new rule planned on conserving shipping space…The Gratiot County Board of Supervisors acted upon its new plan to meet monthly. A total of 18 standing committees reported to the supervisors…A fire and explosion destroyed a large tool shed and its contents that belonged to August Neitzke in Breckenridge. The fire resulted in $8,000 in losses, and Neitzke was lucky to escape without suffering severe burns.

The Lester Allen woods in Emerson Township hosted 150 Boy Scouts from various Gratiot troops for a weekend “camporee.” Gratiot County would receive new maps from the State Highway Department. The map highlighted state trunk lines in red and county roads in black…Ithaca High School’s senior prom took place in the school auditorium. For this year, all high school students could attend, and several alumni service members also attended. The St. Johns High School orchestra furnished the music…Memorial Day observances took place in Ithaca and North Star, led by the Orin Riker Post of the American Legion. A service also took place on Sunday at the Breckenridge Congregational Church…Poppy Day took place in Gratiot County on the last Saturday in May…Ithaca High School graduated 49 seniors on May 31. Before this, the seniors held their annual picnic at Crystal Lake on May 28…President Truman asked Gratiot County to observe Flag Day on June 14. A notice appeared in the May 31 issue of the Alma Record…

Road oil would be available for laying of dust on country roads this summer. Property owners who wanted the oil had to pay 1.75 cents per square yard of the road to be treated. Contact the Road Commission in Ithaca for your order…The Ithaca School newspaper, The Fortnight Growler, was one of 127 national winners in the eighth annual school press project that focused on the topic of tuberculosis…The Ithaca business section had new flags to fly for Memorial Day due to help from the American Legion Post and Boy Scout Troop 111…Melvin Fisk of Ashley rolled his car three times due to an accident while coming home from work on May 8. Fisk attempted to avoid hitting a flock of pheasants in the road. Fisk suffered injuries to his back and hip, and was forced to go to the Alma hospital. Special Mother’s Day services took place at the Middleton Methodist Church. Each mother in attendance received a flower in their honor. Mrs. Alice Wright and Mrs. Alice Bolyard received plants…Ashley High School graduation took place on May 24 in the school auditorium. This year to Niagara Falls, the annual senior trip would take place after graduation on May 26…Classes ended at the Beebe School on May 12 with a picnic dinner. It was announced that Mrs. Maurice Buckingham would return as a teacher in the fall…Eight students graduated from the North Star School on May 22. Commencement took place at the Church of the Nazarene…Over at the Ideal Theatre in Ithaca, “Around the World,” starring Kay Kyser and Joan Davis played to audiences…Ithaca’s Memorial and Community Building Program continued to ask the public about ideas for a Memorial Building…Irene Robbe flew Grace Johnson from the farm up to Johnson’s Airport. Freda Zimmerman and Harmon Gruesbeck became two more members of the Honor Roll of Solo Students…If materials could be obtained, automotive industry leaders said that 200,000 new automobiles would be produced in 1945, starting July 1.

And that was Gratiot County’s finest hour during May 1945.

Copyright 2021 James M Goodspeed

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