Monday, March 14, 2011

Military Monday-From Frances' Papers

WWI and WWII - Riley Murray and Frances Schwab Murray

We were asked to write about the people’s reaction to World War I and II ending.  I think people’s reaction to wars ending is the same, regardless of whatever kind it is.  Some folks it’s joy and merry-making; others it’s sadness and tears for those boys who won’t come back.  Emporium and Cameron County had their share.  We had our own brand of celebration, it’s hard to explain, but people went wild with joy, celebrated in every way that was possible.  The railroad engines cut loose with whistles, the church and school bells really rang out, and we had lots of bells to ring in those days. Anyone who had a gun joined in making noise, the rest of us yelled and sang until our voice was gone.  Emporium had its parade, but on a much smaller scale than the ones you have seen on the TV.

Service Star Women - Frances Schwab Murray

Mrs. Ceil Husted, Mrs. Florence McWilliams and myself, Frances Murray, met at a party in August 1943.  All three of us had our sons in the service.  Naturally, our talk was of the war.  We stayed until all hours, long after everyone else had gone, discussing ways in which we could be of some help to our servicemen.  We knew a lot of boys were stranded here in Emporium because they had taken the wrong train.  Mrs. Husted thought we might contact the Pennsylvania Railroad and see what could be done.  Perhaps we could serve coffee and sandwiches there.  We decided we would need help, both in workers, money and place.  Mrs. McWilliams and I went that next week to see Mrs. Minard, who granted us permission to use the Methodist Church Sunday school room for a get-together meeting, asking all servicemen’s mothers and wives to meet with us.  We put an ad in the paper and on September 6, 1943, we had 29 women meet with us.  We explained Mrs. Husted’s idea, all agreed it was a fine idea, promised to help if we could get permission to use the depot as a contact point for canteen.  Officers were elected for one year.  Mrs. Russel McQuay, President, Mrs. Earl Husted, Vice President, Mrs. Florence McWilliams, Secretary, Mrs. Riley Murray, Treasurer.  Each member to pay $1 per year dues.

After some delay, we secured permission to use the station.  Our first job was to clean the station.  A group of us women took our pails, brooms, and needed supplies, washed windows, scrubbed the floor and it sure was dirty.  So on October 2, 1943, we four officers met the first train with a bucket of sandwiches and Thermos jugs of coffee.  Later on we set up a table, and from that first day in October until December 1, 1945, we never missed a train, even though once, the Erie train due at 1105 didn’t arrive until 3 o’clock in the morning.  The people of Cameron County was behind us 100%.  No words can explain how wonderful people were.  We never ran out of money.  We had our audit reports published in the paper and the people knew when the money was low.  They put on dances, paper drives and suppers and gave of their money freely.  Mr. and Mrs. Husted fixed up their basement so we could prepare and keep our supplies there.  We had two large coffee urns donated, the women used their own Thermos jugs to keep the coffee hot at the canteen.  We had allocated certain day each week to certain workers.  Those who could not work at the canteen made sandwiches, baked cookies or doughnuts at home.  We had card tables set up just above the crossing so we could find the boys who wouldn’t have time to go to the station, and in rain or snow, we were there and to those women who worked at the upper end, no word of thanks can ever repay them.  They were wonderful.  The Service Star Women were mothers, wives and sisters of our boys and girls in service.  We took the Service Star because each woman had a Service Star flag in her window.  Our aim was to serve those in service.  We did more to put the name of Emporium on the map than any other group before it or after it.  We have letters from the lowly private to big brass in Washington, DC, from our Canadian neighbors, to far-away New Zealand, Australia, and Britain, as we served any boy or girl in uniform of his or her country.  We sent their telegrams free and also found free lodging for those who had got on the wrong train or missed connections.  When the OPA went into effect, we had to keep count of how many servicemen we served so we could get our quota of sugar.  Our minute book shows that for the months of September and October 1945, we served 66,728.  So, you see we did serve the service boys.

From the first day until the last, we never missed a train, four times a day (and sometimes special troop or hospital trains were run, but we always met them), seven days a week.  We had special trays made to put on the night Erie train, also put the trays in the baggage car—the conductor had the service people go there to eat.  The railroad men would bring our trays back on the early morning train—they were helpful to us-so were the operators at the J.N. tower.


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