Looking back to Dec. 7, 1941, needless to say, the news rocked us all.
The Concord post of the American Legion along with the Red Cross went into full swing by securing volunteers to contribute to the National Blood banks for the Army and Navy. The goal of 100 donors was easily reached, and more still came.
There was an appearance of willing and desire of people around here to have the opportunity to do such a service. At the date of Dec. 11, 1941, there were 68 young men from Concord who were in the service of Uncle Sam.
Winfield H. Smith Inc, went on two shifts per day, six days a week. WHS speed reducers and gears were used in 47 industries and division of industry, all helping to speed defense. Speed reducers were constructed, handling or processing of bombers and fighting planes for all branches of the government, tanks, jeeps and trucks, shells and explosives, optical, laboratory, range finding testing and research and lighting equipment and on minesweepers.
There is hardly a kind of defense machinery produced that does not incorporate WHS speed reducers or gears as an integral or supplementary part of its design or use in the plant itself to aid in the production of such machines.
A blackout was set up in Springville. You were instructed to stay home if possible, turn off or screen all lights upon hearing the warning signal, do not light matches or show lights outdoors, keep your dog under control and avoid unnecessary use of the telephone.
At the Concord American Legion post, they set up four air warning stations that were manned 24 hours a day. The Legion, along with the local fire department assisting, streamlined its disaster setups by augmenting the fire fighting company, ambulance corps and life-saving groups.
The Special Police committee organized 24 members of the American Legion for protection of the community under any defense emergency. A corps of high school boys had been organized as messengers for the various division during blackouts and other emergencies.
The operation room at the hospital was equipped for operations during a blackout. Thirty cots had been installed at both the hospital and adjoining homes for the care of injured in any emergency that happened. The village was divided into four sectors and each sector had approximately 30 men who were organized as air wardens. Groups were taught how to watch for planes and posters were handed out for easier recognition of planes by the civil defense groups.
The local Red Cross helped as well, along with raising money that was needed, they had a surgical dressing room where volunteers came and helped to create them to send to the war, as well as knitting sweaters, socks hats and scarves for the men fighting.
We could keep up to date with events on the war front by the twice-weekly newsreels that were produced by one of the five major film companies.
Do any of you have stories of the time during World War II? My father served in the Marines and was in action. He met my mother at a hospitality hut, which later was the USO. They wrote letters back and forth, as lovers do, and they wrote to my grandmother, his mother, as well.
We have a lot of those letters still and I put them into a book, which I have for sale at the Lucy Bensley Center, called “Letters Home to Mama.” All money goes to the Concord Historical Society. The letters share the way he thought as well as my mother, and what they did during those turmoil years. My mother and her mom made parachutes and sleeping bags to send the men, and canned food to send. All doing their part to support the men fighting.
You can come down to the Lucy Bensley Center on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and read up more in our local newspapers and books in our archives. We would love to hear your stories of events that happened. Come and share with us and we will store them on our shelves for future references, so others can read them as well. Call us at (716) 592-0094 to verify if we are open. If the weather is bad, as we close when the schools close, or to make an appointment to come in at another time. You can email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christmas is coming and we have homemade items on our shelves at the Concord Mercantile, located at 17 Franklin St., for that one-of-a-kind gift. Puzzles, books, wood cut-outs can be purchased there as well as at the Lucy Bensley Center. Give a little history this year for Christmas, share stories from the past with your family and gather around the tree and remember the past.