July 24, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Time Frames: A true honor roll

By Judy A. Totts

Religion Editor

The photos are black-and-white old, the edges a little crinkled from shifting around in the big box my mother keeps on the linen closet shelf. Most of them are family pictures, like the one of Rusty, the spaniel we inherited from my aunt and uncle, standing beside his doghouse. I stand beside his somewhat mournful countenance, a 5-year-old in corduroy pants and jacket, scrubbing at my eyes with both fists because I am facing into the sun. There is one of my grandfather seated under the cherry tree, another of the old tin-roofed Weymouth house.

But another frames a reminder of war: the honor roll of Medina Township servicemen, posted in front of Weymouth Community Church, kept, no doubt, because it bore my uncles’ names. The honor roll was a quiet way of acknowledging those who served in the military, as unpretentious as they were of their achievements.

In Granger Township, home of Lt. William Stanley Vanselow, the first Medina County casualty of World War II, Keith Beachler and Earl French founded an American Legion chapter in his honor.
The Granger Library and Historical Society booklet detailing township history during World War II described the township’s American Legion chapter efforts. Along with the Women’s Community Club, Remsen Ladies’ Aid and other groups, they engineered the honor roll plaque in front of Granger High School. Women organized a ladies auxiliary group in 1945; they collected underwear, as well as silk and rayon stockings, used for making rugs at a veterans’ hospital.

At a time when meat, sugar, gasoline, tires and butter were rationed, kids hauled aluminum, newspapers and scrap metal in their Radio Flyer wagons, tipping out the contents at collection points, and any child who turned in old aluminum utensils earned free admission to a boxing tournament.

When Granger Township resident Don Codding and his brother, Leland, tuned in to their favorite radio programs, they learned about picking milkweed pods as part of the war effort. The government paid 20 cents per pound for dried pods and used the floss to make life jackets. County children collected more than 1,800 mesh bags of pods in 1944.

And anyone who hears the severe weather alert sirens can’t help but think of air raid sirens, blackouts and skywatchers who looked for enemy planes. The National Civilian Defense Program organized practice blackouts, just in case the enemy gained a foothold in the United States. When the sirens wailed eerily through the drills, members of the Civil Air Raid Patrol, like Keith Codding and Bill Kelly, checked for blackout compliance. They asked those who didn’t turn out their lights to do so.

Joann Boruvka, who compiled the township histories, included a statement from Kelly, who said he got lost when he was in Cleveland during a blackout. “As well as I knew Cleveland, I was completely lost because even the smokestacks were used to put out a substance to darken the city.” He located someone who put him back on track, but said “he didn’t know the city could be darkened to such an extent until he got caught in it.”

Totts may be reached at 330-721-4063 or religion@ohio.net.