15 Sep 2014
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This Was Newtown: 1944

A look back at Newtown, 68 years ago this month.

This Was Newtown: 1944

From the Newtown Enterprise, December 1944

Council offers $50 reward in connection with stolen signs  

Newtown Borough Council, in session Monday night, received a report from Burgess [Mayor] Walter E. Scott that some street signs erected by council's orders had disappeared.

These signs had been placed on South State street between Barclay street and the railroad, and forbade anyone to ride or drive a horse upon the pavement [sidewalk].

Council ordered an advertisement placed in the Enterprise offering a reward of $50 to anyone who will come forward with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who removed the signs.

The standing committee of council made their usual report of progress. The street committee reported that all fire plugs are now in useable condition.

The financial condition of all the good citizens of the town seems to be much improved. Remission of about $20 in taxes was all that was required to clear the tax collector's books for the coming year.

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 2 in order that the members of council may welcome in the New Year on Monday evening in such manner as they may choose.

Treasurer W. Aubrey Merrick's report showed a balance of $2,166.10 in the treasury after all the bills were paid. Council approved bills amounting to $660.92, including street lights, $200.87; Bell phones, $16.32; R.C. Sherman, secretary, $75.00; S. M. Vandgraft, Board of Health, $45.00; W.A. Merrick, treasurer, $152.40; J. Gorski, garbage, $12.00; A. J. Graser, dog catcher, $2.25.

Commentator speaks about war to P.T.A.  

Men who are on the fighting fronts must be given a fair deal when they return home because they are in a desperate fight and doing their part well, declared Frazier Hunt, a news commentator and writer, as he addressed between 150 and 200 persons at the meeting of the Newtown Parent-Teacher Association.

Mr. Hunt, a resident of Newtown township, spoke of affairs in Europe and in the Pacific. He declared the people on the home front are entitled to true facts concerning the war. They must not be filled up with propaganda. Almost every family in this nation, he said, has some relative in the war, and all families have the right to know what is taking place on the battlefronts.

Speaking of the European situation, Mr. Hunt said the war there may not be over this Winter, but he is of the opinion the Germans will be defeated by Memorial Day [Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945]. No person knows what will happen before Germany is defeated because the Allies are up against many obstacles, he said, and no person knows what will happen after the war.

Mr. Hunt paid high tribute to all generals, and pointed out when the Allies began their invasion of Europe in June, it was possible to keep the soldiers well supplied with munitions.

Regarding affairs in the Pacific, Mr. Hunt declared General Douglas MacArthur [supreme Allied commander in the southwest Pacific] has been doing a fine job in spite of the fact that he was handicapped because of a lack of supplies at the beginning of the war. The air forces, he said, were of real value to General MacArthur, whom he described as a real soldier. The speaker said he is of the opinion the war is being prolonged because of the demands for an unconditional surrender.

Following the address, three violin solos were rendered by the school's musical director, Edward J. Bogusz, who was accompanied at the piano by Mrs. Betty Wynn.

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New Century Club holds Christmas meeting  

The Christmas meeting of the Newtown New Century Club was held in the club rooms on Wednesday afternoon, December 20, with about 30 present.

Mrs. Russell Janney presided and opened the meeting with the pledge to the flag and singing the "Star Spangled Banner." Mrs. William Kenderdine played the piano during the entire program.

The program was organized by the Art and Drama Committee, Mrs. Arthur Yunker, chairman. The first part of the program was art in the home, which had a colonial atmosphere. It portrayed a fine needlewoman of her day, for it was to her George Washington went for his plan for the flag of our country. The part was spendidly played by Mrs. Russell Bond as Betsy Ross, dressed in colonial costume.

The next number was "Bedspreads of a Bygone Era." This was presented by Mrs. Charles Cornell in a very pleasing manner. Mrs. Cornell had some exhibitis of bedspreads, also a beautiful pieced quilt.

The next was a portrayal of a famous painting which is found in many homes. "Whistler's Mother" was portrayed by Mrs. Mary Ridge, 95-year-old club member.

Mrs. Franklin Linton read an interesting article on old laces. She had several exhibits of old laces.

Mrs. Reuben Kester next presented the history of silhouettes and showed some of the productions. The history of silhouettes began in 1699, but the name, silhouette, was not used until 1757.

After these presentations, the group sang "The First Noel."

Sergeant tells of combat in the jungle

Mr. and Mrs. J. Norman VanArtsdalen, of South State street, have received a letter from their son, Tech. Sergeant Clifford VanArtsdalen, who is stationed somewhere in the South Pacific.

"I couldn't truthfully say I've killed a Jap," writes the sergeant, for he's a jungle fighter who can go through many a tough encounter in the underbrush and never see a live Jap.

"Oh, I've seen them all right, and I've shot into them more than several times," he says. "But whether one of my bullets ever found its mark I do not know. Most of the time, of course, we don't see what we're shooting at. We know it's out there, though, when the bullets start coming at us."

Sergeant VanArtsdalen, a member of the 31st Infantry Division, has been through several amphibious operations, including the Morotai invasion, and on many patrols with his platoon. His men killed or wounded 75 percent of an enemy force of 25 which infiltrated into their positions one night while they were dug in after a day's march through the jungle.

His most recent amphibious operation was just the way every jungle fighter likes--no opposition. Their day was not wasted, however, for some of the men helped extricate the frightened natives from their shelters. One youngster, in particular, was in difficulties. The child had been put in a hole which was then filled with sand up to his neck. Sticks had been placed over the hole, and then more sand.

The sergeant, who has been overseas almost 11 months, has had one experience he can never forget. He and three buddies were in a hole on the initial day of one landing. There was no action on the ground, but high in the sky was a sight which any infantryman would give his canteen of water to see.

It was a rare sight for the Pacific--a dogfight. The planes appeared to be 10,000 feet in the sky. One of the men beside him slumped over dead. A .50-caliber bullet from one of the planes had killed him.

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Newtown Notes

The War Department has awarded, posthumously, the Purple Heart decoration to Mrs. Isabel Hibbs Kirby in honor of her husband, Varsel Kirby, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Kirby of Swamp road. Varsel Kirby, a paratrooper, died on June 6 in Normandy from wounds received in the D-Day invasion of France.

Charles Hallibaugh and Charles Hunsicker, who are members of the U.S. Merchant Marine, are home in Newtown between trips.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Gordon entertained at a family dinner on Christmas Day at their home on Newtown-Langhorne Pike.

David C. Jenkins, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. David C. Jenkins of Penn Street, on Monday marked his fifth birthday. David has recovered from an automobile accident.

Cpl. Stanley V. Worthington spent Christmas with his father, Raymond Worthington, of Court Street.

Sergeant Colin Frye, of Newtown, now in the service and stationed in Burma, sent a letter to Newtown Friends Meeting in appreciation of Christmas greetings and a gift sent to him by the Meeting, of which he is a member.

Walter Carver, of Penn Street, returned last week from the Sky Top district in the Poconos with a sizeable buck deer.

Mr. and Mrs. John Fitzpatrick, of Centre avenue, and J. Kirk Matthews, of Congress Street, visited their sons at Bainbridge, Md. on Christmas. Stanley Matthews, Seaman 2nd Class, is attending gunnery school there, and John Fitzpatrick is taking his boot training.

James Crozier, who lost an arm and a leg in an accident at the Newtown railroad station, is now a patient in the Abington Hospital and getting along nicely.

Mrs. Leon Maher, who has accepted a position in the War Department in Washington, D.C., spent Christmas with her family in Newtown.

A traveling recruiting truck, equipped with a loudspeaker and music and staffed with an Army detachment, was stationed in front of the First National Bank building on Monday and Tuesday to enlist women for the Women's Army Corps. The results were not made public.

The Newtown Welfare Committee and the Newtown New Century Club will work together as usual in filling Christmas baskets. Contributions of canned or fresh fruit and vegetables, chickens, jellies or money will be appreciated. The baskets will be filled on Friday, December 22, at the club house.

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