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75 years ago: fallen heroes; local events; and a harp of gold


As late winter (by the calendar) 1945 segued into early spring, Allied troops had breached the Rhine River and begun the race across Germany to Berlin from the west. The Russian army advanced toward Berlin from the east, and the world listened as Hitler's once-mighty Third Reich began its death rattle.

In the South Pacific, Japan reeled from intensive low-level incendiary bombing attacks on Tokyo and other cities, but still, the war slogged on, perhaps best exemplified by the interminable Battle of Luzon, eight bloody, wearying months of fighting, from early January 1945 until Japan's surrender on August 15th that year.

And, in that long ago March, five Adair Countians gave their lives in defense of the free world:
  • T/5 Ray G. Willis, killed in action in Germany, March 12;
  • T/4 Oliver Eldridge McClister, accidental death in Germany, March 13;
  • Pfc. Forest R. Humphress, killed in action in Germany, March 15;
  • Pfc. Willie Rufus Kerns, killed in action in Germany, March 24;
  • Pfc. Delbert Wayne Harvey, killed in action in Germany, March 26.
(Oliver McClister died when a tire on a downed German aircraft he was helping dismantle exploded and struck him.)

And back in The Shire...

The CHS seniors proudly presented "Me and My Shadow" on March 29th. Billed as "a fast moving mystery comedy," the production included Eugene Willis, Edith Cundiff, Jean West, E.L Feese, Bobby Caldwell, and Virginia Redmon as the mysterious "Shadow."

The local Christian Church had full slate planned for Easter weekend with a candle light communion on Thursday night, March 29th, "set a little early to allow attendance at the High School;" Good Friday services beginning at 2 p.m., "Business houses of the community are expected to close;" and of course, a full day of Easter Sunday activities, beginning with a 6:30 Sunrise Service.

Nick Denis, basketball coach at Male High, spoke at the March 23rd banquet for Charlie Clift's Columbia Redhounds. Others in attendance were Superintendent of City Schools H.R. Kirk, C.H.S. Principal Miss Mary Lucy Lowe, and the faculty members "who had helped with the work of the season." The team members of the 1944-45 team included Clifton Finn, Merle Reed, Donald Pickett ---- Roy, ---- Webb, ---- Marshall, and ---- Dunbar.

On the Square, Russell & Co. opened their spring line of merchandise; W.R. Wooten encouraged customers to visit his Triangle Foods self-service store, "the modern way to shop;" and owner Martin Rowe & pharmacist Wilsie Taylor announced the Corner Drug Store had reopened with "an entire new stock of merchandise" after a near-disastrous fire early Christmas morning.

Lany Bray & Co. offered "a complete line of accessories for your spring wardrobe;" Paull Drug Co. offered special prices on several items during its spring clearance sale, including many Stag brand toiletries for men; and Alton Lacy's Western Auto Associate Store offered a real deal on Davis brand tires.

Other on-the-Square advertisers included Lerman's and the Marshall Furniture Store & Gift Shop, the latter set to open April 5th in the newly refurbished building next door to Corner Drugs. (The former occupant, Roberts 5-10-25c Store, had closed out after the same fire mentioned above greatly damaged the stock.) Movies showing at the Rialto toward the end of March included "Objective Burma" (Errol Flynn) and "Under Western Skies (Noah Beery, Jr., et. al.)

Only two community newsletters appeared in the March 28 edition of the paper, including one from the ever-faithful Sallie J. Kelley of Coburg. The last paragraph of her letter paid loving tribute to an Adair County soldier she had known and much loved, Emanuel Judd, killed in action in Europe on February 24, 1945, his 34th birthday:
"Our hearts have ached with sympathy for Minnie Lou and Mr. and Mrs. Grover Judd, whose loss of husband and only child was such a heart tearing shock. Emanuel's ability in life was above average. He was so useful, a first class carpenter and painter, talented along every line. There was never an instrument made he couldn't play. Always had a jolly word and a smile for everyone that he met. He and my [daughter] Alma were reared close neighbors, started to school the same day. Many slices of cake I put in their lunch boxes at the same time. The Cane Valley Choir has never been the same since we had to give up his bass voice. On River Rhine he fought and died for our freedom. We hope to meet him on the other side where he plays on a harp of Gold."

This story was posted on 2020-03-26 09:12:45
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