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Small Town America in World War II

War Stories from Wrightsville, Pennsylvania

Ronald E. Marcello

Publication Year: 2014

Historians acknowledge that World War II touched every man, woman, and child in the United States. In Small Town America in World War II, Ronald E. Marcello uses oral history interviews with civilians and veterans to explore how the citizens of Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, responded to the war effort. Located along the western shore of the Susquehanna River in York County, Wrightsville was a transportation hub with various shops, stores, and services as well as industrial plants. Interviews with citizens and veterans are organized in sections on the home front; the North African-Italian, European, and Pacific theatres; stateside military service; and occupation in Germany. Throughout Marcello provides introductions and contextual narrative on World War II as well as annotations for events and military terms. Overseas the citizens of Wrightsville turned into soldiers. An infantryman in the Italian campaign, Alfred Forry, explained, “I was forty-five days on the line wearing the same clothes, but everybody was in the same situation, so you didn’t mind the stench and body odors.” A veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, Edward Reisinger, remembered, “Replacements had little chance of surviving. They were sent to the front one day, and the next day they were coming back with mattress covers over them. The sergeants never knew the names of these people.” Mortar man Donald Peters described the death of a buddy who was hit by artillery shrapnel: “His arm was just hanging on by the skin, and his intestines were hanging out.” In the conclusion Marcello examines how the war affected Wrightsville. Did the war bring a return to prosperity? What effects did it have on women? How did wartime trauma affect the returning veterans? In short, did World War II transform Wrightsville and its citizens, or was it the same town after the war?

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Figures

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pp. vii-viii

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. ix-x

...I owe debts of gratitude to several people who aided me during the time I researched and wrote this book. Christopher N. Koontz and the late Richard W. Byrd transcribed all the tape-recorded interviews to produce hundreds of pages of typescript. Their first-rate work...

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Wrightsville, Pennsylvania

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pp. xi-xvi

...working days in 1897. During its sixty-year existence, it handled, in addition to railroad traffic, horse-drawn wagons, pedestrians, and droves of cattle. After World War I, it also accommodated automobile traffic. As the use of automobiles steadily grew throughout the 1920s, it became...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-12

...my hometown, Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, who lived through World War II. My primary aim was to determine how that war affected the lives of the town’s inhabitants as well as the effects of the conflict on the town itself. War, by its very...

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PART I: WRIGHTSVILLE: THE HOME FRONT

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pp. 13-18

...Other prominent historians agree with his assessment. They argue that participation in the war brought economic, political, and social change to an unprecedented degree. Scarcely any...

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Chapter 1: Donald “Red” Smith

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pp. 19-30

...Born on 28 September 1912, Donald “Red” Smith was the son of the founder of Riverside Foundry, Harry K. Smith. After a very short collegiate career, Donald returned to the foundry and never left. In his interview he sheds light on the attitude...

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Chapter 2: Pauline “Sis” Leber

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pp. 31-48

...Pauline (née Haugh) Leber was born on 28 June 1914, on a small subsistence farm just outside Wrightsville in Hellam Township. Known by the nickname of “Sis” all her life, she graduated from Wrightsville High School in 1934 just before...

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Chapter 3: Mary Jane Dellinger

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pp. 49-60

...Born on 14 February 1922, Mary Jane Dellinger lived in Wrightsville all her life. After quitting school during her sophomore year at Wrightsville High School, she found employment in a nearby silk mill before taking jobs in the defense plants during...

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Chapter 4: Evelyn “Ebs” Myers

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pp. 61-80

...Born on 27 February 1918, in Wrightsville, Evelyn “Ebs” Myers was the daughter of foundry molder Guy Myers and his wife Caroline. Evelyn had two younger brothers and a younger sister. Refusing to accept deadend jobs, she decided to seek...

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Chapter 5: Alfred “Skip” Marcello, Jr.

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pp. 81-96

...Born on 19 March 1932, “Skip,” the older brother of the editor of this volume, gives an account from the perspective of a teenager growing up in Wrightsville during World War II. His comments indicate that the town went all-out for the...

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Chapter 6: Mervin “Merv” Garver

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pp. 97-110

...Born on 10 April 1923, Mervin Garver, the son of Clara and Edward Garver, spent his entire life in Wrightsville. “Merv” did not serve in the military during World War II because he was classified by the Army as 4-F, meaning that he was “not acceptable...

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PART II: THE NORTH AFRICAN AND ITALIAN THEATERS

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pp. 111-116

...The invasion of North Africa beginning in November 1942 was primarily a British plan. Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his military advisors feared that Germany and Japan would gain control of India, the Middle East, North Africa...

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Chapter 7: Staff Sgt. Mervin “Bo” Haugh

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pp. 117-130

...Born on 28 June 1917, on a farm just outside Wrightsville, Mervin “Bo” Haugh initially participated in the North African and Italian Theaters and later saw action in the Northwestern European Theater. After Congress passed the Selective Training...

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Chapter 8: Pfc. Glenn Blouse

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pp. 131-156

...Born on April 1924, at Long Level, a small community on the Susquehanna River just south of Wrightsville, Glenn Blouse was the only child of Ora and Paul Blouse. Almost immediately after graduating from high school in June 1941, Glenn had...

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Chapter 9: Pfc. Alfred “Bud” Forry

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pp. 157-178

...Born on 16 May 1925, in Wrightsville, Alfred “Bud” Forry has lived in the town all his life, with the exception of his sojourn with the US Army during World War II. He was drafted 7 August 1943, shortly after turning eighteen. After basic training, “Bud” was sent...

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Chapter 10: Pvt. Donald W. Peters

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pp. 179-198

...Born 30 September 1924, Donald Peters was unique among the Wrightsville veterans of World War II in that he was on separate occasions both wounded and a prisoner of war. The son of John and Mary Barnes Peters, he was the youngest...

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PART III: THE NORTHWESTERN EUROPEAN THEATER

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pp. 199-206

...Even before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had decided that in the event of having to fight a war against Germany and Japan, American resources should...

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Chapter 11: MSgt. Edward “Tarp” Reisinger

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pp. 207-234

...Born on 1 September 1919, in Wrightsville, Edward “Tarp” Reisinger was a child of the Great Depression who found a home in the US Army. With slim economic prospects in Wrightsville, “Tarp” joined the Army on 15 July 1940, and served...

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Chapter 12: Pfc. Lloyd “Lem” Crumbling

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pp. 235-248

...Born on 9 January 1918 in Wrightsville, Lloyd “Lem” Crumbling lived in the town all his life with the exception of two stints in the US Army. His parents, William and Grace Crumbling, raised seven children, six boys and one girl. “Lem” was the...

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Chapter 13: SSgt. Mervin “Bo” Haugh

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pp. 249-264

...When the Sicilian Campaign ended, “Bo’s” 2d Armored Division was transferred to England, where it trained for the Normandy invasion and the drive across France. The division entered France on D 3, 9 June 1944, and went into action in the...

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Chapter 14: Sgt. Charles Kervin “Kirvey” Hake

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pp. 265-282

...Born on 18 March 1922, in Wrightsville, Charles “Kirvey” Hake was one of thirteen children of Samuel and Sarah Diehl Hake. He was inducted into the US Army in December 1942 and served in Northwestern Europe as an artificer...

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Chapter 15: Pfc. William “Bill” Haugh

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pp. 283-300

...Born in Hellam Township just outside Wrightsville on 21 August 1919, William Bill Haugh was a man of integrity and character. During World War II he could have avoided the draft. He had a vital, defense-related job at Riverside Foundry in Wrightsville...

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Chapter 16: Cpl. William “Bill” Smeltzer

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pp. 301-310

...Born on a farm just outside Wrightsville on 5 May 1923, Bill hoped to avoid the draft by going to Pearl Harbor and working as a machinist at the naval base. After eighteen months of employment there, he returned to the mainland for thirty days of leave...

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PART IV: THE PACIFIC THEATER

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pp. 311-314

...American strategy in the Pacific War called for a two-pronged offensive for defeating Japan. The Southwest Pacific Theater, under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, had as its objective the retaking of the Philippine Islands. From...

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Chapter 17: Cpl. Jacob W. “Jakie” Snyder

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pp. 315-332

...Born on 30 March 1923, in the rural community of Broadback in York County, Pennsylvania, Jacob “Jakie” Snyder was one of twelve children born to John and Nellie Snyder. A victim of the Great Depression as were many youngsters of his generation...

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Chapter 18: Electrician’s Mate 2d Class Leonard “Son” Bock

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pp. 333-352

...Born on 14 September 1925, in Wrightsville, Leonard “Son” Bock joined the Navy at the age of seventeen while still in high school. He was the middle child of Victor J. “Jerry” and Katherine “Cass” Bock. He had an older sister, Elmira Jane...

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PART V: STATESIDE MILITARY SERVICE

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pp. 353-356

...During World War II, thousands of military men and women saw duty in the United States. Although they never served in combat zones, their contributions to the war effort cannot be overlooked. Stateside soldiers served as coast artillerymen...

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Chapter 19: CPO Elmira “Jane” Bock

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pp. 357-372

...Born on 31 October 1923, in Baltimore, Maryland, Jane Bock spent her youth and early adult years in Wrightsville before joining the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) during World War II. She was the oldest of three...

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Chapter 20: Sgt. Charles “Pete” Yeager

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pp. 373-386

...Born on15 June 1918, in Baltimore, Maryland, Charles “Pete” Yeager’s family moved to Wrightsville in 1925. He was the oldest of eight children, four boys and four girls, born to William and Anna May (née Dietz) Yeager. A victim...

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PART VI: ARMY OF OCCUPATION: GERMANY

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pp. 387-392

...On V-E Day, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Commander of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force [SHAEF], had sixty-one American divisions with 1.6 million men in Germany. When the shooting ended, these divisions in the...

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Chapter 21: TSgt. Gerald “Jerry” Johns and Irmgard “Jackie” Stieger-Johns

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pp. 393-416

...Born on 20 March 1925, Gerald Jerry Johns was drafted just a few days following his high school graduation in 1943. He spent most of his military career in Europe as head of the officers’ mess for SHAEF and later, after the conclusion of the...

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Chapter 22: Pvt. William “Bill” Crumbling

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pp. 417-428

...Born in Wrightsville on 23 September 1927, William Bill Crumbling was the youngest of William and Grace Crumbling’s eight children. There were seven boys and one girl in the family. While working at Susquehanna Casting, he...

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CONCLUSIONS: "Home"

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pp. 429-436

...For Wrightsville’s veterans, whether they served overseas or stateside, home is what they all thought about during their time in the military. In a sense, “home” became a kind of refuge after the initial shock of induction into an unfamiliar military...

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 437-446

Index

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pp. 447-452


E-ISBN-13: 9781574415612
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574415513

Page Count: 464
Illustrations: 23 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2014

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Subject Headings

  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Pennsylvania -- Wrightsville (York County).
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Social aspects -- Pennsylvania -- Wrightsville (York County).
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American.
  • Oral history -- Pennsylvania -- Wrightsville (York County).
  • Soldiers -- Pennsylvania -- Wrightsville (York County) -- Interviews.
  • Interviews -- Pennsylvania -- Wrightsville (York County).
  • Wrightsville (York County, Pa.) -- Biography.
  • Wrightsville (York County, Pa.) -- History, Military -- 20th century.
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