In recent months, this website has run a handful of articles looking back at various holiday periods in the early 1940s, using articles from the former Lynnfield Village Press newspaper.
These stories provide a highly detailed look at local history during a pivotal time (World War II), although in this case, there are now only a couple of surviving reels of the Village Press stored at the Lynnfield Library.
One thing that local history enthusiasts should be aware of is the letters to the local newspaper that Mr. J.E. Harriss sent from England in the early days of World War II. His letters were very long and detailed even by the standards of previous eras, touching on everything from Lynnfield to major international developments of World War II. An article about Christmas, 1941 in Lynnfield also referred to these letters, some of which are presumably already lost to local historians unless other old Village Press microfilms exist somewhere else out there.
A letter from Harriss appeared in the Village Press on May 21, 1942, just in time for Memorial Day.
"Now that America has entered the war I feel that my war letters will become less and less interesting to you. However, I'll try to keep them up and continue my endeavor to convey to you the impressions of an American family in Britain at war," wrote Harriss, who at this point was apparently 45 years old and helping to train soldiers or airmen in England, according to a later part of the letter.
Harriss also recalled in the letter how he had purchased several bottles of champagne, intending to celebrate when America finally joined the war effort against the Nazis. However, it didn't work out that way. "After the radio announcement on that never to be forgotten Dec. 7, we felt very little like party and had no desire for champagne. The shock of our own country actually engaging in hostilities was not easy to take, even when we knew it was inevitable," he wrote.
Back at home, the May 28, 1942 issue of the Village Press had "Memorial Day Parade To Be Colorful" among its lead headlines, noting that the parade would muster at 7:45 a.m. on May 30, 1942 at the Center Chemical House (fire station). Chief Webster was reportedly set to lead the parade with a platoon of police under his command. The parade moved across town and reassembled at Lynnfield Square for services.
"With all indications pointing to the likelihood that many more young Americans will be called on to offer their lives, it's time to think," stated the paper's front page editorial. If one reads between the lines of this editorial, the author also seems to be calling America's involvement in World War I a huge waste. "Think, as parades march by on Memorial Day, as we honor the thousands killed needlessly in the years past, think of another and probably worse slaughter. Think of the permanence of the peace we helped to win them. Yes. Think this Memorial Day."
Another headline reported that "Beet Sugar Will Relieve Shortage." Sugar was also subject to rationing, so a timely bumper crop of beets was apparently helping to keep the cookies rising on the home front. Or something to that effect.
At the nearby Wakefield Theater, moviegoers could see the rather striking Lupe Velez in "Mexican Spitfire At Sea," while child actor Billy Lee was in "Biscuit Eater," which is apparently a tear-jerker about a boy and his dog (so I think I'll go back and see what the Mexican Spitfire is up to instead). Also, Lucille Ball was in "Valley of the Sun," and Dorothy L'Amour was in "The Fleet's In."
Also at the theatre, movie patrons were shown a government information film on "fighting the fire bomb," with air raids still seen as an ever-present threat.
The newspaper also featured advice (or "new rules") for young ladies planning to go visit their sweethearts on military leave. "Make this a big event. Go prepared to do a job entertaining. See that he has a good time and forget that it used to be the other way around," states the article.
In a large ad on May 14, 1942, New England Telephone and Telegraph apologized in advance to customers who could potentially find themselves without phone service if they moved, or sharing a line with neighbors because of the wartime copper shortage.
One ad advised women that if they wanted to do something "extraordinarily useful" for the war effort, they could become volunteer nurse's aides.
The May 14 edition also had the interesting headline "Javanese Noblewoman Luncheon Guest." Mrs. V. Goodell of Howard Ave. in Lynnfield reportedly welcomed Lady Ajoe Abdulkadir Widjojoatmodja with her husband after they had fled from the island of Sumatra in what is now Indonesia. At that point in the war, much of that area of the Pacific had been occupied by the Japanese or was at least in the line of very heavy fighting.
Also in May, 1942:
Private James E. Morris of 371 Salem Street had arrived in Miami Beach for four weeks of military training for the Air Corps.
Sgt. Joseph C. Cole of Clark Road, and Corporal Ralph E. Bangs of Prospect Ave., had sent cards reporting they were stationed in Australia.
The Centre Congregational Church planned a Memorial Sunday service in special recognition of "all Lynnfield Centre men who served in the armed forces."
It wasn't all war news on the front page of Memorial Day week in May, 1942. "Town Truck Drivers Seek Pay Increase," said one page 1 headline. Looking back, I should have found out what the town was actually paying truckers to transport.
You could also pick up a new straw hat at Flaisher's in Lynn for as little as $1.45.
Somebody was also selling their used 1940 Chevy Master Deluxe sedan for $375.
Arrow shirts was advertising its new Hitt shirt as "the shirt that makes a monkey of the sun," apparently because of a "wilt-free" collar.
Around this time, the town also had a new bus service to downtown Lynn and to the nearby GE plant. It was expected to draw heavier use because of gas rationing and other factors. However, the bus service was relatively short lived and seems to have never come back to Lynnfield. (Growing up in Danvers in the '80s, actually seeing a person sitting on a passing MBTA bus was actually cause for turning one's head too.)
Finally, no look back to the days of the Lynnfield Village Press would be complete without a scan of the "Man About Town" column. This was basically one of those quasi-gossip columns where the editor threw around a bunch of quips, archaic observations and insider jokes about Lynnfield in this era.
"Two of the town's most ardent juvenile fishermen, Charlie Hayward Jr. and Robert Ross, are a bit dubious about there being any fish in Pillings Pond," stated the anonymous Man About Town in one column.
"George Waring had a bit of difficulty finding Wes Munroe's ribs during a class in artificial respiration at the firemen's meeting the other night," he wrote in another instance.
Editor's Note: Previous articles from this series can be viewed below. Another one will run around July 4th. And presumably Labor Day.