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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Local History: Class of '41 was soon to face WWII

  • HAWLEY - Pictures are supposed to tell a thousand words; others evoke even greater meaning. The Class of 1941, Hawley High School, was the last to graduate before the United States entered World War II later that year.
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  • HAWLEY - Pictures are supposed to tell a thousand words; others evoke even greater meaning. The Class of 1941, Hawley High School, was the last to graduate before the United States entered World War II later that year.
        Copies of the picture of their class trip to Washington, D.C. were recently shared by Fabyan Pierro, whose mother, the late Gertrude (Glantz) Pierro, was in that class, and June Strait, whose brother Ralph Ellngsen was one of the graduates.
       Getrude's younger brother Eugene ("Art") Glantz shared some recollections.
       Like other classes, we see across the rows of these new graduates, faces surely full of anticipation of the new chapter of their lives ahead of them. For the class of 1941, the outlook was profoundly different than for most. America was about to embark on a bitter global war that would forever change society and individual lives in many ways. For most if not all the boys pictured here- and perhaps some of the girls, they would soon be serving in the military. Three of the boys pictured here would make the Supreme Sacrifice.
       As Glantz commented, "There is a lot in this picture."
    ••• Army & Navy
       Two who were killed in World War II were William ("Billy") L. Bidwell and Donald L. Cross.
       They are pictured in the class trip photograph, seated seventh and eighth from left, respectively.
       • Billy Bidwell was the son of Charles L. and Alice M. Bidwell of Salem Township, Wayne County. His father was a farm laborer. He also had relatives in Hawley. He had a younger sister Evelyn, and an older brother Charles.
       After graduation, Billy went to work for the war effort in Harford, CT, prior to being inducted. He Was sworn into the US Army on his 19th birthday, on March 17, 1943. He served in the 358th Infantry 90th Divison. The 358th was in France when PFC Bidwell was killed, September 8, 1944.
        His remains were laid to rest at Arlington Cemtery, Wayne County, PA- east of Hamlin. His brother Charles was also in the Service at the time.    
     • Donald L. Cross was living at home with only his widowed mother, when he graduated. They lived at 443 Woodland Ave., Hawley. His mother was Carrie (Bea) Cross, and turned 53 in 1941. His father, Homer Harrison Cross, had died of natural causes 10 years earlier.
       His father was the manager of a wholesale gasoline and oil distributorship in Hawley. Donald had two older siblings, Richard and Ruth, who had already left the parental nest.
       Donald was 22 years and six months of age when he was killed aboard the USS Franklin, March 19, 1945. His aircraft carrier came under fire by Japanese planes when launching an attack wihin 50 miles of the enemy homeland. The ship was badly damaged but survived; there were as many as 807 US forces killed, and 187 wounded in the attack.
    Page 2 of 3 -    Price was laid to rest at Green Gates Cemetery, Hawley.
    ••• Korean War casualty
       There was another member of the class of 1941, Hawley High School, who was killed in wartime. Ralph J. Ellingsen was killed in the Korean War. After going to college, he entered the Air Force and later switched to the Army. Ralph served as a First Lieutenant in the 10th Field Artillery Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division. He was 28 when he was killed, March 12, 1952.
        His sister June Strait still lives in the Hawley area. Ralph's father was Christopher Gerhard Ellingsen, a civil engineer, who designed the bandstand and other structures in Bingham Park in the early 1930's.
         The Hawley American Legion Wilson-Kelch Post 311 and their Auxiliary published a book in 1949 containing photgraphs of "Gold Star Boys", those from the Hawley area who died while in the US Armed Forces both from World War I and World War II. The book has 27 pictures of these "boys" from World War II.
        Also listed are the names of approximately 416 local men and women, believed to all be from the greater Hawley area, who served in the military during World War II.
        None of the girls who were named in the class trip picture are found on the list. Of the 21 boys who have been identified, 17 are believed to have served in the armed forces.
        The commitee that put this book together included Mr. Ray Oreman, editor; his wife, assisant editor; Mrs. Albert Haggarty; Mr. Charles Millar; Mrs. Warren Murphy; Mrs. Daniel Noe and Mr. Henry Plum.
       The Hawley Times during the war years had news of local men and women on page one of each issue  who were serving.
        During the war years, Hawley, Pa. endured its own battle which it bravely endured, the devastating flood of May 22-23, 1942.
       Hawley High School was impacted by the war as many teachers and prospective teachers were entering the service. War-time emergency certificates for non-certified tecahers were sought on several occasions. The School Board asked for these certificates, and that full state aid would not be hampered by not having fully certified instructors.
      In May of 1945, Principal Joseph Jacobs recommended 37 pupils for diplomas. Five were in the armed forces. When the September term arrived, for ex-service men who had a year to complete returned to school.
    ••• Enjoyed the class trip
       Hawley High School Class of 1941 numbered 70 students. They attended the new brick high school on Academy Street which had opened in 1938. Commencement was held at the Ritz Theater, downtown.
         Richard M. Murphy, who is 90 and still at work at Murphy Insurance on Keystone Street and connected with the Ritz Company Playhouse next door, said when he graduated at the Ritz in 1941 he could not foresee then the playhouse that would be started in 1973, by his wife Peg Murphy and Ed Buckmaster.
    Page 3 of 3 -    Murphy also served in the Army during World War II, in the European Theater.
       A week after graduation, approximately 40 members of the class left on a couple Greyhound buses for Washington, D.C.
       Appearing with the students and their chaperones in the group picture is U.S. Congressman Albert G. Rutherford, of Honesdale. Rutherford, a Republican, was in his second term having first taken office in 1939. He died on August 10, 1941, two months after this class trip. His son James Rutherford served as judge in the court in Wayne County, and his grandson Albert G. Rutherford II is presently a practicing attorney in Honesdale and noted historian.
       Take a good look at the picture. You may see that the man standing at far left and the man at far right are very similar. They should be. They are the same man!
        The representative from Thompson Travel Agency in Scranton decided to have a little fun. Art Gantz said that his sister had told her that as the camera panned across the class members, the agent ran around to the other end and later told the class that, "My twin brother and I wish you a lot of luck."
       Another member of the Class of 1941 was Roger Lobb, who was on the trip. He later told Glantz that some of the boys had bet their teacher Mr. Martin Reafler that he couldn't walk to the top of the Washington Monument. The teacher won the bet!
    Sources
    •Hawley Public Library: Historical Book of Hawley, Pa. & Vicinity (1949), Hawley American Legion Post 311
    • Wallenpapack Historical Society: Hawley Times archives
    • The Wallenpaupack Area: History of a School District (1997) by George J. Fluhr
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