This Was Doylestown, 1943

A Seabee writes of giant lizards on a South Pacific island, a flu outbreak sweeps Doylestown, and Joe Kenny talks about news coverage of the war, 69 years ago this week.

Seabee writes home about giant lizards -

In spite of their size and ugliness, the three-foot-long lizards of the South Pacific islands are welcomed by the sailors and Seabees stationed there because of the reptiles' appetite for the giant insects which also inhabit the locality, according to Yeoman William F. Chandler, U.S. Navy, Construction Battalion, in letters received by his mother, Mrs. Alice S. Chandler, of West Court street, and his sister, Miss Grace Chandler.

Yeoman Chandler, a graduate of Lafayette College and the University of Pennsylvania, and for the past twelve years a member of the faculty of the Mechanicsville, N.Y. high school, enlisted in the Navy early in 1942. He spent six months in New Caledonia before going to his present station somewhere just "under the equator."

Referring to the apprehension expressed by his mother in her letters to him about the giant iguanas of the tropics, Yeoman Chandler writes:

"Don't worry about these three-foot lizards. They are the ugliest things on earth, but if it weren't for them we wouldn't be able to live on this island. They breakfast, dine and sup on the insects. And what insects. Spiders three inches in diameter, 'walking sticks' a foot long, pinching beetles the size of a silver dollar, to mention just a few of the more startling ones.

"It took me three days to dig a foxhole as the soil is only a few inches and then you strike coral rock. My tent mates and I finally pooled our efforts and dug a slit trench instead, right beside our tent, with the tarpaulin slanted over it to keep out some of the water. 'Some' is right. That expression about diving into a slit trench when the Japs 'come over' is literally true here. The chances of drowning are greater than the chances of being hit by a bomb.

"We bail out the trench with our helmets at regular intervals, but it is a waste of time for the rainfall here is 250 inches a year, which means that it rains every day most of the day.

"Mentally and emotionally, we have all been affected, consciously or unconsciously. A year overseas is bound to affect one in some way. The monotony of the life, the maddening routine, rules and regulations--most of which were originally designed for a group of youngsters not yet out of diapers--make life almost unendurable for some men. It has various effects. Some become nervous and irritable; some become melancholic; others develop hypochondria.

"You can understand why it is almost a pleasure when the Jap planes come over and drop their bombs on us; for a few minutes life is exciting and real."


Grippe outbreak hits Doylestown and Bucks county -

The wave of grippe [flu] which struck the Philadelphia area and spread to Bucks county peaked on Saturday, with hundreds of people ill at home. Here in Doylestown, as many as five in one family have been stricken.

Although there is not a great deal of absenteeism in county war plants, as a result of sickness, the schools have been hard hit. About five percent of the pupils in the Doylestown Public School were out sick this week, including five members of the faculty. Eleven pupils in one room were home sick Friday.

Doylestown physicians believe that cold weather will break up the wave of grippe in a short time. "Stay in bed for at least two days" is the sound advice of local physicians for those affected.

One death occurred in this area Friday night from pneumonia at the Doylestown Emergency Hospital, that of James M. Shellenberger, 64, of Doylestown. The superintendent of nurses at the hospital is ill at home.

Doylestown's industrial plants have not been hard hit. At the Clear Spring Worsted Mill, only two out of 100 employees were out sick Saturday, and about the same proportion held good in other plants.

Physicians, however, are about run ragged. Many of them do not know what it is to get more than four hours sleep a night. Doctors call the present epidemic old-fashioned grippe, and very mild in character, lasting three or four days.

The current mildness of the disease may well immunize its victims against a recurrence of the 1918 epidemic, which cost thousands of lives. Few complications have resulted from the current illness, local doctors pointed out.


Joseph Kenny speaks on the press in wartime -

Editor's note - Joseph R. Kenny came to Doylestown in 1938 and opened Kenny's News Agency on West State Street in 1943. Kenny became one of the borough's most prominent businessmen and civic leaders, initiating the summer band concerts on the courthouse lawn. During the 1960s, he was instrumental in preventing Doylestown's historic buildings from being demolished for urban renewal. He died in 1988 at age 80.

Joseph R. Kenny, a Doylestown news agency operator and newspaper distributor, addressed the Chalfont Lions Club in a humorous vein at its meeting at Supplee's Tavern on Wednesday evening.

Mr. Kenny drew a comparison of the newspaper business in peace and in wartime, and stated that people often take the press for granted. This would be a dark world without the press, which not only includes the newspaper, but the magazine and radio as well, said Mr. Kenny.

"It is the job of the newspaper to give us a true picture of war, and in a scientific way. We are no longer far removed from the rest of the world because we are no more than thirty hours from any capital on any continent. People are now next-door neighbors. It is a smaller world and people are going to have to live in it," he said.

"As a result, we must know something about the history, the customs and the ideas of all nations. This we will learn through the medium of the press. America must and will accept the responsibility of a good neighbor," said Mr. Kenny

Guests included Edward Horn and the junior Lion of the month, Donald Frankenfield, who is a Cub Scout and a member of the school football team.

The birthday of Irvin B. Taylor was observed. The door prize, a defense savings stamp, was awarded to J. Clyde Derstine.


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School to assist student selectees -

At the meeting of the Doylestown School Board on Monday night, William H. Satterthwaite, Jr. was re-elected president and Frank Mitch was named vice president. The election of a secretary and of a treasurer is held at the June meeting.

Supervising Principal [Superintendent] J. Leonard Halderman explained to the board the work that was being done to help those students who would reach the age of 18 in the near future and who would be liable for call into the armed service.

After discussion and study of the boy's qualifications, a card will be given him explaining the branch of work for which he is best adapted, so that with this information the Army or Navy officials will be able to quickly place him in the most suitable branch of the service. Principal Halderman stated that such information was much desired by the military and naval officers.

It was decided by the board that any of the high school students in the graduating class who might be called by the draft board before the beginning of the February term, would be given their diplomas in June, proving their standing was such as to warrant it. Students called after the beginning of the last term are automatically given their diplomas.

A report of a survey made by Mrs. Alice Rankin, school nurse, of the parents whose children are in school showed that 27 percent of the parents are working, full or part time; in 1941 there were only five percent in the same category. Working parents who are absent from home immediately following school hours make up 2.5 percent; and those in the armed forces are 5.5 percent.

Two resignations of teachers were accepted by the board and two new teachers were elected to the faculty.

Miss Catherine McFadden, of Hyattsville, Md., was selected to fill the vacancy in the home economics department. She will be paid a salary of $1,700. Miss Jane Bryant, of the Shippensburg State Teachers College, was selected to fill the vacancy in the history department. Miss Bryant will receive a salary of $1,500 and will have the status of a substitute teacher.


V.I.A. pays tribute to the late Mrs. Kerr -

Tributes of respect for her fine character and her long years of work for community activities were paid to the late Mrs. Louisa B. Kerr by members of the Village Improvement Association, at a meeting held Tuesday at the home of Mrs. James. M. Shellenberger.

Eulogies of her work were given by Mrs. Calvin S. Boyer and Mrs. H. Leroy Kister, and resolutions were read by Mrs. F. Cyrus Twining. Tributes were also voiced by Miss Helen Ryan and Mrs. A. Oscar Martin.

Mrs. Boyer spoke of Mrs. Kerr's tireless work in community affairs since 1903, when she joined the V.I.A. She spoke of her tactful and practical cooperation and the inspiration she radiated.

Mrs.Kister spoke of Mrs. Kerr's courage and faith at the time the larger Doylestown Emergency Hospital was proposed [it opened in 1939]. Mrs. Kerr strongly urged the need for it and had a very large part in promoting it. One of the great assets which made her valuable in public service was her ability to consider a problem without becoming involved in personalities, said Mrs. Kister.

Mrs. Kerr died Nov. 6 in the Emergency Hospital at the age of 67. She had been seriously ill for nearly a year.

She was a former president of the V.I.A. She served for many years as financial head of the annual hospital campaigns, with outstanding success.

Mrs. Kerr was a member of the Doylestown School Board at the time of her death, having served three terms. She was a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church and the Doylestown Nature Club, and served on numerous community committees during the past twenty years.


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News of Our Men and Women in Uniform -

Lieut. (j.g.) James Michener, stationed at the Bureau of Aeronautics, Washington, D.C., is visiting his mother, Mrs. Mabel Michener, in Doylestown. Lieut. Michener has been in the service about a year. Mrs. Michener is in the Women's Army Corps and has been stationed in London for three months. She has won three service ribbons to date.

Pvt. David Shaw is spending a furlough with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ira Shaw, of Church street. Pvt. Shaw is stationed at the North Georgia College, where he is taking a specialized course in engineering. He entered the service in November, 1942.

Norman G. Myers, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph E. Myers, of Doylestown, was commissioned a second lieutenant upon his completion of the officer candidate course at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga. Lieut. Myers, who was inducted on June 1, 1943, attended the Drexel Institute of Technology Reserve Officer Training Corps.

Woman Reservist Kathryn Virginia Warner, 21, of West Court street, was granted a petty officer rating of yeoman third class in recent graduation ceremonies held at the Naval Training School on the Iowa State Teachers College campus, Cedar Falls, Ia.

Mr. and Mrs. W.J. Childs, of Doylestown R.D. 1, have received a letter from their son, George W. Childs, stationed in England, who writes he is getting fat, lazy and perhaps a little homesick.

John S. Spencer has returned to the Naval air station at Key West, Fla. after spending a furlough of 15 days with relatives in Doylestown.

Philip F. Moyer, son of Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Moyer, of East Oakland avenue, has been transfered to the Stuttgart Army Air Field, Stuttgart, Ark., where he will undergo the last phase of flight training prior to receiving his wings as a combat pilot. Prior to becoming a cadet in the Air Corps, he was a surveyor's assistant.

Miss Elizabeth Frome, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Henry Frome, of Green street, married Lieut. James F. Haldeman in the First Presbyterian Church at Fort Myer, Fla. on Sunday night.

Technician 4th Grade William H. Maultsby, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Maultsby, of Doylestown R.D. 1, has been promoted to his present grade from Tech. 5th Gr. at Fort Eustis, Va., the nation's largest Anti-aircraft Replacement Training Center. A Doylestown High School graduate, he enlisted March 2, 1942 at Philadelphia.

Mr. and Mrs. Fred B. Plichta, of Doylestown R.D. 2, have received word that their son, Sgt. Stephen J. Plichta, has arrived in the Southwest Pacific area.

In a letter from Sicily, Lt. Colonel Charles T. Horner states that he met his brother, Colonel Samuel Horner, a few days before the letter was written, and that he looks fine. Both officers are the sons of Mr. and Mrs. Charles T. Horner, of Doylestown, and both are graduates of Doylestown High.

The third "gold bar" to go on the Honor Roll of men and women from Doylestown in the armed forces was placed Thursday by Stanley Bowers, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce committee sponsoring the Board. It was the name of Kenneth R. Bellerby, U.S. Navy, who died at sea. The first "gold bar" was for Charles F. Meyers, Army Air Corps; and the second one for Harrison Y. Stover, U.S. Navy. [Editor's note - The Honor Roll, next to the courthouse, listed the names of Doylestown residents in the military, with gold bars reserved for those who died.]


From the Doylestown Daily Intelligencer, Week of Dec. 5-11, 1943

Michael Evangelista December 03, 2012 at 12:53 PM
What happened to the Honor Roll Board that was on the old courthouse grpounds at Court & Broad Sts, ? I remember it as a kid. It should be preserved as part of Doylestown history. Mike Evangelista Dillwyn, VA.
Krby December 03, 2012 at 07:35 PM
I found the flu outbreak interesting
Jeff Lugar December 03, 2012 at 10:14 PM
According to the "Images of America: Doylestown" book, "in the late 1940s, it mysteriously disappeared and has never been found."
tom kane December 04, 2012 at 03:03 AM
My Grandfather was James Monroe Shellenberger. Family lore has it that if he only had access to the new miracle drug penicillin, he might have made it. I was born 6 years later.
J. Kurt Spence December 12, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Tom Kane, I am a volunteer researcher at the Doylestown Historical Society and am researching the Shellenberger family. Please contact me at cirkus@aol.com as I have several questions about the Shellenbergers of Doylestown. J. Kurt Spence


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