Joan V. Cusimano Lindquist
Seventy-seven tears ago, May 8, 1945 marked the end of the war in Europe as the four chief Allied Powers of World War II—the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union—accepted the formal unconditional surrender of Germany and the Third Reich. The defeat of Germany brought an end to the horrendous years of fighting and loss of life in one part of that global conflict, but the war would continue well into August of the same year as America was still battling the Japanese forces led by Emperor Hirohito.
Because our country needed raw materials to bolster its production of military equipment, scrap drives were conducted across the United States. America’s citizens on the home front did their patriotic duty by digging into basements and garages, spare rooms and attics to find scrap metal and rubber that could be recycled and used to add to the necessary resources available to war plants for the manufacturing of military vehicles, planes, ships, guns, and ammunition. A scrap drive held opposite the Broadhead Building on S. Main Street in the Square collected 28,653 tons of scrap metal and rubber to be used for the war effort. To help Uncle Sam “swell [the] scrap metal heap,” the Ira Lou Spring Post of the American Legion, housed in the Fenton Mansion, in November 1942 “turned over practically its entire collection of World War I relics, including 18 German rifles, 26 German sabres, three German machine guns, bayonets, helmets, and shell cases” to be recycled, recast, and used against the enemy.
And with victory in Europe came a joyous reminder to Jamestonians that at 8:00 on the evening of Tuesday, May 8, 1945, a victory and thanksgiving service hosted by the Salvation Army Temple Corps would be held at the Salvation Army campus at 24 Harrison Street, Brooklyn Square. About a month after the war in Europe came to an end, the Ira Lou Spring Post, No. 149 of the American Legion extended an invitation to all WW II veterans who were back home to an Open House at the Legion Club Rooms in the Fenton Mansion. The announcement was posted in the June 11, 1945 issue of the Jamestown Post-Journal with the caption” “A Good Place To Meet Your Buddy.”
With the official surrender of Japan on August 15, 1945 that finally ended the war, many Brooklyn Square businesses ran victory “ads” in the Post-Journal. Two among them were Fashion Clothes, Inc. at 14-16 N. Main Street in the Square and also the Big Star Wall Paper and Paint Co. at 10 S. Main Street. The September 1, 1945 “ad” by Fashion Clothes stated: “In grateful appreciation to the thousands of American men who so unselfishly have given their lives to permit liberty once again to flourish on this earth, this announcement is humbly dedicated.” In the same issue of the newspaper, Big Star Wall Paper and Paint Co. featured in its victory announcement an embattled GI dug into a fox hole in the jungle with a vision of a lovely woman—a wife, a sweetheart—with the caption “Dreams…of a happier day.” It went on to read: “Of a day when he and all soldiers can return to their homes and their loved ones…of the day when all strife in the world is at an end. These men who have fought and destroyed the enemy in Europe and the Pacific know now that they have achieved Victory that the whole world can continue to live in Peace.” Simple, yet eloquent in their sincerity and gratefulness, those few words printed seventy-seven years ago are a commemoration to America’s Greatest Generation.