1983 Saunders County History - General History Part 7

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Saunders County
Yesterday and Today

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14

Part 7


   When the war was over in 1918, "Johnny Came Marching Home" to a Saunders Co. which had greatly changed. The people were tired of sacrifice and idealism. The newly-elected President Harding called for a return to normalcy and a feeling of "Let's go back to the good old days" and the "Roaring 20's" soon were born.

   By then most residents of the Co., including the farmers, had become business men. The prospects seemed bright but war time prices had been artificially high and in the next few years American markets in Europe dwindled as those people were once more able to raise crops. Corporations were able to squelch any really serious labor movements to help the workers. The war years had sharply stimulated nationalism, and now, there seemed to be a desire to retreat within our own limits and let the rest of the world go by. The "Roaring 20's" were really a gaudy false front.

Mid 1920's
Mid 1920's

   Many people, even small businessmen and farmers started "playing the market." Enormous paper profits were being made. Anyone could "buy on margin". Many otherwise conservative small farmers started to "dabble" in the market.

   Late in 1929, the market broke and the whole structure tumbled down and the "dirty thirties" came into being.


   By Oct. 30, 1914, the Central Powers in Europe were at war with the Allies. A single act - the shooting of Prince Ferdinand - triggered this conflict, that was to eventually pull the U.S. into the fighting by 1917.

   The people in this county, spurred on by high farm prices and the desire to help the allies and "feed the world", plowed up every corner of land and turned under the beautiful native prairie pastures. They planted corn and wheat and oats, and started to till marginal land that should never have been broken up; a practice that happened all over the Midwest and one that was going to bring on the horrible dust storms and devastation of the "dirty thirties".

   In this county, there was anti-German feeling created by the conflict in Europe. There were many German-born or 1st-generation German-Americans; most of them became loyal Americans and backed this country's actions solidly. However, there were a few who could not believe wrong of their German "Fatherland" and were labeled "pro-Germans". This caused outbreaks of bitterness and conflict between neighbors and families.

   On April 2, 1917 (mainly because of Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare), Pres. Wilson read a war message to a solemn Congress. "The world must be made safe for democracy," he warned. Four days later, on April 6, the U.S. declared war on Germany. By June, 1917, Gen. John J. Pershing's forces began landing in France. "Lafayette, we are here!" they shouted.

   Life on the farms and in the villages of Saunders Co. changed from one of leisure to a feverish pace to win the war.

   Farm boys went off to war; industrial jobs claimed many others. The young and the very old were left in the county. Wages of industrial workers rose very fast; industry had to change, even women's dress. For example, the War Industries Board decided that 8,000 tons of steel a year was too much to allot to women's corsets - so it stopped the manufacture of them. Women's blouse factories changed to making signal flags - piano companies made airplane wings. For the first time there was air warfare.

   The horrors of war made headlines. Liberty bonds were sold. National pride and patriotic fever swept thru the farmlands. Songs like "Over There" and "You're a Grand Old Flag" were on everyone's lips.

   Submitted by Helen Sanderson of Colon:
The United States initiated a draft of men in April, 1917, to augment their standing army. Saunders County, as well as every other community in the United States, drafted men between the ages of 21 and 31. The Saunders Co. draft board was D.H. Templeton, sheriff, pres.; Jos. B. Hines - county clerk, secretary; and Dr. J.G. Smith - the third member.

WW I Soldiers
Saunders Co. W.W. I Soldiers

   There was much to be done on the home front. Lottie Klotz of Wahoo was the first person from Saunders Co. to join the Red Cross. Due to her interest, the Saunders Co. Red Cross was organized. The first Red Cross War Fund drive in Saunders County was made in June, 1917. It was a huge success. The Red Cross also made surgical bandages, hospital garments, comfort kits and knitted articles. This work was accomplished in churches, schools, town halls, and homes where women gathered to work together.

   The last great drive for money in connection with the war activities was the United War Worker's Campaign in November, 1918. The Y.M.C.A., Y.W.C.A, the Knights of Columbus, the Jewish Welfare, the War Community Service, the American Library Association, and the Salvation Army, all united to raise money in one drive. It was called the United War Work. The Saunders County organizations having active charge of the work were represented as follows: Y.M.C.A., Charles A. Swanson, Wahoo; Y.W.C.A, Mrs. B. Scudder, Malmo; Knights of Columbus, Judge J.W. Barry, Wahoo; War Community Service, Judge C.H. Slama, Wahoo; the Salvation Army, A.L. Anderson, Wahoo; and the Victory Boys, C.N. Walton, Ashland.

   The Home Guard was also organized during the war with units in various parts of the county.

   On November 6, 1918, the German government had found they could not win the war - the German people were tired of war. They sent a group of men to France to surrender. At 11 o'clock in the morning on November 11, 1918, they signed the armistice in a railroad car that Marshall Ferdinand Foch, a French officer, used as headquarters. Thus, World War I came to an end.

   All of our men in the service endured grave hardships, and many Saunders County men gave their lives to defend their country. We are eternally grateful.

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   When the market crashed in 1929, many farmers had extended themselves to buy more land and now they couldn't pay for it. Many lost their farms and everything they had. Soon one out of every four workers in the Co. was jobless. Sawmill workers were getting as little as 5 cents an hour. Corn brought the lowest price since the Civil War. Banks closed. (Although the smallest bank in the Co., the Leshara State Bank was not among them.)

   Long bread lines formed in the large cities; unemployed men "hopped" freight trains and rode on top of the cars, passing thru the county on their way west to try for work. Farmers, militant and angry, forcibly prevented foreclosures on their land. Women started "Depression Plants" from burned out clinkers. They made most of the family's clothing from feed sacks and flour sacks, and were thankful they had them. The boys and young men of the county started playing baseball in someone's pasture, because "the rains stopped coming, and there was no work and no grass would grow."

   On March 4, 1933, F.D. Roosevelt became president, and the New Deal boomed into being. By March 12, banks began to go back into business and even the stock market came to life. The C.C.C. (Civilian Conservation Corps) was created to provide work for unemployed young men. Many boys from this community signed up for it. They were paid $30 a month, part of which had to be sent home. The Emergency Farm Mortgage Act (which refinanced farm mortgages) and the Home Owners Loan Corp. saved many family homes from foreclosure. The few people who had some money "dug it out from under the mattress" and started to spend it. Many useful buildings were erected with WPA funds or labor at this time. The new school at Cedar Bluffs received $900 for bricks and labor. City auditoriums in several towns were built with these funds and Dist. #43 near Colon and #23 near Cedar Bluffs. Many needy and worthy citizens of the county obtained jobs in this way; it was a great help to them, their families and the economy as a whole.

   Then the dust storms came to this troubled area, blowing away tons of precious top soil. The drought of 1934 left not a clump of weeds growing. Gardens did not come up. Seed corn laid in the ground and didn't sprout. 1935-36 were bad years, too. Prices were a little better but nothing grew in the fields. The "Dust Bowl" demonstrated the disastrous results of cutting down trees, plowing up marginal land, over-grazing and poor conservation practices. Pres. Roosevelt took steps to reverse these trends, shelter belts were planted and the Soil Conservation Service was created. Clover, alfalfa and other legumes were encouraged.

   Wanahoo Park proposal to purchase and improve this area as a community recreation area was turned down by Wahoo votes in December, 1936.

   In 1937, Miss Phyllis Te Poel, Mead, was named "Miss Wahoo."

   The Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was set up in 1935, bringing electricity to rural Saunders Co. By Jan., 1939, Roosevelt announced the conclusion of his reform efforts under the New Deal.

   By 1940, farm income was double what it was in 1932. Confidence was restored. Homes were gotten back.


   The R.E.A. came to Cedar Precinct area in Saunders County about 1936. How we waited for the poles to come further east to our farm. Soon we had wires to our house.

   What a thrill to pick out the dining and living room fixtures (centered on the ceiling)! And to put away the kerosene lamps!! We had to fill those lamps every week with kerosene, and wash and shine the chimneys every Saturday.

   Mr. Anderson of Wahoo wired our farm house and our dad, Albert Hoffmann, helped him. Dad learned the skill and subsequently became an electrician also. Dad wired many homes and farm buildings in Saunders County.

   Before we had electricity, we had a Zenith battery radio which was powered by a windcharger. Submitted by Mrs. John Royuk (nee Esther Hoffmann)


   Life on a farm in the 1930's was filled with hard work and simple pleasures. I lived on a farm east of Valparaiso with my mom, dad, three sisters and one brother. In the summer we worked hard shocking wheat and oats in the July heat, wearing big straw hats to keep the sun off our faces, or herding cows along the roadside during the drouth years because there was no grass for them in the pastures. It was a treat to have a magazine or book to take along and sneak some reading in while still keeping one eye on the cattle so they wouldn't wander off as they often tried to do. In the winter we picked corn by hand. You could tell how fast we worked by the bang, bang as the golden ears hit the side boards of the wagon pulled by a trusty team of horses. Milking cows on bitter cold winter mornings often made us think our little pinky fingers would freeze permanently. Also on cold winter mornings, we would run from the cold bedroom to the warm kitchen to find a place by the warm kitchen range to get dressed for school.

   There was always the constant chores: feeding the chickens, cleaning their coops, carrying in wood and cobs for fuel, carrying out ashes from the stoves and carrying in water from the well.

   How we enjoyed fresh fried chicken, new peas and potatoes from the garden, a cool drink of water from our deep well, homemade ice cream on the Fourth of July! I liked swinging under the trees on a pleasant afternoon or evening, getting up early in the morning to get out into the far pasture to bring the cows home with our faithful dog running along beside me as the sun was rising. I liked the sound of the windmill pumping water, chirps of newly-hatched chicks, the smell of newly-mown hay. It was exciting for us kids to watch the hay go up into the haymow and see it fall when dad released the catch on the slings.

   We really looked forward to Sunday afternoon when relatives would come to visit and we children would play with our cousins. Sometimes we would go up into the haymow and have a barn dance with someone playing the accordion. Bessie H. Voboril


   My folks moved to the County Poor Farm in the spring of 1930. For the remainder of the school term, I rode the trolley from Ashland to Wahoo. In those days there were quite a few kids that rode the trolley from Memphis to Ashland every morning and evening. The Troller, as we called it, was a combination of a Motor Car, Baggage Car, and Passenger Car, all in one unit. I stayed with friends in Ashland during the week and finished out my Junior year at Ashland High School.

   When we first moved on to the poor farm, as it was then called, there were about 21 or 22 men and one woman. There were two houses on the farm, one larger home where the superintendent lived, and a smaller house where the men resided. On the rear of the large house was a large dining room where all the folks ate their dinners. My mother and sister did the cooking for all these people and cleaned up afterwards.

   On the upper floor above this dining room, and attached to the main house, was a large room with a bath. This is where the lady stayed. She usually ate her meals upstairs by herself. My family occupied the front part of the large house. At times there were other men and women sent to the home, maybe to stay for a few days or weeks. They were then sent on to Lincoln to the State Hospital, so the home was usually well-occupied.

   I worked on the farm for my father during the summer vacations. All the farm work was done with mules, eight head of them. During harvest and corn shucking, extra men were hired to work. Sometimes men were brought out of the jail in Wahoo to help work and returned to jail each night. The farm consisted of 360 acres, about 3/4 of which was farm land. After graduating from Wahoo High in the Class of 1931, I was permanently employed by the county, helping my father farm the place. The population of the farm held pretty steady at the same number, 20-25, while we were on the farm. We left the farm in 1933 and moved back to Ashland. The farm continued to operate under various managers, for several years. Finally, as the population fell off, the farm was discontinued and later sold. by Keith Buster


   My parents, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Kasper, operated the County Poor Farm from 1937 to 1950. Sharing half the crop with the County, we raised corn, oats, wheat, soybeans, and hay, fed steers and raised other animals. My mother had a big garden and canned the produce. We also milked cows. The county paid us a certain amount for each man's support and care and the men were also given a small pension for spending money.

   The farm consisted of the usual farm buildings and a large home for us. There was a separate house for the inmates, as they were called. The men's building was built dormitory-style, with small rooms opening onto a long hall. A large stoker furnace under this building furnished steam heat for both houses. There was also electricity.

   Though the men were generally aged, several performed little chores around the farm. One helped my mother wash and hang clothes, one fed the cats, another went for the mail. Most of the men had neither relatives nor friends. One man had left his wife and child in Europe, planning to send for them. He never earned enough, and died on the Poor Farm. When they were sick, my mother cared for them, round the clock, if necessary, for the men were not taken to the hospital. Dr. Stewart of Cedar Bluffs was the county doctor at this time. They were usually buried in the paupers' section at Sunrise Cemetery. Occasionally, a distant relative or friend had the men buried in their home towns. A small cemetery can be found a distance north of the farmyard. We were told that inmates of the earliest times of the Poor Farm were buried there.

   My parents, as well as previous superintendents of the Farm, did what they could to make these men comfortable in their last years. by Max Kasper


   On December 7, 1941, a reporter for the United Press cried out the news that struck terror in the heart of every American and especially here, where "Wahoo" was very real. "Flash! White House announces Japanese bombing on Wahoo!"

   "Bombing what? Spell it out, for Pete's sake!"

   "O-A-H-U. O-wahoo! We got a war on our hands!"

   There was a rush to the recruiting stations. "Black Jack" Pershing, now 81, offered his services. Every man who registered received a draft number; when the first number was drawn it was 158. So this war was to be "G.I. Joes" with clipped crewcut heads going overseas; twenty years after their fathers and uncles had gone to WW I.

   This time women came out of the home to work in factories and foundries, and to assume military roles. There were women's branches of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force; there was a woman's organization ferrying planes from factories to Army Air Bases. As pilots, they proved faster with instruments and smoother at the controls than their male counterparts. "Rosie the Riveter" became a popular song.

   Across the nation, as the magnitude of the tragic events unrolled, people mobilized into action. America was irrevocably altered. The County's quota in the 3rd Liberty War Bond drive starting Sept. 9, 1943, was $1,546,600. The people of the county shared in the "shock and pain" suffered by the family of Frank Bartek, Jr. - the county's first war casualty. He was serving on a battleship in the Pacific. All too soon there were gold stars in many windows.

   It was confirmed Christmas Day, 1941, that the Japs had taken Wake Island in the Pacific. Five Wahoo men were doing construction work on the island - their fate unknown at this time. Later, listed as Japanese prisoners in Shanghai were John Polak, Leo Fraley, John Dolezal, and Fred Snyder, Jr. No information about "Johnny" Hanson.

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   Slogans like: "Use it up / Wear it out / Make it do / or Do Without", "Pay your taxes, beat the axis", "Slap the Jap with the Scrap", became the rallying cries. School children and other organizations had "scrap iron days". These were vast scavenger hunts for scraps to recycle into armaments. A sign in an old jalopy collected: "Praise the Lord, I'll soon be Ammunition."

   Suspicion and hatred encompassed all "enemy aliens" in the U.S. Chief Max Big Bear of the Crow Indian Reservation toured the county as a good will ambassador in Jan. 1942 and purchased a block of Defense Stamps. The chief was active in Am. Legion affairs and was deeply interested in the Defense Program. Strange words like "Blitz-kreig" and "Panzer" crept into the English language.

   Fats and greases were saved and collected - they yielded glycerin for high explosives. Old auto and bicycle tires were sought for rubber. (Japan had cut off almost all our rubber supply from the Far East.) In 1942, the people of Saunders Co. collected over 300,000 lbs., almost twice their quota. Daylight savings time was brought back into use (Nebraska had used it in the 1800's).

   Essential items were rationed. Sugar, meat and gasoline were purchased with coupons from ration books; shoes also. Special permits were needed to buy tires; farm vehicles were exempt to some extent. Victory gardens were planted everywhere.

   The Saunders County U.S.O. was opened May 2, 1943 - "Home away from home" for Bomb Loading Plant workers.

   Nebraska was on a main transcontinental air route so this area was under consideration for "flight strips" on some highways - 150 feet wide and 3 to 8 thousand feet long - to be used for widely-scattered landing spots in case of need of quick concentration.


   Saunders wasn't the only county to use rationing. It was going on all over the world. In Saunders, each person had books of coupons or stamps, called ration books. Each time the person wanted to buy a rationed article, he had to give the dealer a stamp as well as money. Each stamp was worth a certain number of points, and a person could use a certain number each month. The rationing continued on for about 5 years.

   These times were hard, especially on the merchants. They could only sell a selected amount of non-rationed items. In 1943, a man said, "I really cannot afford to keep my business. I know times are rough, but I've got a family to care for, and I have to pay my bills, too." The man sold his store at such a low price that he was just able to make ends meet. The people were cut so low in the third year of the war, that some of them barely hung on. Material collected by Kim Tvrdy, Julie Polacek, Mary Noonan


   At this time, 21 elevators in the county were actively engaged in helping the U.S. supply 490,000 bushels of corn for industrial use. This corn was asked for by the government only if it wasn't needed for feeding purposes. Elevators could sell up to 20% of corn to anyone but 80% had to be shipped to war industries.

   While harvesting was going on, many farmers reported that they had to hire a combine to harvest their grain. There were labor problems and the combine was known to be a great farm labor saver.

   Crop Corps Crews were groups formed to help farmers complete harvest. Detasselers were also forming crews at the time.

   Farm work was the basis of the nation's economy. This slogan was often repeated, "Remember, farm work is war work!" Written by: Kim Tvrdy

   A new innovation of this war was that in May, 1942, women were allowed to enlist in the service. In previous wars only nurses' services were used. Saunders County had a number of women that enlisted. Two of the women were Lila Kellgren and Velma Sanderson. Both were in the Women's Army Corps.

   Lila Kellgren enlisted in March, 1945, after her brother was killed in action. From 1945 to 1947, she was stationed in Georgia, Colorado and Washington D.C. Lila re-enlisted in 1950 and was stationed in various places in United States as well as Tokyo, Japan. She retired from the service in 1970 and now resides in Wahoo.

   Velma Sanderson of the Colon area enlisted in August, 1943. She was stationed in Texas and New York. In 1944, she was in the first group of WACs to be sent to New Guinea, and served there until her discharge in December, 1945.

   Many of our Saunders County men gave their lives for our country. Some were held prisoners of war. Two of these men were Eugene Rochford of Colon and Archie McMaster of Wahoo.

Bridge turned into one-way traffic lanes to ensure speedy troop movement.

   Eugene Rochford was taken prisoner ninety days after war was declared on Japan. He was in the U.S. Marines. His ship was sunk off Java. He was held prisoner during the remainder of the war. They were forced to hard labor building bridges in Japan. They were not told that Japan had surrendered, but heard the news on a radio. Ten days after the war was over, he and some of the other prisoners bluffed the guards, took their rifles and escaped to the countryside. They were not picked up by their United States comrades for some time. He credits his survival to his rural background. Approximately 75% of the survivors were from the midwest. He remains a resident of the rural Colon area.

   Archie McMaster was in the United States Infantry. He was taken prisoner at the Battle of Bataan in April, 1942, and was liberated in Manila on February 2, 1945. He now resides in Wahoo.

   There are others in our county that were held prisoners of war in various places in the European and Asiatic Pacific theatres of war.

   Early in World War II, a submarine was commissioned the U.S.S. Wahoo. This submarine was credited with sinking 20 Japanese ships before it went down with all 80 men on board. Robert Jasa, a graduate of Wahoo High School, was a member of the crew.

   Wahoo has the only submarine memorial in the United States. A torpedo was placed on the Saunders County courthouse lawn by the U.S. Submarine Veterans to commemorate the heroes of the Pacific campaign. It especially commemorates the memory of the famous submarine, Wahoo. Each year a memorial service is held by these veterans as well as our local veterans' organizations. Written by Helen Sanderson

   A Colon boy, Pfc. Lloyd Anderson, was among the first Americans to land on Japanese soil.

   Major General George E. Stratemeyer, commanding general of U.S. Army Air Force in India and Burma, announced that Staff Sgt. Duane K. Fudge of rural Ashland, a member of Col. Philip Cochran's Air Command Force, Eastern Air Command, has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal for extraordinary achievement in aerial flight during exposure to enemy fire, June, 1944.

   First Lt. Ken R. Johnston, Wahoo, received the Distinguished Flying Cross, June, 1944, and was in command of 18 Flying Fortresses of a deputy lead squadron. Lt. Johnston completed his 17th mission over enemy territory on "D" Day.

   John Vaca, originally of Malmo, now of Cedar Bluffs, a corporal under General Patton, received the Croix de Guerie with Palm medal for many extremely hazardous tasks in reconnaissance attacks and patrols behind enemy lines.

   Keith A. Whitaker of Wahoo graduated from West Point on June 1, 1943. He received a commission in the Air Force.

   Courtship and marriage for many were carried on at long distance. Some wives attempted to keep up with their husbands by finding an apartment close to where he was stationed. "Quickie marriages" sometimes happened.

   Infantile paralysis, the dread crippler of children and the young, was greatly feared. President Roosevelt, himself a victim, brought the fight out into the open and the "March of Dimes" was created. On every January 30, the president's birthday, fund raisers were held in every hamlet and community of the county.

   The struggle to defeat the Axis was the mightiest war in history. In 1945, after the dropping of the nuclear bomb on Japan, it was over, but the legacy of the nuclear problem was just beginning.


   Following is a list of Saunders County men who gave their lives during World War II: Sgt. Vernon W. Anderson, Wahoo; F2C Frank Joseph Bartek Jr., Wahoo; Pvt. Duane M. Berggren, Wahoo; Adolph Brozek, Prague; Cpl. Cecil H. Carlson, Colon; Lt. Raymond F. Chloupek, Wahoo; 1st Lt. Lloyd M. Clapham, Cedar Bluffs; Pfc. John R. Dolezal, Wahoo; Fred L. Eberhardt, Wahoo; LeRoy Edwin Franson, Ashland; James Folon, Morse Bluff; Lloyd James Gatos, Valparaiso; ARM1c Sterling E. Graham, Ashland; Archie Hall, Wann; Lt. Carl Wesley Harnsberger Jr.; 1st Lt. Elmer Hoffman, Cedar Bluffs; 1st Lt. Charles H. Hood, Wahoo; Pfc. Joseph B. Houdek, Valparaiso; Pvt. Gerald L. Huddle, Malmo; Pvt. Robert J. Hughes, Mead; Robert Jasa; Pvt. Frank Jezek; Howard C. Johnson; T14 Lester L. Jones; S/Sgt. Irven O. Kellgren, Wahoo; William M. Kendall; T/Sgt. Anton F. Krafka, Wahoo; Ferd A. Larson, Mead; Pvt. Tony J. Lazio, Morse Bluff; Ensign John Lungershausen, Wahoo; Pfc. Anton Machovec Jr., Wahoo; Sgt. Merle K. Martin, Ashland; S/Sgt Donald G. Maryott, Morse Bluff; Cpl. Joe V. Navratil, Valparaiso; S1c. Richard D. Odvody, Prague; S/Sgt. Julius Olsen, Jr.; Pvt. Ralph F. Otto, Ceresco; Harold Parker, Ashland; S/Sgt. Joyce K. Pearson, Mead; AMM3c Clifford E. Person, Ceresco; Torrence W. Peterson; T/Sgt. Chester H. Pilford, Ashland; Pfc. Gayle Wayne Rogers, Valparaiso; Lt. Elmer Schulz, Yutan; Lt. Eugene L. Schutte, Wahoo; Pfc. Edward E. Simodynes, Wahoo; Randolph Smersh, Wahoo; Pfc. Charles S. Snitily, Prague; Sgt. Albert W. Sukstorf, Cedar Bluffs; ARM3c Robert E. Swanson, Mead; Pvt. Lester F. Uehherrbeing, Uehherrbein, Ashland; Leonard Uher, Valparaiso; T/3 Nolan C. Vosler; Sgt. Donald S. Wagner, Ashland; S/Sgt. Robert D. Wilcox, Cedar Bluffs.


   The organization of Submarine Veterans got its start on July 4, 1955, when Hugh "Bud" Trimble, a submarine veteran, conceived the idea of a boat reunion. For ten years, Hugh had searched through Veterans magazines for a Submarine Reunion announcement. Always many announcements on upcoming reunions for Sea Bees, Battleships, Cruisers and lots of Army and Air Force units but never anything about Submarines. Deciding to do something to correct this situation. he called a former shipmate, Ed Branin, in Atlantic City. During the phone conversation, Trimble made a suggestion to start plans for a reunion that would include the entire WW II Submarine Service of enlisted men and officers. They both agreed to start the ball rolling.

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   On Sept. 23, 1955, the first National Reunion was held at the Ambassador Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, with 60 men registered. Shipmates were reunited, new friends were made, sad news and fond farewells were passed to one another. Plans were made to meet the following year at the same place. A president and sec.-treas. was appointed that following year.

   The U.S. Submarine Veterans' Organization was incorporated under the laws of the State of New Jersey on Feb. 15, 1956 and the certificate of incorporation was recorded at Trenton, New Jersey. 374 Officers and 3,131 men lost their lives on board the 52 submarines "Still on Patrol."

   The purpose of the organization is to perpetuate the memory of those shipmates who voluntarily gave their lives in Submarine Warfare, to further promote and keep alive the spirit and unity that existed among submarine crewmen during World War II, to promote sociability, general welfare and good fellowship among its members and pledge loyalty and patriotism to the United States government.

   In 1957, a memorial committee was formed to raise funds for the purpose of creating a permanent memorial dedicated to the memory of the men who were called upon to make that last patrol. A bill was introduced in Congress in Jan. 1960 to authorize the transfer of the U.S.S. Flasher to the committee. A site was selected on the Thomas River in Connecticut. After a four year quest, the big day arrived. July 4, 1964, the U.S. Submarine Memorial became a reality. Several memorials have been erected around the country since, including Hawaii. Each state is assigned one of the 52 lost boats. It is the duty of the State Commanders to hold Memorial Services on the date the boat was lost. On Sept. 14, 1957, the Wives of the Submarine Veterans formed an auxiliary. In 1969, a "Sons and Daughters" group was formed at the National Convention in Portland, Oregon. Each year scholarships are awarded to sons and daughters who meet the requirements. The paid members of the Submarine Veterans of W.W. II totaled 5,650 as of 1981.

   A National and Regional Convention is held each year at designated places. The U.S. Submarine Veterans of W.W. II was issued a National Charter in 1981 signed by Ronald Reagan. More than 20 years of hard work and effort was put forth to achieve this. The Submarine Service is a select and dedicated service, conducting their business in a silent manner, respectfully called the "Silent Service." "Sailors rest your oars." In memory of those still on patrol. Virginia Jones

OCT. 14, 1941

   This date in the lives of people in and around Mead was a red letter day. They awakened in the morning to the usual day's work. At breakfast time, the radio was turned on to the news. Suddenly, they heard familiar places mentioned - Mead, Wahoo, and Ithaca. It was announced that a giant bomb loading plant was to be located at Mead's outskirts. It did sound exciting but it would require 17,000 acres of good farming land. People would have to leave their farms - where would they go? Their decisions would need to be made fast. By March, just five months after the announcement, all the families in the area had vacated their homes. Most of the building sites were moved or destroyed; however, in the first phases of plant construction, the John Speckman home (now Lloyd Jackson) was used as a hospital and later First Aid Station, the Bernard Johnson home (now Robert Scoles) was used as headquarters for Giffles-Vallet Inc., Architect-Engineers, and the David Gustafson home was the guard headquarters.

   In the Ordnance area, security was strict, vital areas were well lighted, and no one was admitted except employees and those with a pass. All agricultural activities ceased. Guard towers were manned and the area was patrolled with the police department set-up including 425 men and 100 cruiser cars with 2-way radios.

   Mead, with a population then of 260, discovered that being a boom town wasn't all a golden tune on the cash register and quick ride to prosperity. Bring 1500 people into a town keyed to accommodate 260 and headaches result. Set 4000 construction workers swarming over an area that a few months before was farm land and the problems multiply.

   For Mead, the problem was one of housing, sanitation, and schools. The workers were faced with getting transportation, living accommodations, food, and recreation.

   Housing seemed to be the most complex. Anything that served as a shelter had been utilized: chicken houses, the haymow of a barn, a third floor attic, tents and trailers, even hay spread out under the bandstand in the park. Fifty-two beds were set up in a commercial rooming house. About 90% of the town's residents opened their homes to accommodate the workers. One home had beds for 18 men in the basement, with a family of six and two more roomers on the main floor.

   The town applied to the government for financial support of about 80% of the cost of a sewer system; but because of the temporary nature of the plant, it was refused. They explored the possibilities of connecting to the plant's facilities, but this was also denied because of security.

   Jamaicans who were housed in dormitories in the area would walk to town for ice cream at Jeppson Drug Store. Restaurants had multiplied from one to six. It was impossible at times to walk on the sidewalk because of crowded conditions. Labor Union offices were opened in the former hotel and the southeast corner of Schneider's grocery store.

   From the standpoint of schools, the plant presented another problem. The area took out of taxation 3 of the 23 sections, or about 1/6 of its income. The workers' children made it necessary to hire more teachers.

   For the workers, many had to commute from Omaha, Lincoln, or surrounding towns by bus or car. Many pooled rides and paid about 60 to 75 cents a day round trip. All workers worked 10 hours a day, seven days a week, when the plant was under construction. The wages were good, $51 a week for common labor and $106 for a carpenter.

   The greatest influx of people continued during the construction period of about a year. During the operation of the plant, the population leveled off and the problems were not so acute. When the war ended, many people moved away, but some remained and became a part of our community.

General Description of The Plant

   The Nebr. Ordnance Plant was essentially constructed in one year, 1942, under the direction of the Army Corps of Engineers. Preliminary work incident to the construction began on Jan. 1, 1942. The 177 land tracts involved were purchased outright, and all easements for roads and utilities were disposed of by completed negotiations. The average price was $127/acre. The plant area comprised 12 sections of Wahoo Precinct and a little more than 15 sections of Marble Precinct.

   It was a new community with its own railroad station, rail lines, streets, water supply, sewer systems, fire department, security forces, power plants, cafeteria, infirmary, recreation hall, dormitories, and approximately 12 residences. It also contained 4 load lines, and ammonium nitrate plant, booster line, warehouses, administration building, and all maintenance shops (automotive, diesel, carpenter, paint, machine, electric, laundry, etc.) pertinent to the operation of the plant.

   The plant was served by two railroads - Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad from the south, and Union Pacific Railroad from the north. Main access highways were U.S. 30A (now 92) and US. 77.

   World War II

   World War II production operations began on Sept. 9, 1942 running through various degrees of acceleration until VJ-Day in Aug. 1945. During that time 2,839,778 bombs were produced ranging from 90 lb. "frags" to 4000 lb. British block busters. In addition 16,311,594 boosters were produced. The plant was operated at that time by the Nebr. Defense Corp., a subsidiary of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. Employment averaged about 3,000. The contract was terminated and all property turned back to the Ordnance Corps on Nov. 28, 1945. The plant was then designated as a permanent standby Ordnance facility to be used for the storage of ammunition components. During the period 1946-1949, the Emergency Export Corporation produced 430,000 tons of ammonium nitrate for export shipment.


   After the Korean emergency began, the plant was again readied for production in Febr. of 1952, and produced practice rockets, 105MM How. shells, and miscellaneous bombs ranging in size form 250# to 12,000#. By Aug of 1953 there were 3,162 employees on the payroll. On June 30, 1956, the plant was again placed on standby and the personnel reduced to 255.

   Post Korea

   From 1956 until 1960, the plant was maintained in a state of readiness. In 1959 the Air Force started construction of an Atlas Missile Site on one corner of the Ordnance Plant. When the Missile Site was completed, it was felt that due to radar, radio waves, and other electronic disturbances, it would be dangerous to operate any explosive plant nearby. As the Ordnance Plant was also becoming obsolete, it was decided to declare the plant excess; and a notice was published on Aug. 5, 1960 to dispose of the property.

   Final Disposal

   In Dec. 1961, the General Services Administration auctioned approximately 5000 acres of land, mostly the northern and eastern parts of the Ordnance Plant. The land sale averaged $195 per acre. The Strategic Air Command retained 2,112 acres for Atlas Missile sites; later these acres were assigned to the Nebr. Army National Guard and Army Reserve for training exercises.

   In April 1962 the University of Nebr. was deeded 9400 acres of land. All this property is on a twenty-year grant and can be used only for education and research. After the takeover by the Uni. this area was named Field Laboratory and contributes much to Nebraska's agricultural programs.

   Late in 1968 the Administration area was sold to private interests and is used for small industry.

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