25 Years Ago: March 20-26, 1991
• Troy – After living in Columbus for a number of years, Marcia (Klein) Hall returned home to Troy, the place she really wanted to be. She has been back in Troy for about 4 years and enjoys meeting friends, old and new, every day. Marcia’s father Paul and his brother David began K’s restaurant in 1935. In 1965, David retired and Marcia’s parents, Paul and Doris, continued to operate the popular Troy diner. Since coming home Marcia has taken the reigns of ownership and operation, but her parents continue to come to work and assist her. Doris commented, “She’s the boss now, we help her.” This is home to Mrs. Hall. Several years ago when she reflected on what she would do, if she could do anything, it was that she wanted to come home to Troy … “there is a sense of community here.” (Columnist’s Note: Marcia, now Bodmer, is still the owner and operator of the Troy landmark which has hosted thousands of people for meals, including presidential candidates and several generations of Trojans. )
50 Years Ago: March 20-26, 1966
• Fletcher – The village of Fletcher will soon be a beacon of light in the county. The village council heard two proposals from a Dayton Power and Light representative concerning the lighting of the community. Upon hearing the proposals, the council voted to immediately pursue the first proposal and table the second for discussion at a later date. The first action would cause D.P. & L. to replace six 2,500 lumen incandescent lamps and fourteen 4,000 lumen incandescent lamps with twenty-one new 7,700 lumen mercury lights. This move will vastly improve the lighting of the community and will only cost $142 more per year. Elmer Vigus, the D.P. & L. representative, estimated it would take about three to four months before installation could be initiated.
100 Years Ago: March 20-26, 1916
• Piqua – The Baptists of Piqua are preparing for a great week of celebration as they plan to dedicate their new edifice at the corner of Broadway and Greene Streets. The beautiful building is one of the largest and nicest church structures in the city. A great program has been arranged which will include music, speakers and other activities appropriate to the celebration. The choir of the First Baptist Church in Troy will also take part in the dedication of the new building. (Columnist’s Note: According to Piqua Baptist Church history, the church was formally organized on April 26, 1911 when the members of First Baptist and Calvary Baptist churches united into one congregation. A foundation for a building was laid the next year, but the flood of 1913 interrupted the construction of the church. In 1976, the congregation moved to its new facility on West High Street, where it continues to gather for worship and ministries.)
• Historical Note: For fans of the Chronicles of Narnia movies, the first installment, “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, begins with a tense scene of warplanes attacking London at night. Air raid sirens blaring, spotlights searching the sky for enemy aircraft and people running for cover as bombs begin to explode. Soon after this, the main characters, the Pevensie children are sent to relatives in the country, where their allegorical adventure begins.
Unfortunately, the beginning scenes depicted in the movie were all too real in the British Isles and, especially London during WWII, as the German aircraft launched an all-out bombing blitz seeking to bring England to her knees, or destroy her. Daily news headlines and radio broadcasts kept the world abreast of the brutal assault taking place.
Prior to Pearl harbor and the United States’ entrance into the war, several organizations were initiated to help displaced people, injured people, or those who had lost everything and did not have clothing, sweaters, scarves, etc. to protect them from the elements.
One effort was organized by a young New York Society matron by the name of Wales Latham and she called her movement “Bundles for Britain.” Started in 1939, she was actually responding to a call by Mrs. Winston Churchill for English ladies to sew and knit clothing for soldiers and others in need. Mrs. Latham, believing ladies of America could help, called her friends together and formed a knitting circle and the group began to create knitted goods—socks, gloves, hats, sweaters, and scarves, which were then shipped to Britain. Anyone who had time, hands, castoff clothing, etc. could participate in the effort. Any clothing which was donated but not fit to wear was torn up and used for blankets, bandages and other uses. Within sixteen months, there were 975 branches with close to one million active participants in the United States. Thousands upon thousands of clothing items were shipped to England for those in need.
In Troy, in February 1940, Mrs. Rachel Hobart and about 50 other Troy ladies began to work in concert to provide knitted goods to those overseas; first, to the French soldiers, then, after France fell to the Nazis, they shifted their efforts to support Britain. They began sending their items to “Bundles for Britain.”
As the need overseas grew, so did the demand at home. Therefore, Mrs. Hobart, with several other ladies in September, 1940, organized an official chapter of the “Bundles for Britain” organization in this city. They formed their core group and called for a membership response from other ladies in the community.
At the time the Troy chapter was organized there were approximately 173 chapters throughout the country. Strong support was given to the effort after a letter from Mrs. Wales Latham herself was received and printed in the Troy Daily News. It read in part, “We welcome the support of all Americans who feel that Britain is fighting with great and high courage for the principals of freedom and liberty which we ourselves hold dear.”
Several other local ladies who are mentioned along with Rachel Hobart in connection to “Bundles for Britain” were Miss Mary Allen, Marion B. Binckley, Miss Margaret Adams, Mrs. Christian Pfister, Mrs. J. E. Schneider and Mrs. E. R. Greeley.
Rachel Hobart’s husband, William H. Hobart, was vice-president of the Hobart Brothers Company which was very involved in the defense department’s effort to prepare the United States for war and continued to fulfill contracts with the war department when the time came for action.
I would be interested in hearing from anyone who might know of others who were involved in this charitable effort. Numerous pins and other memorabilia was produced by the national organization to raise funds and it would be interesting to see if anyone still has any of these items.
Patrick D. Kennedy is archivist at the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Local History Library, 100 W. Main St., Troy. He may be contacted by calling (937) 335-4082 or sending an email to email@example.com