Memorial Day in Manchester in the 20s & 30s
The newest issue of the Trumpeter, Manchester Area Senior Citizen’s Council’s newsletter, features two memories of Memorial Day in Manchester in the past. Both were originally run in the Trumpeter in the spring of 1986. Thank you to the Manchester Area Senior Citizen’s Council for allowing us to reprint them.
“MEMORIAL DAY IN THE 1920s” by Hazel Walker
“When I was in elementary school, the children gathered wild flowers on the evening before. Doris and Hilma Wurster and I would gather Trilliums, small yellow and white lady slippers, and violets on the Hillsdale railroad track and in the woods adjacent to it. On Memorial Day morning we took them to school where there would be wash tubs of flowers. Someone, probably the teachers, tied the flowers into little bouquets. We carried them in the parade to the cemetery and placed them on the soldiers’ graves. (I don’t really remember carrying the flowers. Perhaps the tubs were carried in a vehicle and then the bouquets given to the children for distribution.) This was truly a Decoration Day. I also remember Clint Farrell as a Spanish-American War Veteran. There were others that I don’t remember. Of course there were many young veterans of World War I.”
“MEMORIAL DAY IN THE 30s” by Howard Parr
“Memorial Day always meant lots of walking for me because I played in the band. I walked the two miles from our farm (past the cemetery) to the high school where the parade was formed. The parade consisted of the Color Guard from Emil Jacob Post of the American Legion, our band, the WWI marching veterans, some cars for older and disabled veterans, and the Boy Scout troop. Many folks followed in their cars because it was too far for them to walk to the cemetery. We marched to the cemetery via Main St. There was a stop on the bridge for a brief ceremony to honor those lost at sea and a wreath was dropped into the water. At the cemetery the ceremonies were held in front of the monument. We played the national anthem and trumpeters like Bill Leeson played ”Taps”. There were speeches and I remember my classmate, Robert Way, reciting the poem “In Flanders Field.” In the absence of any public address system, it took a lot of his elocution skills to be heard. Local clergymen opened and closed the ceremonies. At the conclusion of the program we formed up again and marched back to the high school. Our instruments were put away and we were released. Then I walked the two miles back home to round out eight miles for the day. I played the bass horn–one of the heaviest in the band. It took a lot of breath to operate and more than once my oompah-pa was lost when I stepped in a hole and broke the seal on my mouthpiece so my breath was wasted. I remember Mr . Cornelius Carr as a Civil War Veteran, though he didn’t go in the parade. He was usually sitting on his porch at his house which was in the park named for him. I also remember Mr. Gustave (Gus) Wuerthner as a Spanish American veteran. Active WWI veterans I remember were Walt Vogt, George Merriman, Frank Spafard, Toss Knorpp, Shorty Burns, Aaron Breitenwischer, Elmer Trolz, Doc Davison, Roy Kern and Surry Anthony.”