The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Front.cheers
    MACEE BEERS joins other Fayette Elementary School students for the annual Mini-Cheer performance during the half-time break at the basketball game.
  • Family.3.wide
    CHILDREN at Stair District Library’s Family Story Time toss scarves into the air during an activity. The evening program provided a mix of stories, songs, dancing, crafts and snacks Monday evening. The program is offered at 5:30 p.m. every Monday for five more weeks. The program is designed for three to five year olds and their family.
  • Front.newpaper.2
    THE INTERVIEW—Evelyn Joughin (right) records the interaction with an iPad while Jack Varga, next to her, asks questions of Morenci Elementary School principal Gail Frey. Morenci senior Sam Cool (standing) listens. Cool serves as the editor for the newspaper written by members of Mrs. Barrett’s second grade class.
  • Front.code.2
    WRITING CODE—Brock Christle (left), a Morenci fifth grade student, takes a look at the progress being made by fourth grader Anthony Lewis. Libby Rorick, a sixth grade student, is next in a line of girls trying out the coding tutorials. This year marked Morenci’s second year of participation in the Hour of Code project.
  • Front.gym.new
    REMIE RYAN (left) tries to dodge the foam wand held by Hayden Bays during physical education class at Morenci Elementary School. In the background, Lauryn Dominique and Brooklyn Williams stay clear of the tag. Second grade students were working on cardiovascular health on the first day back from vacation. For the record, Safety Tag is a very difficult sport to photograph.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.library.books
    MACK DICKSON takes a book off the “blind date” cart at the Fayette library. Patrons can choose a book without knowing what’s inside other than a general category. The books are among those designated for removal so patrons can consider them gifts. In Morenci, new books and staff favorites were chosen from the stacks and must be returned. Patrons get a piece of chocolate, too, to take on their date, but no clue about their “date.” One reader said she really enjoyed her book for a few pages, but then lost interest—so typical for a blind date.

Helen Southworth: volunteering in World War II

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

One country after another surrendered to the Nazis in 1940. Heavy bombing of London was underway before 1941 was half over. U.S. relations with Japan continued to sour.

The future didn’t look bright as World War II began to take shape. Although the United States had yet to join the battle, changes were evident throughout the country as uncertainty hung in the air.

Would the war come to North America?

In June 1941, the call went out through the pages of the Morenci Observer to join the Red Cross and learn first aid. It was time to begin preparing for an unsure future.

Helen (Kahle) Southworth was among those who answered the plea for help.southworth.red.poster

“This was before I was married,” Helen remembers. “I was single and fancy free. It was quite an experience for me.”

She was still living with her parents at the family farm on Packard Road and working at the bank in Morenci.

“We saw the story in the Observer and [bank employee] Rose Margaret Rorick said, ‘Why not stay in town tonight and we’ll go and see what the class is like?’”

They went to the meeting at the high school and signed up. Rose Margaret ended up leaving Morenci to go back to college, but Helen stuck with it.

“I kept right on with the Red Cross,” she said. “I thought it was a great organization and a great duty to the country.”

Classes were scheduled on four Tuesday nights and 45 citizens enrolled at a cost of 75 cents each. Students learned how to bandage, locate pressure points to stop bleeding, attach a splint for a broken bone, etc.

A graduation ceremony took place on the stage of Stair Auditorium, with Leo Bess Chappell at the piano to lead community singing.

After Helen became proficient in first aid procedures, she served as an instructor.

“The first class I taught was at the high school in Onsted,“ she said. “The town wanted a first aid class and there were three others who went with me to teach it.”

Helen went a step further by signing up for nurses aide training at Bixby Hospital in Adrian which, at the time, stood in the location of the present post office.

Later in 1941, a Red Cross Room was set up in Morenci city hall. Various groups ranging from the American Legion Auxiliary to the Order of the Eastern Star to church groups took turns staffing the office in an effort to “fill the quota.”

Volunteers knitted wristlets and anklets for snowsuits, created sweaters and mittens, and sewed a variety of clothing. Dozens of sweaters, cardigans and skirts were knitted by December 1941. Fifty heavy dresses were sewn, 160 snowsuits, 50 two-piece suits and much more.

Red Cross groups across America became the chief supplier of civilian relief supplies for an international cause, aiding refugees, soldiers and prisoners of war.

Along with this came scrap metal drives, victory gardens and rationing.

In a November 1941 Observer, the effort to attract new Red Cross members was evident in a front page plea.

“Much work is yet to be done and every individual will be asked, for the need for Red Cross work and money is greater today than at any time in the history of this country.”

Even before the Pearl Harbor Day tragedy, civil defense organizations formed in towns across the country. An Observer article called for volunteers who could serve as air raid wardens and fire watchers, for people to join debris removal crews, road repair workers and decontamination squads.

Life went on—the new Morenci Rubber Products building opened after a fire destroyed the factory earlier in the year, plans for a new community swimming pool progressed—but daily events existed under a pall of impending war.

On Dec. 8, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan. Three days later, Germany declared war on the United States.

While troops fought overseas, citizens at home banded together to form the greatest volunteer effort the country has ever seen.

People such as Helen Kahle stepped forward to do their part and are now left with some memories of the trying times, along with memorabilia such as the service pins she earned.

“I also found a certificate from the Red Cross signed by President Harry Truman,” she said. “It says I gave 500 hours of volunteer time.”

She joined millions of other Red Cross members of the time to fulfill the agency’s motto: “We serve humanity.”

     – Nov. 1, 2006

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