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

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    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
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    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
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    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
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    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
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    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
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    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Helen Southworth: volunteering in World War II

Written 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

“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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