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75 Maple Street
Summit, NJ 07901
908.273.0350

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A Premature Celebration

rayoThe Summit Herald of November 8, 1918 reported that the city responded with wild enthusiasm to the previous day's news that peace had been declared--or was about to be declared. The news arrived in Summit at 12:30 PM. Twenty minutes later, the bell of the Methodist Episcopal Church began to ring. Mayor Franklin ordered that the fire bell, whistle, and everything in Summit that made noise should let loose at 2:00 PM (the time that the armistice was supposed to begin). All of the fire engines were driven around the center of the city. Children were let out of school, and paraded to City Hall, where the Mayor addressed them. Spontaneous parades sprang up, with flags and banners, and fife and drum bands. At 8 PM, a more organized parade set off, which included the Sons of the American Revolution, the Boy Scouts, two units of the State Militia, the Summit Municipal Band, and hundreds of autos. The parade looped around downtown, and ended at the corner of Beechwood Road and Bank Street, under the large light on the Commonwealth Electric Building, where the band performed a concert of patriotic music.

The U.S. Food Administration announced new restrictions on food served in restaurants and hotels: no bread served until after the first course, only one kind of meat per meal, not bacon used as a garnish for other foods, only one teaspoon of sugar per person, and no more than 1/2 ounce of butter or cheese.

Everyone was urged to save nut shells, and the pits of peaches, cherries, plums, and olives. These would be used to make carbon for gas masks. It took two hundred peach pits or seven pounds of nut shells to make carbon for one gas mask.

The Board of Education announced that free night school classes would be offered to help immigrants learn to speak, read, and write English, and to be familiar with American history and government.

In the election, the "wets" won the local option vote, so that alcohol could continue to be sold in Summit. The Editor felt that this was a mistake, and was merely postponing the inevitable, since he predicted that nationwide prohibition would be coming soon.

The Library has a searchable database of local historical newspapers. Search or browse at:
http://www.digifind-it.com/summit/home.php