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Summit, NJ 07901


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Peace at Last!

perfection3The Summit Herald of November 15, 1918 reported that the people of Summit celebrated the real Armistice on the 11th, still having plenty of enthusiasm left over from the premature announcement the week before. Shortly after midnight, whistles began blowing. There was a lull, and sometime after 3:00 AM, there was a non-stop chorus of whistles and bells which lasted past daybreak. Some residents went to be with the crowds in Newark or New York, but most remained to join in the huge parade in the afternoon, led by the Mayor, and followed by members of the S.A.R., the Municipal Band, schoolchildren, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, all of the city's fire trucks, and more than a hundred wagons and automobiles.

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gow received word of the death of their son, Second Lieutenant Kenneth Gow, in action on October 18. Lt. Gow, serving in the 107th Machine Gun Company, was struck in the head by a piece of shrapnel and died instantly. Official notification came of the deaths in September of two other Summit men in the Machine Gun Company: Nicholas J. Kelly and John J. Mallay.

A reception was given for Col. H.H. Hirayama, head of the delegation of the Japanese YMCA to the Allied Forces. It was held in Nippon Hall, and catered by Summit resident Mr. Kishiro Kanzaki. The hall was decorated with Japanese and American flags. A member of the delegation sang several Japanese songs, and two of Mr. Kanazaki's children sang "America". On Sunday, the day before the reception, Col. Hirayama participated in a special baptismal service at Calvary Church, and served as godfather to the four Kanazaki children: Naoki, Sakiko, George, and Lincoln.

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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.

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Thanks for the Smokes!

perfection2The Summit Herald of October 25, 1918 reported that the influenza ban on public gatherings remained in effect, and could not be lifted until there was a substantial decrease in the number of new cases. Since September 20, there were 599 cases of influenza and 51 of pneumonia. Of the 40 deaths in that month, 11 were out-of-towners who had been brought to Overlook Hospital. The Board of Health discussed the possibility of purchasing an automobile ambulance to replace the current horse-drawn one.

Two drives were collecting material to entertain the troops. Summit residents were urged to "draft your 'slacker' records" to provide music to the boys at base and overseas, and also to "enlist your magazines".

Herbert Gilson, a candidate for Councilman, wrote a letter to the Editor, forcefully denying his opponent's claim that he was a German sympathizer. His Americanism was second to none, he said, he did not have a drop of German blood in him, and he loathed and abhorred the beasts who had been responsible for so many vile acts. He reminded the public that he had been one of the first to call for the removal of the German language classes from Summit public schools.

Miss Emmie Donner of Summit married Mr. Eberhard Kley of New York at the Donner home on Summit Avenue. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Walker Gwynne. It was originally scheduled to be held at Calvary Church, but that was not possible, due to the influenza ban. Only the immediate family and close friends attended. Following the ceremony, a dinner was held for the bridal party.

Two large competing ads argued the two sides of the "local option" question, debating whether prohibition of the sale of alcohol would be good or bad for Summit.

Members of the Canoe Brook Country Club donated $200 to the Smoke Fund for the boys overseas. They received many thank-you notes from grateful soldiers. One, from "somewhere in France" contained the this verse:

It was only today
While in a hospital I lay,
Your package of smokes came to me
It opened my eyes
With utmost surprise,
To receive it was certainly great.
And after my daily alcohol rub
I'll smoke to the Health of the Canoe Brook Club.

The Library has a searchable database of local historical newspapers. Search or browse at: