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Summit, NJ 07901


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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:

Summit Nurses at the Front

perfectionThe Summit Herald of October 18, 1918 reported news from Miss Ingeborg Praetorius and Miss Elizabeth Pollock, nurses from Overlook. They had been serving at Base Hospital No. 5 in France [AKA the Harvard Unit], but were chosen to join a new unit, Mobile Hospital No. 6, American Expeditionary Forces. The Mobile Hospital was located close to the front lines, and was staffed by four surgeons, twenty nurses, and thirty men. Miss Praetorius wrote in a letter home, "Isn't it wonderful to be able to help our own Boys, almost directly they are wounded and bleeding for our Country--I am thrilled with joy from being called to go."

Ten people had died in the past week from Spanish Influenza and pneumonia. They ranged in age from 15 to 63.

The Summit Public Library relayed a request from the American Library Association: books to send to the troops overseas. The books most in demand were new novels and good Western stories, as well as titles by Zane Grey, O. Henry, Jack London, and others.

In the Classifieds: Female help wanted. Young ladies between 16 and 23 to learn telephone operating for a central office in Summit. Boy wanted, bright and at least 16, to learn the printing trade.

Due to war and sickness, women temporarily took up men's duties. Mrs. Peter J. Dunn worked an eight-hour shift as a gateman at the High Street railroad crossing where her husband had been working for several years. Miss Mary Church took on a shift as gateman at the West Summit railroad crossing where her father had been a flagman.

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