This is the second post in a series about different roles and dimensions of life in anthracite patch towns.
In our last post we looked at the legacy of the First World War on the communities of Lattimer and Pardeesville. Twenty five years later, the Second World War also had a big effect on the communities. It not only affected those sent overseas to fight, but also those that stayed to work in the patch town.
When the military draft hit the region, many young men were called to service overseas. Leaving small town Pennsylvania must have been a big deal. The following newspaper article, from an unknown date during the war, describes a surprise meeting in France between friends from Pardeesville, described here as “Lattimer North Side”, Edward Dailey and George Goodman. You can imagine their excitement at seeing their friends so far from home:
As in our example from the First World War, the support of American labor and industry was essential to the war effort. Anthracite and bituminous coal was needed in great amounts to generate the energy to fuel and produce the military effort. Posters, brochures, films and events distributed by the government and business encouraged support for the war effort.
On 23 August 1942, a community flag-raising ceremony was held in Lattimer. Rather than a performance strictly by the children, this time the entire audience was invited to sing the National Anthem and repeat the Pledge of Allegiance. Perhaps some of those who attended this ceremony remembered their participation 25 years before?
In this amazing document, the names of all the “boys” of Lattimer (perhaps only Lattimer No. 1?) serving overseas are listed in the program. Among them is a future actor by the name of “Walter Polanski”, the future Jack Palance!
All the names are listed here (for ease of keyword searches):
ANTHONY CAPOZZELLI, JR.
Brochures from similar events in Humboldt and Milnesville can be seen here:
From a military standpoint, working the mines was considered to be as important, in fact, as fighting on the front. Government and industry reinforced this idea with the following pamphlet. It was among many documents sent to the Lattimer Coal Co. offices by federal and corporate organizations for distribution among workers. Project researchers examined and cataloged the company archives during the summer of 2011. This archive, containing thousands of fascinating documents connected to this period, belongs to Joe Michel, a resident of Hazelton, who graciously shared it with us.
This brochure features a fascinating graphic of a mine worker with a drill echoing the image of a soldier firing a machine gun and the catchy phrase, “make it hot (as hot as hell) for Hitler!”.
By the 1940s, immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe had slowed considerably. As a result, many of the younger generations of children and adults in Lattimer and Pardeesville were born and raised entirely in Pennsylvania. Unlike previous generations of immigrants, they grew up without the influence of constant new migration back and forth from the Old World, and in the company of Americans from many different backgrounds. Nonetheless, some of the lingering fears of unrest and foreignness remained in government and industry.
This newsletter from the Anthracite Operators Association from July 9, 1942 was distributed to the management of local collieries. In this document, operators were warned to watch their employees carefully and prepare for an unexpected event.
For different reasons, many folks would not come back from the war, having either fallen on the field of battle or because they found better opportunities elsewhere around the country. During the duration of the Second World War, the local economy thrived relative to the uncertainty of the previous two decades stemming from disagreements between workers and industry and the Great Depression. Nonetheless, world consumption of anthracite would fall after the war, driving some residents to find employment elsewhere. Even without the industry, patch town life goes on today, inspired by these stories of the past.
In the next post we will look briefly at some artifacts we found related to the post-war period (including something quite surprising!). We will then turn to other dimensions of work and life in the patch towns.