Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, I'm going to list the soldiers from the La Farge area who lost their lives during World War II.
We are losing the WW II veterans at a startling rate now and La Farge is honoring their surviving WW II vets by having them as parade marshals at this year's 4th of July parade.
This listing of the men from the La Farge area lost in WW II is taken from the "Service Record - World War I and II - La Farge & Community" published in 1949 by the La Farge VFW Post. Harry Lounsbury was the commander of the post at that time. The book lists 291 men and women who were from La Farge, the surrounding community, or had connections to the village and served during World War II. Twelve are listed as "Gold Star Boys", those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. They are:
Lee Lawrence - April 6, 1943 - plane went down off coast of north Africa
Harold McElhose - May 23, 1943 - died during North Africa & Italian campaigns
Floyd Smith - March 22, 1944 - plane crashed in Northern Ireland
Asa Lawrence - September 10, 1944 - died in Italy
Russ Alderman - September 15, 1944 - died near Moselle River in France
Joe Strait - January 19, 1945 - died in Luzon, Philippines
Fay Alderman - April 10, 1945 - died at Okinawa in Pacific
Orville Hisel - May 9, 1945 - died in Luzon, Philippines
Graydon DeVern Gilman - September 3, 1945 - drowned in Arkansas
Van Brokaw - August 29, 1946 - plane crashed at Grenoble in Alps
Lysle Ewing - no date listed - no information
Vic Willie - no date listed - died in Pacific

Each Memorial Day, an honor roll of the deceased veterans is read at ceremonies held in La Farge. The names of these twelve men , La Farge's "Gold Star Boys" are included in that calling.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

1930's - A Time of Transition

I have recently been working on a chapter in my history of La Farge project that tells the story of transition in the village during the 1930's. I used the great Kickapoo River flood of 1935 as a central event from which to spin off three themes which happened in the decade
The first of these themes was when the village and the rest of the Kickapoo Valley sought help from the federal government for their flooding problems. It was a time when a group of La Farge businessmen hopped in Harold Calloway's new Packard automobile and went to Washington D.C. to testify for a congressional hearing. Petitions were signed and gathered to be sent to Congress and the 1936 Water Bill contained money to begin a study of the Kickapoo Valley. A year later, the Army's Corps of Engineers were holding meetings in La Farge to learn more about the Kickapoo River flooding. By 1938, an intensive study on the Valley was underway to seek possible options to contain the floods. Flood control dams and levees were looked at for La Farge and other Kickapoo communities - help was on the way!
The second theme looked at the end of the Kickapoo Railroad. Abandonment of the line by the parent company was sought in 1937 and La Farge joined the other communities to fight to save their railroad. The fight lasted two years and the Valley lost. The last run of the Kickapoo Stumpdodger down the Valley was August 15, 1939. La Farge, which had been the northern terminal of the railway line, adjusted from the loss and sought better roads to facilitate their position as a trade center.
The third theme from the decade and one which actually endures to the present, was the construction of La Farge's new baseball field, Calhoon Park. It was begun as part of a WPA project in 1936. The village purchased a little over six acres to the west of the school for the new facility. Original plans called for a baseball field with grandstands and dugouts, a six-lane track and facilities for track & field meets, and a swimming pool. Eventually the baseball field was completed in time for the 1939 season with a covered grandstand, cement seating down both lines, and covered cement dugouts. There were spaces down both foul lines behind the cement seating for watching games while parked in your car. The new facility was named after Ray Calhoon, longtime player, manager and backer of baseball in La Farge.