Researched and Written by Karen Rieser
February is the month dedicated to love. It all began with no other than Julius Caesar. As the head of the Roman Empire, Caesar decided married men were not as effective warriors as single men. He, therefore, made it illegal for soldiers to marry. This law was very unpopular, and the soldiers and their loved ones sought out a priest, Valentine, to marry them in secret. Valentine was caught, he was jailed and put to death on February 14. It was said that children loved Valentine and would write notes, attach flowers to them, and throw their messages through his jail cell window. These notes became known as Valentines’. Sometime later, the Catholic Church made Valentine a saint.
Well, Caesar would not have fared well on the Old Mission Peninsula as his philosophy regarding the military was massively incorrect. During WWII, the Peninsula had 104 of its residents serving in the military. The number of those serving was roughly calculated to be ten percent of the community’s population, higher than the national average. It was at this time the Peninsula’s St. Valentine appeared in the form of the members of a close-knit community and the Cherry Center Grange (CCG). It all began in 1943 when the CCG’s project to send Christmas boxes to the boys and girls from the Old Mission Peninsula was initiated.
It was through the Cherry Center Grange that the community contributed funds and helping hands to prepare and send off the Christmas boxes. At the end of the project, some funds remained. It was decided to use the remaining funds to create a community newsletter that would be mailed to all those serving near and far. Thus, Peninsula News was born with David R. Murray as its author. Unfortunately, the first issue of the newsletter was not dated. The second issue was published on March 1, 1944, which was followed by nine more issues, some published monthly, and others containing the news of two months. The last issue was dated in January 1946.
An exceptional addition to Issue 3 was a poem written by FRED CARROLL (Tim Carroll’s father). This poem captured the history and the love of a community for its residents.
To you brothers, sons and cousins from out Peninsula way,
We’re going to keep the place the same, ’till you come back someday,
We’ll keep the fish a bitin’ at the Harbor and the Point,
And keep the stories just as big at Harold Lardie’s joint.
We’ll keep the leaves on cherry trees, and grass upon our slopes,
We’re prayin’ for production, away beyond our hopes.
But the little bit we’re doing in a little sort of way,
Don’t look like much when put beside the price you’re asked to pay.
To you lads across in England, in Algiers or Italy,
To you chaps down on New Guinea or the beach at Waikiki,
To you boys up in Alaska, make no difference where you go,
I’ll bet you’re all a wishin’ for a trip to Tokyo.
To hoist the Stars and Stripes on high on Fujiyama’s peak,
And shout a victory chorus, ’till the islands fairly creak.
But when the shoutin’s over and you’re sure the job is done,
The Peninsula wants you back here, each and every one.
We’ll keep the ball a rolling in a fashion while you’re gone,
But ’twill never be the same, ’till you come back to carry on.
So, when you boys have witnessed the last swastika burn,
We’ll plan a celebration awaiting your return.
We won’t pull any punches and what a day ’twill be,
When our Peninsula boys come Home-AFTER VICTORY.
-Fred Carroll – 1944
As you celebrate the love of February in the year 2020, think of the love the Old Mission Peninsula community offered in a time of need. Know that the love of and for family, your neighbors, and community is as active today as it was in the nineteen-forties.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
To delve deeper into these historical newsletters, find the book: Greetings from Peninsula Home Folk complied by Jack E. Solomonson located in the Johnson-Carroll Homestead Room at the Peninsula Community Library.