MAYOR'S REPORT: Veterans Day, food drive, shop small and names worth namin'

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

Brrrrr ... it’s a chilly Sunday afternoon as autumn has certainly arrived. A lot of leaves fell over the past 48 hours with more to come down. Thanks to Greencastle’s public works staff for the leaf collection program. You can find the schedule on the borough’s website or call the office for more details.

The porch side sittin’ has come to a close for the season so a cup off hot tea is tastin’ mighty good in the family room. This past Thursday, Nov. 11, was Veterans Day. You know some names are just worth namin’ and that’s what I’m gonna’ do later in this writing. Sounds like something Will Rogers would have said doesn’t it? Stay tuned.

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

Since I’ve been mayor I’ve written about supporting our local economy. This past Saturday I was again pleased to see the downtown busy. Free parking is now in effect for the rest of the year! Shop Small Saturday is officially right after Thanksgiving, Nov. 27. The Christmas tree-lighting is this Friday evening at 7 p.m. Another good time to stop in and say hi to our local shopkeepers. Nationwide, shopping locally pumps billions of dollars into the economy. One dollar spent in G-A will recycle at least five more times right here without spending money for a tank of gas to drive outside of town. Again, parking is free so join me in Greencastle and support our local economy.

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A reminder that the Greencastle Police Department Thanksgiving Food Drive will close this coming Thursday, Nov. 18. Bring your non-perishable food items to Police Headquarters at 60 N. Washington St. to be donated just in time for Thanksgiving to our local food bank. Ah yes ... "Police Headquarters.” It’s been called that for a long time. I remember the late Floaty (Floyd) Crider. He worked as a police officer here in the 1960s and 1970s. He always referred to “Headquarters” when talking about the police station. 

 So that’s right … some names are just worth namin’. There was a wonderful turnout at the Veterans program this past Thursday morning at 11 a.m. (the day, month and hour the Armistice was signed to end World War I). I thank WRGG radio for broadcasting the program live. As I looked around I saw the hats, shirts, jackets and insignias that the veterans displayed. Quite a few Vietnam veterans were there. I looked to the south just beyond the borough office driveway and I noticed a red pickup truck. I was so pleased to see Chester (Chet) Williams sitting in the truck. He’s a World War II, Purple Heart veteran. Following the program and my greeting to the speaker, retired Navy Commander Steve Oliver, my tradition continued to go to “Sergeant Williams,” shake his hand, and say hello. He smiled and returned the greeting. I always bring greetings to Chet from my Uncle Fred Thomas.

Uncle Fred Thomas in 1943

You see Chet is 98 and Uncle Fred will be 98 on Dec. 13. Both served in the European Theater (France, Belgium, and Germany) in 1944 and 1945. I talked to Uncle Fred last Wednesday. He has lived all his life in Everett, Bedford County. His laugh is so appealing. It is a joy to hear his voice. Both lost the their life partners many years ago. We cannot imagine what they went through, from boys to young men. My Dad and most of my uncles served during World War II. 

To all veterans and their families reading this, you gave up a portion of your youth to serve; maybe you were drafted or decided to enlist with Uncle Sam. You left your homes, families, and loved ones for unknown destinations and military occupational services following your basic and specialized training. Many have said to me that they’d do it all over again.

I don’t take this freedom we have for granted, especially today. Thank you men and women for your service. 

I so enjoy your comments as I see you in the community regarding these writings. In mid-September I received a letter from Bob Martin of Puyallus, Washington. He graduated from Greencastle High School Class of 1949 with Janet Williams and others. The school was in the first block of South Washington Street. He wrote that he “still regards Greencastle as the best place in our great country to experience my early life.” Do you remember Mo Hollinger running a bowling alley in the southwest corner of Center Square? Bob did. It was in the basement under what was a retail store with deep steps goin’ down. During WWII Bob advised there was a shortage of candy bars, however, Mo had an ample supply of 5th Avenue bars. I’m sure a lot of Hershey candy was sent overseas to support our troops, allies, and the children in these war torn areas. The steps were closed when new sidewalks were installed around 1988. Bob served in the Air Force that catapulted him to a 36 year career in aviation. He certainly saw the world. Thanks, Mr. Martin, for sharing your wonderful youth experiences in Greencastle just as “Gracie’s Girls” did several months ago.

Hope to see you at the tree-lighting, Heritage Christmas activities, and all of the other happenings as we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. Support your friends, neighbors, and families as the days are getting shorter and we continue to face challenges with COVID. Because of citizens like you, we are certainly blessed.