Looking Back: Franklin County’s history on April 3rd

County’s history Dec 4nd

Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on April 3rd.

25 Years Ago

April 3, 1995  Monday

“A quiet hero of the past”

Franklin County history
Art Coleman helped rescue Americans from a Japanese prison a camp during World War II

Dave Blackledge was a 14-year-old starving in a Japanese prison camp in the Philippines on that wonderful day in February 1945. 

Art Coleman was a Newburg draftee on his first rescue mission at age 21. 

It took nearly 40 years for them to meet. And when they did, one piece of information was missing from their common memory of the hectic day when Blackledge and approximately 2,100 U.S. prisoners were freed from Los Banos. 

Was Coleman the one driving the amphibious personnel carrier that carried Blackledge and other family members of American teachers, missionaries and business people to American soil, after paratroopers with Company B of the 11th Airborne Division dropped in and took out the camp guards? 

The pair have wondered that often, ever since they found each other through a paratroopers newsletter in the early 1980s. Now, they’re among the survivors of the daring raid 25 miles from Japanese lines who meet annually for the reunion of East Coast Los Banos veterans and prison escapees. 

“I never felt they got the proper heroism for what they did that day,” said Blackledge, a retired colonel, former professor at Carlisle Army War College, and now executive assistant to the dean of Dickinson School of Law. 

The rescue happened on Feb. 23, 1945 the same day as the flag-raising at Iwo Jima and nearly escaped the spotlight completely. 

“There was a small piece about it in Time magazine,” Coleman recalls, showing World War books since written that detail the heroics of troops under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. 

“MacArthur felt responsible for abandoning them, because he had lost the war in the Philippines early. It was three years before we (U.S. troops) ever got back. These people were there for three years. The civilian (prisoners) had it tough, but not as tough as the military (prisoners). They treated them like animals.” 

Starvation was the biggest problem for civilians such as Blackledge, whose parents had gone to the Philippines to teach. Later, his father entered the Army, was captured and died in a POW camp. His brother and mother were sent to Los Banos. 

“We thought we wouldn’t be rescued in time,” Blackledge said. 

“There were 5,000 Japanese in the area, but they didn’t come after us until we were on the way out,” Coleman said. “The Air Force held them down pretty well all day.” 

Now 71, commander of the Shippensburg American Legion, a retiree from Letterkenny Army Depot and a recreational vehicle owner, Coleman spends his time building sheds, doghouses and other wooden structures for people who want them.

He also travels, returning to old war sites, such as the Philippines and New Zealand. He managed to get a ticket to the D-Day commemoration in Normandy, France, last year, although the battle was not one of his own. There, he met and talked with U.S. Senate Majority Leader and presidential candidate Bob Dole of Kansas, swapping war stories. 

Coleman plans to visit Alaska this year with travel buddy and fellow Legionnaire Carl Cramer, a Newburg insurance agent. They and other Legionnaires travel around the area during the year as the Minutemen, putting on military-type funerals for the families of veterans who ask for them. 

Coleman’s father, a World War I veteran, carried the American flag for the Newburg Memorial Day parade until he was about 80 years old. Coleman’s great-grandfather, who is buried in the Newburg cemetery, was a Civil War veteran. 

Blackledge calls Coleman “typical of most people who are real heroes. He’s very modest.” 

Another fellow Legion Minuteman, Dr. Bill Davies, met Coleman when he came to Shippensburg University to teach elementary education 25 years ago. 

Davies describes Coleman as a “very calm, unperturbable, laid-back, generous, friendly person. He’s sort of shy and reserved, and you’d never think he was any kind of routy-touty war hero.” 

Coleman, a classical music lover and war buff, also seems to have unending patience. “I’ve never heard him raise his voice or lose his temper in 25 years,” said Davies. “I can’t say that about many people.” 

50 Years Ago

April 3, 1970  Friday

“Are You Counted?  Smile – You’re Under the Census Eye?”

Chambersburg – The census is on! Much talked about, highly publicized, for better or worse it’s begun. Residents have already received forms through the mail, and hopefully, filled them out.

 A total of 338 enumerators in the seven county area of Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Mifflin, Juaniata, Bedford and Adams are now knocking on doors in an attempt to retrieve the forms, making sure they are properly filled in and, in some cases, asking for additional information. 

How does this affect you and I the average citizen? According to district manager Leslie J. Walker, there are fewer questions to be answered than in past years. And what’s more, the only new question is a housing query, asking about ownership of a second home. 

Random selection is the word regarding the extra questions to be asked that aren’t on the basic form. An additional 17 questions will be answered by five per cent of the population, 13 questions by fifteen per cent of the population and 17 questions by 20 per cent of the population. 

Whether a question is to be asked on a 100 per cent basis or on a sample basis depends on the size of the area for which statistics are to be made available.Information required for apportionment purposes and that needed for city blocks is to be collected on a 100 per cent basis. 

The five per cent sample will provide statistics for larger cities, standard metropolitan statistical areas, larger counties and states. The samples will be scientifically selected in a random fashion, so that each person and household has an equal chance of being included in the sample. 

In addition to names, addresses, birthdates and housing questions, information will be obtained for use in studying long time trends in migration, in planning education programs, to determine the educational level of the population and in studying the permanence of marriage, to mention a few. 

Actually, local preparations began months ago. By March 3, crew leaders had been mailed a home study course and on the job training began for them on March 16. They received 24 hours of actual training. 

From the 19th to 25th, the 22 crew leaders had hit the road, going over their individual areas, identifying specific places not previously identified. Some time was spent conducting actual enumerations and checking materials. 

By the 30th they were ready to conduct training schools for their enumerators. Sixteen hours of instruction was re quired. Promptly at 9 a.m April 1, enumerators began knocking on doors and ringing bells. The biggest head count in the history of the United States was on. 

Walker has invited the public to participate wholeheartedly in what he terms an important endeavor, one that will determine congressional apportionment, the planning of educational programs and even the programing and introduction of new industry in the community. 

How personal are the questions? Walker says most could be answered with a fair amount of accuracy by a relative, or even a neighbor. How long does it take to fill out the form? Tests run by the crew leaders indicate it will take an average of seven minutes to go over and collect the short form, approximately 40 minutes to complete the longer forms. 

If everything goes well, the entire count will be finished by May 8. Local forms will be sent to the operations’ s center in Jeffersonville, Indiana, where the information will be put on microfilm minus names.

Then the really important microfilm for statistical part that of gleaning the1 information will begin.

100 Years Ago

April 3, 1920  Saturday

“Shippensburg To Get New Theatre”

Shippensburg – M. R. Rhodes, Chambersburg architect, has completed plans for the motion picture theater which Frank K. Hollar will build on his property on North Penn Street, Shlppensburg.

The theater will have a frontage on Penn street of over 57 feet and a depth of 180 feet. 

The material used in the construction will be white brick, trimmed with red and blue brick. 

Allowance has been made for a commodious lobby, finished In an artistic manner,and the auditorium, with a seating capacity of over 750 will be finished and equipped in the most approved fashion. . 

Operations will be started Monday morning when workmen will start to raze the row of dwellings now located on a portion of the site of the proposed theater.

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