Photo Courtesy of Ann Marie Keck
Sunday, September 6th, was a beautiful day in Mahanoy City. In fact, it couldn't have been more beautiful wherever you are. Our Service Flag was blessed and raised with the sun smiling a warm welcome on its 161 bright stars. Old glory flung its folds to the breeze from a pole of shining silver.
One night I was looking up at the windows over the Church door and Jim HAUGHNEY happened along and said, "What are you looking at, Father?" I said I was thinking we should have a Service Flag hanging up there to proclaim to the world the courage of St. Canicus' boys. Jim said, "Father, you design and order it and I'll pay whatever it costs." And he did.
I was star gazing another night and Hank MONGRAIN of Buck Mountain came along and said, "Father, would you like me to paint the flag pole?" "Well," says I, "could you do it and live?" "You Betcha," says he, "why I'm a steeplejack." The pole is grand now. It could grace the Capitol grounds.
Mrs. John FLYNN gave us the American Flag the government sent her when her brother, Sgt. COX died in Hawaii. Mrs. George WHITAKER and Dan MCCARTHY gave us two very beautiful flags which we intend to use in the Rectory and Convent. The large handsome flag in our Church Hall is a gift from Margaret SULLIVAN.
We needed a grandstand and all the carpenters in the parish responded. Mr. CHRIST provided the lumber and Mart MURPHY produced it and with the help of Charlie DONAHUE, Tom BRENNAN, Dan CAMPBELL, Pat BESPARIS, Billy BURKE, Bill DAVIS, Frank BURKE, Jim SHEA, Bill RYAN, Bill TEELEY, and John CORNELIUS we had an Altar and platform that were artistic and unique. Father MCGARVEY and Father HANNON must have taken off ten pounds working in the sun.
Then we decided to have a Chaplain to talk to your mothers, fathers and loved ones at home. Dave GRAHAM drove me to Harrisburg to see Father SCHOTT, military deputy of that diocese, and were we surprised and delighted when he offered to come himself. Father CULLEN brought his girls' bugle corps with their new uniforms of gold and white (the Papal colors). One forgot to listen to their music when gazing on such charm and beauty. Bill BECKER lead the American Legion Band and their bright red suits contrasted with the somber of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Firing Squad which included our friend Dan KANE.
The flag was raised by Jimmy NOLAN and Billy LEONARD of the Navy, Gene MCCLOSKEY of the Coast Guard, Porkey BOYLE, Jim CARR, Francis KANE, Jim CASSERLY, Jimmy FRIEL and Tom BURKE of the Army who were home on furlough. When I was reading the names I couldn't help but think that the few of the 161 who were with us here were typical of all of you - healthy, bright eyed, quick, happy boys. Naturally good even when you were in mischief. Some of you are having a tough time now but you will never give up and America is safe in your hands. Father SCHOTT told us that too in his splendid oration that will be long remembered by those who heard him
. During Benediction when Our Lord was raised in the Blessed Sacrament surrounded by flowers and the glistening gold of the ostensorium and vestments and the voices of our children's choir, we felt that Heaven was very near. To make sure that fond memories would linger our Catholic Daughters entertained all of our guests and there is no doubt about the happy ending. Boys it was grand because it was a token of love for you and I am sure Our Heavenly Father was pleased with the humble prayers of the thousands here present and that He will continue to bless and protect you.
Fight Front News
Just came in, dated September 23rd, a letter from Jerry DAVIS and he says he got the Parish Calendar and can hardly wait for the next issue. Where is he? Well here's what he wrote:
"I'm on an island in the southwest Pacific, inhabited by dark skinned natives with lots of pineapple, coconut and banana trees." Jerry would like to hear from some of his pals so here is his address - Pfc. W. Jerry DAVIS 33,080,277, 70th Bomb Squad, A.P.O. 913, San Francisco P.M. Don't disappoint him girls!
Joe SLECK sent us a card from New Caladonia. It looks like a nice place for a vacation. Every night he and a group of the fellows get together and say the Rosary in public. Wish more of our boys and girls at home would do that. During October which is the month of the Holy Rosary I hope no one will let a day go by without offering up at least one for the boys out there.
Larry RYAN is still cruising on the San Francisco and the Japs don't like it a bit. His brother, Jim, has gone over. We think it is Ireland so the Nazi are getting all het up. Wish I were with you Jim!
Joe BROSS says the Australians are treating him swell. They are so nice he will hate to leave them when this thing is over. Now don't get too fond of them, Joe, because they still come pretty nice around here.
Joseph (Micky) BOYLE goes and gets himself married up in Newfoundland the other day. He invited everybody but the King to the wedding. What we would like to know is where did he find the lovely lady. We have heard that women are scarce up that way. Porky, his brother, was married recently at the Carlisle Post Chapel but she was a local product - Margaret BROSS.
Pvt. John LONG of Delano went and did it too. He and Mary PEDRIANA are now Mr. and Mrs.
Paul BURKE just informed us that he is out at Scott Field, Ill. and he is awfully lonesome for that Irish girl he married in Conshohocken not so long ago.
Remember ZARNOSKY at Noonan's, well he's down in Miami with Chugo HALEY of Guinan's Hope they are not going to open a furniture store.
Corp. Jack DEMPSEY is doing a good job out at Fort Riley. He's going in for army life in a big way. Thinks it's swell.
Our new recruit, John COADY, says Great Lakes Training Station is full of Pennsylvanians including our Jim REING who was home on furlough this week. Jim is doing well by the sailor's suit. The red above the blue is a nice color combination.
Joe PEEL down at Fort Monroe is sporting three stripes so it's Sgt. PEEL now.
Speaking of sergeants, our friend John L. LYNCH out in Australia is Sgt. T - the 709th Ord. You are doing all right Jack! Here's a popular boy that I'll bet a lot of people are wondering about - S. Sgt. Francis SLECK and he's down in Tampa. If we could only import him for a Sunday afternoon he'd sell an awful lot of Bingo specials. He's waiting for those pictures from Mary Louise BRENNAN.
Our friend, Mart DIXON is down at Fort McCelland, Ala., but he thinks it won't be for long. They have Mass there every evening at six o'clock and he says it is very well attended and he doesn't miss it either.
Bert GROODY is at Fort Murphy, Florida and thinks he will go on for O.C. Remember last month I told you about the ambitious boy from Coles. Well the Calendar was hardly off the press when in he blows. Were we surprised? All the way from Newfoundland and now Jimmy MCQUADE is on is way to Maine for O.C.
Another man I spoke of last month - Corp. John MCCLAFFERTY raced all the way from California to attend our Flag Raising, and was just a little late. Well you know those good natured Buck Mountain people. They thought that was a shame. So they got together and decided to raise a Service Flag for the boys from their patch. MCCLAFFERTY pulled the string and away he rushed back to the Air Base at Menceed to get ready to raise trouble for the Japs.
Dan Burns is with the Medical Corps down at Camp Pickett, Va. Not many of our fellows there. The only one I know is Corp. Tom REING. Haven't heard from Danny's brother Francis.
Father GILLESPIE, one of our former curates, is Chaplain at the Station Hospital at Camp Berkeley, Texas. Archbishop SPELLMAN dropped in on them from the air one day and told them there are 1300 priests in the Army now and there will be 1600 before the end of the year. That's good news for you fellows. You are never without a friend, if there is a priest around. Remember that.
We had a caller the other day and who do you think it was? John AMOUR from Camp Edwards, Mass. He said that they were just cultivating a Boston accent when they transferred a bunch of Texans up there and now it's a Southern drawl. John is using his Haldeman technique in the Army and they like it. Made him Corp. Tech. to come home and now he has his eye on another stripe. That must be his good bread.
John BROSS said his crowd stopped over in Cincinnati on the way to Keesler and that the K of C did fine by them. Took them over to their swimming pool and treated them to everything in the place.
Bill BURKE down in the West Palm Beach is so busy guarding the coast he hasn't had a day's leave in eleven months. Last time we heard from Bill he was Fireman 2nd Class but I'll bet his is first Class now.
At last a letter from Gene CARLIN. He had me worried, it is so long since we heard from him. He's somewhere near Honolulu and doing all right. Thanks Gene for the "Midpacifician," an Army newspaper. I enjoy it very much.
From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli that's where Joe CARDIFF is going but right now he's at Parris Island. He says Joseph Patrick CARDIFF is coming soon to tell those Japs its all over cause he's with the U.S. Marines.
Father DALY says it's only 112 in the shade at Camp White. He's doing a little shooting these days. Has a score of 40 out of 50 with the rifle and perfect 25 with the pistol. Can you imagine our gentle Father DALY. By the way his address is Lieut. James P. DALY, Chaplain, 363rd Reg. 91st Div., Camp White, Oregon. I'm sure he would be glad to get a letter.
Corp. Francis HOFFMAN at Camp Edison wishes it were Christmas cause he's coming home then on all those days of leave he's been saving. We'll be waiting for you lad!
John FOLEY on the U.S.S. Walke says he was thinking of us on September 6th, the day of the Flag Raising. Jack, we were thinking of you too and considering the fine job you and all the boys are doing it can't be very long before we are together again and will we celebrate that day. Just you wait and see.
Charles KRAMER is in the largest Medical Detachment in the world so they say. He is with Co. C. 36th Bat. 1st Platoon, Camp Grant, Ill. and is that an outfit! If we ever get enough gas we are going out to see it.
Don't know where Billy LEONARD is these days - just on his way somewhere.
Francis SCHUMACHER is at Norfolk, Whitecavage on the West Coast, and DEMPSEY somewhere else, so the whole gang is busted. Jimmy MORGAN is still in Boston. The Navy has him studying hard. Says the hotel life is spoiling him for living in private houses.
We are addressing John O'BRIEN in care of New Orleans P.M. He can't tell us where he is but I guess it isn't exactly cold there.
Martin MCKERNS is at Keesler, Jimmy FALLON in San Antonio, Texas and Tommy is in the Medical Corps at Fort Lewis, Washington. Mickey DUNLAP is out there too. Hope you get together.
Jimmy MCCANN from Boston Run joined the Parachute Infantry at Camp Toccoa, Ga., and Charlie SHEA of Delano is an M.P. at Brooklyn Army Base. Fred DAVIDSON is with the Army Air Force at Miami. Sgt. Francis KANE in Hawaii thinks he'll try for O.C. If you do Francis I'm sure you'll make it cause you are doing all right.
We got a letter recently from a Jimmy MCCARRON who is away down under somewhere and he says he received a package and after opening it and passing the contents around to the fellows he discovered it was not for him but for another Jimmy MCCARRON. It was his birthday and he was expecting a package and when he looked to see whether his mother or dad or his best girl sent it he found my name. Now he wants to pay for it. What do you think fellows shall we let him pay? I think we'll adopt that guy since Our Lord dropped him in our lap. Put him on our list and send him a few more packages. What do you say?
Father SCHOTT just wrote and said he enjoyed his visit with us. He has no idea how much we enjoyed having him with us. We will long remember his splendid address. Father SCHOTT is doing wonderful work in the Camps and U.S.O. Clubs of the Harrisburg Diocese. I wish he were near all of my boys from Mahanoy City.
Well I think I'll wind this up with a letter from Father DONNELLY, a former St. Canicus Curate, now a Navy Chaplain at Jacksonville Air Base. __________
Dear Father O'SHEA:
When I was doing parish work before entering the Navy I never thought a Monthly Calendar would mean anything to me but the one from St. Canicus which is the first I recieved brought back very pleasant memories of Mahanoy City. Although it was 14 years ago it was my first love because I was just ordained. HOLLAND, CLEARY, GALLAGHER, COLLINS, WHALEN, RYAN, KAIER and many others stand out very clearly in my mind. I see in the Front News a Francis LYNCH spends his week ends at the Catholic U.S.O. in Jacksonville. Tell him to look me up. We have St. Canicus in common and I would like to meet him. With kind remembrances to Fathers MCGARVEY and HANNON and all who remember me.
Sincerely yours, James J. DONNELLY.
Well that's the news from here boys and so long till next month.
Barney Nork left Mahanoy City on Monday, September 7, 1942 via the Reading Railroad along with 46 other local men to report for duty at New Cumberland, PA Army Depot. Among the familiar names in the group that left town at 7:35 that day were: Edward Boczkowski, John Haughney, Francis Flaim, Frank Maff, Thomas Peters, John Brocker, Nicholas Kohan, John Bross and Robert Derrish. Another group of 24 local men left Reading station at 10:42 A.M. for Camp George G. Meade, MD. Among that group were: Raymond Picciano, Joseph Alansky, Joseph Kieres and Joseph Sullivan.
After boot camp, Pvt. Nork attended Radio Operators School at Traux Field, Madison, Wisconsin. From there Barney left for duty overseas where he served as a radio operator from May 14, 1943 to July 10, 1944. During that time he was in the air for over 300 hours flying over the Himalaya Mountains aboard cargo planes which carried much needed supplies to our allies in China after the main land transport route, the Burma Road, had been occupied by the Japanese. For his gallant service Pvt. Nork was awarded the Army Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
After the war Barney and his wife, the former Millie Shadis of Mahanoy City, moved to New Jersey where they lived for many years before eventually returning to Mahanoy City. Barney died in 2001 at the age ninety-four.
Thanks to Joan Hutira Kaczmarczyk, Barney Nork's niece, for providing pictures, memorbilia and information.