Stories Told

Stories Told

Joyce Jacobs Gordon Genealogy

My Stories Told page is dedicated to my parents, George E. and Betty Christ Jacobs. Some years ago I asked my mother if she would write down some of her memories for me and any family history she knew to help with my genealogy hobby. What I got was a journal filled with Family Potpourri for Joyce. Thanks, Mom! I'll always treasure your journal and the loving heart that wrote it. Much later I realized I had photographs which belonged in many of the stories she wrote. Some are tales of love set in the time frame of World War II. That is where I'll begin.

How Dad and I Met...

In the summer of 1941, Dad was stationed at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland. He received an anonymous letter saying there was a girl in Lancaster who would write to him. I was that girl. Dad's home was in Gordonville, which is eight or ten miles from Lancaster. Dad wrote to me, and I answered. We corresponded constantly. Dad would get home on week-ends at times, but he was too shy to come see me. My Aunt Kathryn and Uncle Andrew Rodman were neighbors to the Jacobs so I learned whenever Dad was home. Aunt Kathryn and Uncle Andrew were not the ones that gave your Dad my address. My mother later admitted she had nothing to do with it, but she knew who wrote and promised never to tell - and she didn't. Finally, he did come to see me on Saturday, December 6, 1941. A buddy, Charles Keen, brought him in, and he stayed in the car. He was in the car a long time before Dad remembered he was there. He was invited in and after several hours they left, and Dad was coming in Sunday, December 7th. We went to a movie and while there Pearl Harbor was attacked. When we came out of the theater, newspaper boys were selling papers with big headlines - Pearl Harbor Attacked By Japs. Your Uncle Chet was one of those paperboys selling newspapers. Dad went back to camp that evening, and his outfit was sent to guard Conowingo Dam bridge and in January, 1942, was sent to the South Pacific. He went through the Panama Canal. Mail was censored then. When he wrote a letter and mentioned going through the Panama Canal, that part was blocked out. His outfit landed on Bora Bora and helped to build air fields there. Then he saw action on Bouganville and Guadalcanal. Dad was overseas until the summer of 1944. The ship he came home on went under the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. The train then brought him into York, Pennsylvania, and my parents, Grandma Jacobs and I went to pick him up. That was a joyful time. We got engaged when he was home on furlough.

George E. Jacobs, Betty J. Christ and Charles Keen 6 Dec 1941

Our Wedding...

Betty J. Christ and George E. Jacobs were wed November 14, 1944, at Otterbein United Brethren Church at Clay and Queen Streets in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with H. F. Rhoads officiating. Richard and Sarah Wanner were witnesses. That evening my parents had a reception for us. We had a pretty wedding cake. The baker delivered it on a round board, and we set it on the coffee table. We had a spitz dog named Butchie, and she took it upon herself to guard the cake. She sat at the front of the coffee table and just kept looking at the cake. Dad only had a few days home. He had to report to Fort Logan, Colorado, army hospital. He was then sent to Fitzsimons hospital in Denver for tests and then to Buckley Field hospital, also in Denver. After Christmas I planned to go out to Denver to be with him. The Red Cross found a room for me in the home of Mrs. Dunning in Englewood, Colorado, just south of Denver. Mrs. Dunning and her daughter were very nice. She even sent a baby gift when you were born. Dad got a medical discharge in February, 1945, and we came home on the train together.

George E. and Betty J. Jacobs on their wedding day at the bride's home in Lancaster, PA, 14 Nov 1944

George E. and Betty J. Jacobs with Sarah and Richard Wanner their matron of honor and best man
14 Nov 1944, after the wedding ceremony, taken at Longs Park near Lancaster, PA
Sarah and Betty are first cousins

My Trip to Denver, Colorado...

I have to tell you about my trip. I sure had mixed emotions about this trip. We were newlyweds so I wanted to be with my husband. At the same time my mother was real sick plus your Dad was in the hospital at Fort Logan right outside of Denver. Everyone told me I was to go to Denver to be with Dad so the end of December, 1944, I was packed and ready to go. I was scared stiff! I never traveled anywhere before. I forget the name of the train, but it was a well-known train that went from New York to Chicago and only stopped in Lancaster for a few minutes. My Dad took me to the station. It was evening, and we were to be in Chicago the next morning. The porter told me where to stand on the platform as I only had time enough to get on board. This train was known for its being on time, but because, I think, of bad weather out of New York, it was late. I had a seat beside a service man, and he knew I was scared so he helped me at the large train station in Chicago. He had to go catch his train, but he showed me where the ticket office was. I learned that because my train was late, I missed my connection. I could have gone across town and made connections or wait in this station for a slower train. I decided to wait. I called home so they wouldn't worry, and I called Dad about my new arrival time. This train was an older train, and it wasn't a straight-through train. We had to stop several times to let troop trains and defense carrying trains through, but at least I was on a train. There was a sailor going home on leave sitting in the seat in front of me. He discovered a half-alive mouse, and he was playing with this mouse. I had slacks on, and I didn't want this mouse running up my pant legs so I sat with my feet propped up on my suitcase. Finally we pulled into Denver station, and Dad was up on the balcony looking for me. He saw me and hurried down. Was I ever glad to see him! We took a taxi out to Englewood, and I liked Mrs. Dunning right away. Dad had to stay in the hospital most of the time so everyday I went to see him. At night I could hear a train whistle in the distance, and I got so homesick. We were in Denver until February, 1945, when Dad got a medical discharge and we headed home.

Dad Ends Up In Hospital...

Early on, at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, Dad picked out and trained a mule. He looked almost like a horse. Dad rode this mule and carried his company's colors. One night they were out on maneuvers, and unknown to Dad, the mule's one hoof was on a wire that was being strung up. As the wire was being rolled in, the mule felt this under his hoof and took off with a jolt. Dad was knocked off the saddle, but his foot caught fast in the stirrup. Dad was being dragged along the ground. The mule was headed for the woods. Luckily, before entering the woods, Dad was knocked free by a stump but was unconscious. He came to in the hospital with an officer looking at him. The officer said, "Jacobs, you're a lucky soldier."

George E. Jacobs with his mule and a little dog at Edgewood Arsenal, MD

The Homefront During World War II...

These were trying days, but America was united and worked together. Gasoline was rationed. You had stamps for gas and got them according to your needs. You had food stamps for things like sugar and coffee. Women put fats in tin cans, and the cans were collected every so often. Buttons were used on underwear instead of elastic. We had air raid drills. If the sirens rang while we were in school, we had to go into the hall, sit along the wall, and put our heads between our knees. Everyone had to get off the streets. If the air raids were at night, no light was allowed to shine out of your home. You either sat in the dark or had coverings at doors and windows. Each block had an air raid warden who would be out checking. When I worked at the Bell Telephone Company, we had advanced warning of these drills as we would have to report on so-called enemy planes approaching, etc. I was able to tell my parents ahead of time so they would stay home as you even had to get out of your cars. Communities and city blocks would put up honor roll plaques with the names of the men and women who were in the service from that neighborhood listed. Stars were placed by the names: a blue star if in the United States, a silver star if serving overseas, and a gold star if killed. It was sad to see the gold stars. I know it hit us hard to see the gold stars on our Ice Avenue plaque. Gordonville had one with the five Jacobs boys on it, and then when the Jacobs moved to Ross Street, their names were on the Ross Street honor roll plaque. Grandma Jacobs was president of the Ross Street Service Plaque Committee. Ice Avenue had an honor roll plaque, too, and it was right across the street from our house. We had a nice service on the Sunday it was dedicated. My parents helped in getting it organized. We had meetings, and I was elected to be the secretary. I took and read the minutes at each meeting. It was also my duty to correspond with the servicemen. We would send them packages and do different things to raise money. One time we had a block party to raise funds. My mother sold lots of handkerchiefs and candy. Of course, when people knew it was for the servicemen, they bought the items. Whenever any came home on leave, they usually had their picture taken by their honor roll plaque. Ice Avenue was only two blocks long, and of the servicemen from these two blocks, three were killed overseas, and one was taken prisoner but escaped.

Gordonville Honor Roll with 5 Jacobs Boys Listed - Ross Street Honor Roll and Mom Jacobs with 5 Sons Listed

James Umble Jacobs - Betty Jane Christ by Ice Avenue Honor Roll - John Robert Jacobs

George Edward Jacobs - Ralph Nevin Jacobs - Jerre Raymond Jacobs

All five Jacobs boys came home from World War II safely.

My Prom...

Your Dad was overseas when I graduated from high school in 1942, and I did want to go to my prom. Uncle Jerre was home on leave at the time so he gave me a corsage, and Uncle Ralph took me to the prom. A family affair!

Betty Jane Christ in her prom dress 1942

Grandpa Jacobs' Getting To Work...

Grandpa Jacobs never had a car and never even learned how to drive. He worked on the Pennsylvania Railroad so whenever he and Grandma went anywhere, they went by train. They lived in Gordonville, and what an ordeal he went through to get to work. He got up real, real early, walked a mile to Paradise, got a bus to Lancaster, and at the square in Lancaster got on a trolley car to the railroad station. There he got a train to Harrisburg and then got on a railroad truck to be taken to where his work was. Then he repeated that at night. When the five boys were growing up, he often boarded away all week and got home only on weekends.

Grandpa Jacobs' Accident...

You were a little girl when this happened. Grandpa Jacobs worked on the signal boxes along the railroad. These boxes had lots of wires. He was one of the best at his job. He was wiring one of these boxes, and a man was up on the pole above him placing one of the heavy steel beams on the pole. He dropped the beam, and it fell on Grandpa's back. His back was broken, and he was in the hospital a long time with a cast up to his neck. He had to retire and was never the same after that.

Grandma Jacobs Goes To Market...

Dad says that Art Troop used to take Grandma to the Acme in Lancaster for groceries, but when the boys were all in the service, I know she would go into the Central Market in Lancaster. She would take her market basket and walk the mile to Paradise from Gordonville to get the Leaman Place bus, go to market, and buy what she needed. Afterward, she would take the Leaman Place bus back to Paradise. Grandma would then have to carry her heavy basket and walk the mile back down the road to Gordonville.

Jacobs Move To Lancaster...

My parents, brother and I lived at 328 Ice Avenue in Lancaster. Our back yard met the back yards of the 300 block of East Ross Street. We learned that the neighbor at 321 East Ross Street was moving so Grandma Jacobs checked it out, and they moved to Lancaster from Gordonville. Now Grandpa could walk to the train station, and it was much easier on him.

Never A Dull Moment With Five Boys And Some Fun Kids Had Back Then...

Grandpa Jacobs often worked away all week on the railroad and came home only on weekends. Grandma would tell him the mischief the boys got themselves into during the week. They had a pump outside, and Grandpa would line the boys up and paddle them. Of course, they would cry, but one time Uncle Jerre didn't cry. Grandpa looked into this and found Uncle Jerre had a book in the seat of his pants. Guess he wished he hadn't done that as he got it good. Another time they were playing in an old shed and bumped into the supporting poles, and the shed collapsed. Good thing no one was hurt. Dad said the Gordonville kids would pick sides and play fox and hounds. The hounds would try to catch the foxes. Dad said they would go across fields for long distances. There was little traffic in those days, and when it snowed, it stayed on the roads. A fellow in Gordonville had a car, and a gang of kids would hang onto the back and be pulled to a hill close to Strasburg where it was great coasting. Saturdays were movie days. A fellow would drive Dad and other kids into the movies. Hamilton Theater on North Queen Street in Lancaster always had cowboy movies on Saturdays. Kids would go and spend the afternoon there seeing the movie twice. Back then movies were ten cents for kids. You could ride the trolly for seven cents one way and have a penny left for a piece of candy. They really were the "good old days!" Twenty-five cents went a long way. One sad thing for me was that my mother was always sickly. As a young child I can remember at times that she was really sick, and I was afraid to go to school thinking she might die while I was in school. I don't think I ever told anyone that before. See what I'm bringing out!! Just like Dad had a nice gang of kids to play with in Gordonville, we did, too, on Ice Avenue in Lancaster. In the summer the city would put a sprinkler on the fire hydrant for the kids. Many times my friend, Helen Hostetter, and I were carried into the spray of water. We spent hours playing jacks and jumping rope. We roller skated alot, too. Ice Avenue wasn't traveled much, and it was cement like the sidewalk so it was our skating rink. It was my job to go downtown to pay the rent, gas and electric so I skated down. You used to roller skate, too, and Aunt Rosemary and I took you to a skating rink. We would also go ice skating, mostly at Longs Park. We took you there from the time you were a little girl. Dad still talks about when he would pick you up at school sometimes, and you and Dad would go skating at the Water Works, too. They were fun days. Times have really changed. Kids used to walk on stilts. Dad did this, too. We would borrow our mothers' wash-line poles and hammer a piece of wood for our foot about 1/3 way up the pole, and then the top of the pole rested under our arm. It was such fun. There was a vacant lot across the street which provided us with our baseball field, and there was a warehouse on Liberty Street with a lot in back of the building which provided a place for a basketball court.

Brother and sister: Chester [Chet] and Betty Christ - The 5 Jacobs boys: Ralph, Jerre, George, Bob and Jim

Uncle Chet And His Buggy...

One time Uncle Chet was caught speeding, and he was only permitted to drive to work and to drive a cattle truck. He worked for George Brown Cattle Hauling at the time. He would come to your Grandma Christ's for lunch sometimes. At the time he couldn't drive, he came in a little pony cart. He would take you in the cart and go down to Ice Avenue and take the kids down there for rides, too. Guess Uncle Chet was just a big kid at heart.

My Uncle Chet Christ and me, Joyce Ann Jacobs

Chet Christ and Ice Avenue kids with me in back

To Be Continued...

Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Joyce A. Gordon


Graphics Courtesy of Free-B-Kins