by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr.
Weirs Times Contributing Writer
As you know, the month of May can bring to the New Hampshire landscape a variety of weather from cold and snow to the sweltering-like heat of a summer’s day along with the expected springing to life of leaves and grass and the fulfillment of its promise to provide us with flowers, bees and black flies. The month of May has also provided us with persons and events that have made it an exciting time to think history.
It was on May 8, 1945 that the Germans officially surrendered and the fighting of World War II ended in Europe. Many celebrated that day as VE Day or as Victory in Europe Day. New Hampshire places of business helped to celebrate the occasion with special messages in advertisements placed in newspapers.
Willey’s Express announced that “Victorious Allied Troops marched toward the capital of Germany today. The Nazi regime has been crushed. With occupation of the country rapidly approaching completion, the allied war councils moved immediately to mop-up Japan.” Alcide Paquette sporting goods store on Canal Street placed an ad depicting a family listening to the radio and hearing the news that “Germany Surrenders!” The ad asserted that “ Again man will live away from dictatorial domination of those who sought to enslave all of mankind. For all this, we give thanks to our fighting American boys, who again have proved to the world that democracy and the love of liberty conquers all obstacles.” General Mills, with an office in Laconia, NH proclaimed “Honor and Glory to our Fighting Heroes. You are the men to whom we owe our lives and our happiness.” Levasseur’s Men’s Shop on Main Street in Laconia pictured the Statue of Liberty and stated that the victory in Europe increased the beauty and stature of “The Fairest Lady in the Land.”
Other businesses reminded Americans and New Hampshire residents in particular, in her newspapers, that, though victory had been won in Europe, the war was not over. Wilkinson’s Funeral Home at 75 Beacon Street in Laconia reminded readers of those who fell at Pearl Harbor, calling them THE UNAVENGED. It reminded us that “… the deaths of thousands of Americans, killed at Pearl Harbor by Japanese treachery are still unavenged.” It added that “The deaths of these Americans – soldiers, sailors, and civilians, men, women, and children – must be avenged. The shame of Pearl Harbor must be wiped out in blood,”
Cantin Chevrolet Company on Main Street in Laconia urged readers to buy war bonds, declaring that “…every plane…every gun…and the energy of every American is aimed at the final Victory which will bring death to Jap barbarianism and peace to the waiting world.”
And the fact that Americans, including those in the Granite State, seem to frequently be faced with the need to combat an enemy somewhere in the world was illustrated by the Lougee-Robinson Company’s invitation to “‘See the wonderful parade! ’ And there will be one even more thrilling when our husbands, fathers, sons, sweethearts march home victorious over the Japanese!” This caption was with a picture of a mother with two children displaying an American flag.
These messages from New Hampshire businesses in recognizing the end of the European part of World War II give us reason to solemnly remember those who gave their lives in that conflict and all others in defense of the U.S.A.
Thinking back before either World War I or World War II to the year 1906, let us consider a few things that happened in New Hampshire in the Month of May. The Franklin City Council met on May 22nd and set the city’s tax rate at $1.85, the same it had been at for several years. In Tilton, the Citizens’ Ice Company offered a reward of $500 for the person or persons who set fire to the ice house. The students of Tilton seminary celebrated a baseball game victory over New Hampton “by promenading, singing school songs, giving school cheers, and firing off dynamite cartridges to count the score.”
In Laconia on May 22nd six drunks appeared before Judge Young. Three of them were found guilty of being drunk which cost each one $9.62. Two others were also found guilty and because they didn’t pay the fine were committed to the house of correction. The sixth man pleaded guilty to the charge of being drunk and was sentenced to thirty days in the house of correction. And, getting back to ads, a man from Manchester offered for sale three Democrat Wagons and three grindstones, and a Goffstown seller was offering a one-horse farm wagon, a second-hand democrat, along with some Uncle Sam plows and cultivators.