Armistice Day in 1918

 

It’s always nice to receive positive feedback about the content posted to our sites.  Recently we received some kind comments from Betty Barber, doing research on area resident Thomas Deans.  She provided the hand written story below, penned by Laurence Cottet.  I thought it was really a really nice personal reflection worthy of posting.  We hope to hope some more about Thomas Deans in the future.  Enjoy!

—- gmsc 


Cleveland Parade ... circa. unknown
Cleveland Parade … circa. unknown

A little after eleven o’clock in the old Cleveland High School (and grade school) the woman principal suddenly entered the room and laughing and crying at the same time, then threw her arms around our teacher and danced around the room.  We children looked up in complete amazement.  School teachers in those days never showed emotion, prim, unsmiling and very strict.  They we were told the war was over and to go home, but be back on the school yard at 2pm.  It was a sunny warm day.

Promptly at 2pm all 300 students and teachers gathered pus a number of old Civil War soldiers and a parade was formed.  Mr. Deans seemed the most vigorous (a man that had three wives had to be) so he was the leader.  I think it made those old soldiers feel very important, they were needed again, and anyway we were sharply reprimanded if we got out of step or line.  Slowly we winded our way around the village streets.  Now an amazing thing happened.  As we passed each house, the older people joined the parade!

Even aged grandparents got in step.  The line was a mile long and there was no one to watch, everyone was marching!  It was all very solemn, no ringing of bells or shouting.  A very tired group were told to assemble at the village dock at 7pm.

A team of horses drew a piano to the dock and the village people sang all the war songs and now the main speaker was Father Mertens of St. Mary’s Church, a priest her for 25 years, but a native of Belgium.  He held forth for an hour with a very emotional speech.  His native land was freed and he had relative there.

Now the big event … a huge bonfire had been built and the effigy of the Kaiser of Germany was thrown on and we all cheered and shouted and went home very tired and believed that never again would there be a war!

Ltr - Cottet: Armistice Day 1918Ltr - Cottet: Armistice Day 1918

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