© 2014 Enfys McMurry All rights reserved.
May 16, 1943: Guy Evans at the local employment office didn’t quite understand “a vitally important patriotic” directive he received from the government in Washington D.C. He was to hire immediately 220 of the best and most reliable workers. Many such people had already left. They were either in the armed services or building aircraft or working in ordnance artillery and military equipment factories. The directive was urgent. He worked around the clock. He barely slept. He hired 125 from Appanoose County, the others from Wayne, Davis and Putnam counties. They were hired as waitresses, custodians, craftsmen, plumbers, carpenters, messenger boys and cement finishers. They were paid exceptionally good wages that included room and board. They were sent to Pasco, Wash. Even there, they had little knowledge of the overall purpose of their work. Centerville’s Opal Adamson went in a different direction. She went south to Oak Ridge, Tenn. She thought the place “a huge mud puddle.” It was the Appanoose pioneer blood in her veins, she later said, that caused her to stay. All the workers were told to seal their lips, and they were astonished, and so was Guy Evans, in August 1945 to learn they had helped to make the atom bomb. (509...others from Appanoose were also involved. Their story in August.)
May 17, 1919: It was a Saturday. Company D, Centerville’s National Guard, came home from World War I. They arrived on the Interurban from Albia. It had been decided there would be two celebrations. This, the first, would be short, honoring the needs of the men and their families to be together and in private. Thousands lined the sidewalks. On the Courthouse Square, the windows of the buildings were full; so were the tops of the roofs. The fire whistle blew as the train carrying the soldiers reached the junction on Park Avenue. The men dismounted, were rushed to West State Street in autos and took their place in the parade, inside the rectangle surrounded by Red Cross ladies. People noted their uniforms, their stripes, chevrons, red and green silk citation cords, medals and insignia. Below the left shoulder they saw the red, yellow and purple rainbow of their division, the blue letter A of the 1st Army Corps and the red circumflex declaring their official discharge. The parade circled the Square, marched under the Victory Arch and past the reviewing stand. On a command from Major Haynes, the men marched backwards to form a platoon. Now they could watch the remainder of the parade pass before them. At the end of the parade,the men were then dismissed to join their families. The second, longer celebration was planned for Sept. 11. (240-241)