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Connellsville author participates in oral history project

| Sunday, April 13, 2014, 2:59 p.m.

Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative Director Kevin Farkas recently visited Connellsville to record a segment narrated by Ceane O'Hanlon-Lincoln for the organization's Audiobook Series.

In 2012 Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh partnered with Soldiers & Sailors Hall to launch a transmedia oral history project whose mission is to preserve and share the voices, images and experiences of Pittsburgh area veterans of all branches of service and eras.

The Connellsville program recorded by O'Hanlon-Linclon relates the experiences and recollections of World War II as researched and gathered by O'Hanlon-Lincoln in her “County Chronicles” series of books.

“We seek new and creative ways to tell veterans' stories and to make them more accessible to diverse audiences through a variety of media, including podcasting, radio, television and print. We believe that history is built one story at a time,” said Farkas.

This local segment will be made available for sale on DVD at the new Connellsville Canteen. Consent has been given by O'Hanlon-Lincoln's publisher Mechling Bookbindery.

O'Hanlon-Lincoln has titled the segment honoring Connellsville, “A Sentimental Journey or Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” from the “County Chronicles Pennsylvania History Series” that she has written.

“All of the stories I am recording today are pulled from my books except two stories I've added. One is about my husband's cousin, Ben Lincoln, who was a prisoner of war and the one called ‘The Village That Cried.' What I did for this audio was choose World War II stories from my books then condense them and bridge them to go smoothly from one to another, organizing them into chapters that I then read for the series that is being produced,” said O'Hanlon-Lincoln. Music of the era such as “Take The A-Train,” “I Left My Heart At The Stage Door Canteen,” and “String of Pearls” was included as background for “fade in, fade out” as story transitions were made.

“I wanted to do this project in light of our new Connellsville Canteen opening soon. The goal is that a CD will be sold at the new Connellsville Canteen with partial proceeds going to both the canteen and Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh. Excerpts will also appear in upcoming issues of ‘Connellsville Crossroads' magazine,” she added.

O'Hanlon-Lincoln has included many recognizable local veterans in the 50-page script that she wrote, as well as the thoughts of those back home doing their part. Those featured include John “Wally” Schroyer, Nancy Stafford, John Woodruff, Rose Bailey Brady, Helen Alt, Benjamin Franklin Lincoln, Adeline George, John Robert Hanlon Sr., Henry Molinaro, Mimi Finnerty, brothers Robert and Wayne Martin, Virginia M. Eberharter, Guy Tressler, Florence “Shutsy” Reynolds, Dorothy Johnson Peck and more.

A tragic story, “The Village That Cried,” is a World War II story O'Hanlon-Lincoln's father had shared with her many years ago. She researched about a bomber that was trying to return to the air base where her father was stationed in England in inclement weather. The bomber crashed and killed many of the children in a school. It has been 70 years since the event and O'Hanlon-Lincoln recounts it on the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh program.

The efforts of Max C. Floto and Thomas W. Scott, World War I comrades who were diligent in their efforts for a national Veterans Day are also lauded in the broadcast.

“A ‘Sentimental Journey' or ‘Praise the Lord' and ‘Pass the Ammunition' is part of our new audio book series. This is the first title that we are producing. People will be able to go online at Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh and click on the title and listen to it, We also have a Facebook page,” said Farkas, who has previously interviewed Reynolds, Tressler and Eberharter for the Veteran Voices series.

Nancy Hrabak has been instrumental in having Connellsville veterans' stories be included in the project.

The broadcast recreates a vivid picture of the World War II era, interspersed with comments and historical data gathered by O'Hanlon-Lincoln through her many years of research and interviews.

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.

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