ShareThis Page
News

Latrobe Historical Society marks 70th anniversary of end of World War II

| Tuesday, April 14, 2015, 2:36 p.m.
The Latrobe Area Historical Society has filled a case with artifacts at the new Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Neighborhood Information and Visitors Center. The group will rotate the exhibit with other artifacts over time. Among the items on display are the World War II era dog tags Jack Keltz of Latrobe.
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
The Latrobe Area Historical Society has filled a case with artifacts at the new Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Neighborhood Information and Visitors Center. The group will rotate the exhibit with other artifacts over time. Among the items on display are the World War II era dog tags Jack Keltz of Latrobe.
Artifacts that represents the sacrifice in the homeland during World War II are showcased at the Latrobe Area Historical Society.
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
Artifacts that represents the sacrifice in the homeland during World War II are showcased at the Latrobe Area Historical Society.
Mary Lou Townsend of the Latrobe Area Historical Society poses next to a display filled  with artifacts at the new Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Neighborhood Information and Visitors Center.
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
Mary Lou Townsend of the Latrobe Area Historical Society poses next to a display filled with artifacts at the new Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Neighborhood Information and Visitors Center.

During World War II in Latrobe, residents lined up for parades to wish recruits well on their way to the train station, used their ration stamps to buy meat and canned goods, and became airplane spotters scanning the skies above what is now the Quatrini-Raftery building.

“World War II was an all-out effort,” said Mary Lou Townsend, president of the Latrobe Historical Society.

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, the historical society is hosting a presentation 7 p.m. Thursday in Latrobe Elementary School, 1501 Ligonier St. Admission is free and open to the public.

Historical society members will be joined by about 10 Greater Latrobe Senior High School students in Bill Snyder's Advanced Placement American history classes. The 10th- to 12th-graders researched a resident of the Latrobe area, using the 1946 yearbook-style booklet “Their Mission Accomplished,” and in some cases talked with their families about the war for the project.

“A lot of them got really excited because they learned things they didn't know before,” Snyder said.

During the month-long research project, Snyder had the booklet featuring local soldiers reprinted, and attendees can order copies Thursday.

In conjunction with the presentation, the historical society is displaying items that represent the city's contribution to World War II at the Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Chamber of Commerce's Neighborhood Visitor and Information Center, 3960 Route 30 in Unity.

The items are the first to be displayed in a case designated for artifacts from Latrobe's past since the center opened in February.

“We end up being Latrobe's attic,” Townsend said. “We're excited to be showing off some of the things we do have, because it is an amazing collection.”

Martin said when the group opened the new center, they wanted to be able to show off the history and heritage of the area.

“It's a natural partnership,” he said. “We're thrilled to have them here and thrilled to promote anything they have going on.”

In the case is a Purple Heart and World War II service medal, a 1947 Latrobe High School yearbook open to one of five photo spreads showcasing veterans, dog tags that belonged to Army Air Corpsman Jack Keltz and an armband worn by a member of the Aircraft Warning Service in Latrobe.

“There were people who sat every night on the top of the Mellon Bank building and waited with their binoculars, watching,” Townsend said. “They were trained to spot certain kinds of aircraft and even the high school woodworking shops made model airplanes that were used in the training for these airplane spotters.”

A blue-star service banner denoted a family member, often a son, serving overseas. Townsend said the Maher family, who lived in the first ward of Latrobe, sent five sons to serve during the war.

A small pin, the “E” award, was given to companies working with the military that met quotas for production demands, and employees at the Acme Tool and Die Co. in Latrobe was among the first to receive the designation with a ceremony in August 1942, Townsend said.

“It was really a source of pride for the companies,” she said.

Scrap drives collected rubber, metal, even bacon grease to be put toward the war effort, an attitude that would be difficult to replicate today, Townsend said.

“There was probably never a period in our history when patriotism was as high as it was during World War II,” she said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me