The Interboro School Board issued a letter in response to the resignation of school board member Christine Alonso.
CHESTER — As Japanese officials took to the airwaves on the morning of Aug. 15, 1945 to proclaim the nation would soon accept the surrender terms of the Potsdam Declaration, the American people, who had toiled for years to ensure that result, waited by their radios across the date line on the evening of Aug. 14.When word came at 7 p.m. that President Truman had confirmed Japan’s capitulation and that a formal surrender was set for Sept. 2, “Delaware County… exploded into the noisiest, merriest, wildest and most spontaneous celebration the county has ever known,” the Chester Times reported the following day.“Thoughts of gasoline rationing and tire shortages floated away with the war as almost every vehicle capable of operating was put into use” and car horns joined pots and pans, industrial whistles, church bells and other improvised noise-making. At 7:15, the planned eight blasts of the city fire siren at Fifth and Market streets officially marked the surrender. “Impromptu parades, led by fire company apparatus in many communities, quickly organized,” while in Chester “carloads and busloads of yelling men and women and children converged on the local ‘Times Square’ – Seventh and Edgmont Avenue. A double line of cars extended half-way back in Deshong Drive as the traffic jammed up. And there was no let-up until some six hours later.”The celebration started prematurely Sunday night, Aug. 12, as a false 9:43 p.m. report of surrender from the United Press made its way to radio broadcasts. Though the UP countermanded the news flash two minutes later, city residents had taken to the streets shouting, “The war is over.” Across the county in Upper Darby, the Cardington-Stonehurt Fire Co. gave five blasts from its siren and West Chester Pike and 69th Street traffic came to a halt, “as confused motorists, many of them with radios in their cars, were caught up in the spontaneous celebration,” the Times reported.The pent-up enthusiasm came at the end of the largest war the world had ever known, one in which Delaware County sent roughly 30,000 of its residents to fight. As of that evening, 869 were known to have given their lives in the conflict, according to Times records.At home, residents had devoted five years of ‘round the clock industrial efforts since the start of the Lend-Lease program in 1940, and adhered to increasingly strict wartime rationing.The efforts of World War II veterans and sacrifices on the homefront continue to resonant with county leaders today. “Think about your grandparents and great grandparents and what they did to save our country, what they did to save many countries around the world,” said Bob McMahon, mayor of Media Borough, in advice younger generations. A veteran of the Vietnam War, McMahon is a co-founder of the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum and the Veterans National Education Program.“(The current global landscape) would not exist if we didn’t have people that not only went to war, but believed in it. They knew what they were getting into, and they were signing up left and right,” he said, believing an Axis takeover of the U.S. would have followed had Americans not gone to Europe and the Pacific. “And we saved China at that point. You don’t see that in the news today,” he said, referring to the Japanese occupation of China and ensuing war crimes during the concurrent Sino-Japanese War.Before tens of thousands of county residents embarked on that war effort in the wake of Pearl Harbor, the county’s industrial waterfront ramped up production in 1940 to support the British war effort. Chester and vicinity would form a key Mid-Atlantic center of what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt deemed the “Arsenal of Democracy” as he launched the Lend-Lease program with Great Britain.“Everything related to licking the Japanese and licking the Germans … you were all singing the same song. You were playing different musical instruments – the farmer was one, the refinery worker, the steel worker, the chemical worker were others – it was a great big symphony that was all composed to lick the Axis,” said R. Anderson “Andy” Pew, retired corporate officer and director for Sun Oil Co. and U.S. Air Force veteran, in a recent interview with the Times. Pew’s father, Arthur E. Pew Jr., served as chief engineer at Sun Oil during the war years.Sun Oil’s innovation in the years prior to the war would prove vital to supplying 100 octane aviation fuel to give Allied fighter and bombers an edge and maximizing gasoline output needed to supply the two-theater war. “My father and his brother Walter Pew, figured out you can so-called crack the (crude oil) at high temperature and pressure and it comes out at 80 octane,” versus the less efficient distillation process previously used in refineries, Pew said. The two pledged their inheritance against any damage to the Marcus Hook refinery by the process to ease the fears of uncle and Sun Oil President J. Howard Pew.Arthur Pew Jr. would further the development in the late 1930s by taking another risk, this time on eccentric, auto racing French World War I veteran Eugene Houdry, a mechanical engineer turned self-taught chemist. The Houdry Process of catalytic cracking, using an aluminum oxide catalyst to raise octane levels, was a leap in oil refining and allowed the ability to ship 25,244,505 barrels of 100-octane aviation fuel during the war, according to a 1945 statistic from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.Finding initial limited support from Standard Oil of New York upon arriving in America, Pew jumped at the chance to recruit Houdry. “My mother was fluent in French … Eugene Houndry came and lived at our house in Bryn Mawr for six months or so,” said Andy Pew. “They sat a card table in the living room and my mother translated. Out of that came the first Houdry catalytic process,” he said.The rapid technological changes across industries to meet wartime demand and limited workforce would prove difficult for production at home. “The problem was, not just for Sun but all refineries… you had a lot of experienced personnel that had been drafted or volunteered. We had a fair number of inexperienced people running the refinery out in the yard,” Pew said.County industries would overcome the rapid retooling and short training time windows as over 100,000 workers at about 250 sites supplied all branches of the Armed Forces and the Merchant Marine. Chester’s Ford Motor Company plant became the largest of America’s three tank depots, Westinghouse’s Steam Division and Merchant Marine Division turned out $140 million in propulsion equipment in 1944 alone, and Baldwin Locomotive in Eddystone retooled to produce over 1,000 M4 Sherman tanks. Sun Ship grew to be the largest privately owned shipyard in the world during the war, stretching from Chester’s East End through Eddystone Borough. Its four yards contributed two-thirds of all new U.S. tankers in 1942 and one-half in 1943, averaging 40 percent by the war’s end.Chester’s role in the “Arsenal of Democracy” brought to the attention and airwaves of its namesake in England in June 1941. The mayor and citizens of Chester, England sent trans-Atlantic greetings to Chester, Pa., over a special broadcast of the BBC’s “London Calling” program on June 18, 1941. The radio program coincided with city Mayor Clifford H. Peoples proposing a local committee be formed to aid the English city. “Through this plan, this city would figuratively adopt its British namesake and provide money and clothing,” which are urgently needed overseas,” the Times reported June 17, as the industrial North West and West Midlands of England endured the German Blitz air raids. “The committee would also encourage the change of correspondence between the cities, school children, service clubs, etc.,” according to the Times.One city resident, Margaret Dykes, of 1416 Williston St., wrote the Times that she lived in Chester, England, in 1898, and recalled ‘pleasant memories of a very beautiful city,’ which she hoped to hear was spared by the Blitz during the broadcast as ‘such quaintness and beauty can never be replaced.’While no further evidence of a sister city program can be found in the Times and local historical archives, city residents would find themselves planning for their own Blitz contingency plans by the end of the year. “If bombers come roaring up the Delaware River to hit at the vital defense industries clustered along its bankers, Chester will be ready,” the Times wrote ten days after the Pearl Harbor attack. With presumed knowledge of the German’s planned Amerikabomber, capable of a roundtrip attack on the Mid-Atlantic region, and Graf Zeppelin aircraft carrier – neither of which came to operation – the Chester City Council of Defense took a cue from English cities. The council began a registry on Dec. 17 to designate homes in the city’s outlying neighborhoods and surrounding municipalities which could house up a planned 7,000 children evacuated from industrial waterfront neighborhoods.
Two Delaware County veterans of the Pacific Theater were on hand for events surrounding Japan’s surrender in August and September 1945. The Japanese unconditional surrender culminated years spent overseas for both men - Woodruff “Woodie” Benson, of Middletown, and Ed Buffman, of Upper Providence – in the hard fought effort to defeat the imperial power.“I remember at the beginning of August that the war was still a long way to go. Then on Aug. 6 they dropped the first bomb and about three days later they dropped the second,” said Benson. The 1938 Glen-Nor High School graduate was then in Okinawa, shuttling troops and equipment from Clark Field in the Philippines. “I left home in January ’42, got home in November 1945. I never got home in the meantime,” said Benson, an Army Air Corps Captain, who flew 1,400 hours, with slightly over half in combat hours, as head navigator in a troop carrier outfit.About Aug. 29, Benson was among the crews called to Atsugi air base ahead of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s arrival. “One of our engines was having trouble. By rights we should have turned around gone back but after being overseas that length of time we didn’t want to miss this final bit,” said Benson, who had spent extensive time stationed in the jungles of New Guinea. Held over awaiting engine parts, “I was there when MacArthur came in with the 11th Airborne in a C54. I had kind of a ringside seat, if you will, before they even signed the peace on the Missouri. That was one of my really thrilling times.”However, apprehension remained ahead of the formal Sept. 2 surrender. “There were 250 of us in Japan for two days and we really did not know at that particular point how true this peace would hold,” Benson said, having been instructed to “get out of there fast” and “not have any kind of incident.” While sleeping under a plane in a roofless hangar, a Japanese squad arrived and decided to drill outside alongside Benson’s. “We all had our .45’s there but it wouldn’t have done much good,” he said. “But all they were trying to do was make us feel uneasy, which they certainly did.”Decades after the war, Benson would become involved with the American Legion and working with students after befriending the late Post Commander Oliver C.P. Armitage, longtime Chester banking and real estate figure and U.S. Navy corpsman during the war, at Lima Estates. “I never got into the VFWs or American Legions until Ollie Armitage got here. If I wouldn’t have joined if Ollie would not have been my good friend,” he said.Benson would be among the Legionnaires who inaugurated a patriotic essay contest at Middletown’s Glenwood School, connecting elementary students of the 2010s with the Greatest Generation. “The kids were always very positive,” he said. “Ollie would say ‘how many would like to get in the service?’ and a lot of them would put their hands up.”“The thing that was so good in World War II, was that everybody was involved. They either had a kid that was in the services, some of them two or three – my two brothers were both in,” he said.Ed Buffman would follow in his father’s footsteps in the U.S. Navy, enlisting out of Roxboro High School in 1943. Serving as a Gunner’s Mate, Second Class from 1944-’46 on the U.S.S. Missouri, he saw battle at Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Kyushu and Honsho.“My father was in the Navy; he was in 30 years,” Buffman said. “I had all the ideas of being on a PT boat, being in a submarine. He said ‘you’re not going to be on any of those little things.’” Following the wishes of his father – a veteran of World War I and retired Chief Turret Captain who was called back as a commissioned officer for World War II – Buffman was Gun Captain to 25 sailors manning a battery of five 20 millimeter guns on the Missouri.“Those guys were great. I have five on each gun; not one of them ever ran from the gun or anything,” he said. When the Missouri was struck by a kamikaze April 11, 1945 off the coast of Okinawa, “the ship was aflame, smoke all over. I cut through midship and looked down there and said ‘don’t worry, everything’s under control.’ I had a great group of guys,” he said. Five days later, the Missouri would shoot down 11 and ½ kamikazes during a daylong attack.After extensive battle to ensure Japan’s surrender, Buffman would volunteer to join “Malone’s Marauders,” under Commander L.T. Malone, as one of six gunner’s mates to land on Japan after the initial surrender sent to mountains unprotected to rid Japanese ammunition. With Marines still guarding ships in the uneasy days following the initial surrender, groups of sailors had to make the initial landings. “We were told ‘if you’re approached by Japanese soldiers, sailors or anyone – if they have an armband that’s white, don’t shoot them. If they don’t have an armband, shoot them,” he said.When the time came for the formal surrender aboard the Missouri, the monumental occasion seemed an uneventful 20-minute formality for its crew, Buffman said. The dignitaries were nearly left in the lurch when the table for the signing sent from the HMS King George V was found to be two small. “At the last minute… two sailors from my division were sent to the mess hall to pick up a table,” he said. Buffman would finish out his time on the Missouri with a tour of duty in Europe, which he characterized as a “pleasure cruise” after the combat of the Pacific. “We were treated like kings,” he said.In the 1990s, Buffman would come to be active in veterans’ organizations and education programs. Serving as VFW Media Post 3460 Commander from 1999-2001, he would go on to be All State Post Commander. He would help launch the Media Theater Veterans Alliance in 2001, which to date has honored 75 veterans at the opening of productions.In 2005, he co-founded the Media-based Pennsylvania Veterans Museum with borough Mayor Bob McMahon and fellow Pacific Theater veteran, the late John “Bud” Hendrick Jr. The museum teaches 500 students per year and the general public the contributions of U.S. veterans from all wars.Buffman was forthright in what he hopes younger generations can take away from his peers and the war effort. “They called the World War II guys ‘The Greatest Generation,’ because they are the greatest generation,” he said. “The values of the World War II generation are far different than their thoughts now, such as respecting each other, respecting the flag, and respecting the National Anthem.”
A number of Chester residents have been stepping up to battle the illegal dumping of trash in their community with recent clean- up efforts. This past weekend, community groups including Making A Change Group, The Bridge Church and volunteers from Covanta, a trash-to-steam facility, gathered near the Edgemont Park Apartments to clean up a large pile of illegally dumped trash and furniture.
If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos . - E.O. Wilson
CHESTER — Chester Upland School District teachers are questioning why they have been directed to come into school buildings twice a week to teach remotely when classes resume next month.
Monday evening school board meetings resulted in three different outcomes to the question of reopening school in the coming weeks. Penn-Delco returned to a hybrid opening, Wallingford Swarthmore voted to go all virtual until Oct. 2 to start to the school year and Garnet Valley is delaying a decision one week.
UPPER DARBY — An armored police vehicle many in the township referred to as a tank has been sent west as administrators move to modernize the police department. But others, including the county's Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 27, say it's a move to defund the police.
MEDIA —With Civil War monuments in the news recently, particularly those situated in the South, it is interesting to reflect on local monuments in our area. One of these, Delaware County’s Memorial to the Civil War, known as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, features a Union soldier leaning on his rifle atop a 30-foot column and is located on the east side of the Delaware County Courthouse facing Olive Street. The story of its creation is of particular interest during these times.
MEDIA — Delaware County's most senior medical official issued recommendations pertaining to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which has killed more than 100 people and sickened thousands in China.
MEDIA COURTHOUSE — A 52-year-old Philadelphia woman was sentenced to two years of probation Monday after pleading guilty to a simple assault stemming from a parking spot dispute.
COLWYN — A years-long conversation in Colwyn about police leadership in accordance with the local police union came to an end Monday night.
NORRISTOWN — More than 30 superintendents from districts in five counties across the greater Philadelphia area announced their intentions to tackle charter school reform during a press conference Monday at the start of National School Choice Week.
UPPER DARBY— A teenager is still missing after she allegedly ran off with her infant daughter from her foster mother’s house in Upper Darby over the weekend, authorities said.
PHILADELPHIA — An update by the education advocacy groups representing over a dozen petitioners in a public school funding lawsuit against the state is expected in the coming days.
MEDIA — Changes keep a'coming to Delaware County as county council hired a human resources specialist to revamp hiring practices and as it prepares to host an ethics reform hearing next month.
HAVERFORD — If you’re driving around Havertown and wonder what’s up with all those green lights? The lights are to show support to some Haverford High School students and others who are fighting cancer.
MEDIA COURTHOUSE — A decade-long battle between Haverford Township and the Bartkowski Investment Group over the proposed placement of billboards in heavily trafficked corridors of Lancaster Avenue and Haverford Pike returned to court this week.
CONCORD — A 12-year-old girl reported that a man tried to lure her into his car after she got off her school bus Tuesday afternoon, police said.
HAVERFORD — Carrying signs with slogans such as “No Billboard Blight” and “Giant Billboards: Unsafe, Unsightly, Unacceptable” about 75 people protested proposed billboards along the 600 block of Lancaster Avenue Monday afternoon.
UPPER DARBY— Upper Darby School District taxpayers will be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars in capital costs if a state program to reimburse some of those expenses gets no funding from the state in the next budget.
MEDIA COURTHOUSE — One of four people arrested in October for stealing from lockers at the Haverford YMCA was sentenced this week to six to 23 months at the county prison in Concord after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, a third-degree felony.
The Citizens Crime Commission is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a man who assaulted a Route 113 SEPTA bus driver on New Year’s Eve in East Lansdowne.
HAVERFORD — Haverford Police Chief John Viola’s most memorable case came early in his career when he was a young patrol officer and on the township police force for only two years.
UPPER DARBY — In a career that includes leading a fire department and an ambulance corps, being the chief of a law enforcement agency will complete the emergency services trifecta for Upper Darby Police Capt. Tom Johnson Jr.
Members of Delaware County Council plan to meet with state officials in Harrisburg next week to discuss the process of establishing a health department.
UPPER DARBY — After the Upper Darby School District imposed some limits on who could attend winter sports games at its facilities, a district policy that outlines public participation at these events may be reconsidered.
UPPER DARBY — Mayor Barbarann Keffer is pushing through two of the inclusive measures she announced for Upper Darby during her first mayoral address on Jan. 6.
UPPER DARBY — For the second year in a row a Delaware County music teacher has been named a finalist for the Grammy’s highest honor for music teachers.
HAVERFORD — They say the wheels of justice turn slowly. Some people had forgotten the brouhaha and lengthy court battle over billboards coming to at 600 and 658 Lancaster Ave. and 1157 and 2040 West Chester Pike in Haverford that began a decade ago. But now it’s back.
UPPER DARB Y— Township council is looking to retain the services of a municipal collections and audit agency to try to reap all of the business privilege mercantile taxes owed to the township.
MEDIA COURTHOUSE — Clifton Heights Borough and the Upper Darby School District have agreed to participate in at least five sessions of non-binding mediation to work out their intergovernmental dispute about building a new middle school in the borough.
MEDIA — The solid Democratic Delaware County Council met for more than two hours Wednesday and already began making changes by scheduling nightly meetings, live streaming meetings and setting hours during the week to make themselves available to the public and to county employees.
UPPER DARBY— The hiring of new administrative leaders and at least one new council member in Upper Darby Township sparked the first Republican reaction to Democratic rule.
UPPER DARBY — Two months after claiming four of five contested races, Democrats took their seats Monday night to start a historic new chapter in Upper Darby Township.
MEDIA COURTHOUSE — Democrats officially took control of county government Monday morning with the swearing in of Dr. Monica Taylor, Christine Reuther and Elaine Paul Schaefer, who joined incumbent Democrats Kevin Madden and Brian Zidek on the five-member county council.
HAVERFORD — Area communities are continuing to fight against the intrusion of billboards. Two upcoming community meetings - Jan. 9 and Jan. 14 - are on tap to let people know about possible billboards in Haverford and some that would impinge on Lower Merion.
UPPER DARBY — By tip-off time Saturday afternoon, 26 people, many of them adults, including two uniformed security guards, did their best to populate the stands adorned with banners for “Upper Darby students.”