There is not one memory
missing from this 1952 photo. Even OUR Theater is there.
earlier that school almost seen high in the background, was not there.
families in the Fennville area, a town in South Western Michigan, were
by the war. This is a partial story of four of those families. If you
know these families, the information on their life during these times
interesting. History of early settlers is also included.
A Human Life exists in
many ways over, maybe 60 to 90 years. We, in the United States, have not
war in our home land since the Civil War. I personally can not imagine
would be like to shoot another human or even see another human being
Nine men included in
this story have witnessed this, over and over. Not just being shot but
blown to pieces. One family’s son was killed due to the war. They
signed up in
the military to perform a duty that would keep their country free from
German and Japanese take over programs. The training they received
prepared them to work with their buddies and use the machinery provided
the job done. The training provided little toward the anguish they
encounter on the battle grounds. The fighting was hard on them but they
job. They were in the service to fight so we at home did not have to
When they were ordered on a mission, their answer was always, Aye Aye
To kind of imagine
what the guys went through, view the description of the “Presidential
Unit Citation”. To kind of know what a mother goes through, view description of
the “Service Flag”.
This site has been
created for this web host's CHILDREN and GRAND CHILDREN. His name is
LaVerne and he was born on March of 1935, just as Germany
started their march across the globe.
1935; March, Hitler revealed
Europe his military programs, on March 10 Goering announced the
the Luftwaffe, on March 16 Hitler announced conscription and a
Wehrmacht, on March 17 proclaimed "Heroes' Memorial Day" as the
Beethoven Funeral March was played in the Berlin State Opera House.
with the thought that Europeans should not rule Asians, Asians should.
The U. S. began to
support England, France
signed an alliance with Germany.
1941; December 7 – Japan bombed Pearl
1936, while political unrest
was developing and spreading in Europe,
the war first came to Fennville in person of the
124th Illinois Field Artillery which arrived, horses, guns and
on special trains at the Fennville Depot.
occasion was a series of war games that spread over a good share of the
Midwest. After war was
the “enemy” army captured Chicago
came north a motorized detachment reaching Fennville at dawn. The skies
with a squadron of bombing and pursuit planes and “fighting” became
along the entire front with troops in Fennville, many bivouacked at the
school and in tent villages in surrounding farms, Pearl and Bravo, joining in.
teemed with soldiers. Military police were assigned to, and billeted
village hall. Cigar stores, ice cream parlors and other shops did a
business and the post office was swamped with military mail.
MOTHER was born, Lois
Sheckler. Her father, Linn Sheckler was raised in Union County, Pennsylvania.
His family moved to St.
Joseph County, Michigan
around 1900 where he
soon married Ada Snyder who gave him 5 children but died giving birth
5th. Mom, Lois, was the 4th child, born March 21, 1916. In 1921, Linn
to Ethel Barnett Lickley. They had one child, Linn Jr., being mom’s
brother and making 5 Sheckler off spring.
At the age of 19,
married Herman Bouwman of Grand
He was born several
months later on March 23, 1935 in Allegan, Michigan.
His sister Jean was
also born in Allegan, on Oct. 14, 1936. LaVerne’s father was given a
opportunity to work for the county during these years but he also had
bad habits and was in and out of jail. In 1939 LaVerne’s grandparents
finished building a house on Hutchins
About the same
time, his mother picked Jean and himself up and moved to a house down
the lake. This was his 1st connection with the word Hutchins. Lois was
a third child, Arleen, who was born at the lake on Oct. 3, 1939. Then
divorced. Yup, she became a single mom, raising 3 kids. Well the
helped a lot.
At the lake, times
were good and bad. One time Lois burned LaVerne’s pants on the oil
the living room. LaVerne cut his knee on a beer bottle in the lake. He
and threw his wind up train in the lake. But just look how happy they
were in the
snow by the lake. Soon Lois had to go to work so they moved to a house
Fennville on Walter St.
She started working at the Canning factory.
The house was maybe
400 feet from the railroad and every time a train, powered by steam
rumbled by they thought there was an earthquake. Later they moved to an
apartment next to the Baptist church. It was easier for Lois to get to
get a baby sitter and have LaVerne start in kindergarten.
Lois wanted to make
more money so she, picked the three kids up and moved to Kellogsville, a suburb
on the south edge of Grand
Here she worked for “Frost’s” and made latches. She rode the bus to
is where LaVerne started the first grade and Jean went to kindergarten.
house was very small and the outside was dried up and unpainted.
remembers the baby sitter always wore horse riding britches. He
another body injury here when he fell from a tree by the railroad
cut his left hand thumb area, with a broken bottle again.
WWII When the United
officially joined the war in December of 1941, following the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor, Fennville
quickly responded. The
Dec. 12, 1941, newspaper reported:
“The patriotism and
the intensity of feeling with which the people of Fennville received
of the outbreak of the war with Japan
were exemplified in the jump sales of Defense Bonds here. In the first
days of the week approximately $15,000 of Defense Bonds were
the total sales to $23,550. . . Serve your Country!
Buy Defense Bonds! Buy
DIFFERENT FAMILIES are
described in writing this story, displaying
how they were involved this war. One family lost a son. The Army, Air
Navy, Farm and Factories are acknowledged here: and Family;
and "Sheckler" Hutchins:
in from all
corners of the globe. Fennville boys hastened to sign-up for the armed
and the folks left back home began a series of drives to help the war
and grinded themselves for the inevitable shortages. In 1944 three
men were reported missing in Germany
and the whole town was relieved in May of 1944 to get a short letter
stating, “I am a prisoner of war. Not injured to speak of, do not
carry on and be OK".
as well. LaVerne knows that four of his high school teachers served.
fought on Luzon in the Philippines,
History teacher and English teacher served
Europe and Science teacher
an MP, escorted German prisoners back and forth between Europe and the
OTHER STORIES about
Fennville service men include and his brother .
RUBINSTEIN CLUB headed
a drive to collect musical instruments “to be used in hospitals for
rehabilitation purposes,” and their effort yielded harmonicas,
assorted wind instruments and a grand piano. Other clubs of the town
socks, made laundry bags and surgical dressings for use by veteran’s
in January of 1942, headed a campaign to get books for the army and
citizen was urged to donate from their personal library and extras
the Club library and sent to army posts. Club workers tell the story of
a group met to finish packing used clothing to be shipped out on the
Marquette to a collection point in Grand Rapids for war relief. “We had
4,239 pounds of
clothing packed in four wooden boxes and 86 cartons. It was the last
working and we were all so tired,” one worker recalls. We were finally
getting ready to go when Anne Crane couldn’t find her coat. We had
packed it in
one of the boxes!” After a search the coat was recovered and the
RATIONING began in
1942, first only sugar, it later spread to gas, meats, coffee, cheese,
fats, shoes, canned fish and other processed foods. The Woman’s Club
set up a
local office for the distribution of ration coupons.
Click Stamp Images for Rationing details
The girl scouts mounted a “Victory Grease” campaign and collected 200
fat, the Boy Scouts were in charge of scrap paper with the slogan,
Call the Scouts!"
NEW FLAG began
flying at the
post office at the corner and an honor roll was erected on Main Street
with 203 names of citizens of
Fennville who were in the armed services. “The public is kindly asked
refrain from parking in front of the honor roll,” the Herald reported.
to the names appearing thereon, and in appreciation of the time and
spent to erect this memorial to those boys and girls of our community
collected at the
Fennville Standard Oil Station for the Grand Rapids division and at one
had a mountain of old tires, tubes, rubbers, garden hose and other
that weighed more than six tons.
IRON and STEEL
collecting was led by the Lions Club, motorists were asked to turn in
license plates, the local printing office served as a repository for a
Kollection” for the metal pots, and tin cans were collected for
and NYLON HOSERY
was called for in November, to provide fabric for powder bags and other
materials essential to the war effort. The
American Legion headed a drive to collect OLD
to be made into new ones “so that the men in the armed forces may have
music” and merchants collected used brass shell casings from hunters.
were hard to
find. The Girl Scouts harvested much of the STRAWBERRY
CROP in 1942, and in 1944 a bumper crop of CHERRIES brought a plea for help
canning factory. This is where ALBERT CRANE comes
possible sources they have
volunteered—farmers tired with a day’s work in the fields, housewife’s
with a full day at home or in the orchards, grocery clerks, bank
service station men, school girls, office workers, war plant workers,
drivers, a lumber yard operator, a telephone service man—almost every
occupation has been represented during the past two weeks on the
Through their efforts the cherries are canned where they can later be
out to the armed forces and to distribution centers all over the
cherry hungry because of last year’s crop failure.
mother, Lois "Sheckler" Bouwman then, was also one
to work in the canning factory. But in 1942 she was working in Grand Rapids
making parachutes. Perhaps Dick Bale used one of them. She was a "CAN DO;
STAMPS: Faced with
of workers, and also of merchandise to sell, village stores closed on
afternoons, and for a 15 minute period every week in the middle of the
nothing but war stamps.
OUT TESTS were
conducted periodically by the local defense unit organized under the
of theatre operator Clifford Smith. In August of 1942 the newspaper
“Fennville cooperated 100 percent Mayor Art Pahl stated Thursday.
the blowing of the cannery whistle at 9:55 every light in Fennville was
out, cars shut off motors and lights, and silence prevailed, the only
were the chirping of the crickets, the occasional barking of a dog, and
footsteps of the auxiliary police patrolling their beats.” The tests
carried out, way into the country side where the whistle could be heard
MILK WEED POD collecting
was another campaign that LaVerne remembers very well. He also
collected metal and paper.
1943, during the War Loan Drive,
Fennville residents raised $133,875
in War Bonds to exceed the goal set at that time by a wide margin. The
cost of manufacture of this P-51 Mustang airplane was set by
the government at roughly
$75,000. It was named "CITY OF FENNVILLE Michigan". As an
interesting local comment, this type of plane was flown
in Italy and Sicily by Capt. William H. DuVall, son to Fennville's
His plane was modified with dive bomb brakes and bomb racks used for
low level strafing, dive bombing and reconaissance.
Mustang had a speed in excess of 400 miles per hour. The plane was
manufactured by the North American Aviation company.
| Fennville was the
first village in Clyde
after Clyde, New York), was settled in 1860 by
Blakslee, who joined the Union Army in
1861 and was killed in action.
Elam A. Fenn, in company with Levi Loomis, built a sawmill here in
It was given a post office as Fenn’s Mill, on February 27, 1868, with
as its first postmaster. The village was platted in 1871 by
& Company, who owned much of the land here, and its post office was
Fennville on September 27 of the same year. Later that year the
burned down and was restored on adjacent land platted by M.C.
Fennville was incorporated as a village in 1889, and as a city in 1961.
The photo below is a 1940 postcard.
The more-than 200 men
and women from Fennville who served in World War II saw action in every
theatre, receiving medals, and performed their duties creditably, and
cases with impressive heroism. There were Fennville boys at Pearl
Harbor, over Germany,
in Africa, Italy,
and in the Pacific. One
former resident, a civilian scientist, was part of a team who worked on
scientific program leading to the production of the atomic bomb.