In August 1945, Lester Stoudt was a 19-year-old solider from Chilcote Hollow, traveling cross country by rail toward battle when the war he’d trained to fight took an abrupt turn.
“The troop train stopped in a town just across the Mississippi River and all the women came out with cookies, candy and gifts of all kinds,” Stoudt, now 92, said. “The kids gave us newspapers with these big headlines saying the bomb had dropped.”
The war, which had claimed over 400,000 American military lives and over 70 million men, woman and children worldwide, would come to an end less than a month later, Sept. 2, 1945, when Japan, the last of the Axis powers in the fight, formally surrendered.
His mission transformed, Stoudt would continue west and onward to the Philippines, then Japan, as part of the immediate post-war effort to stabilize the region, service for which he earned the Philippines Liberation Medal.
Stoudt, who today resides in Huntingdon, will serve as parade marshal in Huntingdon’s annual Memorial Day parade, scheduled for Monday, May 27. The parade starts at 14th Street and will move along Washington Street, ending at War Vets Field for the service. Stoudt will be accompanied on the parade route by his sister, Elsie Kreider.
After the brief stop just west of the Mississippi, Stoudt said the train headed west toward Seattle; from Seattle, he sailed for Pearl Harbor on rough seas.
“There was so much confusion. There were so many people coming and going.” he said. “The idea was to get the veterans home as fast as they could, get the replacements in and carry on with the Occupation responsibilities.”
Three weeks after departing Seattle, he arrived in the Philippines and set to work with the Post Office of the Pacific.
“The Post Office of the Pacific was a subdivision of (Gen. Douglas) MacArthur’s high command,” he said. “It was my first and only assignment. Our job was handling the transfer of addresses and addresses were changing momentarily. It was a constant job.”
When the unit left for Yokahoma, Japan, so did Stoudt.
“We encountered a typhoon in the South China Sea,” Stoudt said. “We were on a Presidential Class ship, a smaller ship, and for two days there was nobody on deck. After the thing settled down, we found out we’d averaged two knots an hour for those two days.”
Kreider, who was still in grade school at the time, recalls her parents, the late Lester John and Evalyn Stoudt, traveling to Camp Wheeler near Macon, Georgia, to see her brother before he left for the Pacific.
“He didn’t get a leave before he was shipped out so my parents got on a train,” Kreider said. The visit was the last her brother saw of their father; Mr. Stoudt succumbed to pneumonia and pleurisy Dec. 28, 1945, at age 41.
“You have to remember, penicillin was still new and there was a short supply because of the war,” Kreider said. She says it’s difficult to imagine the situation her mother faced with a daughter at home and a son overseas.
Kreider points out her mother joined the war effort by taking a job at the fiberglass plant in Huntingdon.
Post-war, Stoudt returned to his Logan Township home in Chilcote Hollow and helped his mother and young Elsie around the house and farm. Putting his military experience to use, he worked for the U.S. Post Office in Huntingdon from 1946 to 1982, ending his career there as a city carrier.
He married Cecile (Taylor) Brenneman, who preceded him in death at age 65, March 26, 1988. The couple has one son, John.
Among his most vivid memories of being a solider in the immediate post-war are on the ocean, Stoudt said. On the 10-day trip home, he recalls a full moon reflected in calm seas near the Mariana Islands and how they watched movies on deck, looking up at Technicolor musicals on a screen hung from a mast.
“The phosphorus was so bright, the wake in the back of the ship was all white foam,” he said.
“And I never had a bad meal. Steak, chops, roast, you name it, and rare or well done, however you wanted it.” Stoudt continued, still humbled by the provisions made possible by circumstance and sacrifices on the home front.
“Everybody treated us beautifully,” Stoudt said, again reflective of the sacrifice of others. “Not everybody had that experience, not those on the front lines. I missed that by a hair.”
Rebecca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After nearly 20 years, baseball is coming back to Shade Gap.
Members of the Southern Huntingdon Youth Baseball League will christen their new field behind the Shade Gap Elementary School Monday, May 27, when the first pitch is thrown at 6 p.m., following opening ceremonies at 5:30 p.m.
But the game is much more than a celebration of the league or players, it’s the culmination of a project that has encompassed the entire community.
“We figure there have been over 100 community members and businesses combined that have contributed to this field,” Shade Gap Baseball board member Brad Yohn told The Daily News as contractors finished some of the last stages of the project Friday afternoon. “Everywhere you go in town, everyone is talking about how the ball field is coming along.”
The new field and dugouts replace the original playing area that was built more than 40 years ago. The original field deteriorated after the southern Huntingdon league joined the Mount Union baseball league 17 years ago.
“Upgrades to the field were canceled when we joined the Mount Union league,” said Yohn, who was playing baseball for the league at the time. Southern teams played their games in Orbisonia and the Shade Gap field went unused.
Then, in 2018, there was a push to leave the Mount Union League and the Southern Huntingdon Youth Baseball League was formed.
“It was more condensed, but we did see the number of members join the league grow by about 20 percent,” said Yohn.
The league is made up of teams from Shade Gap, Orbisonia, Three Springs, Saltillo and Cassville, just like it was when Yohn played.
About 18 months ago, approximately 10 individuals formed the Shade Gap Baseball Board and started efforts to rebuild the field.
“We took the design and layout and presented it to the (Southern Huntingdon County) school board for its permission,” said Yohn, noting the property, and thus the field, is owned by the school district. “Maintenance supervisor Stanley Hall and superintendent Dwayne Northcraft were very supportive of the project.”
Work started on the field in July 2018, and as the project came to fruition, so did the community support.
“All of the components, the excavation, hardware, supplies, etc., cost $35,000,” said Yohn, noting the committee wasn’t eligible for grants because the field is on school property. “Of that, $15,000 was monetary donations and the other $20,000 was donations in excavation time, stone, ball dirt, supplies, etc.”
In addition to donations, retired coaches, former players and other community members came out to work on the field.
“Several thousand hours have been put into this field,” said Yohn. “This field truly belongs to the community.”
Now, as the project is in the home stretch of its first phase, Yohn said the committee knows all of the work was worth it.
“We debated buying ground elsewhere, but we wanted to keep this field here. We knew there would be support and we wanted to see baseball come back to Shade Gap,” he said.
The field will serve players ages 4-12, playing in T-ball, rookie, minor and major leagues, but Yohn emphasized it is a community field open to everyone.
Although the players will take the field Monday, Yohn said the committee’s work isn’t quite finished.
“When this phase is complete, we will install a scoreboard that the late Larry Walters of Walters Drilling donated before he passed away,” he said. “We’re also looking at lights, a concession stand and bleachers.”
Yohn and his fellow committee members hope the entire community will come out to celebrate with them Monday.
“We want to invite the entire community and thank anyone who contributed to this project in any way,” he said, noting the celebration will include chicken barbecue, burgers and raffles. “There are so many people we have to thank. We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who has donated time, money, resources and efforts to this project.”
While just one game will be played Monday, Yohn said the field will host four to five games a week through the middle of June.
Becky can be reached at email@example.com.
With campers and boat lovers traveling to Raystown Lake for a weekend of swimming and fishing, local shops have stocked their shelves, are offering specials and everyone is hoping for sunshine.
Jude Harrington, the Raystown supervisory park ranger explained, “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Raystown Lake is ready for the public. Campsites are all ready, the swim beaches have been inspected and the picnic areas are all open.”
While the lake is the primary draw for tourism, those looking to spend the holiday weekend will need to stock up on the essentials. Local grocery and convenience stores in the county are ready to meet visitors’ needs. Marilyn Hocker, assistant manager at the Sandy Ridge Market in Orbisonia, told The Daily News that, “We definitely get people who are passing through looking for something fast.”
“We’ve got a big display of fireworks and our garden center is full,” she added, noting the store has a sale on fruits, such as watermelons and cantaloupes.
Steven Hays, one of the co-managers at Saxton Market, shared Hocker’s sentiments, explaining they compensate for the influx by being prepared.
“We get a lot of campers, so we make sure we’re stocked up,” he said.
Seven Points Bait and Grocery owner Judy Norris said the Hesston store has trained all of its seasonal employees and is ready to supply visitors.
“We are a one-stop complete shop for all of your camping and fishing supplies,” Norris told The Daily News.
Many of the organizations that operate around Raystown Lake have been preparing for months, with Seven Points Marina explaining that last weekends Dirt Rag Dirt Fest served as the unofficial launching point for the season. Pam Prosser, the director of marketing for Seven Points Marina explained, “We’ve been working since March to get things open, so we are ready.”
Prosser continued, “We are lucky that we have a seasoned crew with over 500 years of experience shared between them.”
Between their in-house gift shop, the Oar House, lake restaurant, Jake’s on the Lake, and the Rothrock Outfitters outlet, Prosser is confident that they are ready for the wave of tourism.
Lake visitors can expect to see several upgrades at the lake since last season. Harrington told The Daily News that many of the scenic overlooks are having their walls rebuilt. Harrington explained that most of the overlook’s walls are 45 years old and are having the concrete repointed. Harrington continued that many of their buildings have been outfitted with solar panels. Finally, there has been a serious effort to replace downed trees, the result of last years severe storms. Harrington explained, “Numerous landscape trees have been planted. Due to a combination of winds and invasive species, we have lost so many (in the last year).”
After last year’s heavy downpours, many businesses and organizations are hopeful for warmer weather this season, with Prosser explaining that “We’re ready for good weather.”
Norris echoed the sentiment by stating, “We’re looking forward to a warm and dry summer, looking forward to making friends with new campers and waiting anxiously for the kids to be out of school.”
Boat owners are warned about the long-term impacts of last year’s heavy rains, with Harrington explaining, “Boaters on the lake, specifically the southern part of the lake, should be aware of possible debris just under the water level.” Harrington went on to explain that this is caused by the high water levels the lake experienced last year. The heavy downpours damaged several trees and those branches ended up in the lake, but have not completely sunk yet. Boat operators are warned that just because they can’t see debris, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Finally, Harrington cautioned anyone traveling to the lake that this year the lake itself might be a little different than years past. “The lake temperature appears to be 10 degrees cooler than it usually is.” To combat this temperature drop, Harrington recommends that visitors remain vigilant with their safety jacket usage, adding that, “wearing your life jacket will not only keep you floating, but will also keep you warm.”
Harrington finished by reminding everyone that the ranger staff is there to ensure everyone is staying safe while having fun. If lake visitors have any questions, they are encouraged to find a park ranger and ask them questions. As Harrington explained, “Our new summer ranger staff has completed their training and will be looking for opportunities to share their safety knowledge with the public.”
Huntingdon County election officials worked throughout the day Friday to conduct the hand count from Tuesday’s primary election.
While it’s unlikely the hand count will change the outcome of county races in the election, many municipalities where no names were listed on the ballot for various positions will be determined after the hand count is completed.
Write-in votes weren’t the only ones that were counted and tabulated Friday, as anyone who cast a provisional ballot in Tuesday’s primary election had their ballots counted Friday as well.
Heather Fellman, county clerk and former elections coordinator, previously told The Daily News that a provisional ballot can be cast if a person shows up to vote at a polling place, but they’re not in the polling book.
“If there’s a reason people can’t go to where they’re supposed to be or they’re disputing what our records say, they can cast a provisional ballot at that precinct, as a way of making sure everyone is given the opportunity to vote,” she said.
But, it doesn’t mean they all get counted, depending on the findings, but we’re making sure everyone who is entitled to vote does,” Fellman added.
Tammy Thompson, county elections coordinator, explained what happens after winners of municipal elections, whether it’s for a borough council seat, township supervisor seat, auditor, constable or another seat that’s open.
“Write-in winners will receive a packet of paperwork from the elections office within the next couple of weeks,” she said. “They will need to respond to this mailing if they wish to accept the nomination.”
Since there there are so many open positions that were likely filled in during the municipal election, unofficial results won’t be available right away.
“Unofficial results will be available on the county website late next week,” said Thompson.
Even after the results are posted online, the results aren’t official until they are certified by the state Department of State.
“Official results could take approximately a month,” said Thompson. “All write-in winners must be notified, and we have to allow ample time for responses. There is also state reporting that needs completed and the state must certify the state level results to us before we can consider any results official.”
After the results are certified by the state, the official results will also be posted at www.huntingdoncounty.net.
Memorial Day observances will begin in Huntingdon Monday, May 27, with a parade moving down Washington Street at 10 a.m.
A service will follow at 11 a.m. at War Vets Field with retired Lt. Col. Dianne Barben serving as guest speaker.
Barben was born in Augsburg, Germany, to the late Margaret and Edward House. She was reared in Mount Union and graduated from Mount Union Area High School.
She received her diploma in nursing from Lancaster Genral Hospital School of Nursing and worked at J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital for a brief period before joining the United States Air Force.
Barben attended Military Indoctrination of Medical Service Officers at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, in 1977, and was subsequently assigned as a staff nurse to Nellis Air Force Base, Anchorage, Alaska, Dover Air Force Base, Dover, Delaware, March Air Force Base, Moreno Valley, California, Kessler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Mississippi, and Beale Air Force Base, Marysville, California. She served as a staff nurse, charge nurse, clinical coordinator, flight commander, chief nurse and squadron deputy commander. While in the military, Barben completed her bachelor of science in nursing from Pennsylvania State University and master of science in nursing from the University of Delaware.
Barben retired from the United States Air Force in 2001. She resides in Huntingdon and currently serves as the director of Women and Children’s Services at Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College.
Memorial Day services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, May 27, at the McConnellstown Cemetery behind the McConnellstown Playhouse. The program is sponsored by the McConnellstown Cemetery Association and will include the traditional Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) memorial service.
The speaker for this year will be Sgt. 1st Class Chuck States. He has over 30 years combined active and reserve service in the United States Army. He served in Kuwait from May 2015 to February 2016.
States is currently a member of the Army Reserve, serving as detachment sergeant of the 443 Engineer Facilities Detachment in Johnstown. He is currently employed as a human resources specialist at the James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center, Altoona.
States is the son of Charles and Judy States of McConnellstown. He and his wife, Jenni, and their children reside in Boswell.
In the event of rain, services will be held at the McConnellstown United Methodist Church on Ward Street.
Chief Master Sgt. Sherry Bowes will serve as the guest speaker for Memorial Day services in Mapleton Monday, May 27.
The parade will form at 9 a.m. and folks will make their way to the cemetery for services, to begin at 9:30 a.m.
Bowes is the senior paralegal manager to The Judge Advocate General. In her position, she serves as the senior adviser to The Judge Advocate General and senior staff on enlisted matters for paralegals within The Judge Advocate General Corps worldwide. She exercises management responsibility over and serves more than 1,300 Air Force active duty and Air Reserves Component paralegals. She advises The Judge Advocate General on all issues regarding quality of life, morale, health and welfare as a member of the corps’ strategic planning committee and The Judge Advocate General’s School Advisory Board. She was selected to be the 17th senior paralegal manager to TJAG in 2017.
Bowes was born and reared in Hares Valley and graduated from Southern Huntingdon County High School. She enlisted in the United States Air Force and headed to basic training in March 1990. She started her Air Force service as a security specialist at Howard Air Force Base in Panama, guarding multimillion-dollar aircraft on the flightline. She retrained into the paralegal career field in 1994 and has spent 25 years as an Air Force paralegal and 29 years serving the United States Air Force.
Bowes is married to Master Sgt. Sean Bowes, also an active duty Air Force member and superintendent of the logistics and readiness division of the 11th Security Forces Squadron, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. They have twin daughters, Mackenzie and Morgan, who are soon to be juniors at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.
Bowes is the daughter of Robert and Cheryl Glasgow. Her father grew up in Mapleton and fought for the United States Army in Vietnam and retired from US Silica in Mapleton. Her mother grew up in Hares Valley and retired from the Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center. They currently reside in Hares Valley.
Bowes has received a number of major awards and decorations, including Meritorious Service Medal with six oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Good Conduct Medal with one silver and three bronze oak leaf clusters, the National Defense Service Medal with a bronze star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, the Iraqi Campaign Medal and she was named College for Professional Development NCO of the year in 2002.
Southern Huntingdon County High School graduate Capt. Robert Mellott Jr. will serve as guest speaker for Memorial Day services at 11 a.m. Monday, May 27, at the Madden-Wennick American Legion Post 518 in Rockhill.
A Fulton County native, Mellott graduated from SHCHS in 1964 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Shippensburg University in 1968. He entered the U.S. Army in 1968 and completed basic training at Fort Leornard Wood, Missouri, and Field Artillery Officers Candidate School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He was then sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, to complete the Parachute and Ranger schools. He was then assigned to the Seventh Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he completed the Jump Master School and received Jungle Operations Training in Panama. He then served with the 101st Airborne (Screaming Eagles) in Vietnam. After Vietnam, Mellott served with the Special Ammunitions Command in Sogel, Germany.
Mellott’s military awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Parachute Badge, Ranger Tab, Vietnam Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal and two Overseas Service Bars.
Mellott currently resides outside of Orbisonia with his wife, Ellen Cheslock, a retired teacher at Rockhill and Shade Gap elementary schools.
Services will include music by the Southern Huntingdon County High School band and invocation and benediction delivered by the Rev. Ed Seeley of the Orbisonia United Methodist Church.
Members of the post, as well as the auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion, will participate in a flower presentation and the honor guard will present a rifle salute and taps. Refreshments will be served following the services in the post dining room.
The Daily News will not publish a paper Monday, May 27, and the office will be closed in observance of Memorial Day. The Opinion Line will be open during regular hours from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Monday.
Some area pools in the county will be opening today in time for the first weekend of the season.
Those heading to the Isett Community Swimming Pool in Huntingdon Borough will have new things to look forward to when they open for the season at noon today, Saturday, May 25.
Mary Ann Buckley, pool manager, shared her excitement for the new events happening this weekend.
“We have a climbing wall that was just built so people can enjoy a little bit of extra fun,” she said. “We will also have the blowup obstacle course, which came at the end of last season, and it will be there Sundays and Mondays this year.”
The newly installed splash pad, spray park, as they’re calling it, will be fully operational very soon.
“This is the biggest addition and the most exciting for the young population,” she said. “It’s designed for kids between zero and 6 years of age who aren’t quite ready to swim, but want to enjoy time in the water. We expect to have everything up and running by next weekend.”
The donations for the improvements, including the splash park, were made by Melvin Isett.
“He does it in memory of his late wife, who often swam in (Standing Stone Creek), and they both wanted it to be possible for kids to enjoy the water without going to the creek to do it,” she said.
For those who want to use the climbing wall, there will be an additional charge.
“When people come into the pool, if they want to use it, they will have a wristband, and we will ask them to listen to all of the rules before they can climb,” said Buckley.
Though membership fees will stay the same this year, prices to rent the facilities have increased so more staff can be added during after-hour events and other daytime events.
Last summer, a mural was made on the wall as one enters the pool grounds by Elizabeth Speck, a Huntingdon Area High School student who made it as part of a National Honor Society service project.
But, Buckley said a great crew of staff and lifeguards have been assembled to make this summer a memorable and fun one for all who use the pool facilities.
“The staff is what makes the pool so good,” she said. “These are amazing kids who do such a great job with interacting with the public and welcoming people to the pool.”
The American Legion County Club near Mount Union is launching into the 2019 pool season at noon today, Saturday, May 25. Opening day will be a low-key affair, club staff say, while reminding the public to watch for announcements for special events over the course of the summer.
Hours are noon to 7 p.m. daily, unless preempted by weather or other circumstances. Snacks, soda pop and hot dogs are available.
The 234,000-gallon pool was built in 1928 as part of the original Juniata Valley Colony Club, now operated by American Legion Post 103. Since then, several generations of Mount Union area residents grew up swimming, diving and splashing their summers away in view of the wooded hillsides that encircle the club property.
“Some of my favorite memories as a kid were at the country club pool,” Gretchen Crouse of Mount Union said. “My sister and I spent countless hours there during the summer. As I got older, I loved the diving board and the trying different tricks and dives.”
She also recalled how the summer season wrapped with a party and one particularly memorable competition.
“For the last event, everyone jumped in and tried to wrestle buttered watermelons out of the pool,” she said.
Now a parent, Crouse said she looks forward to watching her daughter enjoy summertime in and around the ALCC pool.
“As my own daughter gets older I can’t wait for her to have those same memories,” she said. “It’s so wonderful how people have worked so hard and taken so much of their own time to make sure the pool continues to make those memories for others.”
One-day and two-day passes are available, as are seasonal passes for individuals and whole families. In addition, the pool is available for birthdays and other celebrations by appointment. Membership to the pool and to the club are separate.
Karen Flasher, manager of Three Springs Community Pool, said the tentative opening is from 1-6 p.m. Saturday, June 1.
This year will be the 50th the pool has been in operation for those who live in the southern portion of the county.
Plans are in the works, and Flasher encourages folks to follow the Three Springs Community Pool Facebook page for details.
“I think we’re going to have a community night with a birthday cake, but I haven’t gotten that date set yet,” she said.
One event set is a splash hop, complete with a DJ, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, June 22.
Those who want to take swim lessons will have an opportunity to do so from July 15-20, but Flasher wants people to contact her for availablity.
Additionally, people are also able to rent the facility after hours from 6:30-9:30 p.m. as well as rent space during regular pool hours.
Memberships are also available at the pool. For more information about rentals, swim lessons, events and memberships, contact Flasher after 5 p.m. at 448-3057.
Mapleton residents will have to look outside of town for a refreshing swim on hot summer days, at least until repairs can be made at the community pool.
Mayor Mike Corbin said in addition to repairing a leak and replacing a filter tank, the pool is also in need of volunteers to help operate the facility and manage fundraising efforts.
“I wish we could salvage some of the season but unless a bunch of people volunteer and a bunch of money comes our way, it will not happen, Corbin said.
Built in 1948 as a gift to the community from the Pennsylvania Glass Sand Co. — now U.S. Silica — the swimming pool is the one of the highlights of summertime in Mapleton and serves a a venue for a number of community events.