Speech by F. J. Clark
Given at the annual soldiers and sailors picnic
June 16, 1934
This is surely one big joke, Me on this platform to give and address
of welcome. Any
way this being a picnic instead of something else I guess jokes are in order.
I know what you are thinking about now-- the last time I tried to speak
to you folks on an
occasion similar to this knowing what you thought about it, I said never again, But don't
blame me, for its hard to refuse when asked to do something to keep the Camp fires
I know what you are thinking now---He's going to read his speech, well
that a habit of
Rosevelt and me both.
Some of you from Casco will remember what I told you one night when
I tried to give a
little talk at Leisure.
Wilderene had just finished at Parsons Business School and I thought she might help me,
so I asked her if I should start out by saying I was not a Public Speaker and she said why
no pa pa, they will find that out before you have time to tell em.
A preacher once said to his congregation all those who wish to go to
Heaven rise to your
feet, all got up except one little boy over in the corner, the preacher said why Johny, I am
surprised a nice little boy like you, don't you want to go to heaven- sure I do replied the
boy, but not with that bunch. Well , I do not feel like this boy, I feel that 75 % of those
present are personal acquaintances and mostly friends- and I am more than glad I'm here.
Our friend, Glen Johnston is deserving much credit for the work done
to maintain this
Soldiers and Sailors organization and arrangeing so good a program. it is only to be
regretted that he should fall down the last minute in substituting for Comrad Dow.
Away back when there was no straight roads to Allegan and the main road
by Norwood School and Dewing Camp and you had to have a guide to make sure you
would not get lost and the trip took two days I might have sat down on a log and told a
story or possibly got up before the few natives at that time and made a few remarks.
But everything is changed now , circumstances and condititons are different.
A man said to his son, boy why don't you get out and find a job? When
I was your age I
was getting 30 dollars a week in a grocery store and in 5 years I owned the place. The
boy looked up at his father and said Dad you can't do that these days , they have all got
cash registers now.
Yes everything is changed.
Now when you stand before an audience you are looking in the faces of
professors-County and State officials- and many other qualified in every way to give
interesting and instructive talk on and subject.
We all regret that Comrad Dow could not have again given the welcomeing
the few remaining Grand Army Boys- the WRC-The Sons of Veterans-Legionaries-
Veterans of Foreign Wars-Spanish War Veterans- Ex Soldiers Club- Local Citizens and
He would be glad of the attendance- glad to see so many enjoying and
perpetuating the event.
We look back to the time when John H Andrews Grand Army Post # 288 was
at its best
in this locality with scores of members, and on decoration day there was a line of march
of hundreds to the Cemeteries. When we kept step with Henry and Enoch Gillispie, Mr.
Harrington and the rest with fife and drum.
Those were the days.
But as the boy said this has all changed.
I have a register of the names of the Grand Army Boy of that time and
they could always
be depended on to get out and do things on occasions like this.
I cannot take time to name them all, many of you will remember always seeing at
these picnics Comrads Henry and Enoch Gillispie, O.P. Carmon-Emerson Demming -
*A.D. Parker- Laraway-Sands-Osborn-Hess-Hurlbut-Hoag-Shoemaker-Potter-
Dalrymple-Thomas-Burkhead-Dunn-Hoisington- Gardner-Marshall- Corwin-Holmes-
Smith-Breidenstine-W.W. Warner- Raplee-Nash-Giles-Rodgers- Cady-Jewel and many
Today the ranks have depleted until we have only Comrad Dow our worthy President and
Isiah Reames of Casco- Arthur E. Van Pelt and John Eitel of Geneva in the nearby
Jeb Jones of Cheshire.
In the pages of the records of John H. Andrews Post we find many items
of Interest. On
March 10 th 1890, Comrad Thomas was elected delegate to the State Encampment at
Adrain, Comred Demming as alternate.
Apr 12th 1890 a vote of thanks to Dr. Hurlbut and Burkhead for a flag presented
to the Post. and here is the flag after more than 44 years of service. and it has no doubt
decorated more caskets containing the bodies of departed soldiers than any flag in the
State. And will perhaps be called in to service again.
on Apr 25th 1890 Dr. Hurlbut-Burkhead-Kennedy were named as a committee for
decoration day services.
Feb 21st 1891 the Post voted money to aid the WRC in getting their Charter.
Dec 27th 1890 - a motion carried to send one dollar to Macon, Georgia to help the
comrads pay for Prison Pen indebtedness, and improvements on same.
Moved and supported that adjutant send and get 25 lapel GAR buttons, 20 transfers and
IO discharges, 25 applications, and 6 regulation badges.
Since these days the automobile came which took the country folks to
the City and put
the city folks in close touch with the country.
We can get to these gatherings much easier and quicker which should
interest in making them a success.
Everybody in a hurry, everybody glad to go, but some one has to do a
lot of work to bring
it all about.
You remember way back when the chug chug of the one lung automobile
could be heard
for a block and some one hearing it would give the alarm and everybody would run for
their horses and drive behind the buildings and in the alleys to avoid a run away, and cuss
because the law allowed such a (dam) deleted-blooming thing on the road.
And after more got to driving cars the conversation at the corner grocery
something like this, Well sir I drove to South Haven today and never shifted gears but
once, that was up the river hill.
Bill Decker said I drove to South Haven to day and right down there
by Charlie Peases I
struck a good piece of road and I had her wide open and a machine came up behind me
and went by like a flash, Gosh, I bet she was going 25 miles and hour.
The same with the trains no air breaks cars connected with a link and
pin. I remember
comeing from Kalamazoo one day with a conductor by the name of Odekirk in charge of
the train. When we were nearing Kendalls a number of shrill whistles indicated that
cattle were on the track and the train had to slow down and the cattle driven off, 25 miles
further down as we were leaving Grand Junction the same thing occurred. and as the
conductor rushed down the isle of the car to put on the breaks a jovial passenger said to
him , well I declare Odekirk you have overtaken them darned cattle again haven't you.
This all goes to show how things have changed, and in our hurry and
bustle we must not
forget to slow down enough to pause and assist in careing for the needs of the community
and our fellow man, deleted(there by fitting ourselves to greet then a country where war
in not known.)
These men in whose memory we are here today sacrificed , fought
and died to bring
about a condition whereby all men could be equal and this great nation of ours could be a
free and peaceful country in which to live. and the result so far as the aim and object is
concerned was entirely satisfactory. But before we could recover from the financial and
other disastrous conditions in which we were placed along came the world war which
took its toll of millions, and thousands and thousand of our best young men still in
hospital , life sufferers, and the nation so burdened with debt that it is a grave question as
to what the result will be.
And after all this the world in a turmoil to day and seething for a
grater war than ever,
Here its labor, there its finance or foreign interests. One Country, one class demanding
this, One country , one class demanding that.
There is being thrown about at this time all kinds of propaganda to
educate and influence
you and I. That in the future we may have been moulded and got in form ready to agree
and vote with and for these money-mad fiendish war devils that we should again go to
You and I are today tolerating - standing for- voting for- doing things
that not longer ago
than the world war we would organized and charged against many things then considered
a menace to society, which are becomeing and some are lawful to day. On our coins we
find " in God we trust" our constitution is based on the fact that God is the overruling
power, God says there should be no war, but peace on earth and good will to men.
If we as a Nation, and as Individuals, would stamp the same motto on war we do on our
coins there would be no more murderous wars.
We are today celebrating the 42 th anniversary of the Soldiers and Sailors
Western Allegan and Van Buren counties. we have parades of Veterans, Drum Corps,
Ball Games, Sports, and Speaker and plenty of eats and everybody out for a good time.
That we may not forget the old Comrades of 61 Who made this all possible. Now its
about as hard to know how to close as it was to know how to start.
And I feel as a man once did whom I knew. He was out with a party having
a good time
and after a quartet had sung the hymn "Nearer My God to Thee" Some one proposed he
lead in prayer which he did, and with other things he ask God to forgive them the wrings
they had done and to take them safely to their homes and if it had come from the heart it
would really been a good prayer, but when he come to the Amen he seemed to be lost,
hesitated a second and concluded by saying
Now folks** you may have listened to an address of welcome for an hour
and a half by
some one capable of using the time in an interesting and educational way. but I assure
you that you have not been welcomed more heartily than you are at this time by President
Comrad Henry Dow, the ones who prepared this program and your humble servant. With
sympathy for Floyd who has to respond.
I thank You.
Submitted by Jerry Clark