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Summit Nurses at the Front

perfectionThe Summit Herald of October 18, 1918 reported news from Miss Ingeborg Praetorius and Miss Elizabeth Pollock, nurses from Overlook. They had been serving at Base Hospital No. 5 in France [AKA the Harvard Unit], but were chosen to join a new unit, Mobile Hospital No. 6, American Expeditionary Forces. The Mobile Hospital was located close to the front lines, and was staffed by four surgeons, twenty nurses, and thirty men. Miss Praetorius wrote in a letter home, "Isn't it wonderful to be able to help our own Boys, almost directly they are wounded and bleeding for our Country--I am thrilled with joy from being called to go."

Ten people had died in the past week from Spanish Influenza and pneumonia. They ranged in age from 15 to 63.

The Summit Public Library relayed a request from the American Library Association: books to send to the troops overseas. The books most in demand were new novels and good Western stories, as well as titles by Zane Grey, O. Henry, Jack London, and others.

In the Classifieds: Female help wanted. Young ladies between 16 and 23 to learn telephone operating for a central office in Summit. Boy wanted, bright and at least 16, to learn the printing trade.

Due to war and sickness, women temporarily took up men's duties. Mrs. Peter J. Dunn worked an eight-hour shift as a gateman at the High Street railroad crossing where her husband had been working for several years. Miss Mary Church took on a shift as gateman at the West Summit railroad crossing where her father had been a flagman.

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Summit Militiamen Help After Munitions Explosion

big enoughThe Summit Herald of October 11, 1918 reported that the Board of Health held a special meeting with the Mayor and local physicians to discuss the influenza epidemic. There were believed to be over 200 cases of flu in Summit. The Board, which had already ordered the closing of saloons, soda fountains, and pool rooms, prohibited all public gatherings. Churches, Sunday schools, theaters, public and private schools, and the YMCA were to be closed. Mr. Carroll P. Bassett generously offered the use of the vacant Fresh Air Home on Mountain Avenue as a hospital annex for influenza and pneumonia cases, as Overlook Hospital was already overcrowded.

Company A, Summit's unit of the New Jersey State Militia, was called to emergency service on the "front line"--not in France, but in Sayreville. An accident at the Gillespie Loading Company's munitions plant set off a series of violent explosions lasting three days. About 100 people were killed, and many more injured. Thousands fled their homes, and took refuge in neighboring communities. In Summit, 25 miles away, buildings shook, and windows cracked in the East Summit school.

The Federal Food Administration announced that sugar permits were no longer being issued for canning. Housewives were informed that fruits could be canned using hot water instead of syrup.

The Library has a searchable database of local historical newspapers. Search or browse at:

Pageant Cancelled Because of Flu Fears

skinnayThe Summit Herald of October 4, 1918 reported that the people of Summit were more than halfway to their goal to raise $768,000 for the Fourth Liberty Loan. An elaborate pageant by the schoolchildren was scheduled for Liberty Day (October 12), but had to be cancelled. The health authorities were afraid that there was too much risk of infection from Spanish Flu at such a large public gathering.

Other plans for Liberty Day/Columbus Day remained on the calendar. The Order of Independent Figli Italia planned a parade of about 150 people in the afternoon, including the Summit Municipal Band. The Fire Companies of Summit scheduled a block dance on Bank Street, with the proceeds going to a fund to purchase Christmas presents for Summit men serving overseas.

Clocks were to be turned back one hour on the last Sunday of October, according to the Daylight Saving Act which was passed in March, 1918.

The Red Cross announced they were in need to volunteers for their work rooms, to assemble 5,000 contagious-ward face masks to be shipped overseas.

In the Classifieds: Lost, a pair of blue pants. Return to A.C. Baker, tailor. Lost, a lady's gold watch, inscribed December 30, 1890. Help Wanted: A chauffeur/gardener. Must have deferred qualification in the draft. Girl wanted: Must be able to operate typewriter.

The Library has a searchable database of local historical newspapers. Search or browse at: