Immediately upon the beginning of the year the quest6ion of relief came up. We had a representative on the Relief Committee. This committee decided that a series of entertainments should be turned over to the Relief Store. The Roman Catholic Church staged a boxing show and turned in profits of over two hundred dollars. Other churches and organizations followed and profits ran half that figure. When it came the turn of the Post, their committee solicited the advice and aid of Father Meade. He came to the front and the committee in charge of the event took his advice. With his cooperation a boxing show was advertised and tickets spread all over town. The High School auditorium was secured for the event. On many occasions the Post had used the High School auditorium and it had been found that that was one place it was impossible to fill. For some reason or other the people would not attend a function there. However this handicap was overcome by an intensive ticket sales campaign. It might be mentioned that Father Meade came to the front again and advised his people that if they couldn't buy a ticket and put anything in the church collection that week, to let the collection go and buy the ticket. The event went over in fine style and the records of the Post show that $250.00 were turned over to the Relief Committee. No other group had equaled this amount.
Relief work continued through out the year. The Post as usual concentrating on the care of ex-servicemen. One event that affected the members as citizens of the community might be mentioned. During the winter there was a heavy snow fall and the unemployed who had been receiving aid from the Community Store were asked to aid in clearing the streets. Many of them refused. Those who were willing had already gone to work and so the best element among this group were not present when the request was made. Those who would not work anyway were there and they refused. There might have been reasons for their refusal, however nerves through out the country were on edge and this refusal brought about a wave of resentment in the village. Public opinion resented the action and the Relief Store was closed, Special activities ended and relief measures by volunteer contributions suffered a set back from which they never recovered.
It has been the policy through out this history to devote space only to new activities or to stress those old ones only when they have a new bearing on community life. Thus while there is no mention of the routine carrying on of the activities of the Post, it is well to bear in mind that committees functioned and all the multitudinous duties were being carried out by the various officers even though no mention is made in these pages after they were once started.Two new activities were undertaken this year. Although the two activities were separate and distinct they had some connection in that both concerned children of the village.
Charles Dyer presented a proposition to the Post that it sponsor a "YOUTH WEEK" observance. The idea met with the approval of the Post and a committee was selected to carry on the work. At the same meeting the idea of an organization was brought up that the Post start a junior organization for the sons of the members. M.E.Stevenson was appointed chairman of this committee. A plan was worked out and the Junior Legion got under way.
The Junior Legion was organized in March of 1933. Fifty boys were invited to be present. Meetings were held every other Wednesday and the first two meetings were taken up in practice in marching so that they could take part in the Youth Week Parade. During that year the boys appeared in three parades and also went on a camping trip. In June a group of men consisting of Don Mitchell, Bill Grosrenaud, Ben Diener, Harold Clarke and myself took twenty eight boys to the forest preserve north of Naperville. Through the aid of L.L.Meyer, eighteen pup-tents had been borrowed from the National Guard. Twenty-one of the boys had never spent a night out of doors before. They ranged in age from six to thirteen. The expedition went out on Friday morning, spent that day and night and Saturday morning there. Don Mitchell took charge of swimming, Bill Grosrenaud handled the grounds and tents, Clarke took care of games and drills, Diener checked up on th3e meals. All cooking had to be done over an open fire. The boys were delivered back to their homes on Saturday afternoon and without exception turned in and slept soundly until Sunday morning. The trip proved conclusively to the committee in charge of the organization that the Junior Legion could be made a going concern. It would have the advantage of every other boys club in that an adequate supply of adult aid and direction could always be found.
Under Mr. Dyer's direction the Youth Week celebration went ahead for the first week in May 1933. The week opened with a parade in which schools cooperated.The residents of the village had never realized how many children there were in the town. When that parade stretched the lenght of Main Street they awoke to the fact that the youth were an important element in the town. Unfortunately there was no musical organization in the town. But at this juncture Karl Knapp introduced the Villa Park Post Drum and Bugle Corps to contribute their services. The greatest credit should be given to these men. They hurried home from work on that Saturday afternoon, got into their uniforms and then rushed to Downers Grove. They got in just in time to furnish music for our parade. Then they thanked the committee in charge for having had the opportunity to participate in the parade of such an enthusiastic bunch of youngsters and went home to eat their long delayed dinners.
Petty crime had been on the increase in the village. Gas tanks were drained, houses were entered by sneak thieves and other petty crimes were becoming numerous. The Downers Grove Police could not be everywhere and so the services of the Post were asked. In cooperation with the chief of police some seventy men were sworn in as special policeman. They patrolled the town in pairs every evening. With due notice in the papers and with a few youngsters being brought to the police station and their parents sent for to come and get them, the epidemic of petty thievery ended. Little was actually done by those on patrol but every time some individual had it in mind to commit some lawless act he would see a couple of men walking down the street. They probably were a couple of men on their way home but the potential wrong doer didn't know that. He muttered under his breath about those"American Legion Guys" and left the contemplated deed undone. The effect was the thing and the organization founded at that time is still in existence and may be called out at any time.
During this year the National Convention came to Chicago. All that need be said in this history is that the members of ALEXANDER BRADLEY BURNS POST 80 enjoyed themselves along with the thousands of outside visitors.
The annual carnival was held in the fall and again a car was raffled off. Bill Finger was again appointed chairman in charge of this affair. He had handled the first one successfully and took over the job again.
One event of the year that was a serious loss to the Post was the death of Hawkins mother. Mrs. Hawkins had been the outstanding friend of the Post ever since it was organized. She had seen her own sons march off to war in 1917. When they returned she had been strong for the organization of an ex-serviceman's club of some sort. With the Legion she had cooperated heartily. She had been treasurer of the Auxiliary for years. She had a keen insight into the characters of the various men. Practically every commander from the first one had dropped into see her at various times to talk over his troubles. Unerringly she could put her finger on the difficulty and make suggestions that would iron out troubles and smooth rising tempers. Never was there any mention made in an open meeting of her influence. It was felt but not seen. But time after time the Commander would suggest a compromise when some question threatened to split the Post. And it was usually a suggestion that had come from Mrs. Hawkins. Succeeding officers of the Post would not be able to benefit by her aid but those who had served a term in any office knew how great the loss was.
Another new departure in the Post procedure came into effect this year.(1933) Up until this time an auditing committee had made a perfunctory examination of the books and reported everything correct. This year under the chairmanship of A.S. Fagan, a very thorough audit was made and the report of the auditing committee appears for the first time in the minutes of the final meeting. Certain very pertinent recommendations were made. The records are becoming more and more complete as the years go by.
Melvin G. Binder(1934) was elected commander for the ensuing year. Comrade Binder had been a member of the Post from the first and had been untiring in his work. Not a year had gone by that he had not contributed something to the progress of the Post. Now it is his turn to be commander.
Sadly there were no pictures to be found of the YOUTH WEEK activities of 1933. However my search for historical items of Post 80 continues and if I find more goodies I will and them. (DDW)