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Columns

February 16, 2013

Local war service organizations began in February 1943

(Continued)

It was estimated that about 25 men could be accommodated at one time, sent here from the U.N. and chosen by Mr. Ross E. Skinner, with whom Mr. and Mrs. Clark had been associated since the outbreak of the war.

“It occurs to me,” Skinner said, “that there is nothing more worthwhile for cementing good relations between America and her Allies than the hospitality extended to servicemen while in the country. This is deeply appreciated by the men and their families as well as the nations from which they come.”

The United Service Organization Inc. had been recently formed to provide programs, services and live entertainment to United States troops and their families.

Sidney was very much a military village in 1943, being the home of the Scintilla Magneto Division of the Bendix Corp., with its thousands of defense manufacturing employees and their families. 

On Monday, Feb. 22, a new USO Community Recreation Building was dedicated, once found near the corner of Main and Bridge streets, “sandwiched between a gas station and a garage … a few yards from the Susquehanna River.” None of these buildings stand today.

Representatives of the National USO were on hand as part of the ceremony. Mayor William W. Bates spoke for the community. “Harry M. Walton, Jr., chairman of the defense recreational committee; Herman Hanni, general manager since 1925 for Scintilla magneto division; and Paul Carney, president of Ignition employes (sic) association, each brought a short message,” according to The Oneonta Star.

Dancing followed the dedication with music by Stuart Crandall and his orchestra. “Special numbers during the evening were a piano number of Clinton Taylor; a specialty dance by Margaret Schoeller, and a tap dance by Francis Smith; tap dance, ‘The Sidewalks of New York,’ by Mr. Smith and Miss Schoeller, and music by the Scintilla Wildcats.”

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