An American veteran of World War II and a German Jew whom he helped to rescue in Nazi-occupied Holland shared the stage at Granville Middle School (also in New Albany & Johnstown) yesterday to talk about their experiences and to preach the importance of tolerance. The presentation also gave students a chance to hear stories firsthand— an opportunity that is quickly fading away.
Don Jakeway, a U.S. paratrooper during the war, and Bert Jakobs, whose family had fled to Holland to avoid
persecution in Germany, only to be forced into hiding to avoid being sent to a concentration camp after the occupation, told of the Jakobs family’s ordeal and its liberation by American soldiers from Jakeway’s regiment in 1944.
Jakobs, 78, shared a room about the size of a two-car garage with four other people for more than two years while the German army controlled the country. His family ate the same meals every day: a bowl of oatmeal in the morning and potatoes and onions for lunch and dinner. They had to clean themselves with a washcloth from a basin, never brushing their teeth or changing their clothes during their confinement. But the emotional damage from missing much of his childhood was worse than the hardships in their hideout, he said. “I got married in 1956, but it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that I told my three children or wife about hiding,” Jakobs told the students. “I didn’t want to talk about it. It was like a prison sentence.”
Now living in Palm Desert, Calif., Jakobs said he would rather live in the present than the past, but as he got older, he realized the importance of sharing his story. That’s why he agreed to come to central Ohio after he was contacted a few weeks ago by Mark Easton, a New Albany resident who had met Jakeway through volunteer work with veterans.
Originally, Easton had wanted to bring together the two — who had never met — to celebrate Jakeway’s 89th birthday in January, but Jakobs said the two should use the opportunity to talk to schoolchildren about the importance of treating people as equals. “We need to create a world where people are tolerant and accept people for who they are,” Jakobs said. “To me, that’s more important than living for 25 months hiding in a room.” The two spoke in several area
schools, wrapping up with Granville yesterday before Jakobs flew home in the afternoon.
Jakeway, a Johnstown resident, knew of Jakobs because he had corresponded with Jakobs’ sister, Edith Jakobs, who was living in Israel. Jakeway was working on a book about his experiences as a paratrooper in the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division during the war. The two wrote regularly from 1986 until she died last year, he said.
Meeting her brother at Port Columbus on Wednesday was an emotional moment, Jakeway said. Listening to Jakobs speak to school groups taught him a side of the war that he had not experienced as a soldier. “I never got a chance to meet this family,” Jakeway told students yesterday. “I never remembered the homes, the houses, because we were looking for people behind them, or in the trees or bushes. There was a lot of fighting going on.” He echoed Jakobs’ call for students to be tolerant of those unlike themselves, reminding them that the Jakobs family had never harmed the Nazis who persecuted them.
Eighth-grader Dayton Steffeny, 14, said he was amazed by Jakobs’ recovery from his ordeal, and he said he is grateful that the world has changed since the Holocaust. “I think people can be cruel at times, but I think the world has gotten a lot
better,” he said.
In 1973 Villa Pizza opened its doors in Johnstown, Ohio. It was the perfect new place to pick up a six-pack of cold pop to go with a fresh Belt Buster Sub or traditional large pepperoni pizza. The new pizza was a perfect meal to enjoy while watching one of the many television shows of the day. The Waltons were a hit as well as M.A.S.H. and Columbo. The Odd Couple or the Partridge Family were always fun, and most everyone enjoyed Bob Barker’s Price is Right.
If you wanted to grab a bite before heading off to the movies, Villa had a few tables during the first few years when parking was not quite the issue as today. Perhaps that year you were some of the brave who saw the Exorcists or Deliverance. The James Bond movie Live or Let Die was a hit as was the Sting. Everyone loved American Graffiti, and Jesus Christ Superstar surprised many. Most local teens will recall hanging out in the parking lot or cruising the square listening to the great bands like Aerosmith that debuted that summer or Elton John’s new hit Crocodile Rock. The Rolling Stones had Angie and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon was a hit over night.
Nineteen seventy-three was quite a year. In January Richard Nixon started his second term as President, and the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe vs. Wade made abortions legal in the United States. The Paris Peace Accord brought an end to the Vietnam War and by February prisoners started returning home. In March the last soldier left Vietnam. Watergate was in the news daily as political shenanigans were being uncovered. The first hand held cell phone was used by a guy named Martin Cooper in New York City on April 3rd and on the 4th the World Trade Center opened in that city with a traditional ribbon cutting ceremony.
The Sears Tower in Chicago opened in May as the tallest building in the world. (Not outdone until 1998) Also in May the famed horse Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby starting her path to be the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years.
Skylab, the first space station was sent into orbit on May 11th and eleven days later Skylab II was sent up to repair it.
In July the D.E.A. was formed to combat illegal Drugs and the National Archives fire at Saint Louis destroyed thousands of WWI soldier’s records. In September Mrs. Billy Jean King defeated Bobbie Riggs in the tennis match known as the battle of the sexes. Watergate news continued and the Endangered Species Act went into effect in December to end the year.
The average income in 1973 was $12,900.00 and the cost of a gallon of gas was 40 cents, five cents less than a dozen eggs. The average new house cost $32,500.00 but inflation that years soared to 6.16% as OPEC reduced oil distribution causing gas to soar 200%. A Large Peperoni Pizza at the new Villa Pizza in Johnstown that summer was $2.95 and a small eleven-inch was $1.95.
June 29, 2013 – COUNTRY tour includes Bigelow Cemetery, Eder Dairy, homes of H. B. Rusler and William Ashbrook, Babcock Library and Green Hill Cemetery. Read More at: http://www.downtownjohnstown.org/bicentennial-1813-2013.html
by Terry A. Priest
All the alumni of Johnstown-Monroe High School can look forward to this year’s
gathering at the High School Gym on June 8. The doors will open at 5:30 and dinner will be served about 6 pm or so. The program will include the traditional format of honoring the fifty year class, The Class of 1963. Other classes will be recognized as well. Three and four generation families of JHS graduates should make it a point to gather for this event. All will be videotaped and become a part of the Bicentennial School History dvd that is going to be available probably next spring or perhaps by the end of this year.
Encourage your classmates to make a point of attending this year’s event. At this time the Johnstown Historical Society is looking to complete its collection of graduation programs. We have those from 1944, ‘45, ’47, ‘48, ‘51, ‘56, ‘57, ’58, ‘63, ‘64, ‘66, ‘67, ‘69. and 1970 – 2102. If the graduation program you have somewhere is in black and white, you can loan it to us, we will make a replica and return the original to you.
Another collection we have is graduation invitations. We have 1942, ’44, ’61, ’74, ’78, 2009, and 2010. If you have any of the ones we are missing, we would love to have them.
Surprising as it may seem, we have more of the really older graduation invitations, programs, and souvenirs. Let us know if you have one not from this list:
1894, 1900, 1911, 1912, 1914, 1915, 1919, 1921, 1922, 1925, and 1927. You will note that these were held at the Opera House because the old Academy on Kasson and College had no large area to observe these events. After 1927, all graduation events were held in the new High School on Maple and Oregon.
Graduation and Class Reunion pictures and directories. are always worth preserving. Any old school photos (grade school composites too) are welcomed. We also collect programs from plays, banquets, and special events. If you are not sure, contact 740-967-8721. Be included.