This article appeared in the City of Dayton Annual Report for 1942, pages 14-17
The Soldiers’ Service Club
by Mrs. W. B. Mansur
Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, at a meeting which included the City of Dayton’s Recreational Director and several heads of the Dayton Defense Council, it was decided that there should be a recreation center for enlisted men. It was agreed that this would be a work of particular interest to women, and a task they alone could successfully accomplish. The present Chairman was then appointed and the following day called a meeting of the officers of women’s civic groups, others with sons in military service, and others from various sections of the city. To this representative group of ladies was unfolded the plan and purpose of the meeting and they agreed to undertake the work of establishing and financing such a worth while program.
On December 19, 1941, the Soldiers’ Service Club opened in Christ Church Parish House with a Christmas party. Every soldier who came to the party was given a present from donations made by interested citizens. For the first few months the Club’s attendance averaged about two hundred men, and soon the Parish House was overtaxed to handle the steadily increasing attendance. Then came April 6, Army Day, when the Soldiers’ Service Club moved into its present and more adequate quarters. The City Commission had seen the need for enlarged facilities and with funds derived from the drive for scrap materials, that portion of the Municipal Building formerly uses as a gymnasium was made ready for “Open House Night.” Every patriotic organization in Montgomery County was represented and each soldier there was given an American flag in commemoration of the occasion. The Mayor of Dayton made the welcoming address on behalf of the City; the Attorney-General of the State of Ohio gave the principal address. Congratulatory letters and telegrams were received from all of Ohio’s Congressmen, and from the Governor of the State of Ohio. The Commandant of Patterson Field was represented and opening night saw the large and commodious rooms filled to capacity.
The service of hospitality afforded here was extended to 13,229 [p. 14] [Photo: A BROADCAST FROM THE SOLDIERS’ SERVICE CLUB] [Photo: A CORNER IN THE SOLDIERS’ SERVICE CLUB] [p. 15] members of our Armed Forces in October of this year, a short ten months from the time this noble band of women first sensed the need and importance of this particular type of war effort. They have provided a home for these men, a place to go any day or evening, a place of cordial hospitality, much appreciated as evidenced by the many, many letters received from young men who have been our guests, men now in foreign service. One boy wrote, “When I was in Dayton I felt just as though I were in my own home and Mom would wonder where I was if I didn’t show up at meal time.” Many more have said that when the war is won they would make Dayton their home. Yes, Dayton will live in the memories of these men as a city of hospitable, generous people. Later on, in the business lives of these men, fond memories and good wishes are bound to react favorably to the City of Dayton and all products which carry the mark “Made in Dayton, Ohio.”
Senior and Junior Hostesses have given over 25,000 hours of their time throughout the year, both day and night. Sandwiches and hot liquids are served each day a noon; a light supper is served daily between the hours of five and seven o’clock every evening; and on Sundays a full course dinner is served in the evening, as may be provided by various Clubs and other organizations who wish to be of service to the men in uniform. All food is free and only soft drinks served from commercial dispensers are paid for by the men in uniform. Dancing is provided with music furnished by visiting bands and local talent. There are rest rooms, lounges, showers, laundry, a game room and counselor room where spiritual guidance may be had by anyone from a minister of his choice. Voice recordings are also made on special occasions. Any soldier may make a recording for mailing to his mother, wife, or sweetheart.
The welfare and wishes of the soldier are considered of first importance in all the activities of the Club. No activity is ever forced upon them. Any person wishing to ask soldiers for Sunday meals is urged to stop at the Club and take his guests to and from there. An information desk with competent persons in charge is always available. They will assist others in planning for special occasions such as holiday parties, birthdays, and other special affairs.
As a tribute to the good citizens of Dayton and vicinity, it should be know that the management of the Soldiers’ Service Club has never asked for money, equipment, [p. 16] or personal service for the soldiers without an immediate and generous response. This unanimous community spirit of all working together for the good of the cause is reflected in the very atmosphere of the Club. Neither can we overlook the magnificent work of that volunteer group of women who serve as a committee in the administration of the Club. Their work has been arduous and responsible, with no recompense other than the thought that they may have made the way easier for the soldier passing our way, and in so doing have helped him to be of greater service to his Country. [Photo: Sewn banner with military insignia, a large “V”, “76” and “city of Dayton Employees in Service” lettering] [p. 17]