Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
History Quarterly Digital Archives

Source: 1942 Volume 5 Number 1, Pages 7–9

The Paoli Branch of the American Red Cross

Ruth D.L. Mansley

Page 7

The one-story, frame building, known to the people of this community as "the Berwyn Public Library" has been the center of various activities since its erection some years ago. As a library many people have had the pleasure of reading a great number of books that are well taken care of by the present librarian. The library was formerly used as a school, accommodating those pupils for whom there was no room in the larger school just a few yards away. This latter building was demolished a few years ago.

Today the "Library" is the scene of many and varied activities, all related to the work of the Red Cross. Under this organization many changes in the building have taken place. The exterior has been painted an attractive color; the rooms have been made larger or smaller according to the use to which they have been put; an efficient heating plant has made the building comfortable for those working there; a telephone exchange has been placed in the corridor in order to facilitate important communication.

In regard to the Red Cross, those taking part are divided into groups - sewing, surgical, first aid, canteen, motor, and a number of others. Each day a group of sewers meet under its respective leader to sew for men, women, and children at home and abroad. The churches of Berwyn have become interested in this work, and each sponsors a number of women that meet regularly to sew.

Up to the present time, many garments have been made which are attractive as well as practical. A few months ago, an exhibition of the work done was shown in the windows of a number of shops in Berwyn - such as warm garments for babies, snow suits for children, skirts and dresses for women, and convalescent robes for men. The articles ready for shipment are too numerous to mention. However, it tells the story of the fine work the women of the Paoli Branch have produced.

Other groups particularly to be mentioned are, first, those who work in the canteen. Training in this service began over six months ago, and the women taking part have been providing lunches three days a week to volunteers in other services at the headquarters in Berwyn. Upon completion of the first canteen course, the graduates gave a supper in the fire house, which is across from the Red Cross building. Over two hundred dollars were raised and this sum was used, not only to furnish the necessities for the kitchen, but to provide a mobile canteen; this being the first to be operated by any branch of the Southeastern Chapter of the American Red Cross, it is the particular pride and joy of the Paoli Branch of the Red Cross Volunteers.

Page 8

Volunteers in this branch are being trained for disaster work. On a cold day in early winter the trainees were given practical experience in the field in this work. It proved to be most valuable to the ones taking part. The mobile unit is sufficiently equipped with stove, food conveyer, and utensils to feed one hundred people at a time.

The "Rescue Squad" is another important group. It is made up of eight men and a leader. There are three units in this particular group - one in Berwyn, another in Paoli, a third in Malvern. The volunteers in "Rescue Squad" take no part in other defense work. Gas masks, helmets, picks and shovels, crowbars, and a trailer form a part of their equipment. Their needs are not complete, but the men hope that they will be supplied before the time when they shall need them.

There are other courses; for instance, Home Nursing, at the Tredyffrin-Easttown High School, in Berwyn; Nurses Aid Course, Grey Ladies Course of five weeks at the Chester County Hospital; Staff Assistance at the Red Cross headquarters in Berwyn; Motor Mechanics at Matthew's Garage, Paoli.

An event of some importance occurred on a Monday in December, 1941, when an ambulance was presented to the Paoli Branch of the Red Cross in Berwyn. The acceptance of the ambulance before a large crowd of spectators was most impressive. The ambulance is for the use of the community and Chester County. It will be kept in the Paoli Fire House and it will be for use in any emergency.

Altogether the activities at the library and the one time school house are a part of the great service the women of Berwyn and nearby communities are willing to give to their country to uphold its power and strength.

"We are not here to play, to dream, to drift; We have hard work to do, and loads to lift."

Paoli Red Cross ambulance

Page 9

In the foregoing modest and comprehensive resume of the current activities of the local branch of the American Red Cross, Mrs. Mansley, a volunteer worker in that organization and our Club's secretary, has left us little to add for the information of our readers.

How did this highly efficient organization get its name of the "Paoli Branch" of the Red Cross? In answer to this often repeated query, it is our impression that the original Paoli Red Cross operated during the First World War in the old Jackson Tavern, subsequently better known as the Windmill House or the Paoli Tea Room, on the Lincoln Highway, and that a branch was established at Berwyn in the old public school building, since demolished.

This branch seems to have survived after the parent organization had ceased to exist. Thus the saucy brat of many years ago became the lusty mother of an incredibly numerous family of Uncle Sam's patriotic and unpaid workers. Thank heaven that there are so many of his nieces willing and eager to give rather than to take from the Government.

Under the efficient leadership of the retiring chairman, Mrs. Alfred P. Lohmann, the total volunteer hours of work for 1941 reached 20,838. The present officers are Mrs. G. Brinton Lucas, chairman; Mrs. Richard McHeely, vice chairman; Mrs. John Lisle, secretary; and Mrs. Joseph W. Sharp, Jr., treasurer; and there are a host of unselfish volunteer workers who are carrying on the work with accelerated dispatch and increased production. Truly the building presents the appearance of a hive of honey bees in buckwheat blossom time. May their good work follow them.

To form some idea of the extent of the organization, we cite a few figures: The Rescue Squad has 28 members; the Motor Corps has 27 drivers and 4 officers, and a total of 35 volunteers are listed who will provide cars and drivers in any emergency. There are listed 581 volunteers for sewing and surgical dressing groups, excluding those taking courses, to the number of over 300 individuals. And as to providing their own uniforms, the young ladies, and some of the older ones, fairly eat it up.


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