Portville in WWII
The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
17 Maple Avenue
Portville, NY 14770

www.portvillehistory.org
Portville Helps Win the War
by Ruth Bixby Bray

Portville went to war.  Mothers sent their sons and daughters.  Wives sent their husbands.  Little
children were kissed goodbye by their Daddies.

That's not all they did.  The Civil Air Patrol was formed in Portville and other communities so our
coastal waters and inland areas were made safer by ever watchful cadets and leaders of the CAP.

A Victory Club was formed, working hand in hand with the Red Cross ladies.  They served by
making bandages and raising monies for War Bonds.  The Victory Club, assisted by the school
music department, raised enough dollars to buy a Jeep for the War Effort.  The ladies sent boxes
and cards of encouragement to "our boys" in the service.

Air Raid Wardens were stationed in each neighborhood.  We had our "blackouts."  I recall as a
teenager, if the word leaked out of a blackout, the young people gravitated to the Colonial to witness
that bit of excitement.

Portville learned to recycle.  We saved tin cans, scrap metal, grease, and newspapers.  Even the
children made balls of tin foil found on sticks of chewing gum and packs of cigarettes.  No matter
the age, everyone was involved.

There were those who worked in munitions plants.  There were those who lost their lives working
in munitions plants.

We had special rationing books and stamps.  Meat, sugar, butter, coffee, silk stockings, gasoline,
and automobiles, plus our shoes, were on the list.  We home folks got used to coloring oleo and
wearing ankle socks and no joy-riding.

Our Portville High School had a War day for 6th grade students and up.  We were privates in a
company with our commanding officers.  We hiked up the River Road.  It was great fun; it was
scary; it was a learning experience.

Portville did indeed go to War, young and old together, along with communities across the state and
across the country.  We did help to win the War.

How about the songs that came out of the War?  "I'll be Home for Christmas" and "I'll Be Seeing
You."  You remember.

And the people of Portville prayed in their churches; in their homes; in their work places.  Victory
was ours.

A quote I remember hearing at the time, and most recently read again, was "the will of America -
though sorely bent - was never broken."

(Written in March 1998, Ruth's story was published in the Homespun Collage in December 1998)
Portville, New York