The picture shown here will bring back to many an old time resident of Radnor township long forgotten memories of a day in June, 1917, when members of the then newly formed Wayne Branch of the American Red Cross participated in a tremendous parade in Philadelphia. This parade was part of a “whirlwind campaign” to raise three million dollars for American Red Cross work overseas, during the early days of World War I.
Representing Wayne in this parade were those who marched and those who rode on the two floats. Pictures have been carefully preserved by Miss Grace Roberts, who was one of the marchers.
A graphic story of this event appeared the following week in “The Suburban.” Participants were “60 strong, headed by the chairman, Mrs. William Henry Brooks.” In addition to local Red Cross representation there was a “detachment of Wayne Girl Scouts under the command of Miss Nancy Hallowell.”
The 9:57 train from Wayne conveyed participants in the parade to Philadelphia, where they mobilized on Spring Garden street near Broad. Marchers and floats together formed a moving group four solid blocks long as they made their way along Broad street to Rittenhouse Square, where a tremendous Red Cross rally was held.
As described in the columns of “The Suburban” of June 29, 1917, the Wayne float pictured at the head of the column “bore two groups, one allegorical, representing America extending liberty and aid to the world through the Army, Navy and Red Cross, while the other group illustrates Red Cross Social Service. The allegorical group was made up of Miss Gladys Lawton as Columbia, with her liberty staff and her shield; Miss Neail Randall as the Red Cross carrying its banner; Master John Johnson in khaki with the national flag representing the Army, and Master Thomas Willey in white naval uniform carrying the Union Jack, representing the Navy.
“On this same float the Red Cross Social Service was depicted by Miss Lillian Beatty as a Red Cross Social worker, bringing aid to a distressed family composed of Miss Marian Weckerly as the despairing mother, holding in her arms a baby (name unknown) with another child (Miss Emma Beatty) sitting wonderingly at her feet.” (Most of those mentioned in this list still live in Wayne or nearby, while others are well remembered.)
Early Friday morning, June 22, the arrangement for this float, like the one to be shown in next week’s column, were prepared in Wayne under “the enthusiastic and indefatigable supervision of Mrs. Robert G. Wilson.” After the rehearsals for position in the tableaux, participants proceeded by train to Philadelphia, while the floats made their way along Lancaster pike.
(To be continued)