1947 Friendship Train in New Jersey
by Dorothy R. Scheele
the only stop for the Friendship Train in New Jersey. Almost
all communities sent their donations to the capital to be loaded
onto the train. The southern section of the train arrived in the
state’s capital around 10:00 on November 17th. As was the case in
many similar ceremonies across the country, the clergy participated.
Prayers were offered by Rabbi S. Joshua Kohn of Adath Israel Congregation
and the Rev. Frederick J. Halloran. The invocation was delivered
by the Very Rev. Frederick M. Adams. Musicians Local No. 62, directed
by W. Radich, provided the music.
For some as
yet undetermined reason, New Jersey began its food drive very late.
Not until November 12th , five days after the train had left Los
Angeles, did the Governor and mayors begin organizing committees
and food drives. Gov. Driscoll appointed Brig. General James J.
Bowers as his representative for the Friendship Train. Spencer Miller,
State Highway Commissioner, ordered trucks to pick up donations
from any community and haul them to Trenton. James. J. Bowers sent
telegrams to municipalities, asking for donations. Leonard Dreyfuss,
chair of the Governor’s Citizens Food Conservation Committee, also
appealed to communities. Having the distinction of being the first
to respond was South Orange. The city’s donation, however, was not
Trenton itself had raised $1761 for the purchase of food which Russel
Lupo was able to buy at wholesale prices. Mr. Lupo was a member
of the finance committee as were Michael Commini and Joseph Landgraf.
Mrs. Siegfried Roebling served as chair. Trenton had also donated
enough groceries to fill half a carload.
New Jersey’s donations for the train started late, information about
the food drives is scant. In Newark Mayor Murphy’s office appointed
William S. MacDonald of the Newark Excise Board, as chairman. Irvington
Steel and Iron Works drove some of the city’s gifts to Trenton.
Dougan and Fischer bakeries sent tons of flour separately. Another
truck hauled three and one-half tons of food which had been contributed
by Elizabeth, Kenilworth, Union Township, and Colonial.
the Village Commissioners, the Citizens’ food [sic] committee [sic],
the Board of Education, and the public school faculty and students
set a goal of five tons for the Friendship Train. S. William Walstrum,
head of the Citizens Food Committee, managed the food drive. Walstrum
declared at the start of the drive that Ridgewood was known for
its generosity and quick response to direct need. “…I predict that
at least five tons of foodstuffs will go to Europe and Italy [sic]
as Ridgewood’s response to the hunger that prevails in those countries.”
The effort swung into high gear. Principals at all schools agreed
to the use of their buildings as collection depots. Local merchants
stocked as much of the required food as possible for the committee
On Friday evening
and Saturday morning, volunteer faculty and students sorted and
labeled packages. They loaded a Village truck on Saturday morning
so that it would be ready to depart at noon for Trenton where its
cargo would await loading on the Friendship Train on Monday. The
estimated weight of the truck was five tons. Ridgewood had met its
in that area which contributed were Phillipsburg where residents
took their contributions to the municipal building; Roseland and
North Caldwell sent their donations to Borough Halls; Rockaway,
Denville, Wharton, Mine Hill and Dover sent their gifts to Scott
Motor Sales Company; Westfield sent its donations to the American
Legion Home. Among other contributing municipalities were Essex
Falls, Bloomfield, Caldwell, Glen Ridge and North Arlington. How
much these towns contributed was indeterminable.
an intensive food campaign on November 10th. Every individual,
industry, club, business, and school became part of the drive. In
Moorestown, Hal Kushel set up a booth for collecting funds. The
county president of the PTA, Mrs. L. B. Stiles, called on all local
chapters to help in the schools and asked town authorities to assist.
Albert Miller, Elwood Sapp, and Robert Mayhew assisted Edwin Segal,
chairman of the Camden Friendship Train Committee. Segal spoke to
various organizations urging their support. A local Architect, Oren
Thomas, headed a committee which collected from industries. The
Mayors Association of South Jersey, representing 37 districts, created
procedures which would provide ways of collecting food and money.
The county commander
of the 40 American Legion Posts stated that the local commanders
of all posts would make house-to-house calls. More than 1,000 containers
for money collection were placed in stores, taprooms, and restaurants.
Students at Camden and Woodrow Wilson High Schools created posters
for store windows throughout the city. Other high schools participating
were Bonsall, Fetter, and Yorkship. Communities Audubon and Collingswood
raised $620 and $700 respectively. Camden’s campaign slogan had
paid off: “If you don’t give, they won’t live.” The zeal and effort
throughout the county resulted in contributions filling two boxcars.
Atlantic City sent one carload of groceries to Philadelphia
to join the train there. James V. Giammarino of Gibbstown declared
that the entire community would be canvassed that weekend. Ventnor’s
mayor Harry Hodson appointed a committee of 35 to solicit donations,
and Mayor Sylvester B. Billbrough of Paulsboro requested that the
policemen help collect money and food. In two days parochial and
public school children of Gloucester City had collected a ton of
food. Mt. Ephraim children raised enough funds to purchase 11 pounds
of sugar, 100 pounds of flour, two cases of evaporated milk, and
one carton of rice and beans. Mt. Ephraim police contributed $15
and a case of soap. Communities in Cape May County worked to raise
enough for one boxcar of food.
Train arrived in Trenton on the evening of Monday, November
17th. Welcoming ceremonies were held the next morning at the PA
Railroad Siding on East State Street. Gov. Driscoll formally presented
the Garden’s State’s gifts to Mayor Connolly who in turn presented
the railcars to the French consul general Claude Lazard and the
Italian representative Nicolai Giullis. Both men spoke to the crowd,
thanking them for their compassion and generosity.
spoke on behalf of all the Garden State’s mayors. He especially
praised public and parochial school children for having collected
more than 300 cases of canned goods. A group of children from Mrs.
Carolyn Kibble’s 4th grade class at Junior 5 had asked Drew Pearson
to take the Bible they had to children in France. Pearson promised
that he would do so.
By 10:00 a.m.
New Jersey’s donations to the Friendship Train were bound for the
waiting ships in New York harbor.
any additional information which would add to this state's
Train was the genesis for the French Merci Train. Website www.mercitrain.org has information about that train.
to Friendship Train History by State