Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lorain Ground Observer Corps PD Article 1954

Yesterday I featured a vintage postcard of the old Coast Guard Station in Lorain (above). If you look closely at the circled portion on the postcard, you might recognize the tower that was later located behind the old city hall and used by Lorain's Ground Observer Corps as part of the cvil defense effort.

I wrote about this tower a few times in the blog, including this post, which included an interesting article about the volunteers who took turns manning the tower in the 1950s to keep an eye out for enemy aircraft.

Well, here is another great article about Lorain's Ground Observer Corps, this time from the Cleveland Plain Dealer Pictorial Magazine of June 27, 1954. It also mentions how and why the tower ended up being used by the Ground Observer Corps.


Sky Watcher Doubles as "Matchmaker"

Forest J. Greenshields.
Man of the Year," he's director of the
Lorain Ground Observer Corps,
auditor-tax consultant, pilot
and "Dan Cupid."
Lorain's Forest J. Greenshields is a man who has played many roles.

The shiny-scalped ex-marine of World War I, selected recently as the steel city's "Man of the Year," has added still another – that of "Dan Cupid" – as director of the Ground Observer Corps.

Greenshields' chest swells, too, when he tells you his G. O. C. unit is one of the finest in the nation and one of a handful of those still on 24-hour duty since their inception on July 14, 1952.

Surprisingly enough, Lorain's observation post was one of 500 set up in Ohio two years ago when the cold fact of Russia's capabilities of bombing United States cities was made known. Ohio was among the 27 states alerted to maintain around-the-clock sky watches.

Today, though, Lorain's post under Greenshields is believed to be the lone 24-hour unit in Ohio. Within three months it received the air force's first unit citation for the Buckeye State.

When the post was first organized, Greenshields, an auditor and tax consultant in private life, obtained use of the roof of the Lorain Eagles Building and with donated materials and labor erected a heated, glass-enclosed structure.

Recruiting personnel from all walks of life, Greenshields signed up 147 observers from among steelworkers, teenagers, mothers, grandmothers and veterans. It was then that Greenshields' "Cupid" role came into being.

Dan's arrow once again found its mark when Miss Ann Miller, now chief observer in charge of the night shift, began dating George A. Gall, another observer. Gall, a brakeman with the Lake Terminal Railroad at Lorains' sprawling National Tube Co., scanned the heavens from noon to 4 p. m. once a week. Miss Gall served the next four hours. They first met last December, have been dating since March and expect to be married within a few weeks.

In between loving glances the observers spot and report all jet and multi-engined aircraft. As soon as such an aircraft is observed, it is logged, then reported to the air force filter center at Canton. With a direct telephone line, the procedure takes but about 10 seconds – thanks to Greenshields' employment of the best possible equipment and facilities.

Recently, when the life-saving tower from the United States Coast Guard station in Lorain was removed to make way for a new small boat harbor, Greenshields obtained it for his sky watchers. A 12-foot section was added to its base and now the 42-foot tower is in operation at a new location adjacent to Lorain's antique city hall.

His observers now number only 97, but Greenshields needs more observers. He has impressed two service clubs, the Sertomas and the Lorain Civic League, so much with the importance of a constant vigil that they have each volunteered to man the tower for a four-hour period once a week.

Should Greenshields' observers ever run out of planes to report, he can solve that, too. For Greenshields – "Whitey" to his friends – has added the role of private pilot to his long list of accomplishments.

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