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WWII life comes back for a weekend in Williamsport

October 13, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • World War II reenactors portray German soldiers fighting against Allied forces during Williamsport's 5th Annual WWII Weekend at the Springfield Farm Saturday.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

WILLIAMSPORT, Md. — Last month, the local focus was on the 150th anniversary of key battles in the Civil War.

This weekend, Williamsport is remembering the times of World War II. There are encampments, re-enactments, stories, music and more at Springfield Farm.

Even the comedy — a tribute to Abbott and Costello — is from the 1940s.

Driving toward the event, visitors are greeted with roadside advertising signs from the era — “Soldier/Sailor/and Marine/Now get a shave/that’s quick and clean/Burma-Shave.”

Propaganda posters were hung inside the Springfield Farm barn. One read: “When you ride ALONE you ride with Hitler! Join a Car-Sharing Club TODAY!”

Another, showing a gun and three women, read: “Loaded? Don’t Take chances with pickups! VD is not Victory. Loose Women many also be Loaded with Disease.”

Outside, Tim Cook of Hedgesville, W.Va., displayed some of the World War II memorabilia he has been collecting for 30 years, including a box of Miss Victory toilet soap and the books “Here is Your War” by Ernie Pyle and “Guadalcanal Diary” by Richard Tregaskis.

Cook said paper and ink production at the time was limited, prompting efforts to cut back or conserve. One side effect was smaller margins in books, he said.

Nearby, Garth Petersen was part of a group portraying the 30th Infantry Division’s military police from Reading, Pa.

The group had a mess tent and a field desk.

As the evening approached, Petersen set off to prepare an easy dinner for a group of men — spaghetti.

Members of a group portraying the 1st Infantry Division from Lancaster, Pa., sat together in a trench. They had their sleeping bags and K-rations ready.

William Kabel, one of the re-enactors, said that during World War II, six to 10 men would have shared a trench of that size and each would have had specific duties.

Groups portraying Germans were set up elsewhere on the grounds.

Andrew Benoit of Millsboro, Del., was dressed as a member of the 10th SS Panzer Division.

His son, Max, was portraying a Hitler youth.

As re-enactors tried to re-create the nitty gritty of war, it meant showing both the Axis and the Allies.

“It’s nice to see also what (Americans) were up against, in the big picture, and who the enemy was,” Andrew Benoit said.

In the barn, the audience laughed as the humor of Abbott and Costello came to life on stage.

The performers were Bill Riley as Bud Abbott, Joe Ziegler as Lou Costello and Jason Crutchley as Scoop Fields.

They did bits on milking cows and getting business cards.

Ziegler, as Costello, showed three comical ways that 7 times 13 would equal 28.

“That’s how the mayor keeps the books here in Williamsport,” he cracked.

The troupe concluded with the famous “Who’s on First” routine about a baseball team with unusual names.

Activities are scheduled to continue Sunday, starting at 9 a.m. There will be an Abbott and Costello tribute performance at noon, a battle scenario at 1 p.m. and a “Salute to the Veterans” performance by the Williamsport Town Band at 3 p.m.

If you go...

What: Williamsport World War II Weekend
When: Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Springfield Farm, Williamsport
For more information, call 301-223-7711.

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