American Legion, NORTON POST NO. 143

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Norton, Virginia

American Legion, 1924

This Post, originally known as the Clarence V. Stidham Post, was organized in the fall of 1921, under the leadership of Major Rice M. Youell. Early in September of that year about fifty enthusiastic veterans gathered at the Hotel Norton for the purpose of putting Norton on the Legion map. Major Youell was chosen commander and Bruce Crawford was selected as adjutant and a charter was applied for and granted on September 16, 1921. The Post was without quarters and without funds for erecting or renting them, anal during 1921 and 1922 the meetings were held in the Hotel Norton. By the end of 1921 the membership had grown to about seventy-five.

For the year 1922 Major Youell was re-elected commander and O. K. Allen was chosen as adjutant. By a series of dances, plays, and other entertainments, sufficient funds were raised during the year to fit up a large room in the Town hall as Legion headquarters. Major Youell, unfortunately for the Post, was appointed superintendent of the Virginia Penitentiary about the middle of the year. His splendid work was carried out very efficiently by the vice-commander, C. J. Workinger. The membership climbed to 122.

In 1923 Joseph I. Howard became commander and L. A. Pope adjutant.  A remarkable revival of Legion activities occurred and for the first time the Post cleared up all debts and the end of the year found a considerable surplus in the treasury. Notable features - were a series of wrestling matches between some of the leading professionals of this section, the Memorial Day poppy sale and exercises, a Fourth of July celebration lasting the entire week, and a musical comedy, "Mrs. and Mr. Polly Tick," prescribed in the frill. Mr. Pope moved from Norton in September and his duties as adjutant were assumed by Henry Averill. The service officer, Dr. Glenn T. Foust, was especially active in securing action on compensation claims before the Veterans' Bureau and Mr. G. H. Walters, employment officer, was instrumental in securing positions for a number of needy ex-service men. The Post was represented by a fast basketball team under tile direction of the athletic officer, M. J. Peterson. Pool tables were installer in the Legion headquarters all soon proved to be a great help in making the hall a real gathering place for Legionaires.

For the year 1924: Mr. T. S. McKelvey, a veteran of the Spanish-American as well as the World War, was elected commander. Other officers are: H. K Molter, vice-commander; Henry Averell, adjutant; S. H. Gose treasurer; Dr. G. T. Foust, service officer; j. Al. Tucker, chaplain; H. F. Kirchner, historian; M. J. Peterson, athletic officer; V. W. Warren, sergeant-at-arms, and G. H. Walters employment officer.

Six members of the Post, including the commander and adjutant, attended the Ninth District Legion convention in Bristol, January 19th, and a fete clays afterwards.  Mr. J. J Wicker, department commander, visited Norton and made a public address on the aims and purposes of the legion. In March the Post staged another musical comedy, "Bimbo," with a cast of over 100 characters. The production was conceded to be the best ever put on in Norton, and which was a decided financial as well as artistic success. Through the efforts of Mr. McKelvey, the Legion Auxiliary which had had a brief existence in 1922 was revived and the assistance of the ladies has gone a long way toward making the meetings and other activities more successful. The annual poppy sale was put on and a neat sum realized. In April a committee from the Post visited the public schools in Norton, Dorchester and Wise and made addresses on the proper respect for the flag and distributed pamphlets on the subject. Four large American flags were purchased by the Post and presented to four schools in the vicinity on promise that these flags would be kept flying during the school year.

The Post is now in better position to be a real asset to the community than ever before. The burden of debt has been lifted and is no longer the ever present problem that it was. Energy which formerly was necessary to keep the Post alive can now be put into valuable civic work. It has been proposed that the Legion should take over the operation of the Norton Fire Department and as soon as proper arrangements can be made with the Town Council, it is thought that this will be done. The Legionaires are enthusiastic over this opportunity for service. Plans are being made for continuance of the patriotic work begun in the school this spring, and it is felt that a great work can be accomplished along this line.

To sum up, the Norton Post No. 143, having overcome the early obstacles in the path to success as a real living Legion Post, is now prepared to carry on "For God and Country."