A Look Back in Time: Centralia Hailed as ‘Well Prepared’ for a Potential World War II Attack


Centralia Defense Coordinator Lloyd B. Dysart touted Centralia’s defensive preparedness in case of a Japanese attack on the city during a March 1942 Kiwanis Club meeting.

World War II was in full swing during the time, and Centralians were eager for an assessment of the city’s defensive capabilities, as many feared a land invasion from the Pacific.

“Centralia is as well prepared to civilian defense as any city of its size in the Pacific Northwest,” Dysart told the Kiwanians, adding that civilian defense organizations take time to set up, and the city’s units would see steady improvement in the following months.

He asserted that a Japanese invasion was not imminent, but that preparation for that eventuality was the best practice for the citizenry.

“Dysart said that although during the opening days of the war hundreds of Pacific Northwest residents lived in fear of invasion and sudden evacuation of the general populace, he explained the public should not expect evacuation until the nation’s fleet is lost and actual invasion by the enemy is imminent,” reported The Chronicle. “He said that beyond a general plan, no arrangements have been made for evacuation from Centralia.”

The defense coordinator went on to point out that Centralia had no major war industries, but it should presently step up its aggressiveness toward the goal of securing a number of small industries for the nation’s defense.

Dysart added that a military airfield was potentially in the works for a site in Grand Mound, and indicated that it could be built and put into operation quicker than any similar project in Southwest Washington.

Centralia had 75 auxiliary police officers under George Lange, 60 auxiliary firefighters under Walter Ryckman and 200 air-raid wardens under James W. Davis.


March 26, 1932:

• Easter Sunday was just around the corner during the final week of March 1932, with Centralia’s official observance of the holiday set to begin at 5:45 a.m. in a sunrise service. Participants were set to meet at 5:15 a.m. at the Methodist church to be transported to the event. An invocation was scheduled to be done by Edith Roff; singing would be conducted by H.K Ghormley; devotionals would be led by Elsie Fox; special music would be performed by the Victory Quartet; and a special address was set to be delivered by Napavine’s James O. Wiles.

• An effort to bring more relief to unemployed individuals was in the works in Centralia during March 1932. The movement saw representatives from the city’s various service clubs attending a meeting at city hall on the subject.

• Centralia High School was the site of a special concert put on by the institution’s musical department, complete with selections from the band, the boys’ and girls’ glee clubs and a mixed quartet, which was composed of Jacqueline Wolfson, Harriet Neely, Fred Burdette and Royal Kiely.

• Lillian Draney was in legal trouble as she faced charges of possession of liquor during the U.S. prohibition of alcohol. Draney was ultimately found not guilty, though the jurors took out seven ballots, with the first vote coming in at eight to four in favor of Draney’s acquittal. She had been accused of possession of three gallons of liquor, which police officers allegedly found beneath the house Draney rented from T.H. Ramsaur.

• Centralia YMCA Secretary H.K. Ghormley, who was forced to take a leave of absence due to the organization's lack of funding, presented on the organization’s status at the parish home of the Episcopal church. “He will be present at the meeting Wednesday night to tell of the work of the past year and explain how a skeleton organization can be carried on until the community’s finances are in better shape,” reported The Chronicle.

• Mary C. Holland, then 68, a 23-year resident of Centralia, died March 25, 1932, at her 614 N. Pearl St. residence. Holland’s husband and two sisters survived her.

• A seven-room, partly modern house with an electric pump on 1 acre in the Parkland District was listed in The Chronicle for $830. The lister was asking for a $500 down payment.


March 26, 1942:

• The Red Cross War Relief Drive in Lewis County during World War II, which was conducted from December 1941 to February 1942, raised $10,844 and 22 cents. The largest single donation amounted to $620 and 50 cents.

• The community bond initiative to purchase a Curtis P-40 Army pursuit plane raised enough money to buy the aircraft and also put $2,955 and 90 cents toward the purchase of a 37-millimeter, anti-aircraft gun that was set to be presented to Battery F, 205th Coast Artillery, which was the city’s own Army unit.

• Roy Neer, Chehalis High School student, won top honors in a district speaking contest with Future Farmers of America the previous Thursday.

• John Panesko was elected as the Chehalis Elks Lodge’s “exalted leader” on March 26, 1942. Panesko succeeded George Nowadnick, who served in the capacity during 1941.

• A Pontiac Sedan was listed in The Chronicle’s classified section for $100 and a Ford Coupe was listed for $125.

• Chester A. McMoore, of Centralia, and Ona McDonald, of Chehalis, applied for a marriage license at the Lewis County Auditor’s Office.


March 26, 1952:

• A group from the Lewis County Planning Council was set to go on a tour of the Cowlitz Power Dam construction site the following Tuesday, which was to be led by Tacoma City Light. The tour’s purpose was for participants to see the “vast” scope of the planned hydroelectric project. The group, the Associated Organizations' Planning Council, was headed by Henry Bouchard.

• Royden V. Wagner Jr., 29, had confessed to the burglary of Garbe’s Tavern in Chehalis the previous Monday but added another confession to his list of transgressions the following day. “In the second confession, he admitted burglarizing the Grange warehouse in Chehalis on Jan. 12, 1951, of about $350 worth of tools, tires and oils,” reported The Chronicle.

• The City of Chehalis purchased a new pumper for the fire department. The unit had a cost of about $24,000, but the purchase was subject to rigid performance tests. If the pumper passed the tests, it was scheduled to begin operating the following weekend.

• The Lewis County Republicans were set to hold a convention on May 3, 1952, at the Chehalis Civic Auditorium, where they were to discuss the presidential candidacy of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Senator Robert Taft and Harold Stassen.

• The City of Centralia and Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company were locked in a battle over local taxes. Centralia had recently charged Pacific Telephone with its first bill under the city’s street use tax, which the company objected to.

• Construction of a new Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company building in Napavine was set to cost about $40,000.

• At the Fox Theater, the film, “Invitation” was set to be shown at 7:22 p.m. and 10:32 p.m., while “Cimarron Kid” was scheduled for 8:47 p.m.


“A Look Back in Time” appears in every Saturday edition of The Chronicle.