100 YEARS AGO: The Union reports the Armistice
The report of the Armistice, authenticated by the U.S. War Department, arrived over the wire and tripped a series of bells in The Union offices shortly after midnight on Monday, Nov. 11, 1918. The newspaper staff learned the news by telephone about 1 a.m. and by daylight the streets of Grass Valley were abuzz.
Crowds assembled outside The Union offices in Grass Valley and Nevada City to read the posted wire reports. The Associated Press told the story: “The greatest day in the history of nations has dawned. The German militarist classes, arrogant beyond expression, are in defeat.”
The newspaper also posted President Wilson’s statement: “The Armistice was signed this morning. Everything for which America has fought has been accomplished. It will now be our fortunate duty to assist by example, by sober friendly counsel and by material aid in the establishment of just democracy throughout the world.”
The towns of the foothills resounded with toots, whistles, exploding firecrackers and shouts of “Hang the Kaiser!” A local reporter wrote: “Virtually the whole day and a good part of the night were devoted to celebration.”
In Nevada City, a celebration sprung up as if by magic, an impromptu procession, led by the improvised band, marching through the streets. Merchants and citizens and parents and children joined the parade, along with groups of Scouts, Elks, Native Sons and Red Cross volunteers. Flags of various sizes and fabrics hung in shop windows or draped from balconies.
As the marchers passed the Chinese quarter the residents beat lustily on drums and joined the throng. The assembly of more than 1,000, the newspaper said, marched through town, “the happiest bunch that ever trod the pavement.”
After passing a second time before the National Hotel, the exuberant assembly began to dissolve when a possession of automobiles from Grass Valley came speeding across the Pine Street Bridge.
In the lead car merchant Charles E. Clinch sat surrounded by flags and with a large picture of President Wilson on the prow. A new parade began with fire trucks and the largest number of cars ever seen on Broad Street, many with flags and streamers.
As the president’s picture passed, spectators on the sidewalks erupted into cheers.
The Union said: “Nowhere in the land was there more real, loyal, and enthusiastic spirit.”
Gage McKinney, who lives in Grass Valley, is the author of “The 1930s: No Depression Here,” “MacBoyle’s Gold” and other books. Visit http://www.gagemckinney.com for information.
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