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Blog post by Randi Richardson

Roughly a century ago, with the signing of an armistice by Germany, the World War ended.  The date was November 11, 1918, and that war wasn’t yet known as World War I.

At 2 AM the following morning, news of the event reached Bloomington with the blowing of locomotive whistles at McDoel yards quickly followed by the ringing of the fire alarm and the big whistles of the Showers factory.  It was music to the ears of the sleeping city that fighting was at an end.

In an unbelievably short time, people began collecting about the square, hurrying from every direction.

Only minutes earlier soundly asleep in warm beds, they now celebrated victory in the chilly air of darkness.

Within an hour a great bonfire was burning near city hall.  Soon the city band was on the streets headed by Charles Stineburg.  Then Co. F appeared.  Joined by hundreds, all marched about the streets under moonlit skies, cheering with joy, shaking hands with one another.


Armistice Day Celebration in Bloomington, November 11, 1918.  View from the southeast corner of Kirkwood and College looking northwest.  Courtesy IU Archives.

As the hundreds of employees at the Showers factory came to work, they were notified by the general manager, Edward Showers, that it would be a holiday.  At 8 AM the factory whistle sounded again and the employees formed a procession and marched uptown where Showers, from the southwest corner of the lawn, made a brief talk.  He told briefly of the great victory and congratulated the workers on their loyalty and assistance in the war work.

The Monon Shop Men, with a large banner and a flag at their head, united with the procession of workers from Showers.  Students, too, having been dismissed for the day from their classes, took part in the big parade as did members of the university’s Student Army Training Corps who were prominent in the procession.  Autos joined the hundreds of citizens on foot cheering and singing.

It was a day like no other.  One people—no politics, no church, no creed—all true-blooded American citizens happy in the victory for peace.

Throughout the day large crowds gathered around the bulletin window of the Telephone office making inquiries and reading with joy the glad tidings.  Happy fathers and mothers, sisters and sweethearts rejoiced as they thought of loved ones “over there,” in army camps and everywhere at home and abroad who would soon be marching home to the patriotic airs of peace beneath the flag they either had or were ready to defend.  No one knew just how soon the boys would be back home, but the time of “shot and shell” was over, and most assuredly they would be returning home in the near future.

As the day of celebration ended, The Daily Herald Telephone published a record of the events for posterity.  No doubt there was hope, even then, that this would be the last celebration of its kind to acknowledge America’s involvement in a World War, a war that claimed the lives of thirty-four soldiers from Monroe County.  Sadly, however that was not to be.


Comments (1)

  1. David Lemon


    Another great blog post Randi. My Grandfather, Gilbert Lemon, served during WW I in France as a medic. He did not return to the US after the war until the end of May 1919. He never really spoke of his time during the war. During the war he wrote letters back and forth with, among others, his sister Beatrice. She kept some of those letters which have been donated to the History Center.

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