American Legion gets new home, new name
When I drive past the American Legion posts in Northampton, Coplay, Catasauqua and Fullerton, I “remember” the Dough Boys returning home from France after World War I.
The American Legion was incorporated by an act of Congress in 1919. Its purpose was to foster Americanism, uphold the Constitution, preserve the memories of the World War I veterans and promote good citizenship — worthy goals indeed!
In my research, I was contacted by Mr. Albert “Phil” Raubenhold, who provided me with rare photographs of the Fred A. Snyder Post 353 in Northampton. His father, Howard “Curly” Raubenhold, was a well-known Northampton resident who was a charter member of the post.
More than 250 men from the Northampton area served in the war as members of the American Expeditionary Force. When they returned, a core of 15 men organized the Fred A. Snyder Post 353 and received a charter on Oct. 13, 1919. My friend, the late Harold “Dutch” Deiter, whose father was a veteran, recalled the first meetings were held in a home in the 1400 block of Main Street. Each year saw a steady growth in membership, so the post solicited funds in order to build a new home.
Land was obtained from the Smith family, who owned numerous properties in the borough. The site given to the post was a section of the Smith farm on upper Dewey Avenue. After much effort, including donated labor from legion members and community residents, the completed post home was dedicated in March 1940. The post proudly bears the name of Fred A. Snyder, the first Northampton boy to fall in action at the Meuse-Argonne in France. The fallen soldier rests in eternity in France.
In those days, Armistice Day parades were held throughout the land, commemorating the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918. The term Armistice Day has been forgotten and has been replaced with Veterans Day.
The commander in 1940 was Harry S. Rehrig, who operated a plumbing business in the borough. Another active member was Dr. George Eichler, a veteran who would be the longest serving superintendent in the Northampton School District. The legion was actively supported by a legion auxiliary of 120 members.
Even before the new legion home became a reality, the American Legion succeeded in an accomplishment Northampton should never forget. Through its sponsorship and efforts in soliciting funds, an ambulance was purchased in 1928.
Housed in the old municipal building on Main Street, it saved many lives in Northampton and the vicinity. A community ambulance, it was on call any time for those in need.
The present Northampton Regional EMS is blessed with skilled personnel and modern equipment. The roots of this professional service is found in the determination of an American Legion post to serve our communities many years ago. I thank Larry Oberly for processing all my photographs.
Hope to see you in two weeks!