GLENS FALLS — Just after 3 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, George Z. Taylor, Associated Press telegraph operator in The Post-Star newsroom, shouted, “The war is ended!”
The yell set in motion 20 hours of virtually non-stop celebration in the streets of Glens Falls.
Celebration of the armistice interrupted labor negotiations between Hudson Valley Co. and its union.
Reporters, editors and pressmen acted quickly to get the news in that morning’s paper, an achievement The Post-Star would later boast no other regional daily morning newspaper accomplished.
The banner headline read, “Armistice Is Signed – War Ends – Fighting Stops at 6 A.M. Today.”
It was the largest press run in Post-Star history, up to that point.
Taylor, the telegraph operator, received the news about 10 minutes after the State Department announced at 2:50 a.m. that German representatives had signed the armistice at midnight.
The Post-Star notified Glens Falls Fire Chief John Mack to sound the fire siren to notify city residents and telephoned officials in Lake George, Bolton Landing, Corinth, Hudson Falls, Fort Edward, Saratoga Springs and Whitehall.
Within 30 minutes, city firefighter Daniel Murphy was driving Supply Hose No. 2 truck up and down city streets, with firefighters Bert Akins and Charles San Sousi on the back of the truck banging a gong.
Residents rushed into the streets cheering, singing, banging tin pans and dancing.
Similar celebrating erupted in villages and towns throughout the region.
There was reason for exuberance after 19 months of eating restricted diets, conserving fuel, buying war bonds and war stamps, donating books for Crandall Public Library to send to soldiers, and, more importantly, grieving the battlefield deaths of brothers, sons and co-workers.
There would be more grieving to come.
News of some battlefield casualties had not yet made it to Glens Falls, and other wounded local soldiers and influenza sufferers were yet to die.
At final count, 49 men from Warren County, 65 from Washington County and 70 from Saraotga County died during military service in the war, according to the World War I Roll of Honor published by New Horizons Genealogy.
Residents, in general, put all those concerns aside on Nov. 11 for one day of unmitigated enthusiasm.
“The city has been waiting longingly for yesterday,” The Post-Star reported on Nov. 12, 1918.
“The city burst its war dam and the flood of undiluted, un-artificial joy which flooded its reaches in waves and cheers and songs and parades and mass meetings and unclassified bedlam — and prayer — was a clean purging of its system of all the refuse of war,” the report continued. “It was The Day. It was epochal.”
There was a brief moment of calm when trombonist Frank Miller and drummer Don Horton, of the Glens Falls City Band, climbed to the roof of a Glen Street business district building and played “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Mayor Edward Reed issued a proclamation urging schools and businesses in Glens Falls to close at noon.
“This day is one which brings to the breast of every loyal American and to the beloved people of our allies sentiments of the loftiest patriotism and its proudest joy in the triumphant conclusion of their efforts for freedom and right,” Reed said, in the proclamation.
An afternoon “Victory Parade” along Warren and Glen streets featured the Glens Falls City Band, Citizens Band, Italian Society Band, National Guard Company K, the Red Cross, school groups and many others.
Lawyer J. Edward Singleton was keynote speaker at a mass meeting in City Park after the parade.
“This is a day of Thanksgiving, a day of exultation and a day of joy, for the black cloud of war which has hovered above our horizon for so many years has been dissipated and we stand once again with vision unobscured in the glorious light of freedom,” Singleton said. “And so today we meet to honor the living and the dead. And so today we resolve that their efforts shall not be in vain; that this nation preserved by them shall continue on in the path of justice and righteousness to its proper place in the world made safe for democracy.”
Protestant congregations gathered in the evening at Christ Church Methodist for a combined service to celebrate peace and patriotism.
The Liberty Chorus, a community choir of about 200 voices, sang “Keep the Home Fires Burning,” “The Battle Song of Liberty” and “There’s A Long, Long Trail.”
Congregational hymns were: “America,” “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Various local pastors spoke and offered prayer.
St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church held a special prayer service at 7 p.m.
Celebration continued late into the night.
“When evening came, it was not the end of a perfect day,” The Post-Star reported. “A perfect day has 24 hours. As so all the wild men and all the wild women, fortified with dinner, pressed out into the street again.”
By midnight, streets were starting to quiet down, and at 1 a.m. just a few revelers were still out.
“And at 2 o’clock (a.m.), as this is being written, the fires have all burned out and there is nothing left but drifts of pretty paper up and down the streets.”