Log In

Reset Password

Northampton man has name featured in 1943 newspaper

Although not quite akin to uncovering an ancient papyrus scroll under an Egyptian pyramid, it was nonetheless a noteworthy find in a recycling bin in the tiny borough of Coplay.

Every Thursday, the Coplay Borough sanitation crew dutifully collects glass, cardboard, plastics and newspapers that residents put out in recycling bins and other containers in the alleys behind their homes or street side.

Recently, Bryan Burker, a seasoned Coplay sanitation worker, picked up a newspaper recycling container and made a fascinating discovery.

The name of now 92-year-old Northampton resident Malcolm Heffley, then a 15-year-old boy, was published in the Reading Eagle April 20, 1943. It was an announcement that Heffley was confirmed, along with 16 other kids, at St. Paul’s Reformed Church in Kutztown. One other child along with Heffley, Doris A. Stein, is still alive.

Burker retrieved the remnant of the old, yellowed newspaper, which included pages 5, 6, 7, 8, 17, 18, 19 and 20.

The Reading Eagle’s first newspaper appeared in 1868. It is a daily newspaper with a rich history that serves the Reading and Berks County area.

Spry as a 32-year-old, Heffley said he remembers that newspaper because it contained his name.

Also, to Burker’s surprise, he saw an advertisement on Adolf Hitler’s 54th birthday.

On page 17, there was an ad stating, “Today is Hitler’s birthday. Let’s give him plenty. Buy United States war bonds.”

The advertisement was sponsored by Bowers Battery and Spark Plug Company, of Reading, later purchased and absorbed into the Exide Company.

The ad continued, “Let’s celebrate with fireworks - the scream of shells; the thud of depth bombs; the roar of fighter planes; and the boom of bursting blockbusters on Nazi industries.”

The ad requests people buy U.S. war bonds to aid the fight against the Axis powers.

“Let’s buy war bonds, so this is his last birthday. Buy bonds! Then buy more bonds! Let’s go, America!” the ad exhorted.

Berks County’s war bond quota was $18,227,000. The nation’s goal was $13 billion.

Ironically, of Pennsylvania-German extraction, Heffley’s deceased wife, Inge, was born in Germany. She was 10 years old and living in Germany in 1943. Her father was a German soldier and was a prisoner of the French army.

Heffley noted that was fortuitous because if he was captured by the Russians, Inge was convinced he would have been executed.

Heffley had a 25-year career in the United States Merchant Marines. He said he has had a great life, visiting nearly every state in the United States and traveling to Europe.

Friend and neighbor Joe Christoff said, “[Heffley] is just a great American, and you have to hear his whole life story.”

Confirmation day of then-15-year-old Malcolm Heffley is featured in this April 20, 1943, edition of the Reading Eagle newspaper. Now, at the age of 92, Heffley, a resident of Northampton, says he remembers that newspaper because he was in it. The newspaper was found in a recycling bin in Coplay Borough by sanitation worker Bryan Burker.
PRESS PHOTOS BY BILL LEINER JR. An April 20, 1943, ad, sponsored by Bowers Battery and Spark Plug Company, of Reading, talks of buying U.S. war bonds and Adolf Hitler's birthday.