History of Clearwater
Part Eleven
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Local Citizens Welcomed Troops Bound for Combat
Adapting to the times, the focus of Clearwater’s enthusiasm for fun merely shifted from the entertaining of “snow birds” to the entertaining of the Armed Forces. The Clearwater Sun ran news of dances held for soldiers and society matrons hosting officer’s wives for tea. Cartoons urged Clearwater citizens to buy war bonds and reminded them to send letters to “the boys” in the service. Merchants stayed open late to accommodate the soldiers, who were on duty until 6:00 p.m.

Guest columnists from the rank and file of the 588th wrote for the Clearwater Sun, entertaining the general public with the exploits of their fellow enlisted men. One column described with great humor the shock of one private — the dishwasher at the Fort Harrison — when after taking a nap under the sink, he awoke to find himself trapped by piles and piles of incoming dirty dishes and pans. Another column warned soldiers in the Squadron band not to be caught practicing on the roof of the hotel.

Not to be outdone by their hosts, the military provided entertainment for the citizens of Clearwater. Members of the 588th held Christmas parties, open houses and performed plays written and directed by their own members. (The 588th boasted three Hollywood residents who worked in the movie industry as a set designer, screen writer and character actor.) When a second bugler arrived to the 588th, the 588th’s columnist announced that not only would the boys have a second person to hate in the morning at reveille, but the girls would have a second bugler to “swoon over” at Retreat, which was held every day at 6:00 p.m. in front of the Pinellas County Courthouse.

The subsequent editions of the Clearwater Sun faithfully recorded those who were shipped out, praised their acts of bravery, and mourned their passing. For although the soldiers came from parts far and wide, Clearwater proudly adopted them as their own.

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