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As It Was: Klamath Falls Celebrates Armistice Before War Ends

Claudia Spink Lorenz described in the Oregon Historical Quarterly in 1970 how Klamath Falls celebrated the end of World War I.  Twice, to be exact.

Telegraphed war reports had been arriving daily and were being posted on bulletin boards all over town. Finally, the news everyone was waiting for arrived: “Firing Ceases!” “Armistice Signed!” “War is Over!”

The town went wild. By 10 a.m., Lorenz and other clerks at the county assessor’s office had joined the crowded, noisy streets.  Everyone was shouting, ringing bells, and banging anything that made noise. Overloaded cars inched their way through town in an impromptu parade on the main downtown drag. Even though this was Prohibition, drinking got underway and the celebration grew even noisier.

As word of the Armistice reached the countryside, farm folks swarmed into town. The celebrating went on all day and ended with a Victory Ball that night at the skating rink. 

That was Nov. 9, 1918.  The next morning the town learned the Armistice had only been a rumor.

When World War I ended two days later, on Nov. 11, everyone had already had a ball.  The second celebration was pretty muted.

Source: Oregon Council of Teachers of English. "Talking on Paper." vol. 6Klamath Falls Celebrates End of War--Early, Oregon Council of Teachers of English. , Letters and Diaries ed., Corvallis, Oregon, Oregon State University Press, 1994, pp. 241-44.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.