If World War II had not brought together both sets of their parents, Paul and Mary Lou Mehl of Shavertown might never have been born.
But the two young American GIs who became their dads did in fact meet the two lovely French mademoiselles who were destined to become their moms.
This Saturday and Sunday, as Eckley Miners Village hosts its annual 1940s Weekend, the Mehls will play guitar and stand-up bass with a band called The Blue Notes, no doubt reflecting on how their parents may well have fallen in love to the melodies of the same songs.
“These were all World War II dance tunes,” Paul Mehl said, naming “Blue Moon,” “Mr. Sandman,” “Cheek to Cheek” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as a few of the numbers. “My mother, she’s French, and she would go to dances in France with the GI soldiers and they were playing all these tunes.”
Members of The Blue Notes — which includes drummer Tim Shoemaker from Shavertown and accordion player David Gonzalo from Sugarloaf Township as well as the Mehls and vocalist Luann Giles from the Scranton area — have been practicing diligently for the 1940s weekend. They will perform from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. both days at the historic village.
And, that’s just one aspect of the festivities. Among the other highlights:
• Historic re-enactors dressed as World War II soldiers, both Allied and Axis, will take up camp throughout the village, giving weaponry and cavalry demonstrations while Eckley volunteers showcase the life of the local civilians and how they supported the war effort from the patch town.
• On Saturday, Eckley will host an antique car, truck and motorcycle show with vehicles of the 50s, 40s and earlier. To register a vehicle, call 570-636-2070. Judging is set for 2 p.m. and winners will be announced at 3 p.m. Trophies will be awarded.
• Eckley will welcome 92-year-old Holocaust survivor Severin Fayerman of Reading, who will show a documentary about his time spent in concentration camps, answer questions and sign copies of his book “A Survivor’s Story” at 3:15 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
• Author Gail Furford of Gettysburg, author of “Letters Home WWII- Sergeant Martin A. Paulson,” will give a talk at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and 12:45 p.m. Sunday. His book is based on 88 letters Paulson, now 95, wrote to his sister.
• Speaking of sisters, the Vinatieri sisters of Hazleton will portray the famous Andrews Sisters whose boisterous “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” bolstered spirits among World War II military personnel while “I’ll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time” expressed their longing to return to loved ones on the home front. The sisters will sing from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. Sunday at Eckley, as well as during a Saturday evening dance.
• The dance is set for 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Freeland Public Park Pavilion, about 4 miles from Eckley, where the Hazleton Philharmonic Big Band Sound will provide the music. Admission to the dance is $10 regular and $8 for attendees in 1940s attire or uniform.
• Back at Eckley Miners Village, the Rev. John Uhler, chaplain of the 45th Infantry Division re-enactment unit, will led a wartime church service in Eckley’s Immaculate Conception Church at 11 a.m. Sunday.