American Legion Auxiliary — February 2013
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History in The Making

Step back in time – in person or online – and explore the treasure trove of photos, correspondence, mementos, and memorabilia that capture the essence of the extraordinary women and events that are the foundation of the American Legion Auxiliary and that still connect and inspire us today.

YOUR ALL-ACCESS PASS to ALA ARTIFACTS

The Cavalcade of Memories captures the milestones, moments, and lifetime of our organization from trophies, plaques, and pictures to restored artifacts and priceless keepsakes. These treasures from our history have come to us from all over the world. Each item adds more detail to our Auxiliary history books and another chance to relive our most cherished memories.

The national American Legion Auxiliary Cavalcade of Memories was established by a national convention resolution in 1972 that allocated funds to create a museum at National Headquarters. The purpose of the Cavalcade of Memories is to display, share, and perpetuate our history, traditions, and milestones.

In addition to the Cavalcade of Memories at National Headquarters in Indianapolis, many departments have a Cavalcade, each with its own unique items.

The Department of Missouri has an impressive Cavalcade of Memories at its headquarters in Jefferson City. “It was a ranch-style house that has been converted to our headquarters,” said Missouri’s Arline Sasser. “When you enter, you see a room with large photos of our two Past National Auxiliary Presidents, June Stolte and JoAnn Cronin, along with their flags. To the right are two attractive glass cabinets with our Past Department President mementos in them. We also have all PDP photos on the wall in a back room along with some cabinets containing all of our membership pins dating back to 1965.”

The Department of Wisconsin’s Cavalcade of Memories is designed to honor each Past Department President. “At the end of her term, the presiding president presents the department a memento of her year as state president,” said Rose Wenger, Department of Wisconsin Past Presidents Parley chairman. “It can represent a special project, something relating to her theme, or some special Christmas decoration she cherished. Each president’s photo and pin are on display along with a special Christmas tree ornament she chooses to have on our Christmas tree.”

On the following pages, you’ll find just a few of the items in the national Cavalcade of Memories collection, as well as some interesting stories about the artifacts exhibited throughout National Headquarters in Indianapolis. We encourage all Auxiliary members to visit your National Headquarters and view for yourself the memorabilia from our more than nine decades of history. And if you can’t make a visit in person, read on to learn how you can experience the enchantment of the Cavalcade of Memories through our website at www.ALAforVeterans.org.

From a letter written March 7, 1975, by Virginia A. Sonne, then-vice president of the Department of Illinois, sent to Ms. Doris Anderson, then-national secretary at National Headquarters: “While we were at Freedoms Foundation, I mentioned to Rae Shaw (Past National President, 1970-1971, Illinois) that I had some of the original silk Poppies that were made in Paris, France. She immediately asked me to speak to Mrs. Randall (Past National President, 1967-1968, Maryland), thinking that perhaps they could be displayed in the Cavalcade of Memories Museum. Mrs. Randall asked that I send them to you with the story and see that the proper steps were taken.”

THE HISTORY of the HOBART DRESS

The Hobart Dress is the American Legion Auxiliary’s premiere Cavalcade artifact. The dress is nearly a century old and was worn by the Auxiliary’s first national president, Edith Hobart of Ohio, in 1921 during the States Dinner at National Convention.

Before its restoration, the dress was tattered and ripped in many places. In 2008, Auxiliary staff and volunteers contacted Harold F. Mailand of Textile Conservation Service in Indianapolis. Mailand examined the dress and reported: “Overall condition is poor. There is differential fading. The embroidered net is detached in areas. The silk slip is in shreds and is a complete loss. The gown has a woven label that reads ‘Antonette C Worrall/572 Fifth Ave./NY.’ There are two layers of under skirting composed of ‘changeable’ ecru and pink silk. There are isolated seam openings.”

After his appraisal, Mailand began the task of restoration, which amounted to more than 45 hours and a cost of $3,846. Mailand vacuumed and steam-cleaned the dress, sewed shut the open seams, re-stitched the netting to the dress, reattached the under skirting, and custom-made a support frame. The entire restoration was made possible thanks to a generous donation from the Department of Ohio.

In 1932, the American Legion Auxiliary put together a plan to raise funds for the National Committee on National Defense by selling sets of 12 Naval print plates. Only about 500 sets of the plates were ever produced. At the time of production, the plates sold for $3 each or $35 for a set. The following was pulled from the 1979 November-December issue of National News: “These plates were more than fine china; they were…an effort to instill a sense of history and stability at a time when the world heard the sounds of war echoing across Europe and to raise funds for the National Defense Committee.”

MEET the TEAM WHO WENT DIGGING THROUGH THE DECADES

In preparation for the American Legion Auxiliary’s 2012 National Convention in Indianapolis, National Headquarters staff and members volunteered to reorganize the entire Cavalcade and display many items for the first time in the relatively new National Headquarters office. Attention was paid to the grouping of objects, and many of the curio cabinets, themselves Cavalcade items donated in honor of Past National Presidents, are dedicated to displaying items related to one or two Auxiliary programs.

Gloves, window cleaner, and plenty of elbow grease were the tools most commonly used to get the job done. “It was a lot of work, but it was also quite an education,” said Madison Maves, ALA Development Coordinator. “I learned more about the organization than I ever dreamed possible and feel even more connected and inspired to support the work of our wonderful volunteers with the work I do on staff. This organization is built on the backs of some pretty amazing people.”

Guidelines for donating items to the national Cavalcade of Memories were revised under the leadership of the 2008 national Cavalcade chairman, Past National President Sherry McLaughlin. According to the guidelines, “Items of historical significance to the national organization will be accepted. These are defined currently as items related directly to programs or activities specifically related to a Past National President’s term of office or items related to a past national secretary or past national treasurer’s term. Items submitted that do not meet this criteria will be evaluated for suitability prior to acceptance. Nothing should be sent to National Headquarters until permission is received from National to do so.” For a full list of guidelines, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org.

Be sure to visit our Tumblr blog where you can find a variety of pictures from our more than nine decades of history. alanatlhq.tumblr.com

In 1954, Lucille Ball of the “I Love Lucy” show was presented with a Golden Mike Award by the American Legion Auxiliary. In 1961, she agreed to shoot a TV spot about the importance of the Auxiliary and poppies, which included the following: “My friends, this is Lucille Ball…and I’m a wildcat when it comes to helping folks who can’t go it alone. That’s why I’m so enthusiastic about the work done by the American Legion Auxiliary for our sometimes forgotten war veterans and their families… So, when an American Legion Auxiliary volunteer offers you a veteran-made paper poppy, please give as generously as you can.”

TECHNOLOGY BRINGS the PAST TO THE PRESENT

National Headquarters has also completed work on a new virtual tour of the Cavalcade of Memories as part of www.ALAforVeterans.org. The completion of this exciting virtual tour directly connects you to your organization’s rich history and is the next phase in digitizing images of our artifacts and bringing our Cavalcade to life. Two Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis graduate students, Jay Hardin and Navy veteran Joan Savage, along with the National Headquarters Communications team, worked together to create a website dedicated to showcasing pieces of Auxiliary history.

The virtual tour expands on the students’ work to provide users a more interactive experience. The online tour includes beautiful photographs of individual items found in the museum and around ALA National Headquarters, detailed descriptions of each item’s history, video clips, and even audio clips of Cavalcade of Memories Committee Chairman Kenya Ostermeier discussing various items and sharing details about her longtime involvement with them.

The goal of the national Cavalcade virtual tour is education through online interaction. “The information in our new virtual Cavalcade tour is designed to get members engaged and interact with what they are seeing,” said ALA Web and Graphics Specialist Travis Perkins. “With a click, photos can be enlarged, shared on social media sites, and commented on through an online comment box on each page of the new site. The format is easy to use, and the information found online is easy to share as well. No matter what platform you are viewing the site on, it will shrink or expand to fit the device you’re using, whether it be on your smartphone, tablet, or PC.”

Sharing Cavalcade information and artifacts through various social media outlets is also easy to do. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Blogger, and other social media buttons are located at the top-right corner of each webpage, making it simple and speedy to pass information on to ALA colleagues, the media, military families, and potential members. You can also print or email the information.

You can post comments about the information displayed, or request more information on an item featured. For those interested in donating to the Cavalcade collections, donation guidelines, criteria, and contact information are also online.

How about offering a virtual tour of the American Legion Auxiliary national Cavalcade of Memories at your next unit or department meeting? It’s an engaging and entertaining way to learn more about our great organization – an educational, informative, and interactive trip down ALA memory lane you can take together.

The Cavalcade virtual tour and additional pictures and stories are available online at www.ALAforVeterans.org/members.

The following information was found in a letter dated Oct. 9, 1934, to Mrs. Erm R. Beadle, then-president of the Department of Pennsylvania: “The handsome radio arrived last week, and we have it partially installed, waiting on the delivery of the aerial. The reception, however, has been clear enough that we have been getting the World Series Ball Games today and yesterday, and our Reception Room has been a very popular rendezvous for the Legion Division heads.”
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