• The National WWII Museum Blog
dividing bar

Wartime Love Story: Raymond and Anna Mae

Many of the collections in our holdings relate not to battlefield maneuvers or combat tactics, but are very personal in nature. Some collections are so personal you feel like you’re invited to share in a very private moment, being let in on a secret. This is the case with the collection from Raymond Snelting and Anna Mae Milazzo Oertel Snelting.

Raymond was one of seven children from the rural community of St. Charles, Illinois. He left school to join the Civilian Conservation Corps to earn a living. Ray joined the Army when the war began and was assigned to a Signal Corps branch at Fort Polk, Louisiana in New Orleans. While here he fulfilled a variety of different roles, including trips to the Caribbean and South American observing weather patterns. In New Orleans, Ray worked in the motor pool, as an MP, and as a telegrapher, and teletype repairman. Because of one particular teletype repair call, Raymond met Anna Mae Milazzo Oertel, a young teletype operator and widowed mother of two children.

Anna Mae married Carl Jacob Oertel and had two children, Carol Ann and Carl Jacob. On October 16, 1939, Carl was in an automobile accident and suffered a spinal cord fracture, from which he died two days later. Anna and the children moved in with her parents. With the help of lessons from her uncle, a teletype operator, she translated her skills as a pianist (she graduated from the Southern College of Music) to a teletype job at the Port of Embarkation.

Ray was welcomed for Sunday dinner with Southern hospitality in the Milazzo home. And because her mother did not approve, Ray courted Anna Mae secretly.  They fell in love despite their very different backgrounds. They were married on April 16, 1944 in a simple ceremony at the Post Chapel at Fort Polk. Carol Ann and Carl Jacob now had a “Daddy Ray.” On September 1, 1950, the couple had a daughter, Carla Rae Snelting. Carla Rae shared a collection of her parents’ memorabilia with the Museum. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we are pleased to share this story of wartime romance and a happily ever after, just one example of the tender moments our artifact donors bring to us daily.

Gift of Carla Rae Snelting Shirer, 2014.494

Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.

Carnival Costume Pays Tribute to Andrew Higgins

Brittany Wagganer wearing her costume in front of the Museum at Andrew Higgins Boulevard.

Brittany Waggener wearing her costume in front of the Museum at Andrew Higgins Boulevard.

There’s one costume we’ve been seeing on the parade route down in New Orleans this Carnival season that has us intrigued. Marching down the streets in many parades is one Dame de Perlage who is paying honor to the Museum’s cross street Andrew Higgins Boulevard with an intricate beaded corset featuring a WWII amphibious invasion scene.

Dames de Perlage is a walking krewe of women who continue the beadwork tradition of perlage, and their theme this year paid tribute to streets in New Orleans. One Dame named Brittany Waggener, a fan of the Museum and PhD student in Urban Studies at the University of New Orleans, chose to make her costume to pay tribute to our cross street named for Andrew Jackson Higgins, the man behind why the Museum calls New Orleans home.

Dwight Eisenhower attributes Higgins as “the man who won the war for [America in World War II].” During the war, Higgins led a boat building industry in New Orleans that designed and produced the critical LCVP that allowed for successful amphibious invasions like the ones that took place on D-Day and throughout the Pacific. During the war, he employed over 18,000 citizens of New Orleans to produce boats for the war.

Over the past 7 months, Waggener has clocked nearly 200 hours creating this tribute to Higgins with hand-sewn beadwork. Her scene features an amphibious invasion scene with airplane and a Higgins LCVP with three figures in it. The three men in the LCVP represent two of her family members who served in World War II and a close family friend that served in the armed forces during the war: Charles E. “Doc” Hill, Charles Andrew “Andy” Waggener, and Houston Raymond “Ray” Gravely.

Waggener is proud that New Orleans houses our world class Museum, and has been giving patriotic throws for the veterans and active service members she has encountered along the parade route.

 

  • Posted :
  • Post Category :

Home Front Friday: Carnival in Wartime

Living in New Orleans, it’s difficult to imagine a Mardi Gras without parades. However, for New Orleanians living during World War II, that nightmare became a reality! The first Mardi Gras Day after the attack on Pearl Harbor came on Tuesday, February 17, 1942. Though many of the floats had been built and the parades had been planned, the festivities were cancelled in the wake of the war declaration. The resources needed to put on the parades were simply too costly for the war effort.

Instead, New Orleanians had to find other ways to celebrate. On March 9, 1943, the Retailers for Victory Committee, chaired by Leon Godchaux, Jr., decided to hold a carnival for war bonds. Operating at the 800 block of Canal Street, the Carnival Day Bond Drive raised $1,192,000 in bonds.

carnival war bonds

During the war years of 1942-1945, official Mardi Gras parades and celebrations in New Orleans were canceled. For March 9th, 1943, the Retailers for Victory Committee, chaired by Leon Godchaux, Jr. , organized a special Carnival Day Bond Drive and celebration in the 800 block of Canal Street. The block was roped off and admission was sold in the form of war bonds. More than 25,000 people were on hand to hear the headlining Higgins Industries’ Band perform along with nationally known singer, Lanny Ross. The event raised $1,192,000 in bonds. From the Collection of The National WWII Museum.

 

Luckily, the parades have resumed! But Mardi Gras in New Orleans can leave you with tons of leftover beads. So why not turn them into an art project? There are thousands of ways that you can re-purpose your old beads – you can glue them to anything! – but for today, we would like to show you how to make a simple, beautiful bead mosaic.

What you’ll need:

  • A cardboard backing for your project
  • A design (we used our logo)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Beads!

1. Draw your design on a foam board or cardboard. We chose our Museum’s logo!
2. Begin gluing your beads down! Beads come in all shapes and sizes, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different ones. Be careful not to burn yourself!
3. Once you are all finished, you can display your masterpiece anywhere!

Posted by Katie Atkins, Education Intern and Lauren Handley, Assistant Director of Education for Public Programs at The National WWII Museum.

Costume Fun: Happy Mardi Gras

Carnival festivities went on hiatus while the nation was at war, but with peace, returned revelry. On March 5th, 1946, New Orleans celebrated the first official Mardi Gras since 1941. Seventy years later, in 2016, we are gearing up for an early Carnival on February 9th. Costuming is a vital part of Mardi Gras fun. We recently received a bright addition to the collection of The National WWII Museum. Although this costume was not originally worn as a Mardi Gras get-up, it is appropriate nonetheless.

Mary Emily Rouse Molstad was a high school student during World War II. She received the gift of a grass skirt from a friend who was stationed in Hawaii. At eighteen she tested out her new hula costume for Costume Day at Florence High School in Florence, Colorado. Mary Emily was suspended for wearing the skirt by her uncle, Norman V. Gorman, Superintendent of Florence Public Schools. The young delinquent, Mary Emily, according to her daughter, “worked as a Western Union telegrapher from 1943 until 1950 when she resigned to get married, as Western Union did not employ married women at the time.”

To read more about Mardi Gras during the war years and to see some very thematic costumes, have a look at: images from the Thomas Weiss collection here in our Digital Collections, our Wartime Carnival flickr set, and previous blog post.

Collection: Gift of Susan Wilson, 2015.702

Artifact Photography by Katie Sikora

Post by Curator Kimberly Guise 

 

Help Judge National History Day

National History Day JudgingThe National WWII Museum is looking for teachers and professors, historians, undergraduates and graduate students, museum professionals or anyone with a love of history and community to help judge this year’s National History Day contests!

National History Day is a year-long historical research contest for middle and high school students. Each year, students from across Louisiana create documentaries, research papers, performances, websites or exhibits based upon the annual contest theme. A major benefit to students participating in National History Day besides the fun and excitement of creating an original work is the outside review of that work by volunteer judges, who donate their time to review students’ projects, make suggestions for improvement and determine the entries that will advance to the next round of competition.

Judging is an integral part of the National History Day process. The feedback that students receive is critical to their growth as young researchers. Most of the students will not pursue history as their college major or career choice, however, the skills that the students hone in creating their National History Day projects will apply to any college or career path that they choose. The National WWII Museum is always looking for volunteers who possess both foundational knowledge of history and great communication skills to serve as judges. No prior experience is necessary besides an enthusiasm and interest in encouraging middle and high school students in their research and work!

Judges are needed for Regional Contests in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Shreveport and Monroe as well as the State Contest in New Orleans which determines which students go on to represent Louisiana at the national competition in Washington D.C.. The dates for all Regional as well as the State Contest can be found below along with the sign-up form to serve as a National History Day judge.

2016 Louisiana History Day Contest Dates:

Baton Rouge: March 19, 2016

Lafayette: March 12, 2016

Monroe: March 12, 2016

New Orleans: March 19, 2016

Shreveport: March 12, 2016

Louisiana State History Day: April 9, 2016

The National History Day program is exciting and fun, however, the benefits for participation for students working with primary sources and performing original research are very real and can earn them rewards both inside and outside the classroom such as scholarship moneys, special prizes and even paid educational travel.  That said, none of this would be possible without the generous help and support of our volunteer contest judges.

Sign up now to judge National History Day!

Find out more about Louisiana’s National History Day program.

 

For other questions on how to get involved with National History Day, contact the Museum’s Student Program’ Coordinator, Collin Makamson @ 504-528-1944 ext. 304 or historyday@nationalww2museum.org.

 

SciTech Tuesday: Inventing dialysis under Nazi occupation

Sausage casings, juice cans, and a washing machine were key components of the first artificial kidney. The dedication, inventiveness, and courage of a doctor under Nazi occupation were important too.

Willem Kolff was a young Dutch physician who read, in the late 1930s, of research done in 1913 by John Abel at Johns Hopkins University. Abel had conducted some animal studies on hemodialysis, and Kolff thought he could use similar methods in his practice. By the time Kolff was making progress, the Germans occupied the Netherlands, and he was sent to work in a rural hospital.

Forging documents, and pressing his wife and colleagues to help him continue his investigations, Kolff constructed the first drum dialyzer. He treated many patients with failing kidneys unsuccessfully until he managed to revive a comatose 67 year old woman whose kidneys were not working.

Drum dialyzers work by filtering the blood with an artificial membrane rotating around a cylinder.  The device Abel tested on animals used vegetable parchment coated with egg albumin to filter blood, and an extract of leeches to prevent coagulation. Kolff’s original device used sausage casing as a membrane, and after the war he used cellophane tubing. He used heparin to reduce coagulation.

During the war Kolff managed to make 5 dialysis machines, and at the war’s end he donated them to hospitals around the world, eschewing patent rights in the hope that others would help him improve treatment for kidney failure.

He accompanied one of the machines to Mt Sinai hospital in NY, where some medical staff were horrified by the thought of treating blood outside the body. With a researcher at Brigham Hospital in Boston, he developed the Kolff-Brigham dialyzer, made of stainless steel—a big improvement from used cans and sausage skins.

The Kolff-Brigham dialyzer was used to save many soldiers in the Korean War, and Kolff continued to work on dialysis and artificial organs for his whole life.  Willem Kolff was born Feb 14, 1911, and died Feb 11, 2009.

Posted by Rob Wallace, STEM Education Coordinator at The National WWII Museum.

Are you, or do you know, a science teacher of students in 5th-8th grades? We are looking for members for the 2016 Real World Science Cohort. Spend a week at our museum, learning all about how to teach hands-on science with connections to history and literacy. Apply now–applications accepted until March 4, 2016.

Images are from Kolff et al 1943, available here

Science at a History Museum?

This month’s Calling All Teachers e-newsletter highlights Real World Science, a FREE week-long professional development seminar exploring how the urgent needs of World War II spurred tremendous scientific and technological innovations.

Twenty-eight middle school science teachers will spend the week of July 17-23, 2016 in New Orleans, where they will experience hands-on how necessity, knowledge, perseverance and skill lead to inventions, innovation, and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The application deadline is March 4.

The February Calling All Teachers e-newsletter also showcases the Museum’s many Black History month resources. These include our 2016 Student Essay Contest, which is relates to the Museum’s special exhibit, Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in WWII.

Your students can also explore African Americans’ wartime struggle against totalitarianism abroad and racism at home through a special offer on our Double Victory Virtual Field Trip. In conjunction with Digital Learning Day, you can book this field trip for February 15-19 for $50. That’s half the normal price!

The 2016 National History Day theme of “Exploration, Encounter & Exchange” also offers opportunities for students to research and explore African Americans’ wartime experiences through the lives of service members such as Medal of Honor recipient Vernon Baker.

Finally, this month’s Calling All Teachers shines the spotlight on the Ledo Road since the first Allied convoy along that engineering marvel reached Kunming, China seventy-one years ago this week. After Japan’s May 1942 seizure of Burma eliminated the last overland supply route between India and China, army engineers – most of whom were African American – hacked a new road through dense jungle and along steep and winding mountainsides.

Students can view one of the surveying tools that African American engineering battalions used when laying out the Ledo Road here. They can also learn about the restoration of the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk that now hangs above the Museum gallery devoted to the China-Burma-India Theater through this video, and they can research the CBI through the Museum’s Digital Collections.

Get more classroom resources and ideas by signing up for our free monthly e-newsletter Calling All Teachers and following us on Twitter @wwiieducation.

Post by Dr. Walter Stern, K-12 Curriculum Coordinator at The National WWII Museum. 

 

  • Posted :
  • Post Category :

Carnival Time Around the Museum: Tips for Your Trip to the Museum this Mardi Gras

As Carnival season builds up over the next week down here in New Orleans, the fun will be drumming down the streets right near the Museum, and it may affect your visit to the Museum.

During the war years of 1942-1945, official Mardi Gras parades and celebrations in New Orleans were canceled. For March 9th, 1943, the Retailers for Victory Committee, chaired by Leon Godchaux, Jr. , organized a special Carnival Day Bond Drive and celebration in the 800 block of Canal Street.  The block was roped off and admission was sold in the form of war bonds. More than 25,000 people were on hand to hear the headlining Higgins Industries’ Band perform along with nationally known singer, Lanny Ross. The event raised $1,192,000 in bonds. Image from the collection of The National WWII Museum.For March 9th, 1943, the Retailers for Victory Committee organized a special Carnival Day Bond Drive and celebration in the 800 block of Canal Street. Image from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

For March 9th, 1943, the Retailers for Victory Committee organized a special Carnival Day Bond Drive and celebration in the 800 block of Canal Street. Image from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

Whether you’re a history buff or a parade-goer, we’ve got some tips for your Carnival Time trip to the Museum.

  1. Plan carefully for when and how you’re making your trip to the Museum.

IMG_5044

  • On the weekend of February 6-7, parades will be rolling day and night near the Museum, as well as parades on the evenings of February 3-5 and 8. You may find it impossible to park or get caught in parade traffic if you’re not careful. Tip: Beat the traffic, and arrive at the Museum before the parades roll.
  • Be sure to read the signs carefully before you park! Especially if you’re parking on the street. Avoid parking under “Parade Route” signs. You may get towed if there’s a parade set for that day.
  1. Come see us while you’re at the parades!
The King Cake at The American Sector is definitely worth fighting for.

The King Cake at The American Sector is definitely worth fighting for.

  • Escape the beads, and learn some history. We’re just a block off Lee Circle, and our restaurant The American Sector will have Mardi Gras food and drink specials, a real bathroom, and some seats waiting for you. Looking for a quick snack? Pop into Jeri Nim’s Soda Shop for a bite!
  1. If it looks like a rainy day out on the parade route, consider staying dry in the Museum.
A restored P-40 Warhawk fighter plane is suspended in our newest exhibit  Road to Tokyo.

A restored P-40 Warhawk fighter plane is suspended in our newest exhibit Road to Tokyo.

  1. Have fun on Mardi Gras Day, and remember that we’re closed for it on Tuesday February 9, 2016.
King and Queen in full costume, presumably welcoming crowd. Probably image from Mardi Gras celebration in Italy in February 1945. Scanned to disk in donor file. 13 February 1945. Gift in Memory of Dr. Thomas Edward Weiss, from the collection of the National WWII Museum.

King and Queen in full costume, presumably welcoming crowd. Probably image from Mardi Gras celebration in Italy in February 1945. Scanned to disk in donor file. 13 February 1945. Gift in Memory of Dr. Thomas Edward Weiss, from the collection of the National WWII Museum.

 

For more information on Mardi Gras Parades Schedules and Routes, click here.

 

See what Carnival time was like around the world during World War II. Uncover stories from New Orleans and Italy here.

  • Posted :
  • Post Category :

Bringing Charity to Life: Part Two

This post is a update of a blog post from April 2015 from our former Collections Manager Lowell Bassett.

I promised to provide an update on the progress being made to restore Charity, our WC-9 Field Ambulance (2005.007.001). The ambulance was purchased by the Museum in 2005 with funds raised by the Charity Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association. The funds for the restoration were made possible through a generous donation by Tom, Lois, and Leo Knudson in honor of Edith M. Rubright “Ruby” Knudson Key. The Museum’s Restoration Specialist, Joey Culligan, has been hard at work making our ambulance resemble a vehicle that would have been a common site with the Allied forces in Italy in 1943. In August Joey was finally able to turn the engine over and in September he was able to move the vehicle back and forth under motor. Joey has been heavily involved in performing a multitude of fixes on Charity and the vehicle is starting to come together. While Joey works alone and on several different vehicles simultaneously, he estimates that he has put in between 300 and 400 hours of time restoring this piece of history (he also told me that he has enjoyed every minute of it).  As a point of comparison, between 1941 and 1945 the United States, on average, manufactured approximately 175 WC-series trucks per day (that’s seven trucks per hour).  And yes, while Joey is fast and thorough at what he does, he isn’t quite that fast.

For the curious, here’s a partial list of some of the projects Joey has been working on with this specific vehicle:

  • Flushing the coolant and oil and replacing the oil seals in the transfer case
  • Replacing the drive gears, differential, and universal joint on the driveshaft
  • Cutting out and removing rust spots on the vehicle body and welding and forming sheet metal to replace it
  • Rebuilding the interior
  • Replacing the electrical system (including the exhaust fan and the headlights)
  • Turning the motor over

Regarding this last task, Joey allowed me a special “interview” with Charity. Click to hear  Charity’s 78 horsepower, six cylinder engine speak.

Joey and all of us here at The National WWII Museum are extremely pleased with the progress being made on Charity and we know that visitors will be thrilled when she rolls into line with the rest of our other historic vehicles in The US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center soon.

Posted on behalf of Lowell Bassett, who has left us to return to his hometown of Pensacola Florida. Thank you, Lowell, for years of  great service. 

Get in the Scrap! Wintertime Energy Conservation

Get in the Scrap! A service learning project for grades 4-8 about recycling and energy conservation

Get in the Scrap! A service learning project for grades 4-8 about recycling and energy conservation

With winter comes snow and ice storms (as we saw last week), longer nights and shorter days, and evenings cozied up indoors. It’s also the season of the furnace or heater working overtime, long hot showers, and cold air seeping through cracked and old windows.

With chilly temperatures keeping us inside,  it’s the perfect time for you and your students to be more aware of energy consumption and how we can all help promote efficiency and conservation. Here are some simple ways:

Sign up your classroom for Get in the Scrap!, the Museum’s service learning project for grades 4-8 about recycling and energy conservation. Your students have the power to affect positive change on the environment, much like students played a positive role on the Home Front by scrapping for victory in WWII. Here’s how it all works:

After signing up, your students complete a variety of activities in the project toolkit and the Museum will award them prizes for their efforts. There are a couple that are particularly timely for winter:

1. Your students can conduct an energy audit in their classroom and/or home. Time your morning shower, check how many old incandescent bulbs are in the space, count how many items are plugged in at one time. This will get them focused on a variety of simple ways they can start conserving energy. It’s the perfect activity when you’re stuck inside on a snow day!

Switch plates Hamlin Academy2.  Your class can design personalized switch plates to remind everyone to turn off the light when they are leaving the room. They can come up with their own effective slogan or eye-catching design to encourage people to flip the switch! Check out the neat design on the right from a Hamlin Academy student in Evergreen Park, Illinois.

These two projects alone are worth 16 points and set your students well on their way to their first prize (a cool recycle bin-shaped magnet for the fridge).

Get started with Get in the Scrap! today and make a difference in your school, home, community, and even the planet!

Post by Chrissy Gregg, Virtual Classroom Coordinator