Here’s another photograph of the WAVES marching through the snow at the yeoman training facility in Cedar Falls. But what’s interesting in this photograph from the University of Northern Iowa archives and special collections, is the grease pencil writing on the image, showing how it was cropped for publication.
We don’t know about you, but we’re getting prepared for parties and celebrations this holiday season. So we thought we’d kick off our holiday-themed posts with this celebratory dinner circa 1943. It features WAVES, Navy officers and civilians gathering for what appears to be quite the opulent feast. From the collection of Frances Prindle Taft.
The first Father’s Day was celebrated in 1910 in Spokane, Washington. It was considered a partner to the older holiday Mother’s Day, which began about two years earlier. The celebration spread, but despite some presidential support (Woodrow Wilson in 1913 and Calvin Coolidge in 1924) and the push by a Senator(Margaret Chase Smith in 1957), the idea of a national holiday to celebrate fathers never became an official national observance.
That was until 1966, when President Lyndon Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation recognizing the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, President Richard Nixon made Father’s Day a permanent national holiday.
We’ve been humming Bing Crosby’s White Christmas a lot lately – likely because there’s no risk of not having Christmas snow this year in Colorado. The song first premiered on an NBC radio show in 1941 and was initially released on an album for the film Holiday Inn, about a pair of song and dance men who create a country inn that featured holiday-themed performances.
By October of 1942, White Christmas was released as a single and it quickly shot to the top of the “Your Hit Parade” radio charts. The song perfectly captured the mood of the time. In it, the singer pines for the perfect Christmas:
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know
Where tree tops glisten, and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow…
Those first classes of WAVES were in training during the Christmas of 1942. Helen Gilbert was training to be a radio coder at the University of Wisconsin in Madison:
I remember Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. Every time it went on we were just sobbing. It was crazy…The first Christmas in Wisconsin, it was very sad. We were all homesick. We were just a bunch of young girls who wanted to go home.
White Christmas would later be the inspiration for the film of the same name – featuring former Army buddies (and Broadway stars) who head up to Vermont in the years after the war to help their beloved General’s struggling Vermont inn.
White Christmas is the biggest selling single of all time.
We know the holiday season can be busy. But its also a time when people think about things outside of themselves. Dirty little secret about the Homefront Heroines production crew: Producer David Staton and Director Kathleen Ryan are addicted to made-for-tv holiday movies. Last night’s entry was Dear Santa, where a young well-to-do woman finds a letter a little girl sent to Santa and as a result begins volunteering at a local soup kitchen. She falls in love with the girl’s father, who runs the soup kitchen, and learns to be a better person from the homeless people they serve.
Yes, it’s silly and not particularly sophisticated, but the movie (and others of its ilk) tap into our spirit of generosity over the holidays.
That spirit has taken a hit in recent years. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that charity giving is down from its pre-recession levels (off by about six percent nationally). Meanwhile, federal and state dollars are also down because of cuts in budgets, meaning that charities (and the people and projects they serve) are even more reliant on those independent donors. That’s one of the reasons our multimedia project turned to Kickstarter for a fundraising campaign and why we have a donor wall where people can back the project, pre-ordering the film, sponsoring web exhibits or even becoming an executive producer on the project (complete with an IMDB credit).
We’ve adopted a family through the ACC House of Denver, buying Christmas presents for three kids who otherwise might not get anything under the tree this holiday season.
So what does this have to do with WAVES? The military has a long history of charitable good works (Toys for Tots is a U.S. Marines program). The women who served in the Navy during World War II also gave of their time to help others, through blood drives, war bond sales or other efforts.