Shippensburg Historical Society, http://www.shippensburghistory.org/ currently has a great exhibit about WWII. The exhibit opened on 10/5/12 and will go on until 2/28/13. Many local people lent WWII artifacts to be placed in the exhibit. Then Tiffany Weaver, Museum Director, and a team of volunteers went to work planning, researching and doing documentation. They set the exhibit up in our large room so that people can see all the artifacts and read the documentation to understand what the items were, where they came from, and what their purpose was. Most of the pictures (the horizontal ones) I am showing below are thumbnails, so if you click them, they will enlarge and you can see good details.
There are rifles, hand guns, and bayonets displayed, reminding us of the nature of war. There are also many items shown that point out what kind of lives people were having during that time: equipment that the soldiers needed to make daily life bearable and even possible, uniforms, medals and uniform markings, stories about women in the war, ration books showing what was going on at home. There are also pictures showing some of the effects the war had on people in the countries where the war was being fought. There is a lot of education at this exhibit.
One of our Historical Society members, Dr. John Fague, is also a volunteer and board member in our organization. People call him John a lot, but I call him Doc, since I first knew him as my veterinarian. He used to hold my cats and tell them they were fine kitties for many years before he retired. He was a fine vet, who cared about his patients. Doc was all over the European Theater during the War, including the Battle of the Bulge.
Doc Fague has retained many artifacts from his War service. He lent a lot of them to us for the exhibit; here are pictures of some of the memories he has, and items that show his memories to us.
I lent items that my father, John Wagaman, brought back from his War service. He was in the Signal Corps and spent time in Germany, Japan, Italy and North Africa.
We had a visitor at the exhibit opening, in a WWII uniform. Dan Benfer, a 14 year member of the Air National Guard, wore an original uniform and showed people the differences between the uniforms of then and now, and explained why some of the changes were necessary for the soldier to carry what he needed with him. He was very helpful talking to people about items in the exhibit too, as he is quite knowledgeable about that time. He was a great help that night, and we thank him! We thank Dan also for his service; he has had tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Bahrain.
Our exhibits include a Children’s Corner, where the kids are invited to handle items, and there is always a game for the kids to play, since fun and education go together! The Children’s Corner includes a gas mask, which I saw some kids of all ages looking at.
Here are some uniforms which represent different branches of the service.
There are some stark realities to any war. One during WWI was the fear of us being invaded in this country. There was an old theater in Shippensburg for many years, now long since closed. Victory Theater was showing a movie called On the Beach, in September, 1946. The movie is about nuclear war breaking out in the northern hemisphere and the realities of the radioactive fall out coming to the people in the southern hemisphere. This playbill from the Victory Theater shows a program that was held with a speaker in conjunction with the showing of the movie.
I can remember my parents and grandparents talking about another stark reality of WWII, since they all lived it every day. So many things were needed to support the War effort that things at home were rationed. Gas, butter, sugar, clothing, coffee, oils for cooking and fuel, and many other items were rationed. Each family was issued a booklet containing ration stamps and you could not exceed the amounts that were allowed. I remember my parents saying you had to return your empty metal toothpaste tube so you could get more toothpaste. The need to ration and some items being not available at all led to some innovation that still serves us today, as well. One thing I remember discussion about is that silk for ladies’ stockings was not available at all, and nylons were invented! Necessity was still the mother of invention. Here are some ration books.
Many pictures of the effects of the War in other countries are on display in the exhibit. This world war affected so many countries, some in devastating ways.
We at Shippensburg Historical Society, www.shippensburghistory.org are proud to be able to present such fine exhibits for people to learn from, remember, enjoy and ponder on. Our hours are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 1-4. Please come and visit this great exhibit and also browse our immense historical collection, and also check out our genealogy research area.