PARK HILLS — Through the years, mothers of men and women fighting war overseas painstakingly clipped news stories, collected photos and placed them carefully into scrapbooks.
Last week, the Rose Saak Chapter of the American War Mothers (AWM) donated some of those scrapbooks, along with scrapbooks kept through the years by the chapter, to the Park Hill Library. The collection will be available for view in the genealogy section. Other than a file of national information, the collection focuses on Parkland area residents and some state information.
“A lot of people wouldn’t know about this otherwise,” said Lisa Sisk, interim library director. “To have something here that can be preserved and everyone can come and see – it’s big.”
Nelda Bleckler, former AWM national president, delivered the books with Missouri’s AWM president, Evonne Wiliams, and Liz Thomas Faries, daughter of the chapter’s first president, Dora Thomas. Park Hills Mayor David Easter thanked the women for the donation.
“I want to thank you for letting the library display these,” Easter told the women. “And thank you for everything you have done for the city.”
The American War Mothers began in 1917 and were officially enacted by Congress in 1925. The local chapter began in 1944. For a short while, there also was a War Dads chapter, Faries said.
During World War II, local AWM members rolled bandages, helped with blood drives and took turns in the USO in Park Hills (then Flat River), providing soldiers with donuts, ping pong games, coffee and music from quarter-inch thick records on a windup RCA Victrola, Faries added.
The group also collected fat for the grease truck. Because there was a shortage of grease, the fat could be used as a lubricant for machinery. The women dragged bandages through the grease to make “nonstick” bandages for wounds.
Local AWM members also visited the Italian prisoners of war that were being held at Weingarten. Faries’ mother, whose son was held captive by the Japanese, explained to her daughter why she believed it was important to regularly visit men who were considered the enemy.
“Maybe somebody somewhere is being kind to our servicemen,” Dora Thomas told her daughter.
The local chapter is named for Rose Saak in honor of her efforts to help military families. Bleckler, who never met Saak, said the woman continues to be an inspiration.
“The day the war started, we had gotten home from church and heard the news,” Faries recalled. “My parents went dead silent. There was a knock at the door at 1:30 and it was Rose Saak. She was visiting every person she knew who had a son in the military to offer them comfort. She continued to do that the whole war.”
Sadly, Saak died before the war ended and never was able to see her son, who also was a prisoner of war, return home.
The scrapbooks, which ran from 1927 to 2009, were on display Tuesday before being taken to the genealogy room.
Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at email@example.com.