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WWII

★ Loyal and True ★

military cards

There is no one more loyal and true than a person who is dedicated to serving our country!

Earlier this year we released a series of three cards that honor those men and women who serve (or have served) in our military. We wanted to provide a way for you to say thank you, and to keep in touch with those who are serving far away. There is absolutely nothing sweeter, nothing better to raise the spirits, than a letter from home!

There are many reasons why I wanted to create these cards, but there is one story that has always fascinated me, and was the true driving force behind this series.  It happened early in my grandparents lives, during World War II.

jots

My Grandma grew up in a really tight-knit rural community, called Hatton, Missouri.  It’s the same community where my family still lives. It’s a community of farm families with strong work ethics. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone, and neighbors will do anything to help one another out. As in many communities like this one, when World War II broke out, all of the young men enlisted and went off to fight the war, and everyone at home banded together to do what they could to support the war effort.

My Grandma and her three friends were no exception. Verna (my grandma), Lola, Gladys, and Maxine formed the “Jot’s Club.” They were all school teachers, and they also all had a “sweetie-pie” and a brother far away from home serving in the military and fighting the war. The Jots had one purpose – to write to their boys. They met once a week, in the upstairs bedroom of my grandma’s house, where they wrote  a newsletter that they called the “Jot-it-Down.” Every week they compiled stories from the home front, as well as news about the goings-on of each of the boys, and they mailed it out to the “Joes” who were scattered all over the world.

helpthejotshelpthejoes

As time went on, the mailing list grew to several dozen Hatton boys.  According to the boys, receiving the “Jot-it-Down” was a highlight of every week, and some even read it aloud to fellow soldiers. It became a weekly source of information and entertainment for whole platoons. The letter usually included news from the community, poems written by the girls, and sometimes poems or stories sent in from one of the boys. Usually there were juicy pieces of gossip, maybe a complaint or two, a listing of the top songs playing on the radio, and always jokes and funny bits that were good for some laughs.

To fund the newsletter, and to pay for postage, the girls set up a stand near the general store on Saturday nights where they sold ice cream. They also charged a nickel to anyone who wanted to visit their meeting room. Visitors were treated to a large display of letters, souvenirs, and photos sent home from the boys.

letterhome

The boys were faithful in writing back in return with news of their whereabouts, and confirmation that all was well. The Jots had created a system of communication for the whole community. They kept the boys’ spirits high and kept them informed about what was going on at home, and it gave them a way for everyone to stay in touch with one another.

Miraculously, all of the boys eventually made it home alive and well.

I love hearing my grandma talk about this time in their lives. I know it was a difficult time, but the stories of how everyone came together to support one another and the war effort fascinate me. I love how those four girls, with their simple idea of writing letters, were able to provide such a needed line of communication and warmth from home to all of their friends and loved ones who were risking so much to help win the war.

Recently my grandma gave me a notebook full of all the original “Jot-it-Down” newsletters. Reading them is like opening a time capsule into their lives at that time. It is such a treasure.

I actually think the whole story would make a really great book… or a movie…

loyal and true

Our hope is that you would think about those people in your life who serve our country, and write them a note of thanks, and send them some words of encouragement. Especially if they are far away from home.

You can find all three of our military cards in our shop right here.

:: Carrie ::

 

 

War Heroes

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  I got to see something awesome this weekend, and lucky for you I took a bunch of photos!

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that both of my grandfathers served in WWII.  My grandpa on my mom’s side was part of a B-17 bomber crew who flew many missions during the war.  There are only thirteen B-17 Flying Fortresses that are still airworthy, and it just so happened that this past weekend one of them made a visit to the Jefferson City airport, which is only about a half hour away.  So, my mom and I hopped in the car and headed down to see the plane, and hopefully get a little bit better of a taste of what my grandpa did and what his experiences were like during the war.

Wow!  It was really awesome to see this plane up close and personal!  I’ve heard lots of stories of what it was like to fly on a B-17 crew, but to be able to actually get inside and crawl around, and see the tight spaces that the crewmen worked in was really amazing.  See that sphere shaped thing on the underside of the plane?  That’s the ball turret, and one of the gunners sat inside.  There is a trap door in the floor of the plane, and the guy would shimmy down in there and operate the gun on the bottom of the aircraft.  The sphere rotates so that he could aim the gun in all directions.  I’m guessing they chose the smallest, least claustrophobic guy for that job.  Can you imagine?!  We were told that sometimes it would get stuck and the guy would have to stay inside until the plane landed.  There’s sure not a lot of clearance there…

The rear interior section.

One of my grandpa’s jobs to operate the radio, so I’m sure he spent some time in this chair.

Here’s a view inside the cockpit.  Now, I’m no aircraft expert but I can imagine that the planes in today’s military fleet are quite a bit more technologically advanced.

Here’s where the bombardier sat – in the nose of the plane, which is actually a big window.  The bombardier is the guy who lined up the bomb sight, pulled the trigger and yelled “Bombs Away!”  The B-17s were equipped with the famous Norden Bombsight, which was extremely accurate at bombing from high altitudes, and it was one of the most closely guarded secretes of the US military during WWII.

From what I’ve heard, my grandpa’s crew flew a bunch of successful missions, but also had some really close calls.  There were times that their plane got hit and they basically limped back to the base.  They were never really sure they were going to make it until their tires touched down on firm ground.  Scary.

I’m kind of fascinated with all the stories of bravery that I’ve heard about from this time in our country’s history.  There’s a pretty good movie, called Memphis Belle, that tells the story of one B-17 crew and their final mission.  It’s Hollywood’s interpretation of the story, but it gives a pretty good depiction of how thing were.

But, if you want to hear a REALLY good story read Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand.  It tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner turned WWII soldier.  Zamperini was a crewman on a B-24 crew during the war, and I won’t spoil any of it, but I can tell you that his story is full of bravery, the will to survive, and HUGE amounts of forgiveness.  What a man!  Unbelievable.  Read it, you won’t be disappointed.  In fact, I’m officially putting it on the 1canoe2 required reading list.  Karen and Beth…go get your hands on a copy and start reading.

:: Carrie ::