Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas in the Archives

by Marian Matyn

In the Clarke Historical Library there are 32 archival paper-based collections that document Christmas in some way. Here the list is enhanced by some of our historic Christmas cards. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Writing about a WWII soldier's Christmas packages in France 1944

or Christmas at a Korean orphanage 1953

or charitable Christmas activities

or Christmas gatherings and celebrations, various collections

or Christmas bird count by the local Audubon club.

There are numerous and various types of Christmas images, general, familial, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, and CMU.

There are Christmas addresses from Saginaw Daily Courier Newsboys, 1873-1874.

There are Christmas inscriptions in books given as Christmas book.

There are circus Christmas tree ornaments.

Many collections have assorted holiday cards or Christmas wishes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Central Michigan College of Education and Pearl Harbor

by Bryan Whitledge

Today marks the 75th anniversary of, as then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "a date which will live in infamy." The attack on Pearl Harbor sent shock waves across the whole of the United States including at Central Michigan College of Education in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

The most direct connections between Central and the Pearl Harbor attack were two former students who were stationed at the Hawaiian naval base on December 7, 1941. Harry Schmidt (pictured at left, from the 1940 yearbook) was aboard the USS Tennessee. He survived the attacks and continued to serve in the Navy through at least the fall of 1943. In 1939-40, he was a freshman and played saxophone with Howdy Max's Band.

Another former student, William Kyes (pictured below, from the 1940 yearbook), was an officer in the Army Air Corps and also survived the attacks. When the bombing started, he ran into a nearby hangar, which was then hit. John Cumming's The First Hundred Years: A Portrait of Central Michigan University included then-Lt. Kyes account from a letter:

"I looked over by a wall and there was a man holding his guts in and another with his face shot off. I began to wonder if I was hit and when I looked myself over, there was a piece of my chest gone and blood running out of my ankle but I felt no pain."

Lt. Kyes also noted in a letter that if he ever made it through the War, he would get a job at a country school by Elwell and settle down for the rest of his life. Those plans didn't come to pass. Instead, Lt. Kyes served for the duration of the War and flew over 50 bombing missions in the Pacific Theater. He was a career military officer and retired in 1969 with the rank of Brigadier General in the Air Force.

Back in Mount Pleasant, 4,400 miles from the two Centralites stationed at Pearl Harbor, the students at the College wanted to join in the war effort. Some students expressed a desire to enlist with the military as soon as possible, but President Anspach, a member of the local draft board, urged young men to stay in school and gain knowledge and experience for the time when Uncle Sam would call on them. By June 1942, just six months after the attack, it was reported that 150 former Central students had joined the armed forces.

In the days immediately following the attack, students also mobilized to help with a Red Cross emergency fund drive. All students and faculty were expected to contribute and women members of the Appleblossom Club, a club that advocated for improved rural education, dressed as Red Cross nurses to solicit donations from across campus. The Women's League at Central organized a knitting bee on January 5, where the young women knitted various items to be sent to U.S. servicemen.

As the War continued, Central's involvement evolved and grew. More and more former students joined the war effort. Central even became one of 130 sites across the country for the Naval V-12 Training program. From 1943-45, over 2,600 students passed through Mount Pleasant under the direction of Lt. Maxwell R. Kelso.

The attacks on December 7, 1941 shaped the college experience for thousands of Central alums. 75 years later, the Clarke pays respect to all those impacted by highlighting the connections between a small Midwestern teachers college and the events of one of the most infamous days in history