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The ladies of Legion Post 183

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 16 Jul 2008 21:10    Onderwerp: The ladies of Legion Post 183 Reageer met quote



The ladies of Legion Post 183
By M.E. Jones
Correspondent
Article Launched: 07/11/2008 08:39:31 AM EDT


Among members of the American Legion Post 183 Ladies Auxiliary, there are some who joined the organization when they were children.

Legion rules tie auxiliary membership to marriage, said auxiliary President Elaine Decell, whose husband, Newman "Bud" Decell is a member of the post and a veteran of Vietnam and Korea.

But in the post World War I era, there was a junior auxiliary for members' children, she said.

Today, the auxiliary's active core group includes a handful of women who once belonged to that youth group and whose fathers were World War I veterans.

Such historic gems spotlight the auxiliary's key role, Decell said. Besides sharing legion missions such as supporting troops and promoting patriotism, the auxiliary has a life of its own, she said.

Traditions include the auxiliary's signature "poppy" fund-raiser, sending Christmas cookies and cards to troops overseas and visiting veterans hospitals to assist patients with holiday shopping. Auxiliary members bring samples from which veterans can choose gifts
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for their families, she said. Then, the ladies help wrap and send the presents, with cards, she said.

The Shirley auxiliary also supports other veterans' programs and sponsors scholarships.

Although they're not veterans, the women of the auxiliary have served their country, Decell said, and their stories -- like those of living veterans who fought in the nation's wars and conflicts, from World War II to Iraq -- are part of American Legion history.

The American Legion was established nationally after World War I (1914-1918.) The Post 183 Legion Auxiliary dates to 1923.

American Legion ranks grew after World War II, when it was a social network for "greatest generation" veterans and their wives.

Sophie Day, for instance, joined in the 1940's with her husband, Frank.

"I may be the oldest living member ... " said Sophie, who was auxiliary president in 1950. "In the old days, we had lots of stuff going on."

She shared an anecdote from a long-ago Shirley Memorial Day parade, when she marched in auxiliary uniform -- cap and cape -- and wore nylon stockings with seams. Later, someone said to her, "Vernon Griffin wants to know how you keep those seams straight," she said.

Louise Minalga, a member for 45 years, also recalled good old days. The auxiliary staged plays, held food sales, and hosted holiday parties and gift exchanges for legion families, she said. They met regularly and went on outings, she said.

"There were lots of members then," Sophie added. "Now, we're lucky to have a dozen."

Sophie was born in Shirley 92 years ago. She grew up on a farm, attended grade school at the old town hall and the brick schoolhouse on Center Road, which is a residence now. She graduated from Fitchburg High School in 1933. She worked for Sampson Cordage and at the Post Office. She married Frank in 1938. Their son, James Michael, was born in 1948.

When her son was old enough, she worked as a cashier in the Lura A. White School cafeteria. "We did our own baking," she said. Homemade lunches cost $1. She retired after 21 years. Later, she was a town election worker at the polls for many years.

When Sophie lived on the farm, she said, she'd walk four miles to town. Now, she walks to village destinations from her home on Phoenix Street, where she's lived since 1942.

Frank Day joined the Navy in World War II, served in a land-based unit in New Guinea and came home in 1945. He died in 1983.

Louise was born in Cambridge. She moved to Shirley with her husband, Alex Minalga, after World War II. He was her neighbor and she had a crush on him, she said, but he wasn't interested. "We started dating after the war," she said. He was in the third armored division that invaded Normandy.

A photo of a dark-haired, 20-something Louise, jauntily posed by a period car, brought back memories for Sophie. "You should have seen her then ..." she said of her friend.

After graduating from Cambridge Latin High School, Louise landed a clerical job at the treasury in Washington, D.C. After she and Alex married, they lived in Cambridge. Then a realtor showed them an old house in Shirley, where they've lived ever since. It was a fixer-upper, but they fell in love with it, she said. It was furnished, and most of the original pieces are still there, plus collectibles and family artifacts. The dining room and formal parlor are antique timepieces. Louise's bedroom is a library for vintage books.

Alex, who ran the now-defunct state pheasant farm in Groton for many years, is a craftsman whose work in the home ranges from unique, galley-style cabinets in the kitchen to model wooden ships displayed throughout the house.

Louise worked for several town boards, she said, including the assessors and the police department.

Now, she's busy with family, household tasks and auxiliary activities. During a visit, chickens roamed by the barn, where she stores left-over items from yard sales she used to hold. The hens provide the family with eggs, she said. The Minalgas' son, Alex Jr., lives in the ell of the house with his family.

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BerichtGeplaatst: 29 Jul 2008 13:00    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Toch wel leuk artikel over die lieve oude dametjes. Het verdient een schopje!
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