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From the desk of Alison Gibson, Director
The military display held in our annex during the Ohio Rural Heritage Festival was well received—people were still wandering in well after the ‘closing’ hour! The photos, uniforms, models and more just hinted at the amazing number of Brown Countians that have served our country over the past centuries. Thank you for your service.
In her talk last week, Ruth Ochs Webster discussed the importance of primary information in writing books. Her books, based during the Civil War with her own family members, relied on newspaper articles, will inventories, census material and family lore to flesh out the characters. It is these facts and tidbits of information that make the novels ring true—be it a mention in the Ripley Bee about one of the sons winning a prize at the fair for a barrel made to hold oil (there were lots of coopers in the family) to seeing in the widow’s inventory they had walnut furniture, multiple oil lamps and floor coverings, indicated a household of some comfort even for farmers helped frame the atmosphere of her novels.
The Ripley Bee has always published letters sent ‘from the front’, be it the Civil War or WWII. One of the longest running organized columns was the Bee’s Dear Boys: A letter to the boys in the armed services, Letters in Turn from Service Men Will be Appreciated. Just randomly selecting a week, January 13th, 1944, the 75th column started out with weather, and the snow on the Kentucky hillsides, then wandered into local chitchat, even mentioning that Nell Bloom over at the Mary Netta Shoppe was telling about a woman from Chicago who had stopped in and saw some knee length stockings with elastic tops for kids and declared that she couldn’t get these fine stockings in Chicago—she bought 3 pair. ‘Yep, Ripley against the world.” The rest of the article shared news about the service men—Owen White completing his Army specialized training at Ohio University, William Panburn promoted from corporal to sergeant, Carl Jackson received a letter from Pfc. Vernon Dale Smith saying that riding the Dover ferry helped him not get seasick and he missed good old Ripley beer. A letter from Kathleen Hook to her parents revealed she was in North Africa and doing well, although she was sure the biscuits they had to eat were left over from her dad’s era. Lots of addresses for people to write to soldiers, who was on furlough in town and more. The Ripley Bee wasn’t allowed to send free issues of the paper overseas, but people could, for $2.00, send a years’ subscription overseas. We suspect the Dear Boys column was read and re-read, both here and abroad, keeping families connected over the miles.