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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Local library celebrates life in the '40s

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ann Thompson, children's librarian at the Sikeston Public Library, adjusts a display.
SIKESTON -- Ann Thompson, children's librarian at the Sikeston Public Library, is fascinated with the 1940s in the United States.

"I'm very enamored with the 40s -- it's just such a wonderful time in American history," Thompson said. "We just flew after World War II ended."

Keeping that interest in mind, she created an intergenerational program, "The 40s - Decade of Triumph!" for the library. It received $2,440 through a "Spotlight on Library" grant from the Missouri State Library.

"I hope that the grandparents and great-grandparents can share memories that they have personally with their children and grandchildren," Thompson said.

Two sessions will be offered for the Jan. 23 program. There will be book talks, 40s era "Big Band" music provided by the Southeast Missouri State University Brass Quintet, and displays throughout the library, featuring books and historic items dealing with the '40s at each.

Prize drawings will take place through the afternoon. Microfilm machines will be set up for attendees to look at 1940 editions of newspapers. And there will be catered snacks of 1940s-style foods, including Ritz crackers, which were advertised in a 1941 issue of Women's Day magazine, cheese cubes and more. The recipes will be reflective of the rationing, Thompson said. One will be an eggless, milkless, butterless cake.

While it may not sound appealing, the food actually isn't too bad. "It tastes great," Thompson said.

Judy Bowman of Sikeston, who is also fascinated by the events of the 1940s, namely World War II, helped create some of the displays. "It's basically a micro picture of Sikeston in World War II," she said. The materials were from the Sikeston Depot, the Stars and Stripes Museum in Bloomfield, and others were her own.

In the large glass display, there is information about the "Schools at War," the three bombers purchased and sent abroad from Sikeston, a look at the food rations per person for each month, and items such as fat, scrap iron and labels collected by schools. There is also a mouse in front of grain, to display how students were paid for mice and rat tails -- the animals which ate the already scarce grain, Bowman explained.

Three local men are also portrayed: Charles Branum, Gene Aldrich and John Butrum. This doesn't even touch the 1,500 whose names are on the honor board, but were chosen because books were written about them, Bowman said.

"There are so many men in this town that received numerous medals and did historic things," she said. "We just couldn't list them all."

Other displays include those of books for different grade categories; one on the arts and entertainment in the 40s, including "Gone With the Wind" and "It's a Wonderful Life"; and then there will be the explanatory displays, telling people more about the victory gardens and other events key to this decade.

Thompson hopes those who come will draw parallels between the '40s and now, mainly between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, she said.

"Hopefully it will give them a glimmer of hope that we will get through what we have experienced," Thompson said.

The program is made possible by the Library Services and Technology Act appropriated by Congress and administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Missouri Secretary of State.