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American Legion, NORFOLK WOMEN’S POST NO. 118 — 1924

Norfolk, Virginia

American Legion, 1924

On March 16, 1920, a meeting was called by Dr. Walter E. Miller, a member of Norfolk Post No. 36, for the purpose of organizing a Post composed exclusively of women who had served their country in various capacities during the World War. Arrangements were made for procuring a charter upon receipt of which permanent organization was perfected with :Miss Catherine McWilliams as Post commander and Miss Doris Irene Peters as adjutant. Thus was founded the first women’s post in Virginia and the second south of the Mason and Dixon line.

The first activities were centered around those who since the organization of the Post have been its first consideration-the disabled veterans and their families. Weekly visits were made to the temporary barracks at the Army Base where the disabled in District 2 were first treated, the committees carrying with them home-cooked foods, fruits, candies, cigarettes and magazines. A garden committee was appointed which furnished flower seeds, rose bushes, and other plants which the convalescents planted in gardens around the hospital. These gifts were lasting ones which were enjoyed all through the summer. Entertainments were also given for the patients at the hospital during the first year.

During the summer of 1920, a committee arranged for monthly automobile rides for children from various local orphan asylums, machines being furnished by members and friends of the Post.

In 1921 Miss Wilhelmina C. Young was elected Post commander with Miss Daisy Gerard as adjutant. Owing to press of other business, Miss Young resigned in May and was succeeded by Miss Ellen G. MacArtan.

The Post continued its hospital work along the same lines as in the previous year. Home-made cakes and other delicacies, donated by members and friends of the Post, were taken to the patients and magazines distributed. At Christmas, in co-operation with Norfolk Post No. 36, an entertainment was given at the hospital and packages containing knitted helmets, socks, knives, candy and fruit, with a greeting from National Commander McNider, were given each patient.

In the fall of 1921, when the employment situation became serious, the returned veteran, being usually the newer employee, was the first to feel the hardship. The Post procured employment for many ex-service men in such need and temporary relief was rendered to their families in the form of food, fuel, clothing, and rent. A permanent fund of one hundred dollars was established at this time for the use of the service officer in her relief work.

As part of its civic work for the year, the Post decorated a room in the Navy Y. M. C. A., furnishing curtains, a lamp, smoking stand, and pictures, etc., to make a homelike room for men far from home in the service of their country; and, at the request of navy officials, co-operated in the effort to provide entertainment for enlisted men stationed near Norfolk by assisting with the weekly dances at the Naval Base and the Saturday night entertainments at they Navy Y.

On Memorial Day the Post conducted its usual service of scattering flowers on the Elizabeth River in memory of the navy’s dead and decorating graves of veterans in local cemeteries.

In 1921, Norfolk had the honor of entertaining the State convention, at which time Post No. 118 had charge of the registration booth and entertaining visiting ladies. During the convention, with the able assistance of Dr. Kate W Waller Barrett, State President of the Auxiliary, an auxiliary to Women’s Post No. 118 was organized.

On October 9, 1921, the Post colors were dedicated in Christ’s Episcopal Church, with a beautiful service attended by Governor Davis, Governor Elect E. Lee Trinkle, and officials of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

In 1922, Miss Ellen G. MacArtan was elected commander with Miss Ethel Fuller as adjutant. Upon Miss MacArtan’s transfer to Arizona, she resigned and was succeeded by Mrs. Agnes D. Jordan. Miss Mary Stewart Howard became successor to Miss Fuller, who resigned because of poor health.

During the year many visits were made to the hospital and nine entertainments given. The work among needy families of ex-service men was continued and at Christmas decorated trees, with toys and candies, were sent to children of disabled veterans who would otherwise not have had any holiday cheer. In all this work, the Post was ably assisted by its Auxiliary.

Twenty-five dollars were given the chaplain at the United States Public Health Service Hospital for emergency use among ex-service men there, and one hundred dollars were given the Post Auxiliary for its use in relief work.

Two entertainments were given at the Navy Y. M. C. A. when the Navy Y Committee took charge of the usual Saturday night parties for enlisted men in Norfolk.

This year was marked by the election of Miss Catherine McWilliams, a member of Woman’s Post No. 118, to the office of State Historian, the first woman to hold office in the Department of Virginia.

In 1923, Miss Helen E. Bucking was elected Post commander with Mrs. Margaret E. Mullaney as adjutant. During the year the work was enlarged to include two hospitals-the Naval Hospital at Portsmouth and the Soldiers’ Home at Hampton. Seventy-five victrola records were taken to the Naval Hospital and two entertainments given there. In January the Wells Theatre turned over to the Post a block of one hundred seats to be reserved for patients from the Naval Hospital to see “Skin Deep,” a play dedicated to the American Legion.

In August the Post maintained a booth in the Atlantic Hotel, where articles made by veterans taking vocational training at the Soldiers’ Home were sold, the Post bearing the expenses of the sale. In December a fund of $50 was sent the Peninsula Committee of Legion Posts and Auxiliaries for use in their Christmas program and the Soldiers’ Home at Hampton and twenty-six packages were given by individual members of the Post to patients in Annex 4 of the Soldiers’ Home Hospital. The Post also subscribed $25 to the Department Auxiliary Hospital Fund, and the Post Auxiliary donated one hundred packages to World War veterans in the Public Health Service Hospital. During the year many families in need were assisted. Rent was paid, groceries and milk sent out weekly, and clothing, medical supplies, flowers and magazines furnished. in accordance with his last wishes, a military funeral was arranged for a veteran who succumbed to injuries received in service in 1918.

The Post continued its interest in civic affairs and assisted on several local committee. It also assisted in the formation of the Assembly of Tidewater Virginia Women, which is composed of various women’s organizations in Tidewater Virginia who have banded together in one group to stand behind movements of mutual interest to all women, at the first meeting held in Norfolk in 1923.

As part of its civic program, it is the custom of the Post each year to assist various local welfare organizations. In addition to these usual contributions, in 1923 the Post gave $75 to the Legion Graves Endowment Fund and swelled the Norfolk quota by $50 for the Japanese Relief Fund.

The present officers of the Post are: Miss Helen E. Bucking, commander; Mrs. Mary J. Lawrence, vice-commander; Mrs. Margaret E. Mullaney, adjutant; Miss Elva E. Matthews, finance officer; Miss Dorothy W. Ferrier, historian; Mrs. Irene Peters Bailey, chaplain; Miss S. J. Marshall, sergeant-at-arms, and Mrs. Josie A. Matthews, service officer.

Two visits were made by Post committees to the Soldiers’ Home at Hampton when candy, cigarettes and magazines were distributed. These committee change with each visit so that every member of the Post can get a first-hand idea of the needs of the men. In April the Post conducted a sale of articles made by the disabled veterans in the Naval Hospital, the Soldiers’ Home and the Public Health Service Hospital, bearing all incidental expenses. This sale was on a larger scale than that conducted in 1923, over seven hundred people visiting the store to inspect the handiwork of the veterans. At the end of the week $425.00 was turned over to the trainees. The interest displayed in the work of the veterans was very gratifying and the- Post believes it did a good piece of work as a connecting link between the public and the disabled, to their mutual benefit.

Visits were made to the Naval Hospital and magazines, fruit, postal cards and potted plants distributed in the tubercular ward.

The Post was requested to assist the committee in charge of “Signal Fires,” a pageant given for the benefit of the Chair of Nursing at the University of Virginia. Mrs. Mullaney was appointed to represent the Post and served on the executive committee. In addition the Post sponsored one of the tableaux, “Visiting the Poor,” and two members assisted on the program committee.

In May representatives of the Post attended the Second Annual Assembly of Tidewater Virginia women, held in the historic College of William and Mary at Williamsburg. The subject of the Assembly for 1924 was “Citizenship.”

In the future, as in the past, the Post expects to center its work around the disabled veterans and their families. The visits to the hospitals will continue and such assistance rendered the men and hospital officials as necessary.

And in addition, the women have pledged that in the months to come there will be a morel active participation in civic affairs, and greater service to the community.