January

Map and Patch Collection from El Paso Train Station

Object: Map and Patch Collection from El Paso Train Station  

The National WWII Museum, New Orleans, USA

Place: El Paso, Texas  

EMu user since 2012

       

Map and Patch Collection from El Paso Train StationDuring World War II, Maude Eleanor Stevenson was the Executive Secretary of the Traveler’s Aid Society in El Paso, Texas. She pinned a large, folded map of the world on the wall in the train station office where she and her assistants handed out books and magazines while giving assistance to traveling service personnel. The visitors (service personnel, entertainers and other travelers) would sign the map and write their predictions for war’s end.

The predictions range from early 1943 to July 4, 1963. George Hill from Ft. Bliss wrote, “Your guess is as good as mine. What do you think?” Lt. Thomas Helvey wrote “Won’t be over until we’ve made a damned good job of it.” Someone wrote anonymously “This war will never end.” Others wagered more optimistic predictions: “Rosie, I’ll be home by the end of 1944” and “I’ll be home for Xmas 1943”. Some famous names are recognizable on the map - Bandleader Kay Kyser signed “October, 18, 1944” - either his prediction or the date of his signing. Comedian Red Skelton penned his signature phrase “I dood it”. Nathan Weinberg from 2127 64th St. in Brooklyn, New York hit it on the nose by penning “Aug. 15, 1945”.

Map and Patch Collection from El Paso Train StationAfter the war, the signed map was joined with service patches given to Mrs. Stevenson by people she met at the station. Originally pinned to brown paper and now sewn neatly to a backing of khaki cotton twill, the 385 patches cover every American military service branch along with several foreign units and civilian groups. The majority of the patches were commercially made, but the board does contain several “theater-made” hand-embroidered patches. The collection is a unique souvenir of Mrs. Stevenson’s war service and portrays the enormity of America’s military effort and the 16 million Americans who served.

Acknowledgements: Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Robert Stevenson, 2002.169