Saturday, April 24, 2010

The family of Dr./Major Arthur J. Klippen (shown left at Camp Aliceville in 1944) has donated a painting of the Camp Aliceville Station Hospital to the Aliceville Museum in his memory. Earline Lewis Jones, a former civilian employee with the camp's Quartermaster's office, has verified that the painting depicts the Station Hospital.

For additional information about Arthur J. Klippen, please see the blog entry for December 15, 2009.

The museum has received another painting recently--a portrait of Elsie Milhelic Ruzic who worked as a civilian employee of the US Corps of Engineers while her husband served in the US Navy in the Pacific. This portrait was donated by the subject's daughter, Susan Ruzic Newshelier.

Both of these paintings were created by German POWs held in Camp Aliceville during WWII. They are on display at the Aliceville Museum in Aliceville, AL

Friday, April 23, 2010

Remembering Daisy Earle Day

I had a telephone call a couple weeks ago from a ninety-eight year old woman who lives not far from me. She had read Guests Behind the Barbed Wire and was inquiring about one of the Aliceville residents mentioned in the book--Miss Daisy Earle Day. Miss Day's father owned a grocery store in Aliceville during WWII, and she taught school there at that time.

The name was familiar, but I didn't remember anything else. The woman who called explained that she had gone to Judson College with Miss Day and wondered what had become of her.

When I checked my notes, I knew why I remembered the name. Those of you who have read Guests will remember Mary Lu Keef, the little girl whose father brought the family from New York state when he took a job at Camp Aliceville during the war. Pickens County, Alabama was a strange new world for Mary Lu, who attended Aliceville Elementary School while both of her parents worked at the POW camp. In interviews, she often referred to her third grade teacher as an encouragement and inspiration to her when she came to Aliceville. Turns out that teacher was none other than Miss Day. Mary Lu thought so much of Miss Day that she sought her out for a visit when she returned to Aliceville for one of the POW camp reunions after she grew up.

I sent an e-mail to Mary Bess Paluzzi, director of the Aliceville Museum, to see if she knew the whereabouts of Miss Day, who would also be 98 years old now. Mary Bess remembered her well and noted that she had been the organist for the Aliceville First Baptist Church for fifty years. Her nephew had moved her to a nursing home in Brewton in 2003, and she passed away there in 2008.

I called the woman back and told her what I had been able to find out. Although she was sad to hear that her college friend had passed away, she was pleased to know of the many memories others had of her.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sylacauga Hosts Second Annual Marble Festival

This post doesn't have much to do with POWs or with my first two books, but I have been working for a year now on a research project that deals with the history of marble quarries in the Sylacauga, Alabama area. I thought my readers might like to see some views of the marble festival that was held there last week.
Sylacauga sits almost on top of a 32 mile long vein of mostly white marble. This sugar-white stone only appears in one other location in the world--Carrera, Italy, which is where Michaelangelo's marble came from.
This was the second annual marble festival in Sylacauga, and sculptors came and worked in the town park where visitors could watch as they coaxed incredibly beautiful images out of the stone. One such piece that my friend Marianne Moates Weber fell in love with and purchased last year shows a highly polished heart emerging from the rough marble.
If you look closely at the piece in the foreground of the lower right photograph above, you will see that it shows the heads of two girls facing in opposite directions. I was told that these are the daughters of the sculptor and that one went to Auburn and one to Alabama, which explains why they face in "opposite" directions.
I am continuing to gather information and interview people who grew up in the marble industry company village of Gantt's Quarry. Anyone who is interested in this story or has information to share is welcome to leave a comment. One thing I am especially looking for at the moment is a photograph of the Gantt's Quarry Methodist Church.