Words by Carolyn Fox. Photo by Larry Angier
Salute that grand old flag there,
With its stars, stripes and patch of blue.
We did our best to keep it waving
Now its up to all of you...
...poster, post office lobby
We stopped that morning in Henrieville, Utah, because we saw three
young men working up a sweat. In front of the post office, they
were breaking up a perfectly good concrete sidewalk.
Gotta put in a handicapped ramp, one told us as he heaved a
huge hunk into the back of a truck.
Thelma Smith, the postmaster, stepped from inside, and stood in
the doorway of the bedroom-sized building and said hello. Larry
remembered it was the last day to buy a certain item for his stamp
collection: the special cancellation envelope commemorating the
last mail route in the 1940s when the mail was still carried on
mule-back between Boulder, Utah, and Henrieville. Yes, Thelma
had just what we wanted, and, as we would soon see, just what
we needed. As we stepped through the door of the Henrieville Post
Office, 84736, we went back 50 years.
One entire wall and part of a door was covered with World War
II memorabilia. It was papered with black and white photos sepia-toned
with age, lists of names, lists of rationed items, newspaper clippings,
lyrics from songs like White Christmas, even a copy of the Pledge
of Allegiance. Wed come in for a commemorative stamp and had
found a display commemorating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the
End of World War II as it pertained to Henrieville and Garfield
Thelma was our guide. One-fourth of the towns citizens went off
to the war. All returned except her husbands older brother, Guy,
who went down with his ship, the USS Indianapolis on July 30,
1945. This was the ship that had just delivered the atom bomb.
In 14 days the war would be over. Her husbands grandmother, Elizabeth
J. Smith, had 21 grandsons in the war including Guy.
The museum-like wall display was Thelmas idea spawned by a series
of postage stamps honoring WWII veterans. She contacted the families
who were in the area at the time of the war. That was all it took.
The mementos started flooding in: dog tags, canceled stamps, coins,
letters, uniform patches, and pennants. Rather than a few items
from individual homes, the collection became grander than just
a sum of its parts. Now a youngster still in school can have a
panoramic view of whats involved when our country goes to war.
Tourists pass through town and stop, even some from Europe. They
never realized that the war put us through similar hardships as
they experienced. Thelma hopes lessons will be learned, and never
forgotten. Now its up to all of you.
To see more of Carolyn & Larrys photography, visit their site