Thursday, April 18, 2013

New Exhibit at Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum to Highlight Area Bands

Abilene Merchants Military Band in 1896.

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum will be host to a new exhibit, Strike Up the Band: The Bands of Dickinson County and Abilene, showing now until September 2.
Near the turn of the twentieth century, it was common for most communities in America to have their own city band.  Dickinson County was no exception, and communities such as Talmage, Dayton, Hope, Herington, and many others boasted their own band.  Of the groups in Dickinson County, the Abilene Municipal Concert likely rose to the most prominence, marching in both inaugural parades for President Eisenhower in Washington, DC.
These stories will be shared through photographs taken over the span of one hundred years by the Jeffcoat Studio and other area photographers.  Strike Up the Band is now on display at the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum at 321 N. Broadway St, Abilene.  Please call (785) 263-9882 for more information.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Guest Post: Recollections of World War II from Marvin and Lois (Hahn) Ledy

Over the course of this year, we will sporadically feature stories on World War II from local Dickinson County residents, interviewed and written by Amy Feigley. 


Lois and Marvin Ledy
In 1941, Marvin Ledy was a high school student in Miltonvale, Kansas when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He had just returned home from church with his family when he heard the news. A few counties away, Lois Hahn, a high school student in Gypsum, Kansas, was at a movie when she heard the news. Like most Americans, they were scared and had no idea what was going to happen next after the bombing.

After the draft of 1942, Marvin registered, and was in the first group of nineteen year olds to be drafted from Dickinson County. He served our country as a part of the 738th Tank Battalion, from February 1943 until November 1945. Before Marvin was sent for training in Fort Benning, Georgia, he went on a blind date with a beautiful young lady by the name of Lois Hahn (his future wife), to the Plaza Theater in Abilene.  While at Fort Benning, Marvin worked the radios and telephone switchboards.

After Fort Benning, Marvin was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky on May 1, 1943, for radio school. He then received his first furlough to come home in August 1943 and of course to go on another date with Lois. While at Fort Knox, he was issued an m3/Grant CDL tank in December 1943. In January 1944, Marvin then moved to Camp Bouse in Arizona. While there, he and his battalion trained with tanks at night. He came home in March 1944, on a ten day furlough, and married Lois Hahn. From there, he returned to the desert of Arizona and eventually went on to Fort Dix, New Jersey. “We weren’t at Fort Dix very long before we had to get a crew cut” says Ledy. “We were at Fort Dix for about three weeks before we boarded a ship, which was the first part of May in 1944. We shipped out on Marcatania and it took about eight days until we docked at Glasgow, Scotland.” From there, he and his crew rode a train to the very west side of Whales, where, as Marvin stated, the weather was very nice.

With Marvin away, Lois kept busy back home. She worked at Duckwall’s and then went on to work in the Welfare Department in the Courthouse. When Marvin returned home in 1945, she left her job. “During the war, everything was rationed. You had to have a coupon for pretty much everything from coffee to sugar and from shoes to gas. That is how we lived, from day to day not knowing if we were going to have something or not. But, we proudly did this for those serving our country” says Lois. “There were bond drives. That was the big thing, people would buy bonds.” During the war, the USO dances were held at a hotel basement in Abilene.

Wayne Barton and Marvin Ledy
On November 28, 1944, Marvin and his crew moved to Aachen, Germany, right before the Battle of the Bulge. They then moved to Belgium and were there until December 26, 1944 and eventually moved back to Stolberg, Germany after the battle. Marvin eventually made his way back to Aachen in March 1945. During the Battle of the Bulge, Lois did not hear from her husband for six weeks.

In August 1945, Marvin and his battalion returned home to the United States. “It was quite an episode getting off the ship in Boston to get back home to Abilene” explains Ledy. “Instead of going to Fort Leavenworth, we went to the Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri. We got back to Abilene right during the fair, at 4:00 a.m. I walked home and surprised my family.  The communication back then was not like it is now.” Marvin’s family knew he was coming home, but just did not know when. 

During his war experience, Marvin received three battle stars: Battle of the Bulge, Rhineland and Central Europe, and 3 stripes for eighteen months overseas, 2 stars for his status as a T-5 Corporal and a good conduct medal. “When we were on our way back home on the ship, two A-bombs were dropped on Japan” states Geist. When Marvin returned home, he helped out on the farm before moving to Indiana to work at a wiring cable factory, which is the same job he had before the war. He and Lois moved back to Kansas in May 1946 to the farm and eventually to a farm near Talmage in March 1949. They resided on the farm until 1974.