A Look Back in Time: Centralia High School Freshman Does Her ‘Bit’ to Support War Effort in 1943 - The Daily Chronicle (2023)

Compiled by Matthew Zylstra / matthew@chronline.com

Joye Nelsen, a 13-year-old Centralia High School freshman, had reportedly achieved her goal of wanting to do her “bit” for “Uncle Sam,” The Chronicle reported on Thursday, May 6, 1943.

The younger sister of six brothers in the military and an older sister serving as an Army nurse, Joye had cut her hair in order to donate it to the military for Army and Navy instruments.

“Gone are Joye’s pretty blonde tresses, which measured 22 inches in length before her mother … braided and cut them,” The Chronicle reported.

Joye decided to cut her hair after reading a newspaper article a few days earlier discussing the military’s need for human hair.

“Required was natural hair which had never seen a bleach or permanent, and Joye’s tresses met those qualifications,” The Chronicle reported.

The Chronicle said there was “little doubt” Joye Nelsen’s sister and brothers approved of her decision. Her sister was Annette Nelson, who was expected to graduate later in May from St. Peter’s nursing school in Olympia before being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Joye’s brothers were Corporal Ben Nelsen, a gunner and radio operator in the Army Air Force; Private Clarence Nelsen of the Army; Sergeant Alvin Nelsen; Lieutenant Frank Nelsen; Private Harold Nelsen, of the Army Air Force; and Petty Officer Third Class William Nelsen, who was undergoing special training at the naval station at Texas A&M.

Saturday, May 6, 1933

• The Chronicle released the results of a poll it was conducting on daylight saving time. As of noon on May 6, the results of the poll showed 29 local residents supported daylight saving time compared to five who were against it. One Centralia woman who supported changing the clock reportedly told The Chronicle, “I lived through it before.”

• W.E. “Pussyfoot” Johnson, described by The Chronicle as “the old dry crusader,” had reportedly stopped in Centralia on the afternoon of Friday, May 6 to proclaim the opening of the “dry” campaign against a vote in August to repeal the 18th amendment. Johnson spoke at the Centralia Methodist Church before leaving for Longview. At 71 years old, Johnson was declared by The Chronicle to still be the “able orator” and a strong defender of prohibition. However, his health was reportedly declining. According to The Chronicle, Johnson lost his right eye after a mob in London stoned him.

• A decision had reportedly been made to release Mahatma Gandhi from prison in India on Tuesday, May 9, the Associated Press (AP) reported in a story featured on the front page of The Chronicle. The decision to release Gandhi came after an exchange of cables between the government of India and London. According to the AP, “It was expected that the Mahatma would start his fast in the Yeroda prison Monday (at) noon and find himself free (the) next morning.”

• L.K. Smith, 32, and E.I. McCord, 24, were reportedly being held in the Lewis County Jail on May 6 on charges of stealing gas. The two men, both Centralia residents, were arrested on the night of May 5 by two Chehalis police officers. A young woman was reportedly with the men but it was “doubtful” charges would be filed against her.

• Judge C.A. Studebaker of the Lewis County Superior Court gave Frank McDonald, a 40-year-old from Seattle, a five to 10-year sentence in the state penitentiary in Walla Walla on larceny charges for attempting to steal a car. The Chronicle described McDonald’s punishment as a “heavy sentence.”

• The boys’ band from the state training school, later to become the Green Hill School, were expected to present a program at the Westminster Presbyterian Church during its evening services on Sunday, May 7. During the evening service, young people were “especially” invited. Rev. J.C. Tourtellot was expected to speak on “The Sacrifice Hit” while he was expected to deliver a sermon on the subject of “Keeping God Bottled Up” during the morning service.

• A musical performance was expected to be held on the evening of Friday, May 12 in the Chehalis Junior High School auditorium. Performances were expected from the grade school orchestra, the Junior High orchestra, the grade school and primary school choruses, the Junior High School Girls’ Glee Club, and the high school Boys’ and Girls’ Glee clubs.

Thursday, May 6, 1943

• Jennings A. Bennett of the U.S. Navy had been presented the silver star award for “very conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action” on Wednesday, May 5. Bennett was presented the award by Captain E.B. McMorries, who was serving as the commandant of the Bremerton Naval Hospital. Bennett was recovering from “serious” wounds at the hospital at the time. Originally from Chehalis, Bennett was joined by his fiance, Leona O’Connor of Centralia, his aunt from Bremerton and his grandmother from Chehalis.

• Centralia had raised its share of Lewis County’s monthly quota for war bonds after raising $611,365, The Chronicle reported. J.C. McNiven, the Centralia War Savings Chairman, said the amount raised during April would probably “stand as the highest monthly figure of the year in every respect.” Total sales of war bonds in Centralia stood at $2,115,427.90 since the start of the war.

• Mildred Sherwood, the Chehalis public librarian, had reportedly resigned from her position effective June 1, according to Dr. J.D. Walker, the chair of the city’s library board. Sherwood was expected to become head of the soon to be established Thurston County library. The Chronicle reported the new Thurston County library would include a bookmobile for providing library access to people in remote parts of Thurston County. Sherwood had served as head of the Chehalis library for three years. Her successor had not yet been named as of May 6.

• In an Associated Press story featured on the front page of The Chronicle, it was reported Second Lieutenant George Lewis of Randle had been shot down over Antwerp and become a prisoner of war in Germany. The news came from his wife, Trudy, who said she was notified on April 12 Lewis was missing in action before receiving a telegram three days later informing her he had become a prisoner. A bombardier who was in a B-17 “Flying Fortress” at the time he was shot down, both Lewis and his wife were graduates of the University of Washington. The two had married the previous November.

• Pelagia Liebich, 58, had reportedly died in a Centralia hospital early on Wednesday, May 5. She was survived by her husband; three stepsons; four sisters including “Mrs. Robert Braun” of Centralia as well as three sisters in Germany; a nephew; two nieces; and seven grandchildren.

• Karen Elaine Cowles, the five-month-old daughter of “Mr. and Mrs. Donald A. Cowles” of Chehalis had reportedly died in a local hospital on the evening of Tuesday, May 4. Karen had been born on Dec. 2, 1942.

• Clarence Swedberg, the son of “Mr. and Mrs. A.F. Swedberg” of Centralia, had been awarded the silver bars of a first lieutenant, The Chronicle reported. Clarence Swedberg was reportedly in Colorado training with one of the military’s “toughest” fighting units, the mountain infantry. A graduate of Centralia High School and Centralia Junior College, Clarence Swedberg was 24 years old at the time. He was joined in Colorado by his wife, Nadine, also of Centralia.

Wednesday, May 6, 1953

• The Chronicle featured a notice on the front page of its May 6 edition informing readers Queen Elizabeth would be crowned on June 2. The Chronicle appeared to have begun including writings about the queen from Marion Crawford, who knew the queen personally, in the lead up to the queen’s coronation. Queen Elizebeth was described by the notice as the sixth woman to rule England. She served as queen until she died last year on Sept. 8, 2022.

• Two flash fire victims were reportedly being treated in local hospitals on May 6. Louis Neal, a 37-year-old from Bucoda, was “scorched on his face, arms and upper body when flaming gasoline was thrown on him in an explosion” on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 5. Neal was being treated at the St. Helen Hospital in Chehalis. Andrew Cingel of Centralia was reportedly being treated in the Lewis County General Hospital after his clothing was set on fire on the afternoon of May 5 after a can of lacquer paint fell while Cingel was removing a flaming container of paint thinner from a workroom in Saindon’s Bowling Alley on North Tower Avenue.

• More efficient use of Lewis County’s law enforcement agencies was “scheduled” in the future after the heads of the four main law enforcement organizations announced they had “largely ironed out” the question of jurisdiction. According to The Chronicle, the jurisdiction issue had been a “headache to cooperation” for years. The announcement followed a meeting at the Lewis County Courthouse of State Patrol Sergeant Marvin Paulson, Lewis County Sheriff Earl Hilton, Chehalis Police Chief Tom Murray and Centralia Police Chief Otto Rucker.

• Lewis County Sheriff Earl Hilton had reportedly announced two open positions on his staff would likely remain vacant due to the wishes of the Lewis County Commissioners. A Mossyrock deputy position and the job of office clerk were the vacant positions. The county commissioners reportedly urged Hilton to keep the positions open “as a means of economy.”

In an Associated Press story featured in The Chronicle, it was reported the Washington state Republican Party was expected to elect a new chair to replace William Culliton during a meeting of the Republican State Central Committee on May 24. George Kinnear, a Seattle attorney, was considered the leading candidate for the chairmanship.

• Anna Butterfield of Tenino had reportedly died in an Olympia hospital on the evening of Friday, May 1. Butterfield was born in England in 1878 and had lived in the area for the previous 35 years. She was survived by her husband, two sisters and four brothers.

• William Riggs, an 88-year-old retired farmer and logger, had reportedly died on Tuesday, May 5 in a Morton hospital. Riggs was born on July 30, 1864 in Virginia and had lived in Morton for 53 years. He was survived by a son, a daughter, 20 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Monday, May 6, 1963

• Vicki Wilson, described by The Chronicle as a “dark-haired Boistfort high school senior,” was awarded the crown of the 1963 Lewis-Pacific Dairy Princess on the night of Saturday, May 4 in Chehalis. Wilson’s selection marked the eighth annual Dairy Princess event. Wilson was the daughter of “Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Wilson” and worked on the family’s 500-acre dairy farm and was reportedly raising her own Holstein heifer.

• Alice Leedy, 50, was reportedly badly hurt on the afternoon of Sunday, May 5 in a car accident on the highway about a mile west of Packwood. Leedy, a Riffe resident, was in the Morton hospital with broken ribs as well as jaw and head injuries.

• Vernon “Bud” Wedin, described by The Chronicle as a “young Chehalin,” was reportedly one of two finalists to be student body president of Stanford University. The final election was to take place on Thursday, May 9. Vernon Wedin was the son of “Mr. and Mrs. Vern Wedin” and was a 1961 graduate of W.F. West High School. His opponent was Tom Walsh of Portland. According to school officials, were Wedin to be elected, it would mark the first time in “recent years” an underclassman had been elected to the position. Vernon Wedin was described by The Chronicle as an “outstanding athlete and student at W.F. West. He won numerous sports awards and was the valedictorian of his graduating class.” Based on the website of the Associated Students of Stanford University, it appears Vernon Wedin was successfully elected student body president for the 1963-1964 school year.

• Susan Potts, a 76-year-old Centralia resident, reportedly passed away in her home, The Chronicle reported. Lewis County Coroner Dr. L.G. Steck reported Potts had become ill and died of natural causes. Potts was born on July 4, 1886 in Topeka, Kansas. She had moved to Centralia in 1952 and according to The Chronicle had no known survivors.

• “Mrs. Dennis Doyle,” “Mrs. Ted Gilbert” and Genevieve Gallegher had reportedly attended a meeting of the Seattle Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women in Everett on April 28 and 29 as delegates from Chehalis’ St. Joseph’s Parish. A High Mass was celebrated on the evening of April 28 as part of the event, The Chronicle reported.

• Candidates for the honor of “Girl of the Year” at Mossyrock High School were pictured in The Chronicle. The girls were Barbara Fitzhugh, Peggy Anderson, Elaine Overstreet, Carmen Smetzler, Linda Workman, Wanda Hagen, Therese Ghosn and Linda Warren. Elaine Powell, another candidate for the title, was not pictured.

• A five-room house in Centralia was listed for $6,750 in The Chronicle. THe house was described as being located on Seminary Hill, having a view, and being positioned on four lots.

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