Local Legion post finds true treasure in the attic

Monday, August 20, 2012

We've all heard the stories. People rummaging around in their attics or cleaning out basements and stumbling upon relics of the past or priceless artifacts or heirlooms.

Rehanging one of 14 World War I bond posters at the Putnam County Museum, Executive Director Tanis Monday shares the story of how the rare items were discovered, and how the backs of them indicate they were framed in 1940.

TV programs would make you believe stuff like that happens every day ... it just never happens to us.

But it has happened in Greencastle, and the Putnam County Museum has become the beneficiary.

Museum Executive Director Tanis Monday explained that Jeff Bray and William Tucker, members of Greencastle American Legion Post 58 on Indianapolis Road, were cleaning out the attic at the building when they came upon something quite special.

"They came in and said, 'We've got some old pictures,'" Monday recalled. "I was thinking, 'Pictures, OK ... probably Putnam County Legion pictures blown up.'"

But she went down to the Legion post to investigate the find.

"Then I saw these posters and said, 'Oh my goodness.'"

What the Legion clean-up crew had discovered in the attic were more than 40 World War I-era posters, urging Americans to buy U.S. Government Bonds through the Third Liberty Loan program.

Fourteen of them, in varying sizes, are now hanging on the wall of the Putnam County Museum at 1105 N. Jackson St. (the old Kroger center site at the north end of Greencastle).

"It's like our own little 'Treasures in the Attic' story," Monday offered.

The great thing about the find is that someone at the Legion saved those posters not once but probably twice. They could easily have found their way into a dumpster or a private collection over the past 50 or 60 years.

The posters, created in 1918 and 1919, were framed by the company Cartwright & Pease in 1940. Sometime, likely in the 1960s or 1970s when the Legion building was built on Indianapolis Road, the posters were moved and stored away in the attic.

"Fortunately they cleaned out the attic," Monday said of Legion members, "and had the presence of mind to think, 'We want to share this history with others.'"

Examples of the posters include a flag-draped soldier with the message "Over the Top for You," and a little girl whose daddy bought her a bond, "Did yours?"

Monday checked the Internet for dates and information, discovering the Third Liberty Loan initiative began April 5, 1918.

Many of the posters are discolored by age and some have water damage, but then again they are nearly 100 years old now.

One of the best examples is a colorful poster that proclaims, "Over the Top for You" and features a soldier wrapped in an American flag.

Created in 1918, it carries the signature of artist Sidney H. Riesenberg in the lower left corner, along with the "Buy U.S. Government Bonds" message of the Third Liberty Loan effort.

Another artful piece features a crouching Boy Scout prominently holding a sword captioned "Weapons for Liberty."

Still another poster features a nurse holding onto the handles of a stretcher, proclaiming "Hold Up Your End" and noting the goal of War Fund Week was $100 million. That's $100 million in 1918, remember. In 2012, that's some kind of Powerball figure.

A couple of the posters even took aim at conserving food products.

One, depicting a loaf of bread and a bread knife, carries the tagline: "Save a loaf a week, help win the war."

Still another offers nothing but text and advises Americans to save wheat, meat, fats and sugar ... "and serve the cause of freedom."

Another interesting poster depicts a father and his Doughboy son with the caption, "Goodbye, Dad, I'm off to fight for Old Glory, you buy U.S. Government Bonds."

All generations were touched upon by the campaign as one of the better posters features a little girl clutching a bond to her chest. It is headlined, "My Daddy bought me a Government Bond, did yours?"

The posters are on loan to the museum for an indefinite amount of time. But they have already made an impression on Executive Director Monday.

"They're really quite amazing in my opinion," she assures.

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  • What an interesting find!

    Plus, the article is very informative. Good work!

    -- Posted by the_bugler on Mon, Aug 20, 2012, at 3:27 AM
  • I think this is a great find .

    -- Posted by sierra@ccrtc.com on Mon, Aug 20, 2012, at 12:17 PM
  • Truely a great find. Way to go Jeff.

    -- Posted by interestedperson#1 on Mon, Aug 20, 2012, at 6:52 PM
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