The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

July 31, 2013

Local man’s exhibit helps guide viewers through World War II

JOPLIN, Mo. — A young brunette smiled for a photograph taken at her station in a World War II manufacturing plant.

Not long after the shot, 19-year-old Norma Jean Baker dyed her hair and moved to Hollywood to become the blond bombshell immortalized in movies.

“A lot of people are unaware that Marilyn Monroe started out as a ‘Rosie the Riveter,’” said Allen Shirley, president of the Joplin Historical Society and a collector of history relics, including the photo of the teenage Monroe.

A display about the “Rosie the Riveter” movie and poster promotions during the war — showing women supporting the war effort by holding down jobs traditionally done by men — is among the exhibits about World War II owned by Shirley.

He will unveil his collection Saturday at the Joplin Museum Complex in Schifferdecker Park. An opening ceremony is set for 10 a.m.

Another display focuses on WASPs, those female pilots who flew aircraft from the plants where they were made to the military bases where they were stationed or shipped out to overseas destinations.

One of the members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots was assigned to tow a large piece of sheet metal that was used as a target in the training of artillerymen.

“That was a gutsy job,” Shirley said. “The contributions of women in the war effort are irrefutable.”

Another exhibit features autographs of eight of the pilots who served in the Tuskegee Airmen’s “Red Tails.”

That was America’s first black military air corps. The U.S. military trained the pilots at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where an aeronautical program was in place before the war. It was the institute where George Washington Carver, who grew up near Diamond, had taught.

The story of Doolittle’s Raiders, who flew to fame by bombing Tokyo in 1942 in retaliation for the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor, also is recorded. There were 80 airmen divided into 14 crews who took on the dangerous mission. Shirley has autographs of 12 of those crews.

Iconic photographs such as the raising of the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima and the “Sailor’s Kiss” photograph taken when the war ended are captured in displays.

Though for decades it was not know what sailor was shown kissing a nurse in the famous Life magazine portrait, the mystery was finally solved.

“It took 60 years and digital technology to learn who that sailor was,” Shirley said. His display features autographs of three candidates; one of those men eventually was determined to be the one because of a scar on his wrist that was visible in the digitized and enlarged images.

There also are artifacts recalling the horror of the Nazi concentration camps.

“You can’t talk about World War II without talking about the Holocaust,” Shirley said. His exhibit contains pieces of two prison uniforms worn in Polish concentration camps.

“The Nazis tried to get rid of all of them,” he said of the uniforms, “but a few made it out” as evidence of the camps.

Shirley’s pieces of cloth are those of the imprinted prisoner number. One has a green triangle beside the number that denotes the prisoner was a criminal.

The exhibit also features a Jewish prayer book that someone had been able to hold onto in the Auschwitz camp.

“It was obviously very well hidden,” Shirley said. “If a Nazi guard had found it, the owner would have been dead.”

Shirley’s study of World War II is made even more personal for him because his father served three years and seven months, involved in most of the major European and African campaigns. He also was sent to the Pacific theater but was discharged shortly after the reassignment.

Shirley buys the artifacts for his collection from 10 reputable dealers.

“It’s not a cheap hobby, but it’s a necessary one because if we don’t preserve it, it will be lost,” he said of the history portrayed by the items.

“History is important because it gives us the track of how we got to where we are today.”

Collections

JOPLIN RESIDENT ALLEN SHIRLEY has previously shown his collections relating to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, and the Titanic. His World War II exhibit will be on display until Aug. 30.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • State audit of Joplin School District begins

    Staff members from the state auditor’s office have begun their audit of the Joplin School District, Superintendent C.J. Huff said Monday. They are expected to be in the district four days per week for the next five to six months, or perhaps longer, until the audit is complete, Huff said.

    July 21, 2014

  • Burglary conviction draws shock prison time

    A Joplin man who received 120 days of shock incarceration time Friday in a drunken-driving case in Jasper County Circuit Court was assessed a concurrent sentence Monday in a burglary case.

    July 21, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Family gatherings mirror circle of life

    The annual family gathering is getting bigger. There tends to be an ebb and a flow to most family gatherings. When you’re a kid, and especially if you’re a kid from a large Catholic family, the gatherings seem to be huge.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Carthage man pleads guilty in sexual abuse case

    A Carthage man pleaded guilty Monday to sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl in a plea agreement that would cap the length of his prison term at no more than 15 years.

    July 21, 2014

  • Main Street TIF district study to begin

    A measure that allows the city to charge its administrative costs for studying a proposal to create a tax increment financing district on South Main Street was approved Monday by the Joplin City Council.

    July 21, 2014

  • 071714 Jasper Cty Dispatch1_72.jpg Area communities, Jasper County work to improve communications

    The first law enforcement officer to respond to a fatal shooting last November at Northpark Mall was from the Duquesne Police Department — not Joplin. Joplin police Chief Jason Burns said he wasn’t bothered by that. “We dispatch for them, and they had an officer close who could get there faster,” he said. “And getting help to people as quickly as possible is more important than jurisdictions.”

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • New and old TIF districts on agenda for Joplin council

    Another tax increment financing district is being proposed for Joplin, this one along South Main Street. The area is close to the new Mercy Hospital Joplin that is set to open next year. RKS Development is seeking authorization from the Joplin City Council when it meets Monday night to prepare a request to establish a TIF district.

    July 20, 2014

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Family grows by one — a black Lab named Raven

    If you haven’t experienced the feeling of a tiny puppy in your lap at the end of a perfect July Saturday — hammock time, s’mores, leisurely walks, you know the kind — I highly recommend it. It is pure joy.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042017 Jo Ellis_c.jpg Jo Ellis: Car show, sidewalk sale and more scheduled for weekend in Carthage

    All roads leading to Carthage should be packed this weekend as numerous events geared toward entertainment, cultural pursuits and bargain hunting are expected to pull in large crowds.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Hobby Lobby lawyer to speak at watermelon feed

    Josh Hawley, who helped represent Hobby Lobby in arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on contraception requirements in the Affordable Care Act, has been added to the list of speakers for Thursday’s annual watermelon feed sponsored by Newton County Republicans.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Do you think Missouri should pass legislation that would allow a prescription drug database to be kept?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter