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  • Writer's pictureCat T. Gardiner

Building a 1944 Apartment

Hi-di-ho, friends and hello summer! The heat in Florida hasn't kept me from a new project that I want to share with you. I've taken out my never-used tool belt filled with gadgets I have no idea how to use. LOL In preparation for the nation's largest WWII event in Conneaut, Ohio in mid-August, I am in the process of building a living historian booth with the help of my dad (who is showing me how to use the tools!) Good Lord, I cannot even hammer a nail without mucking it up!

Last year, Mr. Cat attended an incredible - professional - event held on the shore of Lake Erie, and I kicked myself for not going with him after examining the jaw-dropping photographs of not only battle scenes but also the various encampments. Axis and Allied, Home Front and Vendor Market all surrounded the beach head where G.Is came ashore in landing crafts. Of course, my G.I was riding around in a Sherman tank on the beach for three days. What could I possibly contribute? I needed a plan of attack for 2017 if I were to attend.

Each year, living historians travel from all over the nation to re-enact D-Day - 2,000 are expected this year, and I will be joining - setting up a mock 1940s apartment in the "Home Front Encampment."

Back in October, I had the pleasure of participating in the Collier County Museum's annual "500 Years of Florida History" and brought my little "Home Front Display." What I LOVED was interacting with the visitors (which included the Governor and his wife,) teaching all about life at home during the war. Honestly, I was shocked at how little some people knew but felt so gratified by their questions and how others shared their remembrances! One thing that really struck people was the unified, national spirit and commitment toward victory; it was all for the boys fighting to defeat tyranny and protect our liberties. I explained that every household took part in the ration, scrap metal and book drives; how they sacrificed the same exact way in Florida as they did in the other 47 states. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. And that got me thinking about Conneaut. I needed walls to my display!

500 Years of Florida History

I'm building a one-room apartment where I (the WWII-era character) live alone. Widowed, I rent this place while my son is serving in the Army Air Forces and my newly married daughter lives in Washington State. I'm proudly doing my bit as a bookkeeper at a local factory that makes hydrophones and sonar for the Navy, and I wait with bated breath for every letter from my dear son! My walls will be papered, windowed (displaying a blue-star flag) and I'll have a fireplace! The furnishings will all be authentic from the 1930s and pre-1941. Yes, the 1930s. You see, in my research, I learned that beginning 1942 at the start of America's involvement in the war, production of any and everything NOT beneficial to the war was halted. Home decor remained frozen in pre-war motifs and furnishings.

Each week, I'm out antiquing for items to decorate my 10x10 flat. (Click here for some piccies) I can't wait to show you the finished project. Here are a few images from this week's construction (Phase 2 - painting the outside walls.)

Stay tuned for my next update. Until then, friends ... KEEP 'EM FLYING.

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