Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Union Terminal and the USO

Cincinnati's Union Terminal, now the Cinicnnati Museum Center, was built originally in 1933 as a train station. Huge, significant portions of it have been preserved exactly as the way they were in the 1930's and 40's- there are points when you think you may actually have stepped back in time.

On August 27 of this year, the museum hosted a tribute to the USO during World War II. According to the museum: "Cincinnati Union Terminal was home to the first USO Troops-In Transit lounge, located in the terminal's Rockwood Tea Room. This room opened on June 8, 1941and provided a place for memebers of the armed forces to relax, clean up and write letters."

"The Union Terminal Lounge closed on June 10, 1946 and served 3,340,141 people during its five years in operation. The hostesses checked 2,200,000 pieces of luggage and sent out more than one million pieces of mail. More than 4,000 babies were cared for in the second floor lounge that was open for less than three years."

Some of us able to dress in the period went up to help add some ambience to the event. Here is the events mastermind, Vanessa, going over the plan with my buddy Adin and me:

It was an incredible experience; they had a little bit of everything. A big band and the opportunity to do some swing dancing; a car show:

Classic movies on the big screen:

And a real highlight, the Andrews Sisters-esque  group The Manhattan Dolls:

They had it all- talent, beauty, grace, showmanship- you name it. Check them out at http://www.themanhattandolls.com/ and check out YouTube for some of their performances. They do a great show! Incidentally, Louisville resident and World War II veteran Bob Pilkington was telling me the other day that he remembers how new and fresh the "tight harmony" of the Andrews Sisters sounded when he was listening to them when they were a new act.

SO- on my first post, I imagine I should tie this to Louisville somehow. Well- my Grandma is a life long Louisville resident but Cincinnati was always a big part of her life since she used to go up there to spend Summers with her great aunt Minnie. Aunt Minnie is here on the right; looks like someone may have something to answer for:
 There are a lot of stories about Aunt Minnie, but no one has ever said a single negative thing about her. She may look down to business in the photo but by all acounts, she was a total saint.

Thanks for joining me for my first post, everybody! Special thanks to Adin Pemberton for sharing a number of the images from the museum. Other posts will likely be quite a bit shorter, but I have been wanting to share that event.