The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Greetings ta ever one in western Illinois and all readers of "The Quill".
Day in Infamy
This come'n Friday is Pearl Harbor remembrance day or as President Roosevelt stated "A Day of Infamy". Try and think and/or remember the emotions that were left upon hear'n of that terrible news back then. It ultimately had a dramatic affect on our country in many ways!
One enterest'n story about WWII involves Mary Babnik Brown who was an American woman who donated her long blond hair to be used as crosshairs in Norden bombsights in WWII.
Brown was a Coloradan; the child of Slovenian immigrants. She left elementary school at the age of 12, to help support her family as a servant for $5/week. When she was 13, she lied about her age so that she could work at National Broom Factory for 75 cents a day, a job she held for 42 years.
Her younger siblings pitched in by picking up chunks of coal that had fallen onto the railroad tracks. Brown's lone prized possession was her knee-length fine blonde hair.
Brown in the 1940s:
In 1943, Brown saw an advertisement in a newspaper, searching for women with blonde hair of at least 22" length, that had never been treated with chemicals or hot irons. The military was offering to purchase such hair, to be used for meteorological instruments in the war effort.
WASHINGTON INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Miss. Mary Babnik
301 1/2 Spring Street
Dear Miss. Babnik,
We have received your letter relative to hair for meteorological instruments.
If your hair is 22" long, blonde, and has never been treated with chemicals or hot irons, we suggest you send us a sample by Registered Mail.
As soon as it has been received and tested, we will advise you if it can be used for our purposes.
Please understand that only hair that is 22" long or longer can be used. The portion that is acceptable will be paid for in United States War Savings Stamps at the regular current market price.
Thank you very much for your kind offer.
Very truly yours,
WASHINGTON INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
/s/E. Leon Virts
The "meteorological instruments" were actually crosshairs for Norden bombsights. The Army Air Forces (the predecessor to today's US Air Force) had tried various materials for the Norden bombsight, including black widow spider webbing, but nothing could withstand the temperature variations like fine blonde human hair that had never been treated with chemicals or heat.
*A Norden bombsight and crosshairs: Norden Bombsight
Carl L. Norden and Theodore O. Barth developed the first effective bombsight in the United States in 1930. It was used in World War Two and patented in 1947.
Bombsights permitted pinpoint accuracy, but required a visible target and a hazardous straight level approach.
Brown sent off a sample of her 34" blonde hair to the government for analysis. After analyzing her hair, they agreed to purchase it, offering to pay her in war savings stamps. But Brown wouldn't accept payment for her hair. She saw it as her patriotic duty to help the war effort. She later recalled that she cried for months after cutting her hair.
It was decades before Brown learned the true use of her hair, and the effect of her sacrifice. In 1987, on her 80th birthday, she received a personal thank-you letter from President Ronald Reagan.
THE WHITE HOUSE
November 6, 1987
Dear Mrs. Brown:
I was pleased to learn of your strong love for our nation, of how you donated your hair to the war effort during World War II and of its use as crosshairs in the Norden bombsight, helping our bombadiers sight enemy ground targets in Europe and the Pacific. You can be very proud of a selfless act that set a splendid example during wartime. Your story has touched me deeply.
When I hear of such patriotism, I am reminded of what an honor it is to be called to serve as President of the United States.
Nancy joins me in sending our warm best wishes for a very Happy 80th Birthday.
Brown's hometown of Pueblo, Colorado declared an official Mary Babnik Brown day, and she also received an award from the Colorado Aviation Historical Society.
Said Brown: "Here I am, an old lady of 83, and I'm still flying high".
*7 America honors woman whose hair helped win WWII
By Dick Donovan, Staff Writer
In 1942, Mary Babnik Brown made a bizarre contribution to the war effort and played a key role in bringing Germany and Japan to their knees--when her silken hair was used in America's super-secret Norden bombsight!
Mary's fine blonde hair--never bleached or touched with a curling iron--provided more durable than the strands of black widow spider webs originally used as cross hairs in the bombsight.
Now 83, Mary was recently honored for her unheralded contribution in a ceremony at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where she received a special achievement award from the Colorado Aviation Historical Society.
Mary recalled that in 1942 she saw a newspaper ad requesting contributions of hair to the war effort. Uncle Sam wanted hair at least 22 inches long.
"I really didn't want to give up my hair at the time," Mary told The NEWS from her home in Pueblo, Colo.
"But it was so much trouble to take care of that I started thinking about having it cut."
So the patriotic young woman cut off her long flowing locks and sent them to the War Department.
"After I did it, I cried and cried. I went to my mother and said, "Mama, why did you let me cut my hair?" It was two months before I went anywhere except to work...and I wore a bandanna there."
The Norden bombsight was one of America's most closely guarded secrets and was used for high altitude bombing missions with the B-29 Super Fortress and the workhorse of World War 2, the B-17 Flying Fortress.
It was so secret, Mary didn't learn how her hair had been used until 1987!
"I couldn't believe it when they told me," she said. "I never knew! All I was told was that my hair was exactly what was wanted...virgin hair. When I learned how it was used, it made me so proud.
"And the ceremony at the Air Force Academy was the most beautiful thing I've every known. I was so happy I cried. I'll never, never, never forget it.
I'm still on cloud nine. Here I am, an old lady of 83...and I'm still flying high."
There ya have it then, just as it happened. There were many different sacrifices fer the war effort, both at home and abroad.
Winter Is Yet To Come
The first day of winter is yet over two weeks away (December 21). It had a good early start last weekend. It is enterest'n how events such as bad weather tends to pull people closer together.
Last Wishes of a Great Warrior
And finally fer this weeks column here is a great lesson to learn from the last wishes of Alexander the Great...
On his death bed, Alexander summoned his army generals and told them his three ultimate wishes:
1. The best doctors should carry his coffin...
2. The wealth he has accumulated (money, gold, precious stones) should be scattered along the procession to the cemetery...
3. His hands should be let loose, so they hang outside the coffin for all to see!!
One of his generals who was surprised by these unusual requests asked Alexander to explain.
Here is what Alexander the Great had to say:
1. "I want the best doctors to carry my coffin to demonstrate that in the face of death, even the best doctors in the world have no power to heal.."
2. "I want the road to be covered with my treasure so that everybody sees that material wealth acquired on earth, will stay on earth.."
3. I want my hands to swing in the wind, so that people understand that we come to this world empty handed and we leave this world empty handed after the most precious treasure of all is exhausted, and that is:
We do not take to our grave any material wealth.
TIME is our most precious treasure because it is LIMITED.
We can produce more wealth, but we cannot produce more time.
When we give someone our time, we actually give a portion of our life that we will never take back.
Our time is our life!
The best present that you can give to your family is your time and to God is your life.
This is a good time of the year ta give the death wishes of Alexander The Great some thought. I'm sure the boys will dwell on em for a spell.
That's all fer this weeks column. Hope'n ta see ya in the church of yer choice this week.
Remember, wherever ya are, whatever ya be do'n "BE A GOOD ONE!'
Keep on Smile'n
Catch ya later