March Field Air Museum is interested in your "Hidden Treasures”. The Curatorial and Collections Management departments at the museum is trying to create awareness of what treasures might be hidden in storage areas and attics in our neighborhoods. With aging veterans, families might not be aware that their personal records, scrapbooks and letters may have priceless value to museums.
Not long ago Pete Brabant, a Riverside resident, brought in a tattered scrapbook that his neighbor rescued from the top of a trash bin. It contained the GI’s original WWII photos taken on Okinawa, the Philippines, and Formosa; an original Goldfish Club membership card; and 1944 issues of “Inside Japan.” Thomas Barnidge, a Moreno Valley resident, brought in his father’s original 1947 “Permission to Marry” documents that were necessary when his Air Force dad wanted to marry a Chinese citizen. It shows a world very different from today. An original telegram was recently donated by Mike Avooski of Moreno Valley. It was his brother’s way of telling the family he was on his way home. “Please wire seventy-five dollars. Discharge Wednesday. Fishing Thursday. Broke Now. Letter Follows,” it said.
A truly significant find was completely unexpected. A box of letters was dropped off for the museum director. The cardboard box contained 90 personal letters written during WWII. The museum was unable to locate any surviving family members, but for the museum’s curator, Jeff Houlihan, this was a tremendous find. The letters cover SSgt Vince Rogers’ experiences as a young airman in the Second World War. Intimate and uncensored, the letters give a candid view of army life, training, flying and the gradually increasing awareness of the terrors of war. By preventing the letters from destruction the museum has been afforded an opportunity to preserve the legacy of the common Army Air Force service members of World War II, all through the first-person voice of SSgt Rogers. Interns from Cal State San Bernardino assisted the museum in creating an exhibit that has become popular ever since.
Many people have items that they do not know what to do with, or how to properly take care of. They are stored away in closets, attics, boxes, trunks or other places, collecting dust and developing irreversible damage. The museum is encouraging everyone to be on the lookout for some of these “hidden treasures” and to save them from destruction.
We'd love to see what you might have to share! Please contact our Collections Department at 951.902.5204 to schedule an appointment first, however, so we can give you proper attention when you bring your "Hidden Treasures" in for us to see. Thank you!