Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.


Morning Star, March 23, 2008, pg. 18

In the January 20 edition of this column we mentioned the two new books just published posthumously that were written by Albion-native Gwen Dew (1903-1993). In the beginning chapters of “My, God, a Woman!” (which I found out Gwen penned in 1991 at the age of 88) she discusses growing up in Albion during the years 1903-1923.

Gwen really praises Floyd Starr and Starr Commonwealth for Boys. She then recalls her fond memories of Albion College, and even prints the Io Triumphe yell. “I defy anyone to tell me a crazier yell than Albion has,” Gwen writes. I encourage our readers to get a copy of this book, which comes in two parts due to its thickness. Among the photographs published therein is one showing Gwen at age 16 and her folks in front of their house, with Washington Gardner High School in the background. This is a book Albionites really ought to read. Copies may be ordered from Marian Concannon, P.O. Box 113, Smithville, WV 26178. Copies of the 2-volume set are $20 which includes shipping.

And now for some exciting news. On August 7, 1943 the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) broadcast a half-hour radio drama based upon Gwen’s new book “Prisoner of the Japs.” The program was complete with sound effects and narration. The broadcast was produced as part of the “Words at War” radio series (No. 6). Gwen’s book was adapted by Nora Sterling. The part of Gwen was played by Joan Alexander, with other actor voices being Ted Osborne, Lesley Woods, and Flora Campbell. The story covers Gwen’s harrowing experiences during the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong, and her subsequent interment and release.

The entire radio broadcast is available on the internet, where it may be downloaded for free onto your computer or audio player! At the end of the program, the voice of Gwen Dew as herself is heard, in which Gwen personally appeals for the defeat of the Japanese Empire. If you want to hear Gwen’s voice, I encourage our readers to visit this site: www.podcastdirectory.com/podcasts/36735. Scroll down backwards through the series numbers until you get to No. 6 which is Gwen’s. Click on the title and you’ll get the broadcast.

In July, 1953, Gwen and the Albion Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) collected 1,137 items of clothing, blankets, shoes, and other materials for distribution to those in need in Japan and war-torn Korea. From our Historical Notebook this week we feature Gwen standing at the side of her family house, 410 E. Michigan Avenue with those items just prior to shipping. In the center is Jaycee Stanley Sargent. On the right is Jaycee president Richard Hamm. This picture is illustrated on page 35 of my book “Growing Up in Albion.”

Gwen had the items successfully shipped to Japan, and then traveled to Japan to reunite with her husband, Major James Buchanan, who was stationed overseas. Tragically, he died of a sudden heart attack on August 10, 1953 the evening she arrived. The details of his death are covered in Gwen’s new book.

Gwen Dew, Jaycee Stanley Sargent and Jaycee president Richard Hamm, July 17, 1955

More about Gwen Dew:

Around the World with Gwen Dew

GWEN DEW, Short Version

GWEN DEW at the University of Michigan


Gwen Dew World War II radio drama broadcast on NBC

Next: 1955 TALENT SHOW

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All text copyright, 2019 © all rights reserved Frank Passic

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