Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, May 10, 2009, pg. 3
Before we get into this week’s theme, here are a few interesting tidbits of information about Gwen Dew. During a period in the 1920s, Gwen worked for the Albion Evening Recorder newspaper. One of her duties there was to compile the annual chronology of events that happened during a particular year, which was published in the city directories. That job was taken over by George Mather when Gwen left. Gwen’s maternal grandparents were Orton and Ida (Grover) Robinson. Orton served on the Village Council during the 1860s and 1870s, and served a term as Village President. Gwen writes a whole page about them, entitled “Memory’s Gift” in the 1932 book “Albion’s Milestones and Memories,” page 40.
We continue with our feature this month about Albion’s most famous reporter and photographer: Gwen Dew (1903-1993), whose tombstone in Riverside Cemetery will be dedicated on Memorial Day, May 25. Gwen spent the War years in the U.S. on the speaking circuit promoting her book, and raising War bonds for the U.S. Government.
When Gwen returned to the U.S. in 1942 after being released as a prisoner, she was approached by the U.S. Treasury Department to be part of a speaking tour to raise $100 million worth of Treasury bonds for the War effort. We excerpt portions of the story from Gwen’s book, “My God, a Woman!” which is available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce.
“When I returned to New York...I received a phone call which again sent me down an even more exciting road. The phone caller identified himself as being from the Treasury Department. “We are going to start a drive to sell $100 million worth of Treasury bonds. We have heard you can be very valuable to us. Will you help? A call to my sense of patriotism always brings an answer of “yes.” I inquired, “What are you planning and what is the name of the project?”
“Norman Rockwell designed four posters for us called “Four Freedoms.” We are going to base our drive along these lines....”
“At the end of the tour, the Treasury Department presented me with the coveted “E” pin--E for Excellence--of which I am still very proud. The largest and most thrilling audience I ever appeared before was in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. As I looked out at the sea of faces, it seemed impossible that I, Gwen Dew, who came from a small town in Michigan, was talking to an audience of 100,000 people. But it was true!”
“When I returned to New York City, I was tired but exhilarated. I felt I had done my part in helping defeat Japan. War takes money, and I had done my part in the effort to sell bonds....”
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photo of Gwen Dew on the lecture circuit during World War II, holding a copy of her 1943 book “Prisoner of the Japs.” The location was the WAC Training Center at Ft. Des Moines, Iowa. On the left is PFC Marion Smith who had formerly worked for the Sugar News in Manila. On the right is Lt. Marguerite Yancy holding the tin cup Gwen used in the Japanese concentration camp at Fort Stanley in Hong Kong. Yancy had formerly worked as a reporter for the North China Daily News in Shanghai.
Gwen Dew on the lecture circuit during World War II
All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic