Grasonville VFW Post 7464 marks 70th anniversary
GRASONVILLE — Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 7464, in Grasonville, celebrated its 70th anniversary Sunday afternoon, June 12. The post was founded, June 13, 1946, shortly after World War II.
New Post Commander Herb Jones welcomed the nearly 100 guests who attended in the air-conditioned, enclosed Post pavilion.
While patriotic music played in the background, Jones introduced several guest speakers, starting with Pearl Collier, 95, of Grasonville, who was one of the founding members of Post 7464 Ladies Auxiliary that was founded one year, 1947, after the Post was started. She was 26 at that time.
Collier spoke briefly. She mentioned the original meeting place for the VFW was in the room upstairs above the Grasonville Post Office. She said the same room also was used briefly as a movie theater.
She concluded, “It’s with great pleasure I’m very proud to be a member of this great organization that has served the community for so many years!”
She then asked the audience, “Was that brief enough,” eliciting laughter.
Before Jones introduced the next speaker, he took a moment to point out that longtime VFW member Alan Holloman, of Grasonville, a Vietnam War veteran, came up with the idea to have a celebration for the 70th anniversary for the post months ago. Jones recognized Holloman with a special thanks. He added Holloman has been asked to serve as the official Post Historian.
He then introduced the keynote speaker, past Post Commander Wheeler Baker (1971), former Queen Anne’s County commissioner and former Maryland State Delegate. Baker, along with his younger brothers Albert Lee Baker and Teddy Baker are all Vietnam War veterans and all members of the VFW.
Baker proudly shared that when the post was founded in 1946, his grandfather, Ralph Baker provided $6,000 to help finance the original VFW building construction.
“It was a very proud moment that a year later, that mortgage note was torn up, as it was quickly paid off,” he said.
Basker’s father, Albert Baker, a World War II veteran, was one of the earliest commanders of Post 7464.
Baker also shared stories about the use of the property where the Post now stands. “In my youth, I remember a baseball field here, and later a go-cart track, and then there was a soccer field here,” he said. All of this was between the current VFW building and where the motel now stands.
“I’m happy about many of the changes made here at the VFW. We used to have racially segregated VFW posts., separate black and white posts. I’m happy we’re all together now. It’s the way it should be,” he said.
On a very personal note, Baker mentioned that his mother also served in the military during WWII. When she returned after the war, “she wanted to join the VFW, but that wasn’t allowed in those days. It was for men only. That hurt her feelings. But she supported the creation of this VFW,” he said.
His late father in-law Tom Ewing, the owner of the former Holly’s Restaurant, also served in WWII, seeing action in Europe.
Baker said, “I don’t know how many of you remember that there used to be legalized slot machines in Southern Maryland during the 1950s and ‘60s until the law changed. Waldorf, Maryland, was almost like Las Vegas. That was before slots were legalized on the Eastern Shore. However, we had slots here (at the post). We’d occasionally would get a phone call that law enforcement was coming to ‘inspect’ our building, and quickly those slots would disappear until after the inspection was made. That’s the way it was in those days.
“Today, those legalized ‘onearmed bandits’ add a lot of financial support to our community,” he said. “I work as a volunteer with Chesterwye here in Grasonville for folks with special needs. The post and many other local fraternal organizations donate significantly from their slots earnings to help support Chesterwye and many other honest needs in our community.”
The final speaker was Korean War veteran Charles Bryan of Grasonville. Bryan began reading the names of local Queen Anne’s County men who died in service to our nation during WWII. Not far into the names, Bryan was overcome with emotion and had to gather himself before continuing. He said, with tears in his eyes, “I hope you understand how I feel about what they sacrificed for all of us.”
Jones concluded the program by thanking all who spoke and shared their personal history and also mentioned that “Post 7464 donated $200,000 back to the community last year,” mostly generated from the slots.
Post Chaplin Rick Hagman ended the celebration with a blessing on the food and the words, “May we strive to keep our nation, one nation under God.”
The newly installed officers of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 7464, in Grasonville gather during the 70th anniversary celebration, Sunday afternoon, June 12. From the left, Post Commander Herb Jones Sr., Vice Commander Bob Shek Jr., Vice Commander Jim Clark, Quartermaster Martin Skinner, Adjunct Doug Womack, Chaplin Rick Hagman, Service Officer Lee Pruiett and Officer of the Day Charles Hammond.
From the left, current Post Commander Herb Jones, Past Commander Wheeler Baker (1971), founding member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary Pearl Collier, 95, and Korean War veteran and longtime member Charles Bryan, in front of the “muster flag,” dated June 13, 1946, each shared stories about the history of the Grasonville VFW.