Gra­sonville VFW Post 7464 marks 70th an­niver­sary

Record Observer - - News - By DOUG BISHOP dbishop@kibay­times.com

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.”

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

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.

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