Westboro Merrill Smith Auxiliary Post 32 Auxiliary officers in 1938 were (though not necessarily in order with names) Ora May Doyle, Marguerite Macrander, Bessie Matheny, Jennie Geer, Elsie Teague, Pearl Green, Ann Dunham, Lenn Utter, Rosa Crawford, Mabel Jackson and Mary Macrander. Westboro Legion members in 1938 were Roy Matheny, Hugh Doyle, Don Macrander, John Jackson, Jose Dunham, Arleigh Teague, Todd Macrander, and George Crawford.
By Beverly Clinkingbeard
For years, many of the Auxiliary records were misplaced. As to when, how or why, no one quite knew or remembered, and with or without the old records, the Auxiliary still functioned. Recently, Mayor Kirkpatrick, cleaned out the former school bus barn that now belongs to the City of Westboro. He came across a box of dust covered notebooks and journals that turned out to be the lost Auxiliary records. They shared it with me and the following are excerpts that document lifestyle and commitment to community by and for our veterans. The records are now with Auxiliary President Ponya King.
THE STORY OF
AMERICAN LEGION AUXILIARY
Merrill Smith Unit #32, Westboro, MO
“The newly organized unit of Merrill Smith Post No. 32 of the American Legion at Westboro met Tuesday, March 11th …” The charter was granted [with the State of Missouri Chapter] March 29, 1930, and the application made March 6, 1930. They were established first and foremost to be a patriotic organization, with the aim of assisting veterans and serving their community. “…Auxiliary stands behind the free American way of life and is determined that these precious freedoms shall be inherited by many generations to come.” There were 24 wives, mothers and sisters names attached to the application. The first officers were: Lillian Stark, Mabel Beck, Marian Tourtelotte, Violette Nuckolls, Cora Macrander, Liva Bargman, Edna Utter and Rosa Crawford. The requirement for membership was a family member in or had served in the military.
The first year the Westboro Auxiliary held a pie social, and along with a program, they made $32.15 and were “very much encouraged in the success of our project.” Next, and every year following to the present day, they sold bright red paper poppies. They realized $90.91 from sales in Tarkio and Westboro. That evening, the Legion men held “an ice cream supper on the lawn between Flanders-Beckman Store and the Peoples Bank. They made $23.75.”
The ladies also began sewing. They sewed night gowns, wash clothes, layettes and remade clothes/coats for the newly established clothing shelf. “Several members of the…Auxiliary sewed at Mrs. Dave Macrander’s home.” On Washington’s birthday they presented a patriotic program to the children at school. And annually the unit sent a mother’s day card to “our Gold Star Mother, Mrs. Pearl Smith.” Mrs. Pearl Smith was a Nuckolls before marrying James Ransom Smith; the daughter of Calvin and Anna Lewis Nuckolls. The Smiths, at the time of their son’s death, were living in Tarkio. However, earlier they had been residents in the Westboro/Blanchard area, and had kinfolk of the same.
Other excerpts of assistance were recorded as: “Five dollars…was to help buy a washing machine for a family of nine, where the mother had died and a girl of 13 was doing the family laundry.” “On Boosters Day…(celebrating the completion of the four miles of graded, oiled and graveled road, leading into Westboro from the west), the Legion men built a stand for us in which we sold ice cream, cake, and iced tea. The profit from this venture was $25.80.” “Motion was made and seconded to pay our bill at Tucker’s Store.”
In 1932, the unit “…began the year’s work under difficulties as the Farmers Bank, in which our balance of $110.00 was on deposit, closed.” However, there is every indication the Auxiliary took it in stride as they distributed 405 garments, sent a gift of $2.75 and packed a gift box for a veteran at the Excelsior Springs Hospital, sold 400 poppies, served a banquet for the Democratic Club of Atchison County, presented a patriotic program at the school, and in October, the Farmers Bank made a 30% payment to depositors. “The Unit received $38.01.”
In 1933, “We started the year under great handicap, having lost our bank balance of $161.95 in a bank failure; this being the second time our entire funds were wiped out in bank failures.” Nevertheless, their patriotic and practical work continued, as did their donation to veteran causes. Locally they collected “one bushel of Irish potatoes, two bushel sweet potatoes and 99 quarts of fruit, vegetables and a load of cobs.” (note: Quarts were home canned glass jars and cobs were used as a quick fire starter and were especially handy for a wood/coal fired range when baking or cooking, as well as a means of heat for the home.)
In 1935, (amidst the Great Depression) “…two new babies joined our ranks, Wendell Burdette Teague and Donald Coe Macrander.” The Unit also co-operated with the national organization in the war against unemployment. “…if you find it at all possible, to give employment to some individual, even if you can do so for only a few hours…half a day’s work at house cleaning…a few house repairs…painting or paper-hanging.” And, (despite a national depression and unemployment), “Due to the fact that the president and treasurer wear their girdles during the summer they were delegated to attend the district meeting in Savannah.” (Later, no reason given.) “The president and treasurer did not get to attend the district meeting in Savannah.”
Some Auxiliary minutes were typed and others written in ink. “A motion was made to order a new President Pen to replace the one Mrs. Utter lost.”
Activities that Auxiliary began in the 30’s continued into the 40’s. Their membership swelled with the advent of WWII, and there is the first mention of Auxiliary making a “…float  [for] the first God’s Acre Day [Westboro Methodist Church, today known as Lord’s Acre Day]. They also raised and sold chickens, earning $52.20. This they did by each “member setting a hen and donating the sale of their chickens.” They were sewing for the Red Cross and collecting fat for the war effort and sent “gifts for the Yanks.” District dues were still 1.35.
In 1952, “Mrs. Smith, our Gold Star Mother, passed away.” The ladies had remembered her every year with a mother’s day card. The Auxiliary also sent food to the flood workers [the Missouri River flooded that year]. In 1953, their fund raising efforts included taking subscriptions for “The Kitchen Klatter Magazine.” The Unit received a percentage. Each year they prepared floral sprays or wreaths for veterans’ graves. This year it required 62 sprays and 8 wreaths. In 1955, the District Meeting was held at Westboro. In 1958, officers were: Clara Irvin, Mabel Jackson, Mildred Morrison, Maurice Beckman, Betty Strother, Emma Van Stavern, Ricka Baker, Rosa Crawford and Lou Teague. A napkin for County Government Day on March 4th had a map of Atchison County with the inscription “The County Where Corn Is King.” In 1959-60 the Unit had 44 members.
By 1967 the Smith Unit had 31 senior members and 14 junior members and they had experienced the loss of several charter members.
Once again war was brought to the doorstep of the Auxiliary. The Spring of 1971, the Westboro Unit joined 10,000 other signatures, plus they wrote a letter to the President of the Democratic Republic of North Vietnam to express their concern on behalf of fellow Americans being held as prisoners of war. “We are pleading with you to release all injured prisoners…To publish all names of all prisoners held and allow them to exchange mail with their families. We are pleading that you will give our fellow Americans a proper diet and medical care also to give them proper living quarters and facilities.” The letter was sent to Ross Perot (the same was presidential candidate in 1996) of Dallas, TX, to hand-carry to North Vietnam. Evelyn Hull was secretary at the time and she had a son that served with U.S. Forces in Vietnam.
Though Mrs. Smith, the mother of Merrill Smith, was deceased and no longer could they send a mother’s day card, they took a wreath to her grave. The Unit continued to participate in district meetings, serve funeral dinners (their food bills were now paid to Shorty’s Grocery, once Tucker’s Store) and provide needy families with clothes and other necessities, and of course, sold poppies on Poppy Day. They exchanged social times and charity efforts with Elmo’s Bradley Carver Unit No. 492, and Tarkio’s Allen Schiffern Auxiliary Unit No. 199.
By the 1980’s the Unit met at the Westboro Methodist Church instead of in homes. They continued with their social moments and fundraisers to assist with community needs. Fifty years later it is an all-new membership and inflation reflected in their general fund. What was once a few dollars was now a hundred dollars.
Today, the Auxiliary is still active, though smaller with area population and military service decline. Anna Bell Johnson is president (the wife of Harry Johnson, deceased, and veteran of WWII, Battle of the Bulge); secretary is Jane Miller; treasurer is Ponya King (the wife of Jim King, deceased veteran, two sons are veterans, as well as Ponya, a veteran and a tour of duty in Bahrain – all family members served in the U.S. Navy).
The work of the unit continues, the most recent being clothing for women and children of veterans in Kansas City. They are also preparing to take items for the veteran’s home in Cameron, MO. They meet at the Westboro Fire Station every second Wednesday of the month at 4:30 p.m. If a reader is interested in joining the group, call Ponya King, 660-984-5514.