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Friday, August 10, 2018

The Hello Girls documentary

Marine City this weekend remembers its own Oleda Joure Christides and her fellow Hello Girls of World War I with the Jim Theres documentary.  The showings are at the intimate Mariner Theater to benefit the Marine City Pride and Heritage Museum with the Friday premier and Saturday showing both sold out, so a Sunday at 4 p.m. showing has been added.

I'm not sure if he is wanting to sell it online, so I will only give links to some of the official trailers.  The daughters of Oleda have both been a help when I was preparing my program.  This https://vimeo.com/239579320 includes Oleda's older daughter, Helen Richard, as well as the author of the book The Hello Girls, Elizabeth Cobbs, who also produced the film.  In addition I enjoyed seeing my storytelling colleague, Ellouise Schoettler, who began guiding people in the Washington  to the story of the Hello Girls before I ever heard of them.  Another trailer, https://vimeo.com/254241813, has younger daughter, Michelle Christides, sitting on a bench as she was interviewed outside General Pershing's headquarters at Chaumont.  Added to that, here is the only known audio interview of a Hello Girl, yes, Oleda, https://vimeo.com/282223541 .

By the way, the film ends with several women at the Women's Memorial at Arlington Cemetery reading the World War I poem by Frances A. Johnson called "To the Telephone Girl"
World War I Poster Collection (MSS WW1Posters), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.
From the cratered Hells of No-Man's Land
To the switchboard where you sit,
There are none who serve so loyally,
We know that you do your "bit."
For the world's bound round with a copper wire
With you on the outer end,
Each flashing light that you plug in the night
A message of hope you send.

You sit all alone at a magic loom
And weave from out of the air
The words of faith, of home, of love,
That go to our boys "out there."
For the war's not won with bursting shells,
Shrapnel or cannon alone,
You're doing your part with all your heart,
Little girl of the telephone.

***

The poem and poster show a bit of the way the Hello Girls were recognized at the time by the general public.  In the film, Helen includes a bit of the Christmas gift of a booklet of thank yous from the officers and men they served.

The story of our country's first female soldiers and their 60 year fight for veteran's recognition will be celebrated in Marine City.  This month I also have had several requests for my reenactment.  I especially appreciate the support from Helen, who has seen it, as well as from so many others here in Michigan.  After the centennial celebrating ends, I hope to keep alive the story of Oleda and the other Hello Girls.  See you next week in East Tawas!

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