Flashback Photos

Flashback Photos: Ashland, Maine, Memorial Day, 1943

More than 300 men were drafted from tiny Ashland, Maine, in Aroostook County, to fight in World War II, and so Memorial Day took on a somber significance.

ashland rifles

The town, a farming community, had fewer than 1,000 residents, so the ceremonies featured few young men.

John Collier took these photos of the ceremonies in Ashland in 1943 for the Office of War Information. He also wrote the captions. All photos courtesy Library of Congress.

ashland salute

Saluting the dead of the first World War.

ashland all boys

All boys and young men were in the Memorial Day parade; there were almost none in the audience.

ashland minister

A congregational minister at the Memorial Day ceremony offering a prayer for divine guidance through the years of war.

ashland girls

Girl scouts marching through the streets during the ceremonies.

ashland band

Though only a small farming center with a population under 1000, Ashland has a good band with lots of purple trim and gold braid for the Memorial Day ceremony.

ashland taps

Sounding taps during the ceremonies.

ashland cemetery

Marching from the cemetery at the conclusion of the Memorial Day ceremonies.

The County in WWII

The sparsely populated Aroostook County lost 239 young men in World War II, either missing in action, killed in action or killed in the line of duty.

All was not grim during the war, however. The Maine Folklife Center recorded this story by a telephone operator named Georgie Orcutt. She was working one night, and received a phone call from Portage, Maine.

“Bud McKinney and Jerry Sleed were having a party and Jerry wanted to put in a call to Hitler. I didn’t know hardly what to do with the call, but I talked to the Presque Isle operator and we kept telling him the line was busy. And finally he called in and said, ‘Well, I’ll talk with Mussolini.’ So after a while I told him they were both out. He said, ‘Hitler may be out, but I know Old Moosey isn’t!’”






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