USO show to kick off opening of exhibit
By By Chris Whitaker / staff writer
June 19, 2002
Singers, comedians and other entertainers will step back in time 60 years when they stage an authentic World War II-era USO show next month in downtown Meridian.
The event, near Union Station in the farmer's market parking lot, is set for 7:30 p.m. July 3 one day before the official opening of a traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibit of World War II posters.
The USO, more formally called United Service Organizations, regularly sponsored live shows for servicemen throughout World War II including those who worked at Key Field in Meridian.
Therefore, Grissom and others said, the show is a perfect kick-off for the Smithsonian's tour called "Produce for Victory: Posters on the American Home Front, 1941-1945."
The exhibit opens at 10 a.m. July 4 in Meridian's Union Station; it closes Aug. 31. Meridian is the last of seven Mississippi cities to host the exhibit.
Lou Pennebaker, president and founder of the Memory Tree Foundation the sponsor of the USO show said the event will be typical of those during World War II.
Entertainment for the USO show will include the Wesley Belles, a group of women who perform popular songs. Bill Whitworth of WMOX-AM will serve as the announcer.
Pennebaker said the show will have a special appearance by Ethel Kelley, the original "Rosie-the-Riveter" who was featured in posters wearing a bandanna and holding a drill.
Stevens said the show will be similar to the "Bing Crosby Kraft Hour Radio Broadcast" from the 1940s.
Stevens said the announcer will open the show by saying it will be broadcast overseas. Cue signs for applause will be flashed and a hat will be passed around for donations all going to the Memory Tree Foundation.
Peavey's Melody Music, one of the local businesses open during World War II, is donating a piano for use in the show.
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and workers from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington are expected to attend.
The exhibit: A traveling Smithsonian Institute exhibit will feature reproductions of colorful posters that mobilized support for World War II.
The place: Meridian's Union Station; the exhibit opens at 10 a.m. July 4 and closes on Aug. 31.
The show: A World War II-era USO show will kick off the exhibit; the show is set for 7:30 p.m. July 3 in the farmer's market parking lot near Union Station. Admission is free.