Calendar Girl in the Midst at Golden Heights  
Thursday, October 16, 2008

The folks at Golden Heights, Webster’s housing complex for seniors, may not realize it, but they have a one-time Army Times calendar girl in their midst.

Virginia (Peters) Suarez was a 21-year-old volunteer in the Women’s Army Corps, serving as an assistant therapist at a U.S. Army physical therapy clinic at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C., when she became the first WAC ever nominated to be an Army Times calendar girl in May 1958. She appeared in a seashore shot, seated atop a boulder, sedately attired in a blouse and culottes. The photographer caught her in a rather pensive moment with her hair flowing loosely.

Captioned “Our Girl For May: Virginia Peters,” the photograph wasn’t published in the Army Times newspaper worldwide until April 29, 1958. Our discovery says the calendar shot is 50 years and five months old, but what the heck, a great photograph of a comely lady is never old. Besides, 50 years is a significant anniversary.

Our coffee clutch came to know Ms. Suarez through her brother, Gordon Peters of East Thompson. Both are fine persons. Ms. Suarez served three years in the Women’s Army Corps.

Dudley Selectman Steven P. Sullivan earns his livelihood as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, working out of the Webster post office.

Making deliveries at residences along West Main Street in Dudley recently, Selectman Sullivan found a couple of high school graduation programs on a public sidewalk, one for the Bartlett High School class of 1958 and the other for the class of 1965 at Oxford High School. Both are in good condition. Robert Sellig was president of the Bartlett class, and Richard Norton was president of the Oxford class.

Mr. Sullivan connected with both dates, noting that the BHS class recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Oxford 1965 was even more significant to the letter carrier. It was the year of his birth, meaning he’s 43.

The History Channel aired a segment about the German American Bund and its leader, Fritz Kuhn, last month.

A Munich native, Mr. Kuhn served in the German army during World War I. He subsequently made his way to the United States and organized the pro-Nazi group. The Bund and its leadership was under an intense investigation by New York state and federal authorities before 1939, when Mr. Kuhn and others visited Count Anastase Vonsiatsky at his estate in nearby Thompson.

Count Vonsiatsky, once head of the White Russians, said to be a worldwide group, was interested in the overthrow of Communist rule in Russia. This seemed to be the link to the Thompson conference.

Bund leader Kuhn and others in his party drove into Webster on the evening of Saturday, July 16, 1939, and visited the Forest Club, then a popular night spot on Main Street. They became unruly and were asked to leave. Or, as the late Edward S. “Kiki” Kunkel, then owner of the club, once said, “They were thrown out.” Once on Main Street, Mr. Kuhn berated an Oxford man who had observed the expulsion. Mr. Kuhn was arrested on drunkenness and profanity charges by Webster Police Officer Henry “Buck” Plasse.
Arraigned before Judge Louis O. Rieutord in the First District Court, he paid a $5 fine on the profanity charge. The drunkenness complaint was filed. It was believed to be the first time Mr. Kuhn had been arrested in this country and the incident became an international story because of his notoriety. Mr. Kuhn was ultimately deported.

A lot has been written about the Bund leader, but his night of revelry in Webster has been generally overlooked in the sweep to Bund history.
Incidentally, there’s a photograph on of Mr. Kuhn and his coterie making their way down Webster’s Main Street after his court appearance. One of the kids trailing behind the group looks a lot like a young James Klebart.
“If it was me, I was 9 years old,” Mr. Klebart said last Tuesday. The photograph was probably taken by the late William H. Tourtellotte, who was an uncle to Oxford’s Edith Norcross.
-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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