#5 in a series
ALAMEDA, CA SHORT SNORTER
By Paul A. Roales
I have several “short snorters” in my collection. Three of my short snorters are displayed on the web page at http://www.shortsnorter.org. Short snorters are paper currency (US or foreign) signed by people at a gathering to commemorate the event. They were very popular during World War II. The event can be almost anything…moving to new base, a flight home, crossing the equator on a ship; a USO show, etc. Often the short snorters were taped end to end to create long rolls of currency from every country the person visited.
I acquired this particular “short snorter” because it had 18 signatures and many of them were obviously women. The note was from Suriname which at that time was a Dutch colony on the north east coast of South America. I thought the bill was probably signed by the crew and passengers of a military transport plane that flew the South Atlantic route to the European Theater of Operations. I assume they stopped in Suriname and acquired the bill there. There is no date among the signatures, but the bill was printed April 30, 1942. Several branches of the service are represented. One signature (Lt. Marjorie A Savage) had “ANC” after her name. I thought this probably stood for “Army Nurse Corps”. Another signature (Ens. Millie Kuhn) had “NC” after her name. Since her rank was Ens. she had to be in the Navy, and I thought “NC” probably stood for “nurse corps”. A lot of women in World War II were nurses, so my first thought was that this note probably represented a flight of nurses and Doctors on their way to Europe to staff a military hospital sometime after April, 1942.
The first name I researched was Marian A Hilt (or Wilt?) because she wrote her address on the note. I contacted a San Francisco Library and asked them to check the City Directory around 1942 for that name and address. They replied that the Hotel Monroe aka the Monroe Residence Club Lodgings was at that address at that time. That really did not tell me much about Marian A Hilt. I thought she was probably staying there before she shipped out. The librarian also checked the 1940, 1942 and 1947 SF Telephone books and the 1944 SF City Directory and did not find a Marian A. Hilt or Wilt.
So I moved on to Alice E Beedle. I found her name listed in the VA webpage which lists the burial sites of all veterans buried in national cemeteries. It said she was a Navy Hospitalman Apprentice during WW2 and was buried at Greenville Union National Cemetery near Dayton, Ohio. A query posted on the Montgomery County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society webpage produced a copy of her Ohio death certificate which indicated she had died at the VA hospital in Dayton Ohio on 24 Nov 1998, and had no surviving family. With that information on hand I contacted the National Archives and Records Administration and purchased a copy of her military personnel files. I expected the files to tell me when Alice had passed through Suriname. What the files told me was that Alice never served in the European Theater, only in CA (after training in the Bronx and at Bethesda, MD for a couple months). Alice was station at the Naval Hospital in Shoemaker, CA on Oct. 2, 1944 and then at the Medical Dept. of Naval Air Station Alameda from March 12, 1945 until Dec. 21, 1945 when she was discharged. But a comparison of her signature on documents in her file and the short snorter left no doubt this was the same person.
So how did her signature get on a Suriname note? I noticed that one signature (Capt. R E Bordran) had E.T.O. written after his name. I knew E.T.O. stood for European Theater of Operations, but why did the Captain write that on the note if everyone else who signed the note was also serving in the European Theater? Perhaps the Captain was the ONLY one who had served in the European Theater of Operations and had picked up the Suriname note on one of his trips to or from home? Did he wrote E.T.O. after his name to indicate a distinction from the others?
So I moved on to another name…Charles L Blechle. A search of the Social Security Death notices lists 2 gentlemen of that name who were the proper age to have signed this note. One was in St. Louis and the other in Chester, ILL. So I posted a request on the Rootsweb St. Louis Genealogy web page for information. This eventually resulted in a contact with Skip Blechle. He replied “I believe my father to be the Charles L Blechle in
question. He was a flight navigator for the Navy during the war. Dad was in VR-2. I believe that was a Naval Air Transport Group Stationed at Alameda. In May and June Dad was training in Alameda, his duty flying began in September of 44. Dad passed away in 1992 so no help there. But, I do have his flight logbook from those Navy days.” A check of his log book revealed that Charles only flew in the Pacific during World War II. His log book contained stops at many Pacific airports but he always returned to his home base at Alameda, CA. Since Alice Beedle had been stationed at Alameda from March 12, 1945 until Dec. 21, 1945 this was promising. Charles’s log book placed him in Alameda several times during the period when Alice was also stationed there. So I sent Skip a scan of the short snorter and asked him if the signature at the top belonged to his Father. He said: “No question, that is my fathers signature, I'm certain.”
So from Charles Blechle’s log book and Alice Beedle’s personnel files I can place them both in Alameda on the following dates in 1945: 19th of March until April 19th.; May 3 to May 9th; May 13th until the 9th of June; 25th of June until sometime early in July; 23rd. of July to the 31st of July; 16th of August until 22 Aug.; 24th. August until the 3rd of Sept.; 19th of Sept. until Charles’ discharge shortly thereafter.
I now believe the note was probably signed at a gathering of some kind...a USO show or something like that near Alameda, CA. The mixture of Army and Navy signatures, officers and enlisted, would support that idea. Alice has a commendation in her records for helping to put on a USO show before she arrived at Alameda so she was probably heavily involved in social events. I assume that Capt. R E Bordran attended the event and supplied the Suriname note which he had picked up on one of his trips to the European Theater of Operations. I have no idea why that note was used…perhaps just to confuse historians?
I am continuing my search for information on the other names on this short snorter. If you recognize a name (or a close approximation of a name) please let me know. The research on this note is not over.
E-mail feedback or questions to Paul Roales.You can return to Heroes: An Introduction HERE. All contents copyright 2009 by Paul A. Roales