Life in Hoboken in “The Great War”

You’re invited to join the Hoboken Museum this Sunday, August 6 from 2 – 5 pm, for a free opening reception for “World War I Centennial, 1917-2017: Heaven, Hell or Hoboken.” 
WWI Reenactors at monument in Elysian Park, Hoboken, 2017
WWI reenactors at Elysian Park monument (Photo by Raymond Smith)

Our special guests for the opening reception include WWII veterans Vinnie Wassman, who will recite the WWI-era poem, “On Flanders Fields,” and Jack O’Brien, who will play period tunes on fife with  Barbara Dabbinet. Brandon English, a WWI reenactor who lives in Hoboken (pictured at right at the WWI monument in Elysian Park), will also be there in a period-style uniform to talk about his research into the doughboy experience.
The exhibit will evoke life in Hoboken during the Great War through artifacts of local Hoboken residents who fought or volunteered on the homefront, plus silent films of soldiers gathered at the Hoboken port and vintage government war posters, on loan from the Jersey City Free Public Library, that were designed to boost local draft registration, and urge those on the “home front” to purchase war bonds, conserve resources, and help with the war effort. Hoboken’s actual 1917-1918 draft registration book, measuring 3 ft by 4 ft, will be on display, on loan from the city of Hoboken. We will also have replicas of the lists of registered enemy aliens and draft dodgers and deserters, as well as a vintage, hand-cranked Victrola on display will play songs from the era, as well! 
Personal photographs, letters, uniforms, and commemorative items reveal the unique contributions and perspectives of Hobokenites, including Mrs. Frank R. Markey, who worked with the Red Cross assisting soldiers, and Peter G. Spinetto, who regularly wrote postcards from training camp and the fields of war in France to his large family on the city’s west side. They will be displayed along with the doughboy’s helmet, adorned on the interior brim with the names of places he traveled to, as well as the photographs he sent to his loved ones back home. 
Starting in late August, a series of talks and tours will accompany the exhibit, illuminating the history of New Jersey training camps at Fort Dix and Fort Monmouth, a bus tour of local WWI monuments, and films and music of the era, among other topics. 

— Melissa Abernathy, Communications & Volunteers