The Chippewa Valley’s Contribution to World War II
History of the Website

Between 1941 and 1945, Henry and Elizabeth Perry of Eau Claire clipped any and all articles about World War II from the Leader and Telegram newspapers and pasted them into scrapbooks. 

Eventually, the scrapbooks were passed to their daughter, Joyce Perry Wendt. Upon seeing the scrapbooks, a friend and World War II veteran, Marshall McQuillan, thought that another World War II veteran, Diz Kronenberg, might be interested in seeing them.

The day after she gave the scrapbooks to Marshall, Joyce died, and Marshall suggested that Diz should just keep the scrapbooks.

Almost immediately, Diz thought that the scrapbooks should be preserved or perhaps reproduced; made into a book. He laboriously xeroxed both sides of each page, using the equipment of his friend, Gary Myers, at the Trading Post. Then he cut the xeroxed articles up and filed them alphabetically by last names of individual veterans—making separate folders [i.e. last names beginning with BAs, BEs, BIs, BOs, BUs, BRs]

After Diz had reproduced, dissected, and alphabetized the scrapbook contents, he tried to find a means to have the scrapbook reassembled into a readable book. He planned to present the veterans in alphabetical order and to tell each veteran's story chronologically based on available newspaper clippings. Getting a readable text from old newspaper clippings would mean retyping the entire contents of the scrapbooks or finding a computer program which would allow articles to be edited once they were scanned into the computer. He discovered that, while scanning newspaper articles into a digital format was possible, each ink spot and wrinkle on the clipping was reproduced as a letter or punctuation mark. This meant that much of what was produced proved unreadable.  

The project looked impossible. Diz moved the box of  folders with all those newspaper clippings, that he had so painstakingly created, to a remote corner of his basement. Frankly, at this point, there seemed no way to accomplish his goal.

Note from Diz:
After I reproduced, dissected, and alphabetized the scrapbook contents, I searched vainly for someone (anyone) who could help me with what I knew would be a massive project. It had to be someone who was technically skilled, someone who had the time and desire, and someone who was genuinely interested and creative enough to follow through to its conclusion. After two years of searching futilely, I was blessed with, not one, but two persons, who took the ball and ran with it. From this point on, the work took on a whole new meaning. Now, I feel like a quarterback who can neither run nor pass but is skilled at handing off.  Without Gloria Froehle and Julie Lowy this project would be dead in the basement of my house.

My “Diz Connection”
In the fall of 2002, Diz had assisted me during my first year of coaching the girls’ golf team at Memorial High School. We had finished our season in early October and celebrated with a banquet in late October.

After my life settled down a bit, I thought it would be a good time to get the Kronenbergs hooked up to a computer for word processing, e-mailing, and “surfing the web.” I particularly wanted Diz to have a word processing program because he was still writing prolifically on his electric typewriter---producing such works as, the history of Hillcrest Golf and Country Club for its 75th Anniversary, an instruction book for junior golfers, and instructional handouts for my girls team.

My husband and I had unused computer components in our basement and, with the help of a colleague, Corey Fritz, we put together a system and took it to the Kronenbergs.

While I was visiting the Kronenbergs one day, Diz remarked that perhaps, now, he would finally write his World War II book. And, somewhere in the conversation, he produced the box of folders.

From this point, the project took on a life of its own.

Flashback
To prepare for that late-October golf banquet, a fellow English teacher, Cindy Johnson, had convinced me to put together a digital slide show of pictures from the girls’ season. 

I had taken A LOT of pictures during the season, and sharing them with banquet guests seemed like a good way to entertain and to provide a season summary. As I was finishing the slide show the week before the banquet, Cindy had to leave town and “handed me off” to Julie Lowy, a colleague and Secondary Technology Specialist at Memorial High School.

Not only did Julie help me finish scanning photos, but she also taught me how I could caption each photo. Needless to say, by the end of the project—which started out as just 25 or 50 slides, the production had 250 slides, each with a creative caption, AND Julie had created special “senior slides” for the show’s finale. Of course, Julie then made CDs of the slide show for each golfer and an autograph insert for each CD case.

After I had stored the last golf bags and my life settled a bit, I made time to visit Diz and Marj and set them up with that computer.

Back to the Project
So, back to the project with a life of its own. 

With the “Wa” folder from Diz’s box, I stopped to see Julie Lowy about how I could help Diz make a book from the clippings in these folders.

Both Julie and I agreed that this information should be preserved. Almost immediately, however, the discussion left the confines of a book and evolved into a web page. With a web page, we realized the information could be accessed easily by anyone, anywhere and that information could be added to the project. It could be a living, breathing museum. 

Diz wanted young people to get more information about the heroic contributions of their grandparents and relatives. All three of us wanted the page to give equal honor to all listed, so we listed veterans alphabetically and without rank. We wanted people to comprehend the magnitude of the Chippewa Valley’s contribution to the war effort, so we wanted all veterans’ names listed on one page…a visual honor roll. Such expectations stretched beyond the confines of a book.

We also realized that other people might want to contribute information, and a web page would facilitate additions and editions. 

A few minutes more into our conversation, Julie was sitting at a computer, scanning in the first picture, determining how to scan text so that it could be edited, constructing and organizing an electronic filing system, and inspiring me with the possibility that Diz’s dream could, indeed, be a reality.

Very quickly, it was determined that Julie would handle ALL the technical stuff. I couldn’t wait to learn.

I would be responsible for all editing and would type any short articles—we determined that any column four inches or shorter took less time to type than to scan and edit.

Diz would be free to write his reflections and he would be our final authority to authenticate information.

We gave the project the official birth date of November 20, 2002 [also Julie’s birthday].

Goals and Rewards
Initially, we set a goal of completing the project in two years, giving ourselves one or two months for each letter of the alphabet. We decided that we would reward ourselves at the completion of each letter with “a nice meal out.” When we found ourselves at Applebee’s after the first letter, we decided to—I thought, appropriately—also eat alphabetically.

We haven’t eaten at the pace that we’ve worked; we have four letters left in the alphabet [l, m, p, t,] and have just eaten at Applebee’s, The Black Bear, Culver’s, Dragonetti’s, El Patio, Fischers’ on the Green, and Grizzly’s.

Technology, Typing, and Time
Phase One of the project—reproducing articles about individual veterans from the Perry scrapbooks—has taken technical expertise, typing, and time. For the technical expertise, I have been blessed to have Julie.  For the time, I thank my husband—who has walked the dog, cooked the meals, answered the phone, and made it possible so that I have had the hours of focused, uninterrupted time in the evenings and on weekends to type and to edit.

Magical Collaboration
Because Julie and I are both full-time staff, we have no time from 7:00 am until 4:00 pm for anything “extra.”   I am teaching five sections of English and helping manage a guided study hall each day. As an Assistant Technology Specialist, Julie is working with over 250 staff members and a student population of nearly 2000 each day.

As we are recalling the process—at this writing—we chuckle that we have come so far so fast.  We both just saw a need—we both just knew this had to be done, and we’ve done it.

My time actually working with Julie has been limited to about four evenings--one at my home to sort Diz’s memorabilia. Otherwise, I stop to see Julie on “my mailbox run” which takes me from one end of Memorial High School to almost the other. Basically, all communication is effectively done digitally. Because of Julie’s vision and skill, she has also been able to foresee problems and solve them before they slow our process. There have been virtually no obstacles to thwart our efforts.

Our Ultimate Vision
Our vision is to provide the school and community a personal connection to the lives of Chippewa Valley World War II service men and women. It is our belief that this goal can best be achieved by creating an online museum that will archive, and make available, World War II artifacts now housed in basements and attics throughout the Chippewa Valley. We want the online museum to be detailed and accurate in content, personal in nature, and accessible to all.

Community members are invited to locate and share the artifacts of their relatives/ancestors who served in World War II— abroad and on the home front. We would, then, like to compile the information and artifacts in chronological order, edit it, verify it, and share it.  

For instance, in the summer of 2002, Diz was able to locate information on veterans not archived in the Perry scrapbooks because the Madson family of Eau Claire shared their World War II scrapbook with him. Mrs. "Fuzzy" Madson had passed the scrapbook to her son, Dale (Moose) Madson, who then shared it with Diz.

The Educational Angle
Teachers hopefully, will be able

  • to design lessons involving data collection,
  • to facilitate learning through discussions of information from the website, and
  • to organize units so that students will use the website in written and oral presentations.

We envision a perpetually evolving museum, a museum that continually grows because the people of the Chippewa Valley are actively engaged in its growth.

How Can Citizens of the Chippewa Valley Help
Our first goal was only to input the clippings on individual veterans from the Perry scrapbooks onto a website. Although we talk about the letters we have “done,” we know there are individuals who have been “missed.”

We need people to communicate with us.

  • Are you interested in having us pursue this project?
  • Do you have artifacts that should be recorded for posterity?
  • Do you have any resources that will help us?
  • Would you contribute financially to equipment or to a foundation that would keep the project rolling?

What to do:

  • Log on to the Memorial High School Home Page,
  • select Academics,
  • select Social Studies,
  • select Chippewa Valley’s Contribution to World War II
  • enjoy the website
  • then click on one of our e-mail addresses at the top of the website and communicate with us.