Living charter members of organizations that started in the 1940s are few and far between these day, but in North Branch at least one is still quite active in the organization which she helped start.
ON June 6, it was a surprise to Phyllis Lindberg when she was called
forward by VFW Auxiliary President Valerie Nelson as the North Branch VFW Post #6424 gathered for supper and a meeting that night.
Nelson presented Lindberg with a special pin for Lindberg’s dedication to the VFW Auxiliary for 65 years.
Lindberg explained that the Auxiliary was chartered following World War II because everyone was “gung ho” to get into it then.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars – VFW – was about the getting people together who had been in foreign service, for the purpose of helping and promoting veterans, Lindberg explained.
World War II was supposed to be the end of all wars.
In November of 1946 the VFW was organized in North Branch and around May 1947, the Auxiliary got started.
It was organized at the Cozy Cafe where some of the early meetings were held. Later the meetings were held at the hotel, and then the meetings moved into people’s homes. The cafe and the hotel are no longer part of the NB scene.
“There were a lot of members for a while,” Lindberg said, “everybody was gung ho and proud.”
But holding meetings in individual homes was not much appreciated and membership dropped.
She said that membership would come back up and drop down again a number of times over the years, but it always continued on.
During very active times there were style shows, luncheons, ice cream socials and more, Lindberg noted.
But no matter the numbers, the NB Auxiliary has always been active, she went on, and has been in good standing with the district for the work that the members do.
The sponsorship of the Kiddie Parade during Midsummer Days started way back, too, she said.
It was really a royal thing, and so many kids used to take part.
But Lindberg was quick to add that while the numbers in the parade were down this year, the group that gathered was “spirited.” Unfortunately, as soon as they lined up for the parade, it began to rain.
Lindberg prefers to promote the Auxiliary and said whatever they have done, they have always promoted veterans.
Lately, she noted, a big part of their work has been in the schools where, through essay and poster contests, they have helped to keep patriotism alive.
Lindberg continues to be the Americanism chairperson and in her 90s is still greatly involved in these essay and poster contests. And she faithfully writes up the report on the award ceremonies held at the schools after each contest to make sure student recognition gets in the local newspaper.
Being a charter member, she said, she felt like she had to keep it going.
That little pin that Nelson handed her had “65” on it, that’s how long Lindberg’s dedication to the North Branch VFW auxiliary to Post #6424 has been.
At the presentation June 6, the charter plaque was shared with those in attendance. On it are the names of the original members of the organization.
Along with Phyllis Lindberg, they included Clarice Anderson, who with her husband, Phil, owned the Cozy Cafe where the Auxiliary got its start.
Other charter members were Delia Dresel, Amy Eldridge, Ida Erickson, Linnea Flodquist, Barbara Hals, Lydia Hals, wife of Bud Hals the first commander of the NB VFW; Marcella Hawkinson, Irene Linders, Amy Olson, Myrtle Swenson, Myrtle Carlson and Esther Schmidt, who was the first president of the VFW Auxiliary.
Several of the charter members have lived into their 90s and remained members of the Auxiliary to the end.