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Highlights of the 1950’s

The VFW National Home for Children is celebrating its 90th Anniversary throughout 2015. As part of that celebration, we will be focusing on one decade of the National Home’s history each month. This month, we highlight the 1950’s. The Begining of the 4-H Program Early in 1952, the 4-H progam was adopted at the National Home. The children had 10 different fields of activity to chose from including: gardening, archery, food preparation, dairy, egg production, swine raising and beef raising. Involvement in these activites gave pivotal experiences to the children, building a foundation of leadership and skills for success in their future careers. Addition of new Fire Engine In 1953, the addition of a fire engine gave the Home a fully functioning fire station. Although our fire department is not operating today, the firetrucks are still used to deliver Christmas gifts to the children and for ceremonial purposes throughout the year. Hopalong Cassidy Visited the Home The Children at the Home had a very special treat in July of 1954, when one of their favorites came to visit the Home. Hopalong Cassidy – Hoppy himself, riding his wonderful horse Tropper – came to visit the children. The big event was arranged by the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars as a special treat. Michigan Governor Williams, who was present for the festivities, shared with Hopalong (Actor William Boyd) the honor of being elected “Father-for-the-Day” by the children of the Home. Before they left the Home, Governor Williams presented the cowboy star with a special certificate- Hopalong Cassidy was made an honorary citizen of the great State of Michigan! Construction of the Montana Farmstead The new farmstead gave the Home an efficient and practical dairy managment facility. The modern dairy operation included electric milking machines that would be pumped directly to a bulk refrigeration storage tank, and from there to milk trucks and to the dairy for bottling. During the entire process it was not touched by human hands. Modern electric feeders and self-feeders provided hay and silage for the animals from a loft and silo. This effecient method of feeding reduced labor costs significantly, benefiting the Home and the children due to increased revenue. The farm was located just south of the Home campus and was a gift from the VFW and Auxiliary members from the Department of Montana. New Administration Building In June of 1957, a dedication was held for the Home’s new Administration Building. The dedication ceremony featured players from the New York Yankees who had served in the service. The funds for this project originated from a 1922 World Series game. The game was cancelled due to darkness, and as a token of goodwill, the Yankees donated thier gate receipts to charity. Decades later these proceeds were used to construct this new building. 31 Houses When the Illinoise Cottage No. 2 was completed- there was a total of 31 houses on campus. It was an ultra-modern tri-level structure with an exterior of Roman brick.

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