(But you didn’t)
Back in the spring of 2020, we were dealing with the immediate impacts of the pandemic, trying to figure out how to open the museum safely, how to connect with audiences we couldn’t connect with in person, how to manage staff and volunteers.
We were also dealing with the impacts (no pun intended) of a tree that fell on one of our buildings…on March 14. Yep, COVID and the tree hit us on the same day. It was a great day.
Needless to say, there was a LOT going on at that time.
On top of it all, co-worker Alyson and I were creating an online exhibit to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. We’d intended it to be a physical exhibit, but COVID and the tree both put an end to that.
That’s our online When War Comes Home exhibit, and it includes a section on the role of women on the homefront. We chose to highlight the story of Fannie Messenger, who raised a victory garden, used the vegetables she grew there to feed the soldiers who stayed in her boarding house, organized women’s voluntary groups and the various wartime collecting drives, etc. Alyson interviewed her grandson and great-granddaughter, dug through newspapers and other records, and wrote a great story about her role.
And a short time after the exhibit went live, we got a phone call from Fannie’s grandson, wondering where we got the information because he’d never heard any of it, none of the details matched up with his extensive knowledge of his family’s history, and neither he nor his daughter recalled ever speaking to either of us.
Well, that was a bit of a shock. How on earth had we got it so wrong?
After a brief moment of panic, and some questions back and forth, we realized: there were two Fannie Messengers. Both lived up towards the top of 16th Avenue North, within a couple of blocks of each other. Both have grandsons and a great-granddaughter in the Creston Valley. Neither is related in any way to the other. It took us a couple of hours to figure all of that out, though!
For the record, the Fannie Messinger we highlighted is Len Messinger’s grandmother, not Casey’s.