Post-war Cheboygan and the Opera House through the eyes of Faye Johnston

The last column about the Johnston Family in World War II requires a correction. I said that three Johnston brothers returned safely from WWII, but actually only two brothers, Howard and Bob, went to war.

The third sibling was Faye’s sister, Lorraine Johnston Hamilton. Lorraine was an Army nurse and a lieutenant, while Howard and Bob were sergeants. Because she was an officer, Lorraine was not allowed to fraternize with her brothers de ella while they were stationed in Europe.

Through a series of correspondences with their mother at home, the three somehow arranged to meet in England before coming home for good. Now living in Traverse City, Lorraine, 101 years old, is reading these articles and deserves great thanks for her service from her.

In 1944, most eligible men were in the Army, forcing many women to join the workforce. Even the children were asked to help. Faye and thousands of other students across America, were doing their part to help the war effort by collecting milk weed pods. The milk weed silk was extracted and used as flotation material for life jackets. As a class assignment, children were asked to fill mesh onion bags with milk weed pods. Two bags provided enough filling for one life jacket.

Children all over America took to the fields to collect milkweed pods.

According to The Monarch Joint Venture, “Over 12 MILLION pounds of milkweed pods were collected and sent by trainloads to Petosky, Michigan, for processing.”

“Not one gave a thought to the Monarch butterfly,” Johnston said.

Cheboygan volunteers also stood guard at the Opera House, one of the tallest buildings in town. Armed with binoculars they stood at the third-floor windows and watched for enemy plans. If any suspicious plane was sighted, they were to alert a liaison at the Airport.

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