Thursday, February 11, 2010

WWI Chandelier Helmet

What Not to Do To War Memorabilia

George Strader was a WWI Corporal for the 805th Pioneer Infantry, AEF and was a disabled veteran from Lyons, Rice County, Kansas. He was born in Kentucky in September of 1894 and was the son of James Nelson and Mary (Gaddie) Strader. He married Blanche Blanton around 1921 after serving in Europe and returning home safely.

But…this blog is not about George, who is featured in the photo. This blog is entitled “What Not to Do To War Memorabilia.” As the story goes, George presented his mother with his WWI helmet which George so proudly was wearing when the photo was taken. His uniform looks so complete with it on his head as he posed for the First Colored Hero. He was the pride of the town.

His mother, not sure what to do with this wonderful piece of family pride, decided to make a chandelier out of it, so all the neighbors could glare? at the beauty hanging overhead. It was actually the living room chandelier (so I heard from eyewitnesses) for years, until the 1960's.

That chandelier, which someone had painstakingly drilled four holes into in order to attach the ornate light fixtures on, has been passed through five generations of Strader’s.

What to do with such a piece is anyone’s guess, but I gasped when I saw it. I only wondered what the neighbors thought, when it so proudly hung in the Strader home in Lyons Kansas. Perhaps it was the fad in 1920 to take war helmets and make them into household fixtures, but might I persuade you to donate such things to the local museum or put them in a curio-cabinet, unbolted and not defaced?

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers

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