Monday, September 10, 2012

Army Locket Button

Story time! A long time ago (maybe 5 years), in a far away place (Denver, CO), a tall, red-headed lady attended the Colorado State Button Society Annual Show.  It was at this show that two important and wonderful things happened that changed her life:
  • She saw a locket button for the first time
  • She met and became dear friends with button dealer, Don Ortwein
OK, it wasn't so dramatic, but in retrospect it was pretty important.  My friend and colleague, Janice Stutts, had a newly acquired find:  an Army locket button, circa. 1918.  Her Mom had found a box of buttons at an estate sale in Portland, Oregon, and having picked out those she wanted, gave the rest to her daughter.  Janice told me of finding the button in the box and thinking it was a regular Army uniform button.  That was, until she turned the button over!!!  On the back were the words, "LIBERTY MFG. CO. LOS ANGELES CAL PATENT PEND."
Now, not too many buttons were manufactured by companies on the West Coast, so that was a clue in itself.  Luckily, Janice had seen one of these buttons from Hawaii button dealer, Don Ortwein.  We were, in fact, sitting at Don's tables when she and I had our meeting of the minds!  Janice showed me how the button hinged and opened it to reveal two black & white photos behind celluloid covers.  What a find!  Janice and I stared at the photos for a moment and she said to me, "I wonder who these women were?" "Maybe his sweetheart?  His Sister? It would be cool to know who they were, wouldn't it", I said.  Then, as if zapped with electricity, we both sat up straight and looked at each other.  "You need to...."Janice started, "write a story about it", I continued!
Since then I have toyed with the idea.  Don Ortwein even searched and found a locket button for my collection.  It has one photo in it of what appears to be a young man, but I'm not certain.  The photos that haunt me, however, are of those young ladies and I have decided that their story needs to be told.
To that end, I am asking all of you reading this to send me any information you have about a relative who served in WWI, letters, photos, etc, or even places where I could visit to continue my research about live during this time and Army regulations, uniforms, rule books that may exist, etc.  I have been reading voraciously and the book has begun to take shape.
I hope I can do these ladies and their soldier proud with my story.
Don Ortwein

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