Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sweetheart Pouches from World War I

Sweetheart Memorabilia
Patricia L. Cummings

Military men could draw from a number of options when mailing home a souvenir to a loved one on the home front. Sweetheart jewelry has been popular for years. I still treasure the bejeweled necklace sent home to me from my brother when he was in training at Lackland Air Force Base in the 1960s. The object has “Sweetheart” as a word across the surface. Surely, such an object becomes an even more important memory maker when the person who has given the item is deceased. No doubt, to be remembered in a kindly way is the wish of everyone who has ever walked the planet.

Besides the popular Sweetheart and Mother pillow covers that were mailed home, un-stuffed, but intended to be filled to use as a living room or bedroom pillow, impractical as that may seem now because they were silk or at a later time, rayon or acetate, another Sweetheart or Mother textiles comes to mind: pouches. 

Fold-over  pouch, a type of Sweetheart Memorabilia that often held a letter, a hankie, or silk stockings.
This one is from World War I and is held by the Sharpsville, PA HIstorical Society. Photo courtesy of Ralph Mehler. Photo edit by Patricia Cummings

The words on one side of the pouch say, “The Farewell.” Shown are a man and a woman. The same side (bottom half) depicts an American Flag.

Just this week, I received the following message from Ralph Mehler of the Sharpsville, Pennsylvania Historical Society. His note says:

The pillow [pouch] was donated December 2011. The donor (who has since died) said it was his grandfather's, who was a WWI vet.  Subsequent genealogical investigation shows that he entered the service 26 May 1918, and was married sometime in the prior year (listed as single in his June 1917 draft registration card and first child born 1 May 1918).  He served at Base Hospital 99 which was organized 22 August 1918 at Camp Custer, Michigan, and then took up station in France at Hyeres.

The "ourside" of the Sweetheart pouch, when it is folded, features an eagle and a bunting flag

Fort Custer, Michigan, was named for General George Custer (1839-1876). Custer was killed at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, also called “Custer’s Last Stand.”

Three pages of my book Sweetheart & Mother Pillows shows other Sweetheart and Mother pouches. Thanks to Ralph Mehler for allowing us to share photos and information about this historical society’s object.

The cover of my book shows a World War I soldier writing home to "Mother,"
who is seen in the upper left hand corner

My one of a kind, landmark book about Sweetheart & Mother Pillows is available worldwide and also directly from me as an autographed copy. For more information, please write to:

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