Have you ever taken a facebook quiz where the idea is to discover your idea decade? I don’t have to do that quiz as I already know the answer. I love the 1940’s. Okay, to clarify, I don’t love the war but I do love the hair, the clothes and the resourcefulness that was shown during the era. So when I heard that a group called “Pin Up Girls On Tour” would be preforming at the VFW on High Street I was all in.
A Long History
I’ll let you into another secret (but you have to promise not to tell, okay?) I love the old building that the VFW is now housed in and have always wanted to take a peek inside. Originally this was the High St. Methodist Episcopal Church and one of the first churches built in Somersworth. The land on which it is built was donated by the Great Falls Manufacturing Company and work began on that church in 1828. There was another church erected at the same time and this one was located where the old VFW was before it moved into into it’s present home. This church was the Great Falls Congregational Church and there was something of a race between the two to get them built in that year. The Congregationalist’s were also granted land by the Great Falls Manufacturing Company and both organizations received the sum of $500 from the same. This race was won by the Congregational church who consecrated their church six days earlier than the Methodists, but I digress.
So Tuesday May 16th 2017, I finally got my chance to take a look inside this very special place in Somersworth’s history and also to dust off my vintage dresses. So I climbed the steps and walked through the door into a large hallway that contains two sweeping staircases. As I stood there for a second I wondered how many brides had swept down that mahogany staircase and found myself daydreaming, but I had work to do and I knew much more to see.
Climbing the staircase I found myself in another hallway but not before I had stopped to admire the stain glassed windows that filtered the sunlight beautifully down the stairs and into the upstairs where I was now stood. In front of me was two large wooden doors that displayed wonderfully the workmanship that was employed many years ago. Stepping through those doors I was greeted by a large hall, with wooden floors and flanked by some of the most beautiful stained glass windows I have seen in a long time.
In the center of the room and impossible to miss was a mesmerizing chandelier that light the space. I happen to know that the chandelier was installed in the 1980’s when the church became a restaurant and was so large it had to be brought in with the help of the Somersworth fire department on account of its size. To say it leaves an impression is an understatement and I would late discover that the VFW have recently retrofitted this chandelier with LED lights that shine brighter and are far more energy efficient.
History Repeats Itself
I found a seat at a table not too far from the stage where was already sat Somersworth citizens, Richard and Cynthia Jutras who like me where there to enjoy the show. I chatted with the couple before the show and discovered that they had been married in 1951 in the same space that we now sat. Richard is a marine veteran of the Korean war and it seemed fitting to be sitting next to them. Before we knew it was time for the show to start and it was a great show.
Pin Ups With A Mission Of Their Own
The Pin Ups On Tour is more than simply a show that showcases music and fashions from the era’s 1940 through the 1960’s though. It has a much bigger mission than simply entertaining people. It aims to give back to those who gave their time and energy to this country and served in the military: our veterans. They are a five person troop consisting of four girls and one very lucky or unlucky guy, depending on who you ask.
They are based out of Las Vegas and for the past two years have been traveling around various VFW posts and performing. So far they have traveled to 42 states and by the time they get back home next week they will have covered 44 states. That’s a lot of traveling!
During each tour they travel to various VFW posts but in between they spend their time at VA hospitals. The shows are offered free to veterans and for the sum of $10 patrons can purchase a pocket sized calendar that features the troop. Those who purchase one can choose to donate them to the veterans at the various VA hospitals that the troop visit. As an added touch with each calendar purchased a sticker can be signed and added with the state and which branch of the service you may have served in. The ladies were busy telling me that this for many of the VA hospital veterans is a favorite as they often travel a long way before getting to their final recipients.
Let’s Get The Show Started
So the show as they say must go on and on it did. We were treated to a little burlesque including a feather dance with appropriate hilltopper blue costumes. Some songs from the 1940’s courtesy of the lovely songbird Julia, a great rendition of Singing in the rain by Buddy. As Buddy sung and danced his way through this classic, Mrs Jutras turned to me and whispered, “He has a such a beautiful voice.” A statement that I can’t disagree with.
Buddy was saving the best to the last part of the show though and after a short intermission he donned some leather and sang some Elvis. It turned out that Dixie who was integral part of the show had a very special pair in the audience, her parents and that it was her mothers birthday in a couple of days. She was hastily brought on stage, much to her amazement and the show carried on around her. Buddy serenaded her as Elvis and the girls, as well as the audience all sang happy birthday. It was one of those moments that I’m sure Mrs Dixie will never forget.
As the show drew to a close the finale was a fitting rendition and the familiar sound of the signature tunes of all the military branches. Mr Jutras who had been sitting quietly and taking everything in, lit up as the Marines signature rang out. He stood up and found himself receiving a heartfelt kiss on the forehead from one of the ladies who was carrying a flag. As the show ended he was beaming from ear to ear as was the entire audience.
If you get the chance to see Pinupsontour I highly recommended it. A great group of young people who are bringing joy to a population that is all too often forgotten: our veterans.
1899 Ballroom Available For Rental
Just in case you are wondering the 1899 ballroom which is where the show took place is available to rent for weddings, functions and just about everything you can imagine. The VFW are busy renovating the space even more and I have to say it is a beautiful space, and that chandelier, oh that chandelier…. For more details on the venue please contact Tammy Harris via email by clicking HERE.