Small-town museums are the best rest stops.  The cost is reasonable—often by donation.  We can find them without city traffic.  They don’t take too much time.  The (generally) volunteers on duty are fascinating people to talk to; they know more about the history and the local area than the exhibits show.

The Central Washington Museum in Tonopah, Nevada—besides other interesting items—has a case with an ambulance-shaped donation box from 1917.  That year, the Tonopah Ambulance Regiment was organized to raise funds for use by American medical personnel in France.

For a fund-raising “open house,” the Butler Theatre Orchestra played with vocal and instrumental selections and “Mrs. Grigsby also concocted a special T.A.R. punch, the recipe for which was kept secret.”   The same Mrs. Grigsby wrote a song, “The Call of the Ambulance.”  High school students set the metal ambulance boxes around town for donations.  Mrs. Chuck Whitney made a regimental flag; “It was 40 by 57 inches in size and done up in regimental colors—red, blue, green, and gold.  The banner featured the group’s emblem and its motto, ‘To Know—To Will—To Dare.’”

Fundraising activities included a bazaar which included sales of goods, raffles, a children’s marching drill, a parade, an auction, and various entertainments.  About $2,200 was raised in one evening (this is 1917).

“At a meeting held on October 23, Mrs. Grigsby reported that $2380 was in the coffers.  She also read a letter from an official of the Ambulance Field Service offering to see them an ambulance for $1425.”  The treasurer immediately sent a check.  The ambulance was assigned to the American Red Cross Hospital in a Paris suburb and used at the front.

When we asked questions about the ambulance, the young lady in charge copied for us a copy of an article from the Reno Gazette-Journal, Sunday, November 3, 1987, from which the above quotations were taken.

That inspiring example of patriotism makes us nostalgic for a time when ordinary citizens could and did participate in projects to care for troops and individual war efforts had a notable impact.   There are some projects today, like letters and care packages, but most of the large items are handled by military procurement instead of individuals.

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