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S. Connellsville woman seeks photo for collage of popular canteen for troops in World War II

| Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, 1:11 a.m.
Vierma “Bobbi” Bloom was married to Robert Earl Bloom, who entered the service when he was 33 years old and did not come home for five years.
Bessie Greer Shipley volunteered at the Connellsville Canteen during World War II. She belonged to many organizations and volunteer groups. Her husband was an engineer on the railroad and she belonged to the railroaders' wives version of a ladies auxiliary, among other groups.

A local woman who loves history is taking on a project that will become a display at Connellsville Canteen Coffee Shop.

“I have been reading about the canteen project in the newspaper and thought it was such a great idea to keep this history alive,” South Connellsville native Bobbi Shipley Kramer said. “I am passionate about local history, and the canteen played an important part of it.”

Knowing that her grandmother, several aunts and at least one cousin volunteered at the original canteen, she thought it would be nice to have a large collage of the volunteers.

“One day I was at ArtWorks and asked Dan Cocks, the manager there, about the canteen. He asked if I would like a preview tour of it and, of course, I said, yes,” Kramer said. “I love the old pictures of soldiers and sailors displayed on the walls and all the memorabilia. It is also decorated beautifully and reminiscent of the 1940s.”

Kramer said her father was a medic in World War II and married her mother who was from London.

“So, I have heard many wartime stories — some from the U.S. soldiers' viewpoint and some from the British citizens' anguish at having a war surrounding them,” Kramer said.

Cocks supported Kramer's idea. She is working on the collage for the Crawford Avenue canteen.

Kramer's family members who volunteered with the canteen include her grandmother, Bessie Greer Shipley; aunts, Vierma Bloom and Florence McClintock; and her father's cousin, Gen Yezek. She believes her aunt, Jenny Shipley, did, too, and is trying to verify her role.

Kramer's grandmother had three sons and a son-in-law in World War II.

“I have photos of my dad and uncles. I have a lot of memorabilia that belonged to my Aunt Vierma's husband, Earl Bloom. He served in Belgium. When I would stay with Aunt Vierma and Uncle Earl on summer vacation, he would make sure I ate everything on my plate and always reminded me of the starving children he saw during the war and to always appreciate how good we have it here in the U.S.

“My dad was Delford Shipley, a medic with the 67th hospital. His brothers who served were JR Shipley and Adrian Shipley. Their brother-in-law was Earl Bloom. All were from South Connellsville. All served in the European Theater,” she said.

Kramer said she is seeking photos or photo copies of Connellsville Canteen workers during World War II for a pictorial project for the new Connellsville Canteen.

“These were wonderful volunteers. I want to display the photos, as they were during World War II years, along with their names,” she said.

Kramer is asking people to scan and email their photocopies to her at or call 724-887-7278 for an address to mail photos.

She said photos of the volunteers don't have to have been taken at the canteen, but canteen photos are welcome. Please include the volunteer's name and hometown.

“If you or a loved one volunteered at the canteen during World War II, I would love to include your photo in the display at the new canteen,” she said.

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.

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