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HBS-001

During World War II, the US military was still segregated. Despite the fact that they fought side by side, servicemen of color were not allowed in the whites only USO clubs. In Tacoma, a group of prominent religious, community and civic leaders addressed this problem by opening USO #2 at 713-15 Commerce St. and dedicating it for the use of African American servicemen and women. This photograph is of an unidentified violinist and accompanist performing at USO #2.

HBS-002

In August of 1944, many servicemen of color turned out for dance night in the main auditorium of the USO #2, 713-15 Commerce St. During World War II, the US military was still segregated and USO #2 was sponsored by the YMCA for the entertainment of African American servicemen and women. The main auditorium was decorated with transparencies by the Washington State Progress Commission. The project was under the supervision of Bert Smyser. The auditorium was a large space that could be adapted for many uses. (photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma) (information provided by USO #2 brochure for Recognition Ceremony)

HBS-003

A group of African Americans look on for the cutting of a cake at an unidentified social event at the USO #2, 713-715 Commerce St., circa 1946. The cake has four candles, possibly indicating that it was in honor of the Club's fourth anniversary in September of 1946. In the group were Helen B. Stafford (second from left), Arthur Hayes (fifth from left), Maude Leonard (seventh from left) and Louise Beck (back of center, in hat.) (photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma)

HBS-004

A dance event at the USO #2, 713-715 Commerce Street. Helen B. Stafford is on the far right. The other people in the picture are unidentified. (photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma))

HBS-005

U.S.O. #2, 713-15 Commerce St., circa 1946. During World War II, although black and white soldiers fought side by side, the United States Army was still segregated. In Tacoma, African American service men and women had their own USO Club at 713-15 Commerce. It was dedicated on September 4, 1942 and closed late in March of 1947. The Kaufman-Wolff building where it was located had previously housed the Soldiers and Sailors Clubhouse during World War I. USO #2 was enlarged in 1944 by adding an annex in the building to the north of the original club. The enlarged structure provided the following facilities: dark room, music room, hobby room, game room, showers, sleeping accommodations, library and snack bar. It was operated by the YMCA and staffed primarily by volunteers. (brochure from Recognition Ceremony USO Number Two on 3/30/1947; photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma).

HBS-006

On October 22, 1945, this group of unidentified individuals were photographed seated around a table after what appears to be a dinner at the USO #2, 713-15 Commerce St. (photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma)

HBS-007

Volunteer Senior Hostesses at the USO #2 posed around a refreshment table, circa 1946, at an unidentified event at the club located at 713-15 Commerce St. Pictured in the standing row were, at far left, Lila Brown; second from left, Ethel Butler; fourth from left, Maude Leonard; fourth from right, Louise Beck; far right, Helen Beck Stafford. Minnie Harris is seated, partially hidden, in the second row. The remainder of the women are unidentified. Mrs. Leonard served on the Operating Committee of the club; she also volunteered over 5,000 hours during its years of operation. (brochure from Recognition Ceremony USO Number Two on 3/30/1947; photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma)

HBS-008

In this photograph from around 1946, eight volunteer Senior Hostesses posed around a refreshment table for an unidentified event held at the USO #2 located at 713-15 Commerce Street. Pictured left to right: Lila Brown, Ethel Butler, Helen Beck Stafford, Maude Leonard, unidentified, Louise Beck, unidentified and Minnie Harris. (brochure from Recognition Ceremony USO Number Two on 3/30/1947; photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma)

HBS-009

On Sunday February 3, 1946, USOs across the nation celebrated the fifth anniversary of USO (United Service Organization) operation by opening to the public. In Tacoma, all of the USO clubs had open houses but the main event was held at the USO #2, the club reserved for servicemen of color at 713-15 Commerce St. Guests of honor were Tacoma's Mayor Harry Cain (center back table) and Earl Marble, the chairman of the Tacoma USO Council. The anniversary program included performances by the Special Service Band from Fort Lewis, concert pianist Pvt. Glen Michaels and tenor Sgt. Soto Andrews. (TNT 2/3/1946, pg. A-7, 2/4/1946, pg. 1; photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma)

HBS-010

On Sunday February 3, 1946, a dinner was held at the Tacoma USO #2, 713-15 Commerce St., honoring the 5th anniversary of USO operation. The United Service Organizations, or USO, was incorporated in New York Feb. 4, 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who believed it was important for private citizens to take responsibility for the on-leave recreation needs of service members. One of the guests of honor for the Tacoma celebration was Mayor Harry Cain, standing center, who attended with his wife Marjorie, last woman seated left. Seated to the right of Mayor Cain was Mr. Arthur Hayes, chairman of the club's operating committee. The other individuals at the table were unidentified. (TNT 2/3/1946, pg. A-7, 2/4/1946, pg. 1: photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma)

HBS-011

The 70 piece Youth Symphony Orchestra of the Pacific Northwest perform at the annual USO Music Festival, held at Point Defiance Park on July 28, 1946. The orchestra, conducted by Dr. Francis Aranyi, was photographed on the temporary bandstand erected in the natural amphitheater at the entrance to the park. The concert was attended by over 7,000 people. (TT 7/27/1946, pg 2 and 7/28/46, pg 1; TNT 7/27/46, pg.1 and 7/29/46, pg. 1& 2; Photo by F.L. Powell, YMCA, Tacoma)

HBS-012

The second annual USO Music Festival was held at Point Defiance Park on July 28, 1946. One of the featured performers was the 70 piece Youth Symphony Orchestra of the Pacific Northwest, under the direction of Dr. Francis Aranyi. The concert took place around the temporary bandstand set up in the natural amphitheater at the entrance to the park. It was attended by over 7,000 people. (TT 7/27/1946, pg 2 and 7/28/46, pg 1; TNT 7/27/46, pg.1 and 7/29/46, pg. 1& 2; Photo by F.L. Powell, YMCA, Tacoma)

HBS-013

The Puget Sound Navy Orchestra, from Seattle, performed jazz at the second annual music festival on July 28, 1946, at Point Defiance Park. The orchestra was under the direction of Ensign William Paul Currence. Watching and waiting for their turn to play, right, was either the 448th Special Service Band or Sharps and Flats, both groups from Fort Lewis. The newspapers classified their sound as "Boogie-Woogie." The 448th was under the direction of Sgt. Benjamin W. Martin; Sharps and Flats was under the direction of Joe Jordan. The concert, held in the natural amphitheater at the entrance to the park, drew over 7,000 listeners. It was also broadcast over the Mutual Network by KMO. (TT 7/27/1946, pg 2 and 7/28/46, pg 1; TNT 7/27/46, pg.1 and 7/29/46, pg. 1& 2; Photo by F.L. Powell, YMCA)

HBS-014

The performance by the 70 piece Youth Symphony Orchestra of the Pacific Northwest, under the direction of Dr. Francis Aranyi, was one of the highlights of the USO Music Festival held July 28, 1946 at Point Defiance. The festival was held in the natural amphitheater at the entrance to the park. The concert drew over 7,000 listeners. It was also broadcast over the Mutual Network by KMO. (TT 7/27/1946, pg 2 and 7/28/46, pg 1; TNT 7/27/46, pg.1 and 7/29/46, pg. 1& 2) Photo by F.L. Powell, YMCA, Tacoma)

HBS-015

An unidentified majorette performs with the Seattle Elks Band at the USO Music Festival at Point Defiance Park on July 28, 1946. The band was one of many performers in the concert attended by over 7,000. (TT 7/27/1946, pg 2 and 7/28/46, pg 1; TNT 7/27/46, pg.1 and 7/29/46, pg. 1& 2; Photo by F.L. Powell, YMCA, Tacoma)

HBS-016

On July 29, 1945, the USO hosted its first Music Festival at Point Defiance Park. Over 6,000 spectators were on hand to enjoy the concert. The main feature was a performance of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" by the 362nd Army Band of Fort Lewis. Cpl. William Sumner of New York City was the featured soloist. Cpl. Sumner was the solo pianist with the National Broadcasting Company before entering the Army. Other performers included the 29th Special Band directed by Sgt. Earnest Hayden and the 25 voice Naval choir from Bremerton, featuring baritone soloist Robert Brown. (TNT 7/29/1945, pg. 1; photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma)

HBS-017

This photograph from the Helen Stafford collection is dated July 29, 1945, meaning it was taken at the first USO music festival at Point Defiance. Six thousand attendees sat on the grass to listen to the 362nd Army Band from Fort Lewis play Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Also performing were the 29th Special Service Band directed by Sgt. Earnest Hayden and the 25 voice Naval choir from Bremerton. (TNT 7/29/1945, PG. 1; Photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma)

HBS-018

From September of 1942 until the end of March, 1947, 713-15 Commerce housed USO #2, a club reserved for the entertainment of servicemen and women of color. One of the unique activities in the club took place each year during "Be Kind to Animals" week. Servicemen assisted in the planning and production of a dog show with the pets of local children. Ribbons were presented to the best in each catagory. In this photograph dated September 16, 1945, unidentified children and servicemen pose with a variety of dogs at the club. (photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma)

HBS-019

ca. 1946. One of the purposes of the USO was to make the holidays more festive for servicemen stationed away from home and their families. This picture of a local pair, left, and four servicemen was taken around Christmas at the USO Club #2. All of the people in the picture are unidentified. The Club was reserved for servicemen of color; at this time, the military was still segregated. (Photograph by F.L. Powell, YMCA, Tacoma).

HBS-020

ca. 1946. A group of at a refreshment table at the USO #2, 713-15 Commerce St., around 1946. The border in the background is formed of a line of thumbtacked photographs of the USO Club. (photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma)

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