A New Chapter in the Gold Star Boys Mural: The rest of the story

Gold Star Boys Route 66

Follow the rest of the story of the Gold Star Boys mural.

The Gold Star Boys mural was painted right after 9/11/2001. It pictures the faces of six young men from the Cuba Area who fought in WWII and did not return to their families. The families received the Gold Star Medal that was given to families who lost a relative to war.  The mural was well received and makes quite a presence on Filmore Street on Route 66 in Cuba.

What we thought…

But then we found out that there was more to the story. In the red part of the mural the names of the six young men are inscribed along with the location where they died during the war. Ralph Fishwick lost his life in the line of duty on a return convoy off the coast of Africa on December 2, 1942. We thought. Read on for the rest of the story.

What was revealed…

Ralph Fishwick was born in Cuba in 1912  and on his father’s side of the family was a member of one of the early families of Cuba that was involved in mercantile and banking. On his mother’s side of the family, he was related to the Bishs. In 1930, after he graduated from Cuba High School, he wanted to join the Navy. He was told that his eyes were bad and turned down. He was told to do eye exercises if he wanted to try again. After faithfully doing the exercises, he was accepted and began his first tour of duty. Shortly after that, his eyes worsened, and he started wearing glasses.

There was more to the story of Ralph Fishwick's death.

Ralph Fishwick did not die off the coast of Africa as originally reported to his family.

In the Navy he received training to become an electrician. After his tour of duty, he returned to Cuba. When World War II broke out, Fishwick reenlisted.  When his convoy went down off the coast of Africa, his family was notified that he lost his life on December 2,1942. When Viva Cuba researched the mural and found an early VFW publication, this story along with a photo was used in the designing of the mural.  But that was not the end of the story.

About 20 years ago, Mr. Fishwick’s niece Carol contacted the Defense Department after discovering that certain papers about his death had been declassified. What his niece found out, was quite different from what the family had been led to believe.

Mr. Fishwick had died when his small boat was hit by a mine or perhaps even hit by a German submarine off the East coast of the United States. As a matter of national security, the United States government didn’t want anyone to know that an enemy submarine could be that close to an American coast. So the story was changed when the families were notified.

Ralph Fishwick’s body along with 14 others was discovered on May 8, 1943. At that time, the real location was given. The cold waters of the Atlantic had kept their bodies perfectly preserved. He was brought back and buried in Kinder Cemetery alongside many members of the Fishwick and Bish families.

The article below was in the 1943 Cuba Review:

The Cuba Review reported that the body of Ralph Fishwick was returned to his family.

The Cuba Review reported that the body of Ralph Fishwick was returned to his family.

The Cuba Review also reported the full military funeral  given to Mr. Fishwick.

Ralph Fishwick was given a  military funeral in 1943.

Ralph Fishwick was given a military funeral in 1943.

We remember…

Because Mr. Fishwick died while he was in the service, he is known as a Gold Star Boy. A Gold Star pin was given to his mother, showing that she had lost a son.  It was worn with pride but also with a sense of loss and sadness. When the mural featuring Fishwick was painted, his brother Bob felt pride that his brother was included in the remembrance.

So the next time, that you are in the area of the mural on Filmore St., stop and pay tribute to all Cuba’s brave young men who are pictured in the mural. You will also find their names with a star by them etched on the Veterans Memorial on N. Smith Street in the Recklein Commons area.

And that’s the rest of the story.

For more info on the Gold Star Boys mural:

http://cubamomurals.com/2010/05/the-gold-star-boys-mural-remembers-sacrifice/

http://cubamomurals.com/2010/11/gold-star-boy-mural-salutes-cubas-veterans/

Route 66 and the Gold Star Boys mural

The Gold Star mural is just off Route 66 in Cuba, MO.

Ralph Fishwick sacrificed his life for his country.

Ralph Fishwick spent two tours of service in defense of his country.

Ralph Fishwick gravestone

Ralph Fishwick’s gravestone rests is in the Kinder Cemetery on the west end of Cuba, Missouri

A version of this story was printed in a Cuba Free Press article.

 

 

 

Does the number 1522 mean anything to you?

Cuba, Missouri Trains

Cuba's connection with trains could fill a scrapbook.

Train exhibit at the Crawford County Museum in Cuba, Missouri

The history museum in Cuba has an exhibit on the trains in Cuba, Missouri.

Trains have always  been important to Cuba, Missouri history as the old scrapbook pages above show. The town was founded and platted in 1857 in anticipation of the arrival of the Southern Branch of the Pacific Railroad in 1859-60.

During WW II the Blue Bonnet Train took soldiers to and from the war, a scene which is commemorated in the Gold Star Boys Mural.

Blue Bonnet Train Mural

The Blue Bonnet train is featured in the Gold Star Boys Mural.

The Salem Branch of the Railroad ran from Cuba to Viburnum and was called the Salem Dinky because of its small size. It has been commemorated in a 1873 Train Replica in the Viva Cuba Garden.

A train that locals called The Plug ran from Cuba to St. Louis and often took Cubans into the city for shopping or business.

1873 train replica Cuba, Missouri

The "Salem Dinky" is part of Viva Cuba Garden's public art.

The Frisco 1522 steam train was a popular model that transported passengers and frieght on the rails. Built in 1926, it  was retired then restored as an exhibition train until it was retired a final time in 2002.

Many grew up in Cuba within sight and sound of the trains. Some made their living on the rails. John Watson of Frisco’s Restaurant, and his father before him, worked for the railraod.  Because of the family’s love for the railroad, when John’s wife Virginia opened her restaurant  along the train tracks in Cuba, it was named Frisco’s and filled with train photos and memorabilia.

John’s wife Virginia had a particualr desire for the phone number 1522 after the famous Frisco train. There was just one problem. In the early days, the number was held by the Route 66 Cafe in Cuba. When the cafe closed its doors, Virginia wasted no time in contacting the phone company and expressing her desire for the 1522 phone number. She was told that it was policy to wait six months before the number could be used again. But Virginia was persistent and snagged the 1522 phone number. “I just kind of kept whining about it until they gave it up,” she laughs now.

Then when Frisco’s website was designed, she used the 1522 numbers again. You can get on board the website at www.friscos1522.com. And when she commissioned artist Shelly Smith Steiger to paint a mural-style sign for her business, she  used the steam train image on her sign.

Cuba, Missouri Frisco's sign

The old steam train is pictured on Frisco's sign.

The 1522 steam train is retired now, but it is not forgotten.  See of the video of the old train’s final run from St. Louis to Newburg, Missouri and listen to the sound of a famous train as it says goodby to the towns and people along its route.

Visit Frisco’s Grill & Pub to see the many photos and train artifacts of the nearby railroad. If you are lucky, John or his dad may be on hand to tell you some stories. And if you want to phone for a reservation, you know the number.

Cuba, Missouri Railroad schedule

This railroad schedule is just one artifact on display at Frisco's.

Cuba, Missouri Train Depot

This photo was taken during fair time when many came to Cuba by train to see the parade and other festivities. Mail, passengers, and other goods arrived by train.

Read “Recklein Commons creates an area of community spirit in Cuba, Missouri.”

Gold Star Boy Mural Salutes Cuba’s Veterans…

Viva Cuba's Gold Star Medal Mural Cuba MO

Viva Cuba's Gold Star Mural depicts sacrifices made during WW II.

The Gold Star Mural just off Route 66 in Cuba was painted just after 9/11 although it had been planned for months. With its tribute to the young men from the Cuba area who had lost their lives during WWII, it seemed an apt expression of the feeling of patriotism that swept the country at the time.

The train in the mural is  The Blue Bonnet. During W.W. II the Blue Bonnet, a Frisco train named after the Texas state flower, was a familiar sight with its distinctive blue and white cars.  It was this #7 train that whisked away Cuba’s service men as they left their homes to protect America’s way of life and values.  These young men sometimes gave their lives to keep the light of freedom burning.

Cuba’s Gold Star boys who gave their lives during WW II were the following:  Ralph Burnell Fishwick-Navy; Preston A. (Bud) Gibson Jr.-Army; Lawrence E. Grant-Navy; Dale K. Hudson-Navy; Rex Hilliard Powell-Naval Reserve; and Floyd Cecil Vaughn-9th Air Corps. Their names on listed on the red background on the north end of the mural. Their names can also be found on the Cuba Veterans Memorial on Smith Street.

According to a Cuba Free Press letter to the editor at the time the mural was painted, Wilbur Vaughn remembed his family taking his brother Cecil to this train during World War II.  He then went home, sat on the porch, and heard the whistle of the Blue Bonnet as it left.  He remembered how sad it sounded. His brother Cecil Vaughn is one of the young men who did not return from the war.

You might wonder why these men who died in the service of their country were called “Gold Star Boys.” With Public Law 534, the 89th Congress directed the design and distribution of a lapel button–known as the Gold Star Lapel button–to identify widows, parents, and next of kin of members of the Armed Forces of the United who lost their lives during hostilities.  The pin is depicted on the north end of the mural.

Gold Star Medal

The medal and names of the Veterans who sacrificed on are displayed on the mrual.

The pin, which is issued by the Department of Defense, is gold and is on a purple background for combat death and all gold for death while in service.  When one of the service men was killed in combat, his relatives received this gold pin. Servicemen’s mothers often wore the medal to show that they had lost a son.  It was a badge not only of sadness for loss but also one of pride because their sons had sacrificed for their country.

On this Veterans Day, Viva Cuba would like to remember these young men and all the young men and women who have served their country both in time of peace and in time of war.

For more information on the Gold Star Mothers’ organization, visit goldstarmoms.com.

The Artists…

Michelle Loughery, of Canada, who painted the A.J. Barnett mural, along with her assistant Sara Lindsay, returned to Cuba for this mural.  Local artist Shelly Smith Steiger assisted on tthe mural. Steiger now teachers high school art at Cuba High School.

The Gold Star Boys Mural remembers sacrifice…

The faces of the young men in the window of the train are the faces of young men from the Cuba area who did not return from World War II.

A scene from Cuba during the Memorial Day weekend: The faces of the young men in the window of the train are the faces of young men from the Cuba area who did not return from World War II.

During W.W. II the “Blue Bonnet,” a Frisco train named after the Texas state flower, was a familiar sight with its distinctive blue and white cars.  It was this #7 train that whisked away Cuba’s service men as they left their homes to protect our way of life and values.  They sometimes gave their lives to insure freedom.

Cuba’s Gold Star boys who gave their lives were the following:  Ralph Burnell Fishwick-Navy; Preston A. (Bud) Gibson Jr.-Army; Lawrence E. Grant-Navy; Dale K. Hudson-Navy; Rex Hilliard Powell-Naval Reserve; and Floyd Cecil Vaughn-9th Air Corps.

According to a Cuba Free Press letter to the editor at the time the mural was painted, local Wilbur Vaughn remembered his family taking his brother Floyd to this train during World War II.  He then went home, sat on the porch, and heard the whistle of the Blue Bonnet as it left.  He recalled how sad it sounded.

You might wonder why these men who died in the service of their country were called “Gold Star Boys.”  With Public Law 534, the 89th Congress directed the design and distribution of a lapel button–known as the Gold Star Lapel button–to identify widows, parents, and next of kin of members of the Armed Forces of the United who lost their lives during hostilities.  The pin, which is issued by the Department of Defense, is gold and is on a purple background for combat death and all gold for death while in service.

When one of the service men was killed in combat, his relatives received this gold medal. Servicemen’s mothers often wore the medal to show that they had lost a son.  It was a badge not only of sadness for loss but also one of pride because their sons had sacrificed for their countries.

For more information on the Gold Star Mothers’ organization, you can go to goldstarmoms.com.

Let Us Remember…

Let us remember their sacrifice and all the veterans who have given to their country.

Let us remember their sacrifice and all the veterans who have given to their country.

The names of the Gold Star boys and information about their deaths is painted in the red area next to their names. The Gold Star Medal is also pictured.

The names of the Gold Star boys and information about their deaths is painted in the red area next to their names. The Gold Star Medal is also pictured.

The full sweep of the mural is a patriotic display.

The full sweep of the mural is a patriotic display. It also remembers those who said good-bye to their loved ones.

The Artists

Michelle Loughery of Canada, bringing along her assistant Sara Lindsay, returned to Cuba for this mural. Local artist Shelly Smith Steiger also collaborated on this mural.

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