New City Hall Exhibit Honors Air Raid Wardens
Residents paying utility bills at West University Place City Hall may notice a new display in the hallway that honors West U. men who served during World War II.
City officials on Monday opened the new exhibit, which honors Air Raid Wardens who helped keep the city safe during the war. At the time, the country was concerned about enemy attacks from the air, and the wardens stood watch and ensured that residents used black-out curtains.
The exhibit features a metal helmet and an ID card that belonged to Art Smith, who lived in West U. from 1939 until his death in 1987. His son, Arthur Smith Jr., donated the items to the city.
“It’s been in our garage forever,” Smith said. “It rightfully belongs here.”
Another artifact is an arm band that wardens wore to identify themselves. The armband glowed faintly after air wardens allowed it to soak up the sun’s rays all day. It belonged to W.A. Hamlett, who moved to West U. in 1941 and served two terms on the city council from 1947 to 1950. The case also contains the book Pigtails and Inkwells by Hamlett’s son John Hamlett. The book includes a chapter on the duties of air raid wardens.
“We are still looking for a picture of the wooden watch tower behind the fire station used to spot airplanes over the area,” said Councilman Steven Segal in an email. Segal helped bring the new exhibit to city hall.