Hometown newsletter kept soldiers in touch with the community
By Kristen Miller
Communicating to servicemen during World War II was a bit different than communicating with today’s servicemen.
Back then, there wasn’t e-mail or Facebook, but there were the works of dedicated community members who wrote and published The Cokato Bugle.
During the 1940s, the Usher’s Club at the Cokato Lutheran Church began publishing the monthly newsletter that would be sent to those from the Cokato area serving during World War II.
The Cokato Bugle was much like the Cokato Enterprise at the time, just in a condensed version, according to Audrey Tack of the Cokato Museum.
It was a project the Cokato Evangelical Lutheran Church undertook, but it was sent to all of the town’s servicemen no matter their religious denomination, according to Tack.
“I’m sure they felt the men who were serving their country needed to be in touch with what was going on in their hometown,” she said.
The Cokato Bugle announced the usual birthdays, anniversaries, deaths, marriages, and local news, but it also informed servicemen about each other. For example, who was wounded, discharged, etc.
For example, in the Usher’s Club Letter No. 48 dated July 24, 1945, The Cokato Bugle wrote, “Roy Redmond was recently on a ship that brought him practically into Tokyo Bay and he hopes to go there again soon. Roy’s ship has been credited with knocking five suicide planes into the sea.”
This particular letter belonged to Reino Ed Jarvi, who served in the Army from 1943 to 1945 in the European theater of World War II. He was assigned to the 95th Infantry under General George Patton and received the rank of corporal, three Battle Stars, and one Bronze Star.
Also in Jarvi’s copy of The Cokato Bugle, the editors, who at the time included N. B. Nelson and Otto Preus, wrote about what was going on around town: “Just when the people in Cokato thought that our streets were getting ready for patching and repair so that our cars would hold together for a little while longer, the Village fathers decided that new sewer and water mains should be laid in several of the streets and as a result, we now not only have holes in our streets, but mountains to climb over.”
On a lighter side, other local news in The Cokato Bugle included, “Earl Nelson and Carl Heglund returned last week from Northwestern Canada where they have been employed since last January. After having been in the cold climate so long, they reported yesterday that they did not like Minnesota heat.”
The Cokato Bugle also included, “The Pastor’s Message,” written by the pastor at the time, Paul H. Andreen.
After a lengthy Gospel message, Andreen wished the servicemen well, writing, “May God bless you, friend. We here at home are thinking about you more than we can say. If in any way, we can help you now or later be sure of this, you can come to us as an understanding friend.”
The letters were first typed by typists and then copied on a mimeograph at the Cokato High School.
Though numbers varied, Tack estimated the circulation at its maximum was about 300 letters.
Community members would donate money to help with the printing costs and the cost of postage.
In each letter, there would be a list of contributors “Rolf Ohlgren $5, Harry Newman $3, Mrs. Wilton Berglund $5, Elsie Hasti $10. . .”
Memorial Day service honors the Jarvi brothers, May 24
The Cokato Finnish American Historical Society will honor the Jarvi brothers, who were in the Armed Services during World War II, at a Memorial Day service Saturday, May 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Temperance Corner (located three miles north on County Road 3).
Cokato Memorial Day service, parade set
The Cokato Memorial Day celebration will begin with a rifle salute at Watson Cemetery at 7:30 a.m., the raising of the colors at Veterans Park, the parade at 10:15 a.m., and a program featuring Jesse Carlson as speaker at Cokato Elementary at 10:45 a.m.