Pat Hansen, a Vietnam War veteran, intently examined a black-and-white portrait preserved on a museum wall.
It didn’t take long to find what she was looking for.
“That’s me,” Hansen said with a smile, pointing to the center of the 1964 photograph depicting 21 orderly flight nurses. The veteran turned to the pair accompanying her on her museum tour and offered a slightly atypical war story.
“We always joked about how ugly those shoes were,” she laughed. “And no matter how tall you were, your skirt was always exactly 11 inches off the ground. See how they all line up in the picture?”
Hansen, a resident of the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky, donated the portrait to the home’s expansive military museum several years ago. She wanted not only to preserve her flight’s picture, but also have the opportunity to share it with others.
The Ohio Veterans Home Museum has showcased an assortment of war artifacts since the mid-1990s. Located in the historic Isaac Foster Mack Memorial Building — the home’s administrative building in the late 1800s — it contains more than 2,000 rare relics, all organized in rooms depicting each war of U.S. history. Everything is donated.
Isaac Foster Mack was the owner, publisher and editor of the Sandusky Register from 1869 until 1909. He helped establish the Soldier's Home. His descendants continue to own the Register and other media companies.
Want to tour the museum? Call 419-625-2454, ext. 1447, to schedule a group tour of the Ohio Veterans Home Museum or to use its military library. The museum is open for walk-in visits noon to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, and is located at 3416 Columbus Ave. Tours are free but the museum accepts donations.
The non-profit museum is completely staffed by resident workers and volunteers. It offers tours five days a week, as well as access to an expansive military reference library, all free of charge. Museum curator Jim Barnard ensures no one leaves the building without learning something new.
“Everything has a story,” Barnard said. “We might not know them all yet, but we know they’re there.”
The museum plans to draw a fairly large crowd tomorrow, when the city’s annual Memorial Day parade and festivities kickoff in front of its building. Although the museum is typically closed on Mondays, it will be open to the public for the occasion.
Museum leaders are eager to offer educational opportunities year-round, however, and encouraged local schools and organizations to call and schedule tours.
“This is Sandusky’s best kept secret,” said Dorothea Lofquist, a veteran’s home resident and past museum curator. “It’s a real treasure, but you have to come here to see it and experience it for yourself.”
Click here for a Memorial Day calendar of events.
Cleck here for Memorial Day 2013 articles.