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††††† It all started in Madang, New Guinea, when Navy Chief Petty Officer, Charles P. Lewis, noticed his buddies were joining the VFW in Kansas City at large, with the intentions of transferring to their local post when they got home. He decided to join his local post directly and wrote his wife to get him an application.
†††††††† When she inquired, she found out the nearest post was the Old Colony in Rockland. She then contacted George Heddericg and Armand Tillson, both residence of Whitman and members of the Old Colony Post. They had the idea of starting a Whitman Post and begin contacting servicemenís family and asked them to write their servicemen about joining a VFW Post in Whitman. The response was overwhelmingly in favor.
†††††††† On January 25th 1945, Whitman Post 697 was born. The original charter had 129 names on it, the first member was fittingly Charles P. Lewis. The Ladies Auxiliary was awarded their charter of 79 names on April 29th 1945.†††
†††††††† The storied history of Whitman Post 697 all began early in 1945. The town of Whitman, by law, was obligated to provide quarters for veteransí organizations to meet in. At first, the lower town hall was used for meetings and then space was made available in the G.A.R. Hall, on Hayden Ave. Several other organizations also meet at the G.A.R.† Hall, which meant that VFW meets were sometimes held at inconvenient times for the members. Eventually the VFW was able to run a series of weekly BINGO games, which provided a much needed source of income for the Post. After a few years, the Post was in need of more space and privacy so they moved to Red Manís Hall in the center of Whitman.
†††††††† In 1955, Francis ďTomĒ Lynch, donated the land on Essex Street, where the Post currently resides. Construction on the first floor was completed in 1956 and the members finally moved into their own Post. After a few more years of hosting their weekly BINGO games at G.A.R. Hall, the post was able to afford an addition. In June 1960, the second floor of the Post was opened and they began host BINGO in their own Post. However as a result of the construction all of the Post records from 1945 through 1956 were lost.
†††††††† In 1976, plans were drawn up to enlarge the second floor but the bank refused to loan any money without additional security. So four courageous memberís allowed the Post to use their homes as collateral. In 1977, the final addition to the original building was completed.†††
†††††††† Through all this Post 697 still managed to gain national recognition in the 1980ís and 90ís. Post 697 was known as the leading VFW Post in the country, when it came to donations to National, State, and Local Charities. This was do in large part to all hard-work of itís members and the support of the Postís Ladies Auxiliary.
†††††††† In April of 1985, during the Annual Banquet, a ďBurning of the MortgageĒ took place. The Post was finally debt-free and Quentin Yanuss, William Hill, Robert Thompson, and John ďJackĒ Burnett could ones again call their homes, theirs again.
†††††††† The Post continued to host BINGO games until the late 90ís. Presently Post 697, itís Ladies Auxiliary and new formed Menís Auxiliary continues to donate time and money to many charities.
Majority of this information was originally found in a document prepared by Charles P. Lewis himself, for the 41st Anniversary of Post 697, in 1986.
Interested in become a member of this storied post and helping to make a great post even better.
Please visit our
Membership Information page.
95 Essex Street
Whitman, MA 02382
1-781-447-2343 Ex: 10