Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mystery History -- Solved

I stumped everybody again this week. It was hardly fair, actually, because as I mentioned in the original post, looks can be deceiving.

In the photo above, shot November 20, 1951, U.S. Marine T/Sgt. James B. Nash Jr. visits with Pete Meston, 13, of the Wilson Junior High School Band.

I told you this one would probably throw you. Here's why.

Nash wasn't a Pasadenan; he was from Durham, North Carolina, and had been awarded the Silver Star while fighting in the Korean War.

He was at Pasadena City Hall along with 23 soldiers from 18 nations who traveled around the country on a United Nations tour to bring attention to the importance of donating blood and purchasing defense bonds.

The GIs were from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, England, France, Greece, India, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, New Zealand and the United States of America.

Mayor Alson Abernethy greeted each one personally.

Here's an excerpt from the Pasadena Star-News:

The flags of 18 nations flew in the City Hall plaza today when 23 decorated soldiers of the United Nations fresh from the fighting in Korea stopped in Pasadena on a nationwide tour.

They came to the Crown City, a living demonstration of United Nations' unity, as part of a coast-to-coast drive to stimulate contributions to the Red Cross blood bank and the sale of defense bonds.

Police cars escorted the cavalcade of automobiles into the plaza while the Wilson Junior High School band serenaded from the City Hall steps. Each car bore the name and nation of its occupant on its doors, from the front left fender of each car flew the U.N. flag and from the front right fender flew the national colors of each soldier.

Mayor Alson E. Abernethy termed the visitors "veteran heroes of Korea" in his welcoming remarks.

He told them of another Korea veteran, Marine Cpl. Bob Gray, who was grand marshal of last January's Tournament of Roses parade.

"He not only won the hearts of 1,500,000 people, but he won the heart of one of our fairest princesses," Mayor Abernethy said, referring to Corporal Gray's marriage to Rose Princess Betsy Josi.

"If you could stay longer maybe we could fix you up, too," he said.

The mayor said he knew the veterans would "be bombarded by more mayors than they were by shells in Korea" during their tour, so he ended his brief remarks with a simple reminder that "the mission you are on now is as important as any you have had in the past."

All of the 23 sailors, soldiers and airmen in the group, sponsored by the Defense Department, were recipients of medals in the Korea war...
Cpl. Robert S. Gray was the grand marshal of the parade on Jan. 1, 1951, after Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, then president of Columbia University, had to bow out when he returned suddenly to military duty to assume command over NATO forces. As a last-minute replacement, Eisenhower and the president of the Tournament of Roses Association wanted to pick an active duty U.S. military man who had been wounded in service to his country. What a great honor for this young Marine, who represented all of the armed forces in Korea as he waved to the crowds.

And here's the Rose Queen and her Royal Court. I don't know know which one is Betsy Josi. I do know it was a whirlwind romance: They were married March 30, 1951.

In keeping with my tradition, here's the portrait of Mayor Abernethy from the Hall of Mayors:

Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library and Tournament of Roses Association.


Bellis said...

I'd never have guessed that answer, but it's an interesting piece of Pasadena's history. One up to you, Ann.

Petrea said...

I wouldn't have guessed it either, but it's a great story with a little romantic spice thrown in.

Anonymous said...

Rose Princess Betsy Josi is the second from the left in what she now calls the "Necco Wafer suits" photo. Unfortunately her marriage to Grand Marshal Robert Gray was not to be forever, but they remain friends.

That photo became the iconic photo for the 1950s decade. The last time I was in the Queen's Suite at Tournament House, it was hanging on the wall opposite the dressing area lavatory where it reflects in a large mirror.

Yup, I'm Betsy....

Anonymous said...

PS. They were married July 1, 1951.


Anonymous said...

In the photo you show, Betsy Josi is the second from the right. She used to live down the street from us on Wagner.

A Tournament Brat