Mappa.Mundi Magazine
One of the Family
Setting the Stage
Creating Community
Telling The Story
A Whale

Spacer Image
More Stories:
Greatest Generation
The Greatest Generation
by Tom Brokaw

Spacer Image
Spacer Image Links
Spacer Image

» Private Art WWII Letters To and From Home.

» Remember The Homefront? - Third Age, March 1999.

» Kudos to Private Art - Select site reviews.
Spacer Image
Saving Private Art. An interview with Rebecca Hargrave Trip-M archive »

Olive Left Top Corner Spacer Image
Back in touch
Spacer Image
Olive Right Top Corner

In England in 1944, Barbara Sandes kept in touch with Private Art by writing him letters. Today, she sends him e-mail.

Dear Chall: Thank you for all your messages. Barbara and I are very pleased to make contact with you and all the good people of IDAHO. Barbara tells me that the other woman in the photograph [at the Private Art site] is her mother. The only items she has left in her souvenirs are two very small photographs taken of Art and herself and another of her mother and father. One last question. Do Art and Rose have an e-mail address? Kindest regards to everyone...”

- Kathleen Weir
Friend of Barbara Sandes

Khaki Left Bottom Corner
Khaki Right Bottom Corner
One of the Family

       Marty Lucas: Some artists aren’t comfortable interpreting their own work; they’d prefer to let the work speak for itself. But it is interesting to hear about the artistic process. Could you tell us a bit about how you designed and built Private Art?

       Rebecca Hargrave: Once we talked Art and Rose into telling their whole story online they really got into it. Art contacted people from the 86th Chemical Mortar Battalion that he hadn’t talked to in years. Then, Rose said to them, “Look at this great tribute that we’ve built,” and they love it. They absolutely love it. Some have become regular visitors to the site, and participants too. One gentleman in particular, Frank Dowell, has become a moderator of our discussion boards. He builds pages and directs people to more information about the 86th and he’s one of the biggest fans of the site.

       When we first started we had an overview of just four letters. When we decided to expand to include all of the letters, I decided to add them in chronological order. We’d post the letters on the anniversary of the date that they were written. That way we were able to tie in site updates with present day events. That helps get people more involved. Like with the seasons — last year around Christmas we put up home movies of Private Art that were made around Christmastime after he had returned home from the war. It really worked well; it tugged at the heartstrings at that time of the year. People relate to it — it’s a very intimate experience — because it deals with the everyday family life of a typical person.

       A very interesting thing happened. A gentleman named Chall Allred came to our site and he was moved by one story in particular, one about Barbara Sandes, a woman that Private Art knew during the war. He met her in England, when he was billeted with a neighboring family at Port Sunlight and they had a brief romance. You can read many letters from Barbara to Private Art on the site.

       Private Art falls out of touch with Barbara even before the war was over, and he never contacted her again. Chall Allred read about Barbara on the site and conducted his own search via the Web. He started e-mailing people, and he found Barbara. Chall hooked Barbara up with the site, and for the first time in years Private Art and Barbara are corresponding. She gave us background information about what she’s doing today and pictures that nicely complement the ones we already have on the site.

       Too many sites on the Web are just about the Web: how to program HTML, or who the latest hot designer is, or who landed what contract. It’s just really, really amazing when a Web site goes beyond just what’s happening on the Web, when it actually moves people, when it brings people together. We have people who write to us saying they’ve been inspired to go up into their own dusty attic and look for the war letters of their family members. So Private Art is inspiring people to tell their own stories.

       There were so many stories from veterans of WWI and the Civil War that have been lost because nobody could record them. As our WWII veterans get older, we now have this great medium to preserve their stories for future generations.

       I need stuff like Private Art to keep my creative juices going. I found it very rewarding to be able to do something with my talent that so many other people could get so much enjoyment out of. And I think that’s one of the reasons I like working on the Web. It keeps giving back to you.

Next Page » Setting the Stage.

 Copyright © 1999, 2000

contact | about | site map | home T-O