"This is more than a building where soldiers and civilians may come. it is a monument dedicated to the living, rather than the dead." - Charles L. Juliana
Mr.Juliana could not have described United Service Organizations(USO) any better than monuments to the living. Born officially from a constitutional charter On Feb 4th, USOs were essential institutions offering recreation for soldiers and the community. Run by volunteers, Gainesville USOs offered a wide variety of services including Music rooms, dressing rooms, showers, games such as ping-pong, theaters, and many others. The four USOs in Gainesville provided recruits who once would “wander the streets in boredom” now had the facilities of USOs where they could go to write letters, play games, or get acquainted. In addition to the four USOs, the camp also had two service clubs that featured telephones, a lounge, library, dance floor, and cafeteria.
Initially, Gainesville only had one USO, at 207 ½ Elm Street in the old masonic lodge. After the completion of two new USOs, Fair park and Lindsay, Elm street transferred its services to the newly completed USOs. Initially projected to be built for 79,000 the fair park USO was built for 86,000 or 1,429,320 calculated for 2022 inflation. Fair Park USO was perhaps the best equipt of the USOs featuring 5 club rooms, a theater, and other typical USO amenities. The Lindsay street USO was converted from the Central Church of Christ. The two-story Lindsay USO housed a dressing room, music room, room for games, and a shower. Lastly, the Muller Street USO. The Muller street USO is one that has sparse documentation but few articles and pictures can be found that capture the life of the people going to the USO soldiers and civilians alike. In addition, the Muller street USO was the designated segregated USO, which makes what sparse documentation there is an invaluable asset to scholars researching minorities during wartime within America. Representatives of the muller street USO thanked the city of Gainesville for the rent-free building and stressed this as evidence that people of different colors and creeds are beginning to live together, which is more difficult he said than dying together for a common cause on the battlefield.
While the USOs and service clubs offered many of the basic functions and amenities they also frequently hosted dances, parties, and celebrations for holidays. USO and club organizers worked diligently every day to provide their members with new activities daily. These volunteers would go the extra mile for holidays, hosting valentines day dances, Halloween parties, and easter breakfast for a few examples.
While the USOs were predominantly volunteer services soldiers would often give back to the community as well. one example being the Railsplitters of the 84th infantry division. In addition to performing at USOs, the 84th also performed at other venues within the surrounding communities such as T.S.C.W.
As for the performing soldiers, The Railsplittters belonged to the 84th infantry division. Select soldiers of the 84th preformed a diverse set of 16 different show featuring music and humor. The major show to be read about is entitled “On the Beam” an all soldier show featuring the “Ballet Moose”. The 84th would perform at a great variety of hosting centers like T.S.C.W or UNT.
From left and around the table are Alberta Ainsworth, Alene Hartfield, Susie Whetsone, James Young, Ruth Perkins, Norma Glynn, M.R. Mackey, Clifford Simpson, Asa Roberts, Pauline Hardeman, Leona Ryan, Hattie Bell White, Lenora Bryant, Rhoda Mackey, Hazel Young, Daisy Stone, Inez Jones, Be Nice Dennis, Edna McFarland, Virgil Richmond and B. Lindsey
Seated from the left to right are Mmes. Royal Timmerman, Fred Buckingham, Grady H. Culp, J.C. Arrington, S.G. Staniforth, William Beurger, R.H. Bailey, Claude Jones and C.W. Fonville. On the middle row, Mms. Frank Dustin, W.J. Lemon, Ben Seylor, Paul Nieball, John Wielder, R.L. Bledsoe, H.E. Lindell, Roy Blanton, Loise House, Miss Olivia Stock, Mmses. Joe Luke, J.W. Schmitz, E.L. Pierce, Miss Maurine Buchanan. On the back row, Miss Elizabeth Graham, Mmes. Felix Johnson, W.E. Chalmers, C.W. Beall, Miss Lillian Doty, Mmes. John Gray, Walter Pulte, Jake Bezner, J.M. Wilde and Lois Jones.