Cerro Gordo County

Odette Stoddard - Red Cross


Miss Odette Stoddard, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Stoddard, 324 2nd S.E., and Miss Jerry James, formerly of Mason City, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Hampton, have arrived in England to serve the Armed Forces as American Red Cross staff assistants. The 2 made their trip overseas on the same ship.

Miss Stoddard, until her Red Cross appointment, did civil service work in Mason City and Chicago.  She attended Colorado college and the University of Minnesota.

Miss James, formerly staff member of KGLO, is a graduate of Drake University.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, May 24, 1944 (photos included of the two women)

RW 730858 .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  .  NEW YORK BUREAU
FRANCE—Enthusiastic Yanks greet the first American Red Cross Cinemobile to be landed somewhere in France GI’s helped set up a piano on the stage and the movie screen with the aid of the ARC Girls.  Lassies are (left to right):  Kay Bonner, Minneapolis, Minn.; Eva (Joni) Johnson, Waterloo, Iowa; Irma Lappay, Detroit, Mich.; and Odette Stoddard, at the piano, of Mason City, Iowa.    7/19/44
Credit (Signal Corps RadioTelePhotos from ACME)

Thanks to researcher volunteer, Fano from Spain, for sharing these photos & and the RADIOTELEPHOTO with the following detail. “Her name was Eva R. “Johni or Joni or Johnnie” Johnson, born March 3, 1909, in Kanawha, Ia.  She was assigned to the Clubmobile Division, Group B, where she was one of the Cinemobilers with Kay Evangeline Bonner Nee. I attached some clippings and a picture where she is singing with Kay and the Cinemobilers of Group A. One of them is Odette Stoddard, the woman playing the piano. When that pic was taken a footage was also recorded, I included a couple of stills."

Lassies are (left to right):  Kay Bonner, Minneapolis, Minn.; Eva (Joni) Johnson, Waterloo, Iowa; Irma Lappay, Detroit, Mich.; and Odette Stoddard, at the piano, of Mason City, Iowa.    7/19/44


Miss Eva (Joni) Johnson (standing in the center behind the piano) is among Red Cross girls and Yankee soldiers exchanging mutual grins of appreciation upon the arrival of the first American Red Cross cinemobile in France.  Miss Johnson, who is the daughter of Mrs. C. E. Johnson, Parkersburg, Ia., previous to her appointment as American Red Cross assistant program director was recreational hostess and director of the service club at Camp Hale, Colo.  She was also former music supervisor and band director in Gilmore City and Blairsburg, Ia.  She is a graduate of Drake university, Des Moines and took post-graduate work at Iowa State Teachers college, Cedar Falls. 

And Odette Stoddard, at the piano, of Mason City, Iowa.

Source: Water Daily Courier, Waterloo IA – July 27, 1944 (one photo included with the news article; all 3 photos & the RADIOTELEPHOTO  provided by researcher, Fano of Spain)

Iowans Meet In France, Chat About Home

Newly arrived in Normandy with the Red Cross mobile cinema, Odette Stoddard of Mason City, Ia., meets Gordon Gammack, The Register's war correspondent.

Source: The Des Moines Register, August 6, 1944 (photo included)

Mason City Red Cross Girl Helps G.I. Joe's Morale

By Ruth Cowan

First United States Army Base Hdgs. Somewhere in France -- The 1st U.S. army is highly enthusiastic about its latest feminine adoption - the American red Cross clubmobile and cinemamobile girls.

"They are the biggest single factor of morale builder we have today," said Lt. Col. S.A. Andrews of Detroit, who as head of the miscellaneous division of the personnel section of the 1st army arranges their schedules. These clubmobiles (those are the coffee-and-doughnut handouts) and the cinemamobiles, staffed by trained Red Cross girls, were turned over to the 1st army by the American Red Cross and are attached to army corps and army headquarters.

At present there are on duty with the 1st army 10 groups of 8 clubmobiles each, and to each group there is one cinemamobile. The first group landed July 10, 1944.

The girls are serving far forward. I had heard they were having some exciting experiences, so I came here to talk to them.

I found several units bivouaced in and around a big windowless French house which they call their chateau. But most of the girls had put up their cots under the trees - trusting in the weather - and hung up their clothes lines.

Among them were Irma Lappay, vivacious former Detroit kindergarten teacher and pretty, red-headed Odette Stoddard, of Mason City, Iowa. On their 2nd day ashore - July 18 - the girls almost invaded St. Lo in their cinemamobile ahead of the American army.

They were the last truck in a convoy headed inland from the beach. Odette was driving.

"Our truck broke down," she related, "and the convoy went on. When we got the brakes fixed" - the girls have had a training course in light maintenance repair - "we asked an MP the way to St. Lo, for we understood that was where we were going.

"When we were about 3 miles from the city, we saw a lot of smoke and heard firing. An MP asked us: 'Where do you girls think you are going?' and when we told him St.Lo, he replied 'You had better not. We haven't taken it yet.' Oh, sure, we finally found our convoy."

Every day and night is an adventure. Their first assignment was to a tank unit to show a movie. The unit was in a rest area.

"We had just set up," said Irma, "when someone yelled 'Scatter!' We looked out and found our audience had vanished. There was firing. Everything happened fast. But someone grabbed us and shoved us into a slit-trench.

"An M.E. was shot down. The pilot bailed out. His face was burned, but he said he was glad to be captured. He held out his hand. He said he had got lost and didn't mean any harm."

The girls went on with their show.

"On the way back that night, we saw the jeep that was leading us going hell-bent-for-election," said Irma. "We were being strafed." "But we got through," Odette added.

The girls sleep on double bunks in the truck, usually spend 2 days and 1 night on location and have plenty of problems. The dust on the roads is so thick they have to wash their hair nearly every other day.

"The first time we did, a G.I. helped with a blow-torch under my helmet to heat the water" said Odette. "I hope my mother (Mrs. J.C. Stoddard) will understand why I haven't written long letters."

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, August 31, 1944

Mason Cityan Married in Luxembourg

Luxembourg - Maj. Louis D. Bridge of Lido, Cal., an aide to Gen. Omar Bradley, was married in Luxembourg Catholic Cathedral Monday to Miss Odette Stoddard of Mason City, Iowa, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Stoddard, 324 2nd S.E.

The bride, a Red Cross clubmobile worker, was given in marriage by Gen. Bradley, commander of the 12th army group. The bride and her bridesmaids, who were other clubmobile workers, wore gowns sent especially from the United States.

The bride has been driving a Red Cross cinemobile in Europe since shortly after the Normandy landing. Before that, she was stationed in England.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, Tuesday, May 29, 1945

Photo below - Published Mason City Globe-Gazette, July 14, 1945