Hydock shares story of WWII USO Camp Shows at Harpersville Library
Published 2:18 pm Wednesday, September 30, 2015
By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer
HARPERSVILLE—The Harpersville Library took a trip back in time to the World War II era with storyteller Dolores Hydock. On Sept. 30, Hydock shared the story of the thousands of USO Camp Show performers who traveled across the country and world entertaining troops during World War II.
Complete with musical clips and period videos and photographs, Hydock’s lively story detailed a “tiny slice” of the story of the 7,000 American USO Camp Show performers throughout the war.
The presentation opened with the story of Barb Sparks, an Anderson, Ind., native who became a USO Camp Show performer in 1943 at the age of 17. For three years, Sparks traveled through 22 states and two foreign countries with nothing but two suitcases and a 36-pound accordion, Hydock said.
“They were on the road 365 days a year, holidays included,” Hydock said. “These women were tough.”
Hydock recounted the unusual places and makeshift stages performers graced at military bases across the country and world, from the beds of a pickup trucks to gun embankments. She also illustrated the danger performers faced, as some were sent near the frontlines of battle.
“They still volunteered, they signed up to come on,” Hydock said. “As long as there were U.S. bases, there were USO Camp Shows.”
In 1945, there were around 700 USO Camp Shows each day on American bases around the world, Hydock said. Performances included a wide variety of talented performers, from singers and dancers to roller skaters and sketch artists.
Decades later, USO Camp Shows still exist, although they look a little different than those Hydock described.
“The shows are different now, the performers are Jennifer Lopez, Toby Keith and Kid Rock,” Hydock said.
Hydock’s performance was the first of its kind at the Harpersville Library’s new building.
“Our main branch provided this for us,” Harpersville Library Director Marsha Moore said. “We could not have done it (in our old building), and I hope to have more things like this that we can do.”