Reflections: Recognizing a Morrow County woman

By Evelyn Long - Contributing Columnist

March is Women’s History month, a perfect time to share the story of Miss Ida McNare. An interview in the March 1, 1945, edition of the Union Register newspaper describes the work Miss McNare was doing with Yugoslav Refugees in Egypt.

McNare, whose parents, then deceased, were Chauncey M. and Mosie Dean McNare, had returned after spending 28 months in Egypt distributing American Red Cross supplies to Yugoslav refugees. For more than six months in 1944, McNare lived in the desert with thousands of Yugoslav refugees who had been evacuated from their homeland because of German occupation.

Very small children were among the refugees, many thin and sore-ridden from malnutrition. Some of them had been forced to eat grass and many of the refugees had crept from their hideouts in the hills at night to forage for food.

Between one and two hundred orphans were among the refugees arriving in Egypt. They came to the camps with all their earthly possessions tied in knapsacks. These were the people to whom Miss McNare, as a representative of the Amercam Red cross distributed thousands of dollars worth of clothing made by American women.

McNare said “During the first five days after the refugees arrival, we clothed an average of 900 women and children a day. There was soon a noticeable transformation in the camp as these people shed their rags and put on the beautiful new American garments. Two distributions were made, one when the refugees arrived at the beginning of the hot weather and another, when cool weather came and the desert grew chilly.”

She continued that ‘shortly after the arrival of the first group of Yugoslavs a wave of measles spread over the camp, the measles having been brought from Italy by the refugees and many of the small children died.

Temporary hospitals were set up and were rapidly filled with the sick refugees, she said. She said the Yugoslavs often gave her messages of thanks for the American people who so generously aided them when they needed that aid.

On Chrismas Eve, 1942, aboard an Army transport in the mid-Atantic, Miss McNare assisted in handing out 7,000 kit bags to soldiers bound for overseas duty, a timely remembrance from the American women.

McNare said the women of Morrow County had filled a thousand Red Cross Kit bags for “our soldiers. These women would be repaid for their work if they could know with what gratitude the kits are received by the boys.”

Shortly after this interview, McNare left for Moscow, Russia where she was to be a member of the American Red Cross executive staff there. While in Cardington, she resided with Mr. and Mrs. Will Edgell.

Looking back

80 years ago, March, 1941: Six Morrow County draftees departed for Fort Hayes. Among them was Richard Denton of Cardington.

40 years ago, March, 1981: The new Waico, Inc. plant in the Industrial Park Cardington, was dedicated. On March 26, a young woman climbed to the top of the Cardington water tower, but finally came down without injury.

By Evelyn Long

Contributing Columnist