Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year!  1942
 by Ann Mulloy Ashmore

McCain Library and Archives
University of Southern Mississippi

1942 New Year's Card

     “The Statue of Liberty greeted us through the morning mist,” Hans recalled. It was a cold, crisp October day in 1940 when the ship bringing the Reys to New York from Rio de Janeiro sailed past Lady Liberty. Fifty-four years earlier, on another foggy October day, President Grover Cleveland dedicated the statue, a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, with these words: “We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home, nor shall her chosen altar be neglected. Willing votaries will constantly keep alive its fires and these shall gleam upon the shores of our sister Republic thence, and joined with answering rays a stream of light shall pierce the darkness of ignorance and man's oppression, until Liberty enlightens the world.”

But in 1940, “our sister Republic” could only remember with longing the sweetness of liberty and freedom. Crushed beneath the boot heel of the Nazi war machine, the fires of Liberty’s torch no longer gleamed on the shores of occupied France, a fact Hans and Margret Rey knew only too well.  Since June of that year, they had been on the run. First, escaping on bicycles as the German army marched into Paris. Later, avoiding a narrow brush with authorities on the Spanish border on their way to Lisbon, and passage to Brazil. As Louise Borden has written in The Journey that Saved Curious George, ironically, it was the pictures of the loveable monkey that Hans carried in his knapsack that saved the day.
Mississippians, young and old, will soon be able to view Hans’ 1942 New Year’s greeting card when the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson hosts Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H. A. Rey exhibit March 3 through July 22, 2012 Until then,  visit your local library and read more about the Reys in “Curious About Them: Reliving the Magnificent  Margret and H. A. Rey” in the Winter 2010 issue of Children & Libraries. The llustrated, full-text article is provided through Mississippi’s MAGNOLIA  Academic Search Premier database.  


  1. Ms Ashmore, Did you know that the Statue of Liberty arm and torch was displayed at the Centennial Exposition of 1876 next to Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. My great-grandmother ( whose parents owned a large part of the Willow Grove Naval Station) climbed the scaffolding which allowed attendees to climb to the top of the torch. She was about 17 years old and related this story to her children and grandcholdren...FXS Class of 63 HHHS.

  2. No, I did not know that. Thank you.

    One of my favorite memories as a child, was visiting the Statue of Liberty in New York. We were able to climb up and look out of the windows in her crown. It was one of the most amazing and memorable experiences of my life, so I can imagine how wonderful it must have been for your great-grandmother back in 1876!