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References for the BUS-eum 1

References from Minnesota hosts of the spring-2005 BUS-eum 1 tour follow:

Bev Jackson at bjackso@smig.net in Albert Lea wrote:

To those of you who are anticipating the BUS-eum:

This is a wonderful opportunity for your community. I am so glad that we decided to sponsor the BUS! We have had a steady flow of people going thru the exhibits, and I have visited with people who angrily say to me “Why don’t we ever learn?” and “I was a prisoner in Stalag 17 for year.” This last statement from a man in tears who said “People really don’t want to talk about it.”

We hope that your experiences will be as incredible as ours.

Bev Jackson, executive director

Freeborn County Historical Museum

P.S. We had two volunteers on call at all times - one welcoming people and counting (we averaged 80 per hour, 240 in the first three hours) and another at the book table. This was very helpful to Michael and they thoroughly enjoyed conversing with the visitors. I’ve talked to almost a dozen people who arrived too late, thought the line was too long to wait, or had other commitments. We could have topped 300: Wow!

P.S. I, too, forgot my camera. :-( Next time.

Mary Gontarek at maryg@owatonna.info in Owatonna wrote:

Michael, we thought your presentation was excellent and our patrons were very appreciative. I’m sure the community will also benefit from the materials we purchased from you.

Mary Gontarek, librarian

Owatonna Public Library


Jane George at Jane.George@co.dakota.mn.us in Eagan wrote:

Michael, it was great to meet you! I and my colleagues at the Heritage, Galaxie and Pleasant Hill branches of the Dakota County Library were so pleased to see the enthusiastic response of our patrons. I noticed many people who were obviously moved by the exhibit. I hope people like you will continue to be inspired to create. Best wishes,

Jane Graham George, librarian

Dakota County Wescott Library

P.S. Michael, you may refer any library having doubts to me and I’ll be happy to share our positive experience.


Lenny Tvedten at lennymch@frontiernet.net in Fairmont wrote:

Michael had the BUS-eum at the Martin County Historical Society’s Pioneer Museum on Thursday, March 24th. It was very well attended—260 visitors in four hours—and was very well received by the public. One of the volunteers on the BUS had the experience of one of our visitors (a former POW) opening up about his POW experience for the first time! This was verified by his daughter who was in attendance with him, and quite surprised. Those visiting were very interested and very complimentary about the exhibit.

 This was a great exhibit, and I would recommend it to anyone else considering it that hasn’t scheduled it as of yet.


Lenny Tvedten, executive director
Martin County Historical Society


Tamera Erickson at terickson@plumcreeklibrary.net in Jackson wrote:

We just completed the POW-exhibit at the Jackson Library. It was an excellent exhibit and the PowerPoint presentation was very informative; we were glad we included the PowerPoint presentation with the exhibit. Set-up and take-down was fast and easy. We set up chairs in the meeting room prior to Michael’s arrival so all he needed to do was setup his laptop. Attendees had many nice things to say about the exhibit. Michael was very easy to work with and very accommodating. We wish him well on his future travels through Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Tamera Erickson, director

Jackson County Library


Jackee Fountain at jackeef@glencoe.lib.mn.us in Glencoe wrote:

Michael, I want to thank you for sharing your important information with the citizens of Glencoe. Your BUS-eum is a wonderful opportunity for senior citizens to remember the “war years” and a great opportunity for younger people to learn about this era of history. Wasn’t it wonderful that the POW from Hutchinson came to visit the exhibit? I noticed he did finish his interview and then go back into the bus. And then there are the two former soldiers who couldn’t get enough of the exhibit and even followed you so they could continue to see things. The BUS-eum was a terrific experience.

Have a great “rest-of-the-tour.” Drive carefully and I hope all works well.

Jackee Fountain, director
Glencoe Public Library


Marian Nelson at mnelson@wheaton.lib.mn.us in Wheaton wrote:

Just want everyone to know how pleased and happy we are that we had Michael and the BUS-eum in Wheaton! We had 140 go through the BUS and 50 attended the program. We have had excellent comments all the way through. Michael is a great guy, a lot of fun and he is truly dedicated to the POW information program. When I first read about the BUS and information that was being made available to us, I started realizing that I really hadn’t ever read or found anything on the POW situation involving our Midwest servicemen or, for that matter, any U.S. servicemen in German prison camps during WWII. What a wonderful way to be able to present this information to our patrons and especially to our Jr. and Sr. High School students. As you know, some areas are very fortunate as there are still some former prisoners that are still living.

The BUS was parked at the Legion club where we also had a dart tournament going on at the same time, therefore, we had lots of food available for both the tournament people and our people. So, I think Michael was quite full when he left as our menu consisted of hot dogs, beans, chips, lasagna, bars, cookies and cake.

I’m very pleased with the number of people that came to view the material and to attend the program. Those of you that will be having the BUS visit your library have a treat in store for you. Enjoy!

Marian Nelson, director

Wheaton Community Library


June Lynne at cchs@maxminn.com in Montevideo wrote:

Michael: Thank you for bringing the BUS-eum to Montevideo/Chippewa County! It was a wonderful experience for all involved. I heard so many great remarks about the program. As I mentioned to you last night, if we only had the one visitor (the wife of a now deceased POW) visit the entire time you were here, it would have been worth it just to see the expression of gratitude on her face. Combine her with about 250 additional individuals and it was a rousing success!

To future hosts, I do have a couple of suggestions: Michael doesn’t want to ask for much, but it is sincerely helpful to have at least three additional volunteers at the site. You really need one person greeting and giving instructions at the BUS door, and two people inside. I had two seperate groups to split the four hour time frame. This way, individuals have more time to speak with Michael about their experiences or about their family members who were POWs. There were many who came not only to see the BUS-eum but to speak to Michael. We had Michael do the program and following his presentation our local Veteran’s Service Office introduced local POWs. These were all POWs, not just WW II POWs. It certainly made the exhibit ‘local’ by including them. We also had a display on one WWII POW who is currently in the Veteran’s Hospital and wasn’t able to attend. His wife was very appreciative and was in attendance. Speaking as a Historical Society director, this exhibit was a great opportunity to speak to many veterans and family members of veterans. Listen to their stories; they are amazing. I also had an opportunity to speak to a few Vietnam Vets and hope to include their stories in our archives one day.

Michael, may your BUS never break down again, may your time spent in Minnesota be remembered with fond memories, and may the legacy of what you are doing continue for many years ahead!

Thanks again!

June Lynne, executive director
Chippewa County Historical Society

Chris Schuelke at cschuelke@otchs.org in Fergus Falls wrote:

When the BUS-eum pulled into Fergus Falls, MN on a chilly day in April I was apprehensive that people would brave the wind and cold to visit. My fears were for naught as a steady stream of people visited the exhibit and came away with a new understanding of Midwestern POWs in Nazi Germany. Michael Luick-Thrams has done a wonderful job in converting an old school bus into a traveling tribute to the men who suffered as POWs. Michael is especially adept at using the limited space of the bus and turning it into a visually pleasing interpretive display. The BUS-eum will elicit memories from people of the World War II generation and help younger generations understand the horrifying nature that encompassed the war.

Chris Schuelke, director

Otter Tail County Historical Society

Joann Splonskowski at Joann@beckercountyhistory.org in Detroit Lakes wrote:

Three cheers for TRACES and Michael Luick-Thrams for allowing this community the opportunity to honor our WWII POWs and all of our veterans. Once Becker County Historical Society made the decision to host the TRACES BUS-eum, I checked out their web site and found a wealth of information to make the visit a memorable one. Once I had all of the ideas and helpful hints, I turned to Board members, volunteers, our local service organizations and our Veteran Service Office. In no time I had a table full of willing volunteers who came up with even more ideas on how to make this a community event. We also did a bulk mailing of this flyer to all of the VFW and American Legion members in our county (828). Our Veteran Service Officer put together individual booklets for each POW from Becker County who were invited personally. Of the five in Becker County, four attended the celebration. Because of the threat of bad weather, the National Guard put us up a tent in the parking lot where we held an opening ceremony with the American Legion raising of the flag, the national anthem lead by students from Frazee High School, the pledge and the honoring of our POW’s. Two of our POW’s received their medals at this ceremony and each POW received a yellow rose, lapel pins and a letter from the Mayor thanking them. (It was a proud moment). A private benefactor pre-bought 200 of the BUS-eum tour guide books to be handed out free to any veteran or spouse who attended our event. Even though it rained, there were 300 who got to go through the bus, with attendance between 400-450. During the power point presentation, we had about 75 in the room and you could hear a pin drop; they were so enthralled with the presentation nobody moved. A closing ceremony where the flag was lowered by the Detroit Lakes VFW, with a 21 gun salute and taps with an echo, was played by the Frazee VFW. Inside the museum there was a table set for POW-MIAs.

The BUS-eum is a wonderful exhibit, put together by some very knowledgeable and caring people who did their research; it’s wonderful and I recommend hosting it in your community if you ever get the opportunity again. But above that is a greater opportunity for you to do something with and for your community. It opens the doors to so much collaboration and sharing. And, if you are a Historical Society, the door it opens for information gathering and the possibility of receiving further donations for your collections is invaluable.

Thank you TRACES, and thank you Michael for what you have done for Becker County! I wish you luck as you wind up your tour and hope no more problems besiege you with the bus. Gods speed.

Joann Splonskowski, administrative director

Becker County Historical Society


Heidi Hoks at heidi@nwrlib.org in Thief River Falls wrote:

The advertizement of the TRACES BUS-eum was handled the way I do most - if not all - programs and projects. I first determined whether the BUS-eum would be a good fit with my community. This comes from research and - for me - years of living in this community. Once the fit was good, I contacted TRACES. The next step was to identify the target audiences and build the publicity around what would reach them best. For the target audience of schools, letters and flyers were sent to the schools themselves. I spoke to a couple of the teachers as a follow-up - teachers whose classes were not historical, but whom I knew understood the value of such an exhibit and who were good conversationalists during coffee breaks. For the target audience of former POWs and their families, I sent flyers and personal letters to the commanders and presidents of the various service organizations and auxiliaries, and I spoke to the local Vets’ office director, who promised to get the word of mouth advertizing to veterans. The general public was my final target audience: two big ads in the newspaper, “Radiogram” (daily news sheets put out ain the local restaurants and businesses-an amazingly popular piece of reading literature for the majority of our residents) blurbs, flyers put around town, “Coffeetime” segment (the local TV/radio station talk show), three call-in interview ads with the local radio station, an interview on the college radio station, a spot on the “Carousel” (a TV informational bulletin board) and, of course, the lead article in the library newsletter that goes out quarterly.


Heidi Hoks, director

Thief River Falls Public Library


Toni Vonasek at toni_vonasek@und.nodak.edu in Grand Forks/North Dakota wrote:

Hi, Michael. Thanks for a great program. I was thrilled with the good turn-out and the good TV and newspaper coverage we received. Thank you for staying until 9 pm. I emailed you the Herald article from today’s paper and will enclose it with the evaluations which I will mail to you.

Again, thank you for your hard work and dedication. Happy driving as you go through
more of Minnesota!

Toni Vonasek, librarian

Grand Forks Public Library

Charles Erickson  at roseau@nwrlib.org in Roseau wrote:

Roseau hosted the TRACES BUS-eum last night and we had a standing line
for 2 1/2 hours waiting to get onto the bus. We had to tell the last
person that it was time to go. The BUS-eum was very well put together and
Michael did a wonderful job of keeping things moving.

Charles Erickson, librarian

Roseau Public Library


Charleen Haugen at rchsroseau@mncable.net in Roseau wrote:

We look forward to doing more TRACES exhibits in the future. If you want to do more in our area with small exhibits let me know, I am secretary of the Minnesota’s Historic Norwest consortium, a group of nine county historical societies in Northwest MN. We partner to bring exhibits, programs, etc. to our area, so we can educate the people.

When we are in our [new] museum I plan to have a TRACES exhibit of a greater magnitude.

Charleen Haugen, director

Roseau County Historical Society & Museum

The Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation in Marshalltown/Iowa was an early BUS-eum funder. Having attended the exhibit’s launch, on the 1st of April 2004 director Sue Martin wrote

Michael - It was a pleasure to attend the exhibit opening last Friday at the Iowa Veteran’s home - to see all your hard work around this fascinating piece of Midwest history come to light before an appreciative audience. I was particularly intrigued by a conversation I had before you arrived with two elderly widows from Newton who described themselves to me as “Michael’s groupies”! Hearing them tell part of their husbands’ stories was a very meaningful experience. Also, as I walked through the exhibit, I found myself lingering in front of the photograph of the group of young Mesquakie Indian boys shortly after they enlisted. There was an elderly white couple working at identifying several of the young men and I asked if they had a connection to the Settlement. They said they had gone to high school with several of the enlistees pictured in the photograph.

I hope the trip with the bus is going well, and that crowds are gathering at the various stops on your journey. I definitely felt enlightened and as if I had touched a part of history when I came away from the exhibit.

Drive on!

Sue Martin
Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation

Librarian Rose Schinker in LaVista/NE wrote

Michael: Just wanted to let you know the positive feedback the La Vista Public Library received about the P.O.W. program. The La Vista Public Library has tried a number of adult programs: local authors, genealogy, humanities, poetry--but nothing has been a success like your program. Our library had record numbers of attendance for your program/display. History seems to be our local topic of interest. Even though our library closes at 9PM, we had to let people know they could return the next morning. They didn’t want to leave, even though they’d been there for hours. The perspectives that your presentation gave, not to mention the quality, concerning the POWs from the Midwest were of great interest. As you know, our audience age ranged from grade school children with their parents to people who were interested in the war to the elderly who were interested in the items you had brought with you. The panels with the text were excellent and the most popular items, I think. So much information in such a small amount of surface area!

Thank you so much for bringing your display to Nebraska. This program assisted in bringing our community together (and we still had calls after you left! We could’ve kept you a whole week and had people in to see your display.). I wish you continued success in your endeavors and travels. Sincerely,

Rose Schinker, Library Director
La Vista Public Library
9110 Giles Road, La Vista, NE 68128

Assorted references—mostly from Iowa librarians—follow:

From: Lynne Carey lcarey@amespubliclibrary.org
Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2004 6:19 PM
Subject: TRACES

The “BUSeum” was at the Ames Public Library yesterday evening. We had an enthusiastic crowd of over 140! Attendees reported that they found the exhibits to be interesting, professionally presented and very moving. This was a very easy way for the library to provide a quality experience for the community. I would highly recommend working with Michael Luick-Thrams and TRACES to bring the BUSeum to your library.

We also have had Michael present two programs at Ames PL. Again, the attendees were very enthusiastic. One man even said that the program he attended was the best presentation he had ever been to and that the library should offer “more things like this.” I encourage you to work with Michael and TRACES to present high quality programs in your library.

Lynne Carey
Ames Public Library

Karen Burkett-Sandoval wrote

We had the BUS-eum here at Bondurant yesterday. We had 44 students and 22 adults for a total of 66 during the two hours they were here. They were great and the patrons were very positive about the visit. We are a town with a population of 1,864. Our Friends group sponsored the fee for the program.

Karen Burkett-Sandoval, Library Director
Bondurant (Iowa) Community Library

Tim Garner wrote

Dear Michael, The Buseum is an excellent learning opportunity for my students. The story of American World War II prisoners of war is compelling, and their experience is one which helps students understand the suffering which these men enduring in service to this nation. I am confident that my students gained a better appreciation of this chapter in American history by visiting the Buseum, and I recommend it to anyone. Thanks for coming! We hope you can come back next year for a full day.


Tim Garner
Social Studies Teacher
Ankeny High School
Ankeny, Iowa

From: Roberta Wiegmann rwiegmann@excite.com
Sent: Monday, April 26, 2004 4:14 PM
Subject: traces’ bus - good experience

The Traces bus was here in Allison Saturday and we had 92 people go through it. Michael was very delightful and we would recommend that you schedule the bus in your community if you have the chance.

Roberta Wiegmann, Allison Director

From: Nissen Library nissen@smig.net
Sent: Monday, April 26, 2004 10:34 AM
Subject: POW exhibit

On such a cold wet day, we had a great turn out for the Traces bus here in St. Ansgar. Don’t be hesitant to schedule an appearance at your library if you can fit it into your budget. Michael will do his best to make it an enjoyable time for your community.

Marsha Kuntz

From: Lorraine Borowski borowslo@martin.luther.edu
Sent: Thursday, April 22, 2004 9:50 AM
Subject: TRACES Bus-eum

The Bus-eum was in Decorah yesterday. We had over 170 people go through it during the three hour stay. I am very appreciative of the dedication that Michael has to the subject and his ability to receive funding to showcase his interests. For us to have a program that drives up, and offers historical information in such a wide media to this many of our citizens speaks well of him but also the shows favorably on our library. I respect his endeavors and ability to “think out side the box “ in providing quality programming.

Lorraine Borowski, Director

From: Mary Herold maryh@crescopl.org
Sent: Thursday, April 22, 2004 10:03 AM
Subject: BUS-eum in Cresco--positive experience!

The BUS-eum was at the Cresco Public Library last night from 7:00-9:00 p.m. and it was wonderful. The response was wonderful, the exhibit was wonderful, and Michael was wonderful (I need a new adjective).

We had 130 people, which was a tremendous turnout for a town our size. Michael was pleasantly shocked at how many people were waiting before the exhibit even opened (about 45 people). He addressed the crowd before the exhibit began, explaining things and saying how pleased he was at the crowd—that he had never before had so many people waiting in line before he even opened. He was terrific to our 12-year old volunteer—a sixth-grade boy who is very interested in the WWII era and was soooo excited to be a volunteer. Michael was gracious and humorous, organized and efficient and enthusiastic.

The exhibit was scheduled to close at 9:00, but three times he told me to be sure to tell people not to rush through—that he could stay as late as 10:00 if people were still interested. He was very, very busy (he was doing scheduling from my office and had a grant proposal to write yet last night when he left here at 9:45), but took time to talk to individuals and hear their stories and exchange information.

When planning to have the BUS-eum here, Michael and I exchanged some e-mails and phone calls, as I had some questions. I said we had a very small programming budget and could not manage the “suggested “donation. He replied that of course he understood libraries’ budget constraints and anything we could manage would be fine (we ALL understand about being a non-profit entity, don’t we???)

I couldn’t have been more pleased with the evening. I would highly recommend this exhibit and Michael.

Mary Callie Irons wrote

The Bus-eum was here at Robey Memorial (Waukon) this morning. As everyone has said the exhibit is impressive. We had nearly 50 people in the 1.5 hours scheduled. Michael was on time, very gracious, and spent time with 2 local former POWs. I admit I had approached this experience with hesitation.

For what it is worth Michael asked if I would alert everyone that he alone is working the exhibit. When he started this project, he had four helpers. He is now by himself, doing the scheduling, driving the bus, setting up and working the exhibit. Michael admitted that it has been a stressful time for him. Until Michael can get the message out himself, he is asking that the email address, BUSeumTour@yahoo.com be used to request bookings. But to actually confirm a booking call his cell phone (515-250-3825). With above being stated hopefully all parties will be more understanding and tolerant in the process of bringing this wonderful exhibit to our local communities.

Callie Irons
Robey Memorial Library

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