Community profile: Glenwood Springs High School senior shares capstone on WWII
Kyley Fishman scratches the surface of being a female nurse during the war
When she first considered what her senior capstone would be about, Kyley Fishman said the COVID-19 pandemic inspired her to pay tribute to nurses who worked during World War II, a historical event she’s always been interested in.
“I thought it was a sort of thank-you to the nurses of today and how they’re on the frontlines of Covid by showing how nursing really started up in the 1940s. And how even though it’s decades later, nursing has still prevailed on the frontlines of either war or a pandemic,” Fishman said.
Fishman worked with Carolyn Cipperly and Bill Kight as her community experts from the Frontier Museum and Glenwood Historical Society. Kight said the society is constantly trying to involve young people in the work they do. After knowing Fishman from her volunteering over the years, he was more than happy to allow her access to the information in their database and artifacts from the WWII era.
“To have kids that are interested in history, it’s really kind of fun to see them when you’re sitting at the front desk and they come through and they’re 8 or 9 years old and they’re excited. That carries through their life, I think. And when you have people interested in history you actually can learn the lessons of history and not repeat them yourself,” Kight said.
A virtual version of her final project can be found here at the website she created, but Fishman will also have her own exhibit on display in the local museum at least through the end of summer. Cipperly said she helped Fishman sort through various boxes of artifacts and showed her how to navigate the digitized records system the library uses, but besides that Fishman put together the entire project on her own.
“I think the pictures and how she’s arranged them are eye-catching and they draw you over to the exhibit. And then there’s sort of enough room to stand there and have a gander at what it says. Even just having the uniforms out and the little sort of box of trinkets, I think maybe for older people it gives them a sort of sense of reminiscing. But for younger folks it’s like ‘oh, we’ve never thought of this. Nobody ever really talks about the women nurses in WWII,’” Cipperly said.
Fishman said her interest in WWII came from her grandfather’s affinity for building model airplanes and her Jewish heritage. She said she had known before starting the project that the Hotel Colorado was used as a Naval Convalescent Hospital for about four years, but other details like how Sayre Park was turned into a Prisoner of War camp or the hot springs were reserved for soldiers receiving medical care were interesting tidbits she found along the way.
“I thought it was really interesting that we had a prisoner of war camp in Sayre Park. I wanted to try and focus on that, but we don’t have a lot of information. We only have a brief snippet of it in the museum. … And then I also tried to talk about nursing here. … Black nurses were often paired with prisoners of war to take care of them as a segregation sort of,” Fishman said.
Cipperly said that the photos and old nursing uniforms Fishman put on display are just a fraction of the artifacts the historical society had available from that time period. It was up to Fishman’s discretion on what to include and would best help tell the story of WWII from the perspective of nurses and Glenwood Springs residents at that time.
“One of the recipes I put is actually from Sharon (Hall’s) mom, which is pretty cool because that was actually first hand experience. And that definitely made it a little bit more personal for me and I’m sure for her also. … It’s tomato soup cake. I strongly recommend trying it, it’s so good. It sounds really gross but it’s really good. It replaces eggs,” Fishman said.
Kight said he enjoyed having Fishman as a volunteer and in the museum to work on the capstone. Due to the nature of her final project, Knight added he wrote her a letter of recommendation for college based on her proven ability to perform research.
Fishman’s dream career path would be to work for the Smithsonian one day as a Marketing Manager. Until then, she plans to keep tending her passion for history and encourage others to do the same in an effort to keep it alive.
“I’m sure there’s a bunch of hidden stories and people that weren’t recognized as much as they should be that are from Glenwood. … I think if people have any more stories or their own artifacts … that are from that time period to go to the museum and tell them about it because they’re always open to learning more about our town and getting more information, especially about something that we don’t know that much about,” Fishman said.
Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or email@example.com.
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