Putnam’s Women of World War II – WACS and WAVES

Putnam’s Women of World War II – WACS and WAVES

During these final days of Women’s History Month, the Putnam County Historian’s Office and the Putnam Veterans’ Museum is proud to build on the role of women in the military and remember some late, great female heroes.

Over the years, the Historian’s Office has had the privilege of honoring former Mahopac resident Corp. Gertrude Cassetta (nee Pearson), who trained at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia and served in World War II as a cryptographer in the Signal Corps of the Army Air Corps as a WAC (Women’s Auxiliary Corps) in England and France.  In a 1994 article in the Courier Trader, Cassetta remembered June 6, 1944, a.k.a. D-Day, “It was a bright sunny day in England.  I awakened to hear the thunderous noise of planes.  The sky was literally darkened with planes going to France.” This was just one of her many memories of serving in Europe during the war. Cassetta gave Putnam County an ever-lasting gift through an oral history that is now housed in the Historian’s Collection (HC802, A16).

The Putnam Veterans’ Museum Photo Archive at the Putnam County Historian’s Office houses an entire photo album of Brewster’s own Rosemary Lally’s experiences with the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during World War II.  She trained at the U.S. Naval Training School, Women’s Reserve at Hunter College, in the Bronx, N.Y. and served 1 ½ years in Washington, D.C., and achieved rank of Pharmacist’s Mate 3rd class.

Lastly, Dolores Beal Stephens penned a wonderful book in 2003 entitled Those Who Served, Those Who Waited, WWII Experiences as told by the Veterans and Civilians of Brewster/Southeast, NY, (included in the Research Library of the Putnam County Historian’s Office) where she paid tribute to many local WWII veterans including her own sister Joan Ross Beal Peckham, of Brewster, who was likely influenced by their father William Ross Beal who served in the U.S. Navy during World War I and returned to serve as a Captain in the U.S. Army during World War II.  Joan joined the U.S. Naval Reserve (WAVES) and was trained at the Great Lakes Naval Base, served at St. Alban’s Naval Hospital on Long Island, and then at Alameda Naval Hospital in California as a Corpsman. Involved in nursing work, Joan was responsible for taking care of badly burned and maimed sailors.  One of her patients was John “Butch” Santorelli of Brewster, N.Y., whose tank landing ship was struck by a torpedo at Normandy in June 1944.

During Women’s History Month, it is a particular honor to remember these women and their service.

Image captions:

  • U.S. Navy’s John “Butch” Santorelli and Joan Ross Beal, WAVES, of Brewster, N.Y.
  • June 2, 1994 Putnam Courier-Trader article on Gertrude Cassetta
  • WAVES’ song book from the Rosemary Lally Collection of the Putnam Veterans’ Museum
  • WAVES Parade at the U.S. Naval Training School, Women’s Reserve at Hunter College, in the Bronx, N.Y. from the Rosemary Lally Collection of the Putnam Veterans’ Museum
  • WAVES in service in Washington, D.C., from the Rosemary Lally Collection of the Putnam Veterans’ Museum


Putnam’s Health Department Hosts Food Operators Expo : Celebrates National Public Health Week, April 1-7

Health Department Hosts Food Operators Expo | Celebrates National Public Health Week

BREWSTER, NY— National Public Health Week (NPHW), celebrated April 1-7, honors public health partners across the county for coming together to build healthier communities. A fundamental aspect of keeping a community healthy is the prevention of food-borne illnesses. The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) is working across sectors and hosting the 13th annual Food Operators Expo on April 23 at the Putnam County Golf Course from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Collaboration is key— that is why the health department works with partners to offer relevant training for food industry professionals. Just as your doctor is a major player when it comes to your health, public health workers are often working behind the scenes to prevent illness, disease and injuries,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell, who had previously declared this year “The year of the health provider.”

PCDOH staff are continually involved in training professionals in the community on an array of health and safety topics.  “To keep our community healthy, we must start new conversations about familiar topics,” says Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD. “Food-borne illnesses, communicable diseases, chronic health challenges. These are not new issues, but we absolutely must take an innovative approach when it comes to prevention. We are out working with food operators, camp operators, as well as an array of healthcare providers to do just that.”

Restaurant inspectors from PCDOH not only provide ongoing training in safe food handling practices, they are also among the presenters at the Food Operators Expo. This year, the theme is “Educating Those Who Feed Us,” and the day will include a variety of seminar presentations by both public health and restaurant industry leaders, with an emphasis on best practices. Dr. Nesheiwat also will be speaking on the topic of dietary sodium, as well as leading a discussion on the medical and legal issues related to food allergies.

“Opportunities for health promotion exist in every corner of our lives,” said Dr. Nesheiwat. “We will be hosting an expansive vendor showcase, designed with the food industry professional in mind.” He encourages food industry professionals to build upon their knowledge and network with one another. Chefs, restaurant owners, managers and food service personnel are encouraged to attend this free event. For more information, or to register to attend the Food Operators Expo, visit www.putnamcountyny.com/FoodOpsExpo/.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit the PCDOH website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health or visit the social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.