Music at the Museum: Remembering WW II

Karen Luschar


By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent

One of our planes was missing Two hours overdue One of our planes was missing With all its gallant crew The radio sets were humming We waited for a word Then a voice broke through the humming And this is what we heard . . . .

If you know what comes next, get yourself over to the Kearny Museum on Friday, Nov. 2, for a special musical treat.

If you don’t know, go to the museum anyway and learn a little bit about American popculture history – specifically, the music that helped get this country through World War II.

From 7 to 9 p.m., the museum – located on the second floor of the Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave. – will present “A Salute to Our Veterans” in anticipation of Veterans Day.

Included will be a concert “Singing for Victory: Songs of World War II” by Karen Luschar – songs ranging from the rousing (“Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition”) to the romantic (“I’ll Be Seeing You”).

Luschar, a Bloomfield resident with a long list of professional theatrical credentials as singer, dancer, actress and choreographer, said she put together this particular onewoman show about a dozen years ago and has presented it across the U.S.

“It’s something that’s very dear to my heart,” she told The Observer. “It’s dedicated to my family and to all of those who served in the military and gave so much of themselves for our freedom.”

The selections, she said, are “a nostalgic mix of the fun songs and the heartfelt songs that kept our country knitted together” during the war.

Luschar said, “I love it when people come up to me” after a concert and share their stories about the music. “It might be a woman who had been waiting for her husband to come home from the war, or they were children at the time but remember the music. It strikes a chord in their hearts.”

The Nov. 2 program has a threefold purpose, explained Barbara Toczko, president of the museum board: “To honor our veterans, to invite the community at large and to give the public a chance to see the changes at the museum,” which is in the midst of a complete renovation.

The place has been repainted and the exhibits are being spiffed up.

“We’re also trying to make the exhibits a little more visitor-friendly,” Toczko said.

For example, there’s a new “yesterday and today” display featuring Kearny schools and including photos, desks, mannequins in vastly different school attire and even a couple of stereoscopes for young visitors to peer through. And graduates of Kearny High and St. Cecilia’s will find displays featuring their alma maters.

Photo by Karen Zautyk
Barbara Toczko of the Kearny Museum with two ‘students’ clad in then-and-now school attire.


Photo by Karen Zautyk
Femme fashions through the years, all of the dresses and gowns are authentic and were donated to the Kearny Museum

Amazingly, all the items on view have been donated, including some real treasures, like Gen. Philip Kearny’s saber. A recent acquisition is a wedding gown worn at the 1926 Kearny nuptials of Hazel Goudy (a direct descendant of John and Priscilla Alden) and Alvin Andrews. The bride’s granddaughter, who lives in Michigan, gave it to the museum.

Also donated to the museum are the time and talents of numerous volunteers, without whom the place could not operate. They are, Toczko said, “a wonderful group of people.”

Toczko noted that the upcoming concert event is part of an effort to introduce the museum to more Kearnyites.

“We’re trying to do what we can to bring the community in,” she said. Consider that an invitation, folks. Currently, the museum’s hours are 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Visitors are always welcome.

As for the Nov. 2 event, it’s free, refreshments will be served, and all are invited.

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