LITTLE BALKANS CHRONICLES — The picture show, Indian head pennies and war bonds

J.T. Knoll
Caption: Arma Theater courtesy of  Thx, Jaye and Tee

Here’s another excerpt from “Frogdancer,” an autobiography by former Arma native Frank Louis Jeler Jr. — J.T.K.

Arma Theater

There was picture show theater in Arma where I failed to return from one night in 1943 - 44.
My dad searched the town streets and alleys until midnight. He then went to the gentleman's house who owned the theater. After getting him out of bed, they opened this place and did a row-by-row search. They found me curled up in a seat in such a manner that when the theater was scanned, I wasn't seen. Thank goodness I didn't wake up alone in a totally dark, locked building.

Indian Head Pennies

When I was quite young, I found a jar at home with Indian head pennies inside. I took them to the front of the local drugstore to show them off. I knew that a penny wasn’t worth too much and when some adult offered me a nickel apiece for them, I accepted. I got a nickel for a penny. I told my dad later what a good trade I had made. My dad was very upset with me and told me about collector values. If he had kept the buffalo nickels that I got for them, he might have changed his mind later.

WWII Savings Bonds

In 1942, our country was plunged into WWII. Patriotism was taught from nursery school and beyond to all children. We were to support the war effort in every way we could. The children planted Victory Gardens to help ease the family food needs. We were urged to save every piece of metal that was not being used. We learned to use ration stamps for most family needs. Gasoline and car tires were hard to get. Nothing was wasted. In 1943, my dad gave me a dime to go uptown to purchase a copy of the Arma Record Newspaper. It was published once a week.

I entered the printing shop and stated my need for one copy of this small newspaper about our town. The publisher handed me the copy, and I gave him the dime as payment. He declined my payment and told me to use it for candy or ice cream. I thanked him, but said that I would buy a saving bond stamp for my saving bond book instead.

When the book was full, you traded it for a War Bond. The following week’s paper had a small editor’s note saying “Our war effort has surely succeeded when you have children who prefer War Bond Stamps over candy and ice cream. I have witnessed this very thing last week in my office.” He did not use any names, but my mom and dad recognized the story because they bought me the stamp for my book. By the war’s end, I had a number of these war bonds.

— Frank Louis Jeler Jr.

If you have a remembrance and/or photo to share, send it — along with your name, address and phone number — by email to or by land mail to 401 W. Euclid, Pittsburg, Kansas 66762. You can phone and text photos to 620-704-1309. — J.T. Knoll