With nearly 20,000 primary sources in Maine Memory Network, there’s something to please almost everyone. Still, there are some keywords and proper names you don’t expect to result in much, if anything, when you type them into the search box. And yet, you type them anyway, just for the heck of it. And sometimes you get lucky.
Capt. Mattie Pinette, Eisenhower's Secretary, Washington, D.C., 1944 (seated at left)
That happened this week while trolling for “this day in history” ephemera. It so happens that April 5, 1955 is the day Prime Minister Winston Churchill resigned from his post after a series of strokes. But Winston Churchill? In Maine Memory? What did he ever have to do with the Pine Tree State?
Well, nothing. (At least as far as we know.) But lo and behold–he IS in the database thanks to a Maine woman named Mattie Pinette, or, rather, Captain Mattie Pinette. A distinguished veteran of World War II, Mattie grew up in Aroostook County, but her parents lived for years in Guilford and she listed the town as her residence while she was in the service. The town created a loving tribute to her on their Maine Community Heritage Project website last year.
Captain Pinette's dog tag
She was in that photo above because she was then-General Eisenhower’s personal secretary–at his side during the planning for Operation Overlord, otherwise known as the D-Day landing at Normandy. The photo with Churchill was taken sometime during the 10-month period she served Eisenhower.
That was but a small part of her decorated career, for which she was awarded a number of medals and commendations. She rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel before her retirement in 1962. Mattie Pinette died in 1999 at the age of 96 and is buried in Dover-Foxcroft.
So, try out the Maine Memory Network search field today. Be creative. Be bold. Be willing to put in a word or name you think couldn’t possibly be in there. You never know what hidden gems you may uncover when you do.