Helen Mae Turner (1924-2008)

Helen Mae Turner, Majorette

Helen and her younger brothers David and Donald, 1941.

Helen Mae Turner’s memories of being a majorette for Wallace High School, Wallace Idaho, and other wonderful stories about her life are documented on a beautiful family website, Turner’s Treks. The site also features breathtaking, historic family pictures like this one.

The effort Helen made to preserve her family’s history is really impressive. The site was created to feature her work about nine years ago, in 2014, or about six years after her death. The domain expires in 2024. We’re honored to share Helen’s pictures and parts of her stories here on the Vintage Twirler, as this site was created with amazing twirlers like her in mind.

Thank you, Helen. ♥

Helen, Outstanding Senior Girl, Wallace High School, Wallace Idaho, 1942

Helen “Majorette Missteps” 

In those days, majorette uniforms covered a lot more skin than today’s uniforms. Good thing too. It saved my skin on one occasion. Our white uniforms had a military flavor with long sleeves, standup collars, and double row of buttons down the front. The hems of our flared skirts came down almost to our knees. The skirts were lined with black and under them we wore underpants of the same black material. Their purpose, of course, was modesty. I left our house in Gem carrying my uniform to change into for a parade later that day in Wallace. But when I went to change, horror of all horrors, the black underpants were nowhere to be found! They were still in Gem! I was not about to strut the streets of Wallace flashing pink underpants! Going home for the black pants was not an option. So, I put on the uniform and, before the parade, strutted back and forth, over and over again, while the other majorettes checked to see if they saw pink. They agreed it would be OK for me to march with the band that day but, you can be sure, I was not a very high stepper! 

Continue Reading…

Helen (with baton, on right) helps lead the band through Wallace, Idaho, fall 1941
Helen Wallace HS Majorette 1939 marching through Coeur d'Alene 1939
Wallace High School Majorette Helen Mae Turner, marches in front of the band, Coeur d’Alene parade, 1939.

As we approached the intersection where I planned to direct the band into formation, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to see a Police Officer who asked, “Did you know you left your band at the last intersection?” Sure enough, I’d missed the street signs and went high stepping down the street all by myself while the lead sousaphone player (Jack Foster) managed to get the band into formation. But he was unable to stop me from going on my merry way. Continue Reading…

Helen Mae Turner’s Obituary

Helen Mae Turner 1941 Majorette
Helen Mae Turner, Majorette, 1941 (Far Left)

Surrounded by her family, Helen Mae Turner went Home February 10, 2008. Born in Elmdale, Montana, December 1, 1924, she was the first child of Artie and Esther (Goss) Turner. She spent her early childhood in Montana and Idaho. She graduated from Wallace High School (Idaho) and was a majorette in the high school marching band, majored in Music Education at the Universities of Montana and Idaho, was a “Rosie the Riveter” during World War II, and later in life her story would be published in the book, “Rosie the Riveter Stories”. A gifted vocalist and violinist, she was a soloist at Montavilla Methodist Church, Portland, Oregon, where she met and married fellow musician, Paul Toenjes; the marriage ended in 1952. She taught ballroom dance, was a Certified Professional Secretary, working for the United States Navy in Seattle, and ending her career as Program Management Assistant at the Environmental Protection Agency. She retired in Lacey, tending to her own wooded acre and becoming a devoted member of the Olympia Bible Presbyterian Church, where she reaffirmed her faith in the Lord Jesus as her Savior. Her faith and her church would take center stage for the remainder of her life. She loved butterflies and associated them with eternal life. She loved children for their joy and innocence. She loved her family and relished her role as family historian. She was preceded in death by her parents; her dearly missed brother, David; and infant brothers, Arthur and Stanley. She was much loved and will be profoundly missed by her surviving brother, Donald, and his wife, Ruth; brother, Norman; David’s wife, Patricia; and her many nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews who adored her. A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 23, 2008 at Olympia Bible Presbyterian Church, 2039 Sleater-Kinney Road NE.

Helen Mae Turner
Helen Mae Turner
After high school, Helen Mae went to work in a Kaiser shipyard in support of the war effort. Many years later she was featured a “Rosie the Riveter” in a book, 104 More Rosie the Riveter Stories: Stories of Working Women From World War II as Written by Real-Live Rosies.

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