DOCUMENTS/MEMORABILIA, PROPERTY OF M.A. LEVYE
(We are indebted to the 490th Bombardment Group
Association/Historian for making some of these documents available
to augment those provided to us by Serena Levye.)
This wonderful A-2 jacket was given to us
our dear friend Serena,
the loving wife of the late Lt. M.A. Levye, bombardier in the 851st
Bombardment Squadron, 490th Bombardment Group, 8th AF. Mr. Levye, to whom we
once spoke but, sadly, never were privileged to meet, passed away
several years ago and Serena presented us with his jacket to restore and
display as a token of remembrance.
This A-2 was made by Perry Sportswear, with
"collar stand construction" and typical Perry "Peter Pan" collar. The
painting is a
fantastic example of WWII pin-up art. "Lady Be Good." The symbolism of the
weeping, gesticulating bomb, bedecked nattily in striped trousers and spats
before a smiling, bare-breasted majorette is unclear beyond
that he's asking her to be good, presumably. We can understand why!
It is very sexy and professionally, gorgeously painted. To the left of the
bomb are 29 painted bomb missions, atop which is a faded tiny B-17 that can
only be viewed in close-up.The
jacket had spent a lot of time by the ocean in their summer house and when
Serena described it to us we feared the
salt might've ravaged it -- very typical even during WWII due to
inconsistent chrome tanning by various A-2 contractors. Yet once it arrived we were amazed and ebullient
at how solid the paintwork was. Like Mr. Levye's B-17! Our "restoration" was absolutely minimal, consisting
of careful conditioning of paint and leather to arrest further deterioration
and that was all. Nothing added, nothing changed. The jacket responded like
the champion it is and details obscured by pigments and oils dried over sixty years came happily back to life. Note how all
rank and service data are painted directly onto the jacket.
Mr. Levye, a Rhode Island native, was an
avid sportsman, equestrian owner and bon vivant.
That this matchless piece can now
continue to educate and elucidate that age of heroism long past would, we
think, be satisfying to its lamented, departed owner.