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The way it was: VFW Cooties -- 1939
Charlie Atkins of Riverton, right, and other new members of the VFW Military Order of the Cootie, at their initiation in Cheyenne, pictured on June 29, 1939. File photo

The way it was: VFW Cooties -- 1939

Jul 7, 2013 - Staff

Early summer brought good news to Riverton in 1939 when it was announced that the Wyoming State Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention would be held in the city.

Casper, Midwest, Douglas and Lusk also had applied to host the statewide event, but Riverton was chosen at the close of a three-day joint conference of the Wyoming and Colorado departments of the VFW.

Central to convention preparation was the VFW's Military order of the Cootie, a sub-group of the veterans organization founded "on the principles of good humor and fun."

Cooties provided entertainment at large VFW gatherings, and the Riverton convention planned to make good use of the Cootie program.

While light-hearted in its outward presentation, the Cooties group has filled an important function to servicemen returning home with combat injuries or who struggled to readjust to civilian life. The Cooties also have been an important fund-raising arm for the VFW.

Preparatory to the Wyoming convention planning, Charlie Atkins of Riverton was initiated as a Cootie at the pre-convention assembly in Cheyenne.

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