The DeWitt Dollar Artifact Highlight #32

This framed one-dollar bill was donated to our collection in 2017. It is a series 1935 “A” dollar with several illegible and faded signatures. It was the first dollar spent at the DeWitt General Hospital Officer's Club.

DeWitt General Hospital, 1945

Officers stationed at the DeWitt General Hospital lived in the Officers and Nurses Barracks buildings alongside the Administration Building and relaxed after-shift at the Officers Club.

Interior of the DeWitt Officer's Club - PCM Collection

This club was furnished with pioneer-themed frontier antiques donated by local citizens in celebration of Placer County’s gold rush heritage. Here, officers found respite after long hours of patient care and surgery.

While the bill might have been signed to commemorate the opening of the club, it could also have been a “short snorter”- part of a drinking game popular among commercial pilots and servicemen that started in the 1920s. A “short snort” is a slang expression for a shot of liquor that is less than full. The bills, usually low denomination banknotes, were signed by people who traveled together, met at events, or became new members of the club. Anyone who failed to produce their “short snorter” when challenged was obligated to buy a round of drinks for the others.

Captain Leonhardt and Lieutenant Ila Rainier. Circa 1945. PCM Collection.

The dollar bill belonged to Captain Hans A. Leonhardt, who was the Post Engineer at the DeWitt General Hospital and Camp Flint from 1943 until 1946. He participated in the hospital’s construction and was one of the last to leave when the site was declared surplus by the Army.

DeWitt Opening Ceremony, February 27, 1944 - PCM Collection

Leonhardt met his wife, Lieutenant Ila Rainier, at DeWitt, where she was serving in the Army Nurse Corps. She assisted in insulin shock therapy procedures, which were thought to help alleviate the symptoms of “shell shock.” They were married in Las Vegas in 1946. Leonhardt was decommissioned in 1947 and went back to work as a civil engineer for the City of Los Angeles. He died in 1981.

The dollar bill was donated by his children, Craig A. Leonhardt and Lyn Leonhardt Foster.