Posted by: notsofancynancy | August 26, 2014

How We Celebrated National Dog Day 2012

I can’t believe it has been two years!  Read on for an update! and Happy National Dog Day!

 

Our Newest Addition

 

I don’t know how this happens. I am restricted (by my hubby and my good sense) from looking at dogs on the internet. But something came over me and the next thing I know my hubby is off to look at a new dog. We don’t really need a new dog, we have three already. It is not like I don’t have enough love for all of them I certainly do. And if I was a millionaire I would have lots of land and lots of dogs. They are what keep me going, the reason I get out of bed in the morning.  I love having a new challenge to train and who knows maybe someday she will grow up to be a therapy dog, maybe not.

This little girl was in a high kill shelter which euthanizes the dogs in three to four day. We have been looking at her for two days, so she had little time left. I just cannot imagine that they would kill such a sweet little girl. Well I have not met her face to face. My hubby knows better than to take me to a shelter, especially a high kill shelter. We might come home with ten dogs. I think four is enough, for now. She is to be fixed tomorrow and we can pick her up around four o’clock. I am nervous and excited at the same time. I wonder how she will fit into our balanced pack. I will keep you updated!

We do not have a name for this little angel so any suggestions?

Happy National Dog Day to us!

8/26/2014 Well you may know we named her Pixie. She has been a challenge. Her pixie personality shows through so that was a perfect name for her. Her and Roxie are best friends and that is really what we wanted. She is stubborn and pushy, but funny and loveable.  BTW I have not looked at dogs on the computer since. Pixie makes four dogs in our family. That is a challenge when we go camping, but it is manageable. We are so loved!

Pixie taking a selfie

Pixie taking a selfie

 

Posted by: notsofancynancy | August 25, 2014

The Suitcase, Chapter 1, The Adventure Begins

I thought for my newer readers we should go back to the beginning.

World War II

Chapter 1

The Adventure Begins

The Suitcase

The Letters

My parents moved into a rest home in 1994 due to my mother’s failing health. My daughter and her husband bought their house. In the attic they found a suitcase of letters. It seems like I should have known about the letters but heck, I must have forgotten. Both my sisters and brother knew about them, so I must have known at one time. They are all letters my father wrote to my mother and a few he wrote to my grandmother. The first one was written in 1937 and the final one in 1945.  They would span many changes in my mother and father’s lives, their relationship and their families. The letters are few until my father gets mustered into the Army on 23 December 1940. Then is when they fill the suitcase.

When my daughter Tania first told me about the letters I knew that something had to be done with them, after all they ARE our history. I took them home and put them all in chronological order. I scanned that first letter and looked at how many were left and I became overwhelmed. There are SO many of them, did I mention it is a suitcase full? There may be thousands, but I guess we will find out together if you want to join me for this adventure.

The Photo Album with Dad’s writing

The Pictures

When my parents sold their house, my nephew, Harold, and his wife, Kris, became guardians of our family pictures. Thank goodness they took them and kept them safe until my siblings and I came to our senses and realized something was missing from our lives, our pictures. I started looking to find my family tree information to pass on to the kids and grand kids. I am told that is something that happens at this stage in life. Old age is when we gather our history and get it ready to hand down. It is a good thing the younger generation told me as I did not even know I was middle age yet!

About seven years ago Kris and Harold moved to New Jersey and our family pictures went with them. In the meantime I had started working on the family tree. I got a chance to go to New Jersey and stay a couple of months in September of 2011. Harold is a stay at home dad and he had to go away for 6 months because of a job and Kris travels with her job so I stayed and helped with his kids so they could keep their commitments. I went on a scanning spree while I was there. I scanned 1600+ family pictures into my computer. There were thousands of unidentified pictures I did not scan. The 1600 were just the ones I could identify or that my family has identified and written names on the picture. My focus was getting as much historical information as I could from the pictures and I believe I have been successful.

While I was organizing the mass of pictures I came across a black unassuming photo album. As I flipped through the pictures I only saw pictures of my father’s time in WW II, with the 110th Quartermaster, in the US Army. There were only names of three men visible, Tribble, in St Jean, France, Levinsky, and Dudley. Since I did not have a lot of time there, I set this album aside thinking I would take it home and give it to my brother Loren for Christmas.

I am a history nut and had been studying the homesteading my great grandparents did. I have started two books about that era. When I got the album home I decided I should scan the pictures before I gave them to my brother; after all they are now historical pictures. I took them out of the original album to scan and was excited by what I found. Last names, places, and a few comments, my father wrote on the backs of the pictures. What I also found was that although there are several pictures of my father in this album, it was more an album in honor of the men my father served with. All of a sudden I got a little panicky and felt it was up to me to get as many pictures to the families of these men as I could. It was then I knew what I had to do. Reunite these pictures with the families who might or might not, already have them.  I needed to work with this collection, find any surviving family members possible, and pass on the story of the 110th 35th Quartermaster.

To make a long story short, as of today, Leap Day–29 February 2012, with help from Roberta Russo who maintains a Memorial Website for the134th Infantry, who found a roster of the 110th 35th Quartermaster Company; Find A Grave, a website that documents where people are buried; and Doris Cain, daughter-in-law of our soldier Marvin Cain; I have been able to put full names to 77 different men in the pictures. Also with the Cain Family’s kindness, our pictures have grown from 209 to 345 images in the collection.

(UPDATE 2014: Since I wrote this back in 2012 The 110th/35th Quartermaster Collection has grown to over 1,300 images. I have found many other families and learned more about the early days of the regiment. I have found different rosters and have been able to identify over a hundred men.  I have become quite an expert on the history of this group of men. This three years of transcribing the letters has a been journey of discovery about my father as a soldier and my mom as the love of his life.)

When I first saw the album I had no idea where it would take me. I am two months into trying to find family members of the soldiers whose pictures I have. So far, I am in touch with three daughters, two sons, one granddaughter, one cousin, a nephew, one distant cousin, an ex-son-in-law and Harry, a man who trained with the 110th QM and who is still alive. Harry was born in 1919, the same year as my father, and has a good memory at age 92.

(On a sadder note Mr. Dahlstrom passed away this last year. I have been working on the Winquest-Johnson collection and have found quite a few pictures of a very young Harry. Here you can read a memorial post I wrote about him)

There has to be a reason why we have all been brought together. I am amazed that I was able to find one family member let alone as many as I have. I do have to believe this path has been laid by God and our fathers, the men of the 110th QM. It is for our fathers I embark on this journey. I hope you will join me as I delve into the thoughts and actions of a kid who became a man while he was on his way to fighting in a war.

It is for our families I will try to tell their story.

Copyright © 2012 notsofancynancy

Posted by: notsofancynancy | August 7, 2014

Once Upon a Town by Bob Greene

Once Upon a Town
The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen, by Bob Greene

Once Upon a Town, The miracle of the North Platte Canteen

My cousin, Jim sent me an email the other day and said he receive a second copy of the book, Once Upon a Town, by Bob Greene and was wondering what he would do with it. I sent a note back saying I would love to have a copy after all this is the era I had spent three years writing about AND it was in Dad’s home state of Nebraska. I got it a week ago sat down and read it in just a few days. I knew I had to write a post about it as I knew you all would love it.

When my father was training at Camp Robinson in 1941 and Pearl Harbor was bombed he along with a hundreds of thousands other soldiers were sent to guard both the West and the East Coasts. My father arrived at Fort Ord in California Christmas Eve of that year. I know they took the train but was sad to realize he probably did not get a chance at least then, to go through North Platte.

As the story goes on a cold evening, Christmas day, the people of North Platte heard rumor that their sons, husbands, and brothers who were soldiers would make the trek to California aboard the usual mode of transportation in those days, the train. Mr. Greene says it was the Nebraska National Guard; Company D. (Dad was with Company C.) The town thought it would be good to be at the train depot to show their support and to make sure they all knew they were loved and supported. As a crowd of 500 townspeople which was amazing in those days, gathered and the train rolled in and “the surprised soldiers on board were greeted by North Platte residents with welcoming words, heartfelt smiles and baskets of food and treats,” Greene writes

Marvin Cain wrote "On our way to Fort Ord, Calif" Courtesy of the Cain Family

Marvin Cain wrote “On our way to Fort Ord, Calif” Courtesy of the Cain Family

What they did not know is the trains of Nebraskans were sent on another route and the men on the train that day were from Kansas. Then the magic happened. As the town people boarded that train they did not want the men to see their disappointment and they put on a smile and with sincere enthusiasm wish the boys luck, handed out their goodies, and showed the love they had reserved for their soldiers.

This was the beginning of The North Platte Canteen. From that day on the people of North Platte and surrounding areas banded together to meet every troop train that passed through town. From the first one at 5am till the last one that passed after midnight those people manned the Canteen. From that first Christmas Eve in 1941 through the end of the war in 1945 the town made sure each and every troop train was met with and handed out goodies and well wishes. This was not an easy task with rationing being imposed. The North Platte stop was not a long one but when the conductors learned of the miracle that was happening there they pushed the time to the limits so that each soldier could experience the miracle that went on there.

Marvin Cain wrote "California Bound" Courtesy of the Cain Family

Marvin Cain wrote “California Bound” Courtesy of the Cain Family

Bob Greene goes to North Platte to see if there is anything left and preserve the memory of the canteen. He does not say when this journey started but since the book was published in 2005 I would assume it was not long before then. He takes us on a journey to blend the past and the present giving insight into both. He was able to find Guest Books from the canteen days and with that was able to find some of the soldiers who passed through North Platte. Each remembers the place many with tears in their eyes, sixty years after their short visit to that wonderful town.

He was also able to find townspeople who had worked in the canteen and was able to show their take on the whole thing. What they went through to keep it stocked and manned. My cousin Jim went there when he was just a lad and he tells of other cousins that actually worked there. I have to wonder if my dad was able to experience it as I know they made many trips back and forth across the US on those troop trains. I can only hope he was able to experience the love generated there in his home state.

All in all Mr. Greene’s message was clear. The North Platte Canteen was run on love, that is what they handed out those days. He sees it time and time again in the retelling of the story. It is a wonderful read and I have to admit I had tears in my eyes more than once before the book was finished. Thank you Mr. Greene for preserving this story, it was definitely worth it, it truly touched my heart.

You can find it at Amazon by clicking here

Posted by: notsofancynancy | August 2, 2014

World War II, chapter 10, California

World War II

Chapter 10

California

California Beach at Ventura

Dad has been in the Army a year and three months and he has been stationed with the same men up until now. On 1 March 1942 my father is pretty upset as he writes,

I guess at midnight there ceases to be a 110th regiment. We are getting smashed. Anyway that is the way I put it. Some of us here and some of us there and who knows where the rest goes. I guess I stay with the same outfit. Only it will be called something else. I am not sure just what that will be. They gave us drivers test and a lot of the men couldn’t pass it so they go to a different place. Some say it will be the Camp Army and others say the service troops and others say in a QM someplace.

Original 1945 Roster Courtesy of the Cain Family Page 1

I know that my father is facing a big change. When I was working with a Victory in Europe Day roster, I found that 80 per cent of the revised 35 Quartermaster Battalion was from small towns all over Nebraska. All being from the same state made the men feel a bond. The other soldiers were from other states and now I understand how they got there. It had to do with this reorganization of the 110 Quartermaster Regiment which became the 35th Quartermaster Battalion 1 March 1942.

Up until now I have been confused with the Army’s “numbers.” My father’s discharge papers have him with the 448th Anti Aircraft Artillery Weapons Battalion and he never mentioned this battalion. I asked my siblings, who do remember more of Dad’s stories and they had never heard of it. We knew he was very proud to be known as 110th Quartermasters. Now the men are all mixed up and they will get a new name. It seems as though the Army continues to keep the soldiers guessing about what was going to happen next. And as I sit here in 2012 I have just confused myself more.

Next he writes,

Now maybe I can continue writing. Had to go get ready to go to a parade or something. I guess we are going to parade for the general. Or maybe he is going to tell us goodbye and how good or bad we are doing. Anyway I have been figuring all day how to get out of it and as yet haven’t done it. We lost probably the best officer in the Regt. Last week. He was transferred to S.F. (San Francisco) Boy we sure liked him. He was a Major before he left. He came over to say goodbye. By the looks of it he hated to leave as much as we hated to see him go. Anyway he said he would see us over there. We have to fall in 5 minutes so I better quit for now. Maybe I can tell you what the general says.

Dad writes again later that night,

The general didn’t have much to say about the same thing they have been since we started. That we are the best regt. In the U.S. Army, and that he hated to lose any of us. I’ll bet you hate to see your dad go. I believe I would too. He will only be about 200 miles from here if he go [Sic] to L.A.

Where is Pop going? Is he coming back? Is he going to Los Angeles?

7 March 1942 postmarked from Pasadena California

Well this letter is not what I expected. I am holding in my hand, with tears streaming down my cheek, a letter that my grandfather wrote in 1942. I cannot believe it but it is true. There are others, I see six in total. My grandfather passed away in 1972. He was sick for a long time so I do not remember much about him. To us kids he was affectionately known as “Pop”.  A family story passed down was that Pop lost his farm in Kansas when he could not raise wheat because of his severe allergy to it, but how did he get to be in Pasadena, California?

Pop in his cornfield, Kansas

Dear Sonny Boy:-
Well here it is I just got back from town. We walk down almost every afternoon. I live just fourteen blocks from down town Pasadena just a nice walk have not used the truck since I drove in last Mon. I go down to the welding school around 10:30 at nite [Sic] and get back around 3:00 in the morning sleep till about 8:00 get my own breakfast and dinner most of the time. Sure is a nice climate just cool enough to want a coat in the morning and evening and nice and warm during the day. There are mountains all around this town you can see snow and the Mt. Wilson observatory from the house here most of the time.

My grandparents only had one child and it was a girl. With all the nicknames in Grandma’s family it is only natural for them to call Mom by a nickname, was this it? My sister told me that just after mom was born Grandpa said something to the affect of “well that foolishness is over and we won’t have to do it again.” I guess he did not want more kids, or was it just he did not want Grandma to go through that pain?

He goes on to explain that there are a couple of German brothers living where he is and asks what Mom has been doing. Then,

Please write and tell me all the news and your troubles. I haven’t heard from Susie (Grandma’s nickname) guess maybe I have not had time but it sure seems like a long time. Well it smells like something is cooking so maybe we better go down and see. With love, Pop

So it is 7 March 1942 and my grandfather is in California going to welding school. My sister also told me that after losing the farm he saw an advertisement in the newspaper offering free government training in California to get his license to be a welder. So Grandpop takes advantage of this and drives his truck from Brookville, Kansas to Pasadena, California and gets settled in a rooming house. Coincidentally, my father is just up the shore a mere 200 miles away.

Pop and his truck in Pasadena, 1942

14 March 1942 there is another letter from Grandpa; He calls Mom Sonny Boy twice in this letter. Mom has been sick and he is worried about her. He actually is sick himself but he is doing a lot better now that he is in California with its warm weather. I wonder if this is part of the reason he came to California. Since I am not sure I have to let it go. He is surprised that his landlady is so trusting letting him use her brand new Chevrolet to drive to get groceries. What I found interesting is he is afraid of the roads here. I guess Pasadena was busy back then because he talks of the two and three lane highways, but everyone drives in the middle of the road. Some things never change only I am sure there are bigger highways and a whole lot more people now days. I think he scared himself as he never teaches Grandma Susie to drive. She did not learn until he passed away.

He goes on to say,

I am going down to the California shipyards with Bill tomorrow. He is going to take his test. He has been going to the school for seven weeks. Says he is going to marry me thinks I am a better cook that the landlady. Seen former President H. Hoovers house yesterday. It sure looks like a big house it is out on the side of the mountain north east of Pasadena.

It is good to see this side of my Grandpa. I don’t remember his personality because he was sick for so long, but, I can see he had a sense of humor. He would have had to have been humorous because Grandma was such a joker.

I cannot find any mention of Herbert Hoover living in Pasadena but I do find evidence that his son, Herbert Hoover Jr. lived in Pasadena, so maybe that is whose house he saw.

Mom does not get another letter from my dad until he writes on the 17th. Boy he sure is in a sour mood.

I am glad you said we are good friends. You know it could have been a lot worse. I kind of figured I was getting away a head of myself. But I wanted to be sure. One reason I have no intentions on coming back. Why should I. I am worth more dead than alive. Besides the chances are only about 25 to 1. Anyway in a short time we will be over there and then things will be different. The sooner the better for me. At least I will get out of the Army even if it is in a box.

This is killing me. Why don’t they just figure things out. It seems like Mom might not be ready to settle down yet. I feel bad for Dad but I know how this story ends. He goes on to confirm that he is only 190 miles from her Dad.

Viola’s Play 1942, Viola standing far left

31 March Grandpa writes a letter to her once again.

How is my little family? What has become of my dog? I sure am glad your play was a success and wished I could have been there to see it I haven’t been to a show or anything since I came here. One of the boys that stays here big Bill has gone to work at the shipyard it is quite a drive 40 miles from here and there is so much traffic it takes 2 hours. Our land lady is trying to rent a house in Long Beach which is 30 miles closer to the shipyard if she finds one we are all going to move down there. There doesn’t seem to be many places for rent down there. I went and looked at a trailer yesterday didn’t like it there a lot of people live in those here. There sure are a lot of soldiers around here. They have camps every place where they is any defense industry. I got to see the search lights chasing a plane around the other nite [Sic] he was awful high but they sure held the beams right on him didn’t look any bigger than a fly. I quit working the hours were so long it interfered with my welding to much only got to sleep four or five hours after a few days it wasn’t enough. It is five thirty and somebody had Fibber MaGee [Sic] on the radio.

I wonder how many people saw that same plane and thought it was the enemy coming to bomb them. How many of them did that plane scare? I know I would have been scared.

The “Fibber McGee and Molly” radio show was on the air and popular beginning in 1935. According to Wikipedia.org (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibber_McGee_and_Molly), a husband and wife vaudevillian team, Jim and Marion Jordan, were listening to a radio show in Chicago with his brother in 1925. They said they could do a better job than the person on the radio and Jim’s brother bet them $10 they could not. They all went to the radio station and announced the bet. The station manager let them audition which resulted in Jim and Marion going on-the-air immediately at a beginning rate of $10 per week. After several years on various local and regional programs, “Fibber McGee and Molly” became a national radio show in 1935.

He ends the letter with “Whatever became of Lefty?”

So it is interesting to see that Pop was wondering if my dad was still in California.

9 April 1942 Grandpa writes again,

I went down to the welding school last nite [sic] at 8:00 o’clock and around nine there was a black out. I was busy welding when all at once my arc disappeared and there I was in the dark I stumbled around and found my way out on the street and the only light in sight was a neon sign a couple blocks down the street and it only lasted about a minute. We sit around about an hour and a half and then started to walk home it is sixteen or seventeen blocks about every other block there is a air rade [sic] warden every other one wanted to argue seems you are not supposed to go anywhere in the dark. When we were three blocks home we were told a plane was the cause of it and you couldn’t even hear a plane here so never even got a thrill.

What would that have been like? Living through the mandatory blackouts? Being afraid every plane that flew overhead might bomb you. In the aftermath of 9/11 I felt that fear. We have a heck of a lot more planes than they had back in 1942. On the evening of 12 September I sat outside and it was eerie not having a plane flying overhead. I guess now I do understand how helpless Dad, Grandpa, or anyone in the United States felt in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on the United States. Wow! Breakthrough! It has only taken me ten chapters to come to the conclusion that the attack on Pearl Harbor WAS a terrorist attack!

I find another letter from Pop dated 27 May 1942. He talks of looking for family living in the vicinity of where he is staying. Is he planning to move the family to California? He asks about my dad and says the two brothers who live in the rooming house with him have family in San Luis Obispo and they want him to go along with them up the coast to visit them. He is going to try to find Dad when he is there. Grandpa is starting a government welding school that day and continuing the one he is taking at night. He figures he will be learning twice as fast and be twice as good by continuing both classes. Pop is wondering how Mom is doing in school and is wondering when the graduation exercises will be. He really wants to come home to attend them if he does not get work by then. So he is actually looking for work? Will he go to work in the shipyards? How weird is it that my Pop is in California at the same time my father is here? Wow! This is starting to sound like it would make a good book!

Viola’s Graduating Class

15 May 1942 letter starts by congratulating mom for getting her diploma and he wants to hear all about the fun time she is having as a senior in high school. He goes on about visiting a friend of his and he is living in a tent a half a mile from Warner Brothers Studios. He uses candles for light and has a portable radio and “the cutest little wood stove you have ever seen.” How was your play? He wonders. He has talked with someone from home who went to see it and truly enjoyed the production.

15 May Dad writes “I heard you are going to get married, is that true?” Wait! When did that happen? Oh dear me! That is hard for me to read. That must be why she has not written him. It seems as though Mom’s Uncle George, the one who introduced Mom and Dad is now in the Marines and is stationed not far from Dad. My father does not go into much detail other than George is expected to pass through where Dad is stationed.

George Vance

In the same envelope he writes to Grandma,

I am sure I would have enjoyed the play. I always did like them. I sure have enjoyed the last nine days though. I have been in Washington so that adds two more states to my list. I sure fell in love with Oregon. Boy there is so much more there for one to see. I guess California has a lot of things but to me they stink. You see I don’t like Calif. or what they stand for. As soon as we got in Oregon we started enjoying ourselves and did all the time we were there. I cannot say that about this place. Really Mom I am not too low you see I really meant what I said. And I wasn’t in a bad mood either. I have a lot to live for but what is the use. When I get out of here I am going to have to go to work and I am afraid I won’t like that. And I have $10,000 worth of insurance that would really be used in a good way back home. I am serious. I am quite sure I am going to be in Calf. When you get out I am just not sure where. I can’t get off to see Pop. They have taken all the passes away from single men. And here I was going to a dance tonight.

I just remembered I was in Oregon when I was 22, the same age my father is in this letter. I stayed about a year and a half. I remember how it looked to someone who was just passing through when I visited the first time. Not that my dad would have had time to stop and visit. He told of driving and sleeping 24 hours a day to get to the assigned location so sightseeing had to have been done from the windshield of the truck.

I remember Mom and Dad driving to Oregon in their camper when I lived there. They camped with my daughter on the Rogue River. I will always remember Dad had her fishing when I got there after work. She was about five years old and sat with her Grandpa holding her pole. Dad got up to get a beer and Tania was standing with the pole when she hooked one! That child threw her pole in the river, ran into the camper slamming the door before anyone could react! I will always remember how tickled he was to tell that story again and again throughout the rest of his life. It will always be a happy memory.

Well this is quite a shock there are no letters for the next two months. With so many letters left how can that be? In looking at how many letters I have read, and how many are left I cannot see him skipping a couple of days. These letters are very odd to me because Dad was always a quiet person. He never talked to me about his time in the service so I am totally surprised to find that all these letters exist.

Maybe that is why he was always so quiet, because he was writing a “book” while he trained in and then attended this war.

Posted by: notsofancynancy | July 29, 2014

World War II, chapter 41, Grandma Susie, Friends and Family

World War II

Grandma Susie, Friends and Family

Chapter 41

Pop and Grandma Susie’s Wedding Photo

In this chapter we will look at a couple of the dozen letter’s Grandma Susie sent to my parents in Durham, North Carolina. Grandma’s Susie’s letters are four to six pages long and read like a journal. They talk about the hardships the young brides around her were having with their husbands serving.  How the young woman were surviving in boarding houses around the states. They tell of bedtimes and church gatherings. What she cooked for dinner and detailed laundry days. In one letter Grandma tells of needing new shoes and when it was time to get her ration for them she would need a pair of everyday shoes.  I knew a lot of stuff was rationed but I never knew shoes were.

Grandma Susie made her own clothes and writes in detail of what she is making, colors of the material and how far she has gotten on the projects and what needs to be done. She continues to work on projects for the war effort, robes and baby layettes. Pop is working in the shipyards in Long Beach, California which leaves Grandma Susie at home with no car. Funny but she did not get her drivers license until Pop passed away. She was in her 70’s when she finally took the test and passed it. Here are a couple of her letters so you can get an idea of how she wrote.

15 March, Pasadena, California

Hi-Hows [sic] our kids tonight? Well the old folks are tolerable good. I went to circle today. Met at Mrs. Kit Carsons [sic].  Got some more Navy relief work to do this time.  P.J’s. for the hospital and kimonos for the Navy wives layettes. Mrs Chapman is doing the machine sewing of 4 of the kimonos then Grace and I are going to feather stitch the edges. We only got ½ a dozen of the P.J’s. for the hospital. II don’t know if I told you yet but we decided at last meeting to make some quilt tops for the baby beds at the Navy orphanage so I brought home some of the blocks (or rather patches) and am going to piece them together in a “four patch,”  and piece one of the baby bed quilt tops. One of the ladies down at the church, I forget her name cut a lot of them out for us so it won’t take long to sew them together.  You know I never thought about you kids getting married on Dena’s birthday until you told me. It could be worse you could have been born on her birthday and then she’d of thought you ought to have been named after her. Does Ann have some place to cook? If so maybe you could buy some “groceries,” and you girls could get a “home cooked meal.” Sounds like she’s nice. Sounds like you kids have really been seeing a lot of good shows. Did you find an alarm clock? I guess I got in kind of a hurry sending that package but I thought you ought to have some aprons-and an everyday dress, Vi to do you washing in-I mean to wear while you were doing your washing. For I was afraid you’d get your wool skirts so dirty you’d have a big cleaning bill. I’m sorry I sent your pillow cases but you can use then once in a while, make it seem more like home to have “things” of your own. In case you have not guessed I got you airmail letter you kids wrote the 10th and your house address. Sounds as if your landlady lets you use the living room too cause you spoke of toasting you shins and the dog snoozing by the fire. It is a “Sooner” dog? These people who live in the front house have one of those great big white and black dogs with black polka dots and they keep it in the house! Just wait until Mrs. Bain finds that out. I don’t blame landlords for being cranky some things people do! They have Mrs. Bains[sic] front room rug! Well it ‘s 12:00 so nighty-night. Gobs of love, Mom and Pop.

I had forgotten that about my grandmother. She did not allow dogs into her house. That was until my dad went to Grandma’s and he would sit outside with his dog, Missy while everyone else was inside. Grandma eventually began to really like Missy and towards the end of her life she did not mind Missy in the house. Well it looked that way, Dad would give the excuse he was going to go out and whittle and his dog just happened to be there.

Uncle Gerald

Next in the suitcase I found a VE Letter from my Uncle Gerald. He was married to Grandma’s sister, Margarette , fondly known to us kids as Aunt Dick.

Click to see bigger

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31 March, Pasadena California

Dearest Family, We got your welcome letter today. It didn’t take it any longer to get here than the last air mail letter to here so don’t waste air mail stamps on us- cause now they cost 8 cents! Gosh sure sorry to hear you, “hit yourself in the head with a hammer,” Lefty hope it is healed up OK and didn’t leave to bad a scar. Pops head healed up fine and the hair is growing in good so it isn’t very noticeable anymore. He fell over a cable awhile ago and banged his knee pretty bad sure limped around a couple of days, Betty kind of wanted to go to Riverside Drive Sun. night but Pop didn’t think his knee would do much dancing so we didn’t go. Had a long letter from Ralph today too, he said his Bn (battalion) have all had their furloughs and have overseas clothes and equipment so he said to expect his A.P.O. in care of New York postmaster just any day. He said they have a outfit of WACS there and they’re all hoping to come to Calif so he said for Pop to tell him which type he wanted a Big Mary or a pocket size edition and he thought he could fix him up. Fine thing! Wait till I write him!  They welders are starting on a 10 hr shift Mon. I hate to see it for he hardly has time to eat and shave and keep his truck in shape now. I can see I’m going to have to get a shopping cart and go to the market while he is asleep. Maybe you are doing Lefty and his family a good turn by getting married after all if you can get Dad Woodside to write to Lefty, Vi. Now don’t forget to write him a letter too once in awhile. As I was reading your letter to Pop and came to the part where you said you just couldn’t get anything done Pop said “She might try getting up in the morning” now where have you heard that before? Of course going out to eat takes a lot of your time. You kids sure have been seeing the movies. Whats [sic] become of Bob had Lefty divorced him since he married you? I’ll bet he does feel kind of lonesome evenings cause [sic] he has always had Lefty to tell troubles to then. Well I guess I’m about run down so guess I better scribble a few lines to Dorothy as I think she has written to us twice since I wrote. Lots of love and good luck and good night. Pop and Mom.

26 April, Pasadena, California

Dearest Viola and Lefty, Well I’ve been writing to Deloris so will write a few lines to you kids too. I thought I wasn’t going to write so much to her but you know me-I just ramble along and don’t say anything. Do you remember Dad telling you about working on the S.S. Cape San Juan? Well there was a picture of it in the L.A. (Los Angeles) paper, it was sunk by the Japs in the South Pacific some time the last of 43, and the Navy just released the dope on it. There were 1429 men on board and all but 70 were saved, most of them were killed in explosions before the ship sunk.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of Wikipedia

I did an internet search of this ship and here is what I found;

Cape San Juan, a 6711 gross ton C1-B type cargo ship, was built at Long Beach, California, for the U.S. Maritime Commission. Completed in June 1943 and converted to a troopship during the next two months, she was assigned to the American Hawaiian Steamship Company for operation. Cape San Juan made one round-trip voyage between San Francisco and the south Pacific during August-October 1943 and late in the latter month began a second trip, this time to Australia. While near the Fiji Islands on 12 November 1943 (local time — 11 November in the U.S.) she was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-21. More than a hundred lives were lost among her crew and passengers as a result of this attack and the subsequent abandonment of the ship. Attempts were made to tow Cape San Juan to port, but she sank on the following day.

(Click here to learn more about this ship Pop worked on)

There are many more letters from Grandma Susie but it would take a whole book to transcribe every letter here. She mostly relates family and friend’s happenings, including many men in the service from family members to boarder’s, boyfriends or husbands.  It seems as though this war affects everyone in my grandma’s circle of friends and family. Grandma Susie did what she could to support the war effort sewing baby stuff for the Navy wives, to picking up soldiers hitchhiking.  As with my dad it seems as though all the men are getting ready in one form or another, to go overseas.

Robert “Bob” Winter,

© 2012 notsofancynancy

Posted by: notsofancynancy | July 26, 2014

World War II, chapter 39, The Wedding Postcards

It has been amazing being with my family for this reunion. The only bad thing is how short the time is.

In honor of my parents here is the story of the Wedding Postcards.

I am always reminded how precious these memories are.

 

World War II

The Wedding Postcards

Chapter 39

Capitol Dome and Snow Scene, Salt Lake City, Utah

To tell this story we must go into the future. We must move away from the 1940’s and into 2000, for just a chapter.  By now you know that on that furlough in 1944 my parents got married. But in 2000 my family received horrible news. My sister’s home was burned to the ground. It was fully engulfed within 15 minutes. Our history was in that house: Our family Bibles; genealogy, Grandma’s and Dad’s bonds etc. who really knows what else we lost that day?

18 February 1944 Dear Pop & Mom, having a swell time so far. Won 64 cents in a blackjack game today. Met a sweet girl on her way to see her Hubby. Write when I get time. Love Viola

My husband and I were on our honeymoon when we heard of my sister’s house fire. We had come into town for my daughter’s surgery.  I will never forget the conversation with Dad sitting on the cool stone hospital bench in the heat of the summer as he told me what had happened. It was a devastating blow. I knew our family history lie in those ashes.

San Juan County, Utah

About a week later Hubby and I headed up there to see what we could do.  We ended up staying a month to get Sharon and her husband Harve back on the property.  My sister lost 41 beloved cats in that fire. It was a special breed of Silver Tip Persian Cats. You can see her cats in movies like “Stewart Little.” One of her cats played Snowball, the big white cat in the movie and she sold a couple to Fancy Feast. “Gimmel” plays the pampered cat who gets his fancy feast served in a stemmed crystal bowl and the person in the scene clanks the spoon against the crystal which causes Gimmel to come running.  She loved and took pride in these special cats. We set cat traps in hopes a few were able to get out of the house on their own. Doug and I went out each morning to check and reset the cat traps praying that we would find just one of her precious cats and disappointed each time we found the trap empty. I spent hours walking among the old oak trees calling for cats. I never found one though.

February 19 1944, Dear Mom and Pop, It is 11:10 and I am now $1.38 ahead Gee talk about beginners luck. One more day! I hope no one wants to play tomorrow I don’t like to win all the time, Love Viola

We were sifting through the ashes that had turned to muck from the water of the fire hoses.  We were finding small things so it kept us going. A wedding ring, some jewelry, some coins and stuff like that.  We had taken a break from sifting and had just come back to it. I knew we would never get through all of the ashes, but I was determined to find something important. It was hot, starting to smell really bad. I dreaded having to wear those masks that doctor’s wear.  It was suffocating to me, as I am claustrophobic.  I could not breathe. We were dirty, smelly, tired, and living in our motor home with two crazy Jack Russell Terriers. We only had the shower in the motor home so that meant very short showers.  It was so discouraging we wanted to give up. I thanked God every morning for bringing me a wonderful husband who stood by me during this daunting task. He had to do things that I could not do. It was bad and he was by my side the whole time. I was assured that I had finally found the right man.

The Pioneer Monument, Salt Lake City, Utah

I was standing looking at my sister’s whole life turned into nothing but ash. There was not much left but hope. I thought what would Dad do? And I got back to work, because that is exactly what he would have done, without a thought.  As I walked back I noticed in the area where I had been digging a piece of white paper that had not been there when we had left. I bent over to get a better look. It was an angel that my sister had drawn and cut out before the fire. It was the weirdest thing. It did not have one smudge on it, no burnt places, no water damage it was just sitting there where it had not been before. As I stood up I saw a small stack of what looked like postcards. The postcards in this post were in the middle and did not have too much damage. It was a miracle! Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, these pieces of our history had made it. I did not know at the time what an important role they would have in telling my parents story.

24 February 1944, Dear Folks; We dood [sic] it! We got married at 7:45 last night. We are on our way to see Aunt Dick & Grandpa & Grandma. Will write when we get time, Love Viola and Lefty

I now know why they were spared: To help me become interested in preserving the story of the journey of the postcards that began in February of 1944 and ended 56 years later when an angel pointed the way to me to find them and retrieve these tiny pieces of our history.

I feel like I should say The End….

Update 2012. I wrote this originally back in July 2011. Back then I did not think that I would be writing Dad’s story and wanted to tell the story of the postcard. I also focused on this last post card I never realized that the other two postcards were written right before Mom met Dad in Nebraska. I did not know why Mom would write “We dood it.” on the wedding announcement. Finding my grandmother’s letters I came across this newspaper clipping she had enclosed in one of them. It seems in 1944 Red Skelton had an incident and at once I knew this was the key to the mystery of “We dood it.”

‘Dood it’ Kid and His Bride to Be

© notsofancynancy July 2011 Revised November 2012

Posted by: notsofancynancy | July 23, 2014

World War II, chapter 38, Grandma Susie’s Wisdom

In a few weeks I will be attending a family reunion and am thinking a lot about my grandmother. She was epitome of what a patriarch looks like. What a strong woman she was and her strength came from her faith. She went to the same church from the time she moved to Pasadena in 1942 until the day she passed away.

In this chapter my father gets a furlough and my mother heads from where she is living in California to meet him in Nebraska. They have been engaged since June of the previous year but have not seen each other since he drove to Southern California from South Carolina to propose. Dad does not write any letters during this trip but my mom’s mom, Grandma Susie (The Little Old Lady from Pasadena in her later years) wrote some letters that were also in the suitcase. From those letter’s you get to know Grandma Susie and she fills in the blanks on what went on during this time.

 

World War II

Grandma Susie’s Wisdom

Chapter 38

Nebraska Newspaper Clipping

As I related in the last chapter there are no letters from Dad during his furlough. What I did find in the suitcase were letters from my Mom’s mother, Grandma Susie that cover this time. Grandma Susie was quite the story teller and her letters include a lot of information about family and the day-to-day happenings so I will try to condense them to a manageable chapter.

21 February 1944, Pasadena, California

Dear Kids, We received your telegram just before Dad went to work and must admit we were surprised. Especially Dad for he said whenever anyone asked you Vi if you were going to get married while you were gone you’d said no. He said if he had known you were going to, he would have had a long talk with you, but I know you reached your decision after you met in Lexington. You both know we think a lot of Lefty and think he’ll be very good to you-our only objection is the war, knowing the life of an Army family isn’t easy, and we’re hoping you both are old enough to overcome all obstacles in your life and be very happy. Now you both will have more responsibilities and I hope your family responsibilities will help you be a better soldier instead of distract from your Army duties Lefty for during this war you are a soldier first and a husband second. You are now taking on the biggest job of your lives-the job of being happy in your married life-of having a happy home, wherever and whatever it may be, and this happiness is up to both of you, together and individually-for no one can make you happy unless you want to and try to be happy, and with both of you I think controlling your tempers and being reasonable will help a lot. I know we all get mad at times we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t, but I’ve learned as I grew older that my temper hurt me more than anyone else and made me and those I love most very unhappy. No two people think the same on everything and when you do disagree try to talk it over and decide whose way is best. Right now I’m feeling kind of sorry for myself for I had always hoped I would be there to see my daughter married, but don’t let that make you unhappy for above all else I want you kids to be happy and I know you are so that is all that matters. It seems impossible our little Snoodles [sic]is to be married Wednesday-Why it seems like it has been only a couple of years since I was a bride myself. So crowd as much happiness as you can into your lives while you are young for the years go rushing by so swiftly before you know it you’re 40 and you wonder where in the world the time has gone. I hope you had a nice wedding and that it was a lovely day. We were married on a Wednesday. Hope you had a talk with your Dr. and minister before you were married, sorry you didn’t get to talk to George.-Oh well maybe you found someone just as good or better. Our dreary weather continues, so dark and raining all the time. Lefty if you are as good to Viola as the Big English man (my grandfather) has been to me she will never have cause to complain and Vi if you aren’t’ as good a wife as I have tried to be so help me I’ll take you across my lap and spank you big as you are cause being Pops wife has been plum easy. We are looking anxiously for your letter telling us your plans. You know Vi we’d like to have you come back and stay with us until the war is over but whatever your plans are let us know. God Bless you children and all the happiness and good luck in the world. Lots of love, Mom and Dad We hope you bought something new to be married in, if not a dress at least a new blouse and let us know what it cost and we’ll pay for it-for at least I’d like to buy something for your wedding even if I couldn’t be there.

Nebraska Newspaper Clipping

My parents were married 23 February 1944 at the parsonage of the Methodist Church in Lexington Nebraska.

1944 Clipping

1 March, Pasadena, California

Dear Kids, Well I’ve been trying to write a long letter to Clara and George for the last 2 ½ hours. Finally got it wrote-seemed like there wasn’t a lot to write-like when I write a lot of crazy stuff like stories etc which reminds me. Yesterday after Dad went to work Grace and I and Anna Grey went over to Mrs. Chapman’s to finish up some of those slips we’re making for the navy relief and of course the faster we worked the faster we talked and we told a few stories. Anna told one of the guy who went into the store to buy his wife a nighty and the sales lady said they had 2 styles and asked which one he’d rather have, the style with the ruffle around the neck or the style with the ruffle around the bottom and he said “Oh give me the one with the ruffle around the bottom it’ll be up around her neck before morning anyway.” Pop said a fine way for a bunch of church woman to talk! Anyway I thought it was cute-not like his shipyard stories. Well I’m sort of getting off the subject. Mrs. Chapman served us coffer and cream pie this afternoon. I had to go down to help cook the church night supper. We had apple cobbler and were going to serve ice cream on it. Well they won’t sell one person over a qt. at a time so George took 8 of us down to the coast and we each bought a qt. I told him you were married and he wanted your address so I imagine you’ll hear from him. Say Della is working your pillow cases and she wants to know if you want her to send them straight to you. She said she started them as soon as you left for she was sort of expecting it. George said he wasn’t surprised after what you said at the last church night supper. Betty Winters said to give you her best wishes as did a couple of women who sang with you in the choir. Miss Sayre came up and someone was asking about you and of course she had to get all the low down and she said “You mean little Vi is married? Why the little dickens!” The service starters worked on Navy wives layettes at their last meeting. Well it sounds like you kids got to see a lot of people while you were in Kansas gosh I don’t know how you got to see so many in such a short time. When you get settled and rested from your trip you’ll have to write us who all you seen.  Has Brookville and Salina changed much? You must of seen Pop Halsey cause you paid Dads dues . I think you kids have done a very good job of writing to us. So busy and so on the go from place to place. I don’t see how you found time to write. Thanks for taking the time for we have been so glad to get each letter and card and to know you are so happy and getting around so good. I imagine we can thank Lefty as much as Vi for the letters cause I know how she is about writing. Lots of love Mom and Dad

There are a dozen letters from Grandma Susie. Most of them are just daily happenings. But there are a few that pertain to Mom and Dad.  Rather than bore you with Grandma’s washing and ironing here is some key information.

Newspaper Clipping

8 March, Pasadena, California

Dearest Family, We got your letter yesterday that you had written the next night after getting to Durham. Sure was glad to hear you got there and had a good nights [sic] sleep although it sounded like you must have slept some on the train Vi but I’m wondering if Lefty had a chance to sleep for taking care of you. I thought you’d just about come sick on the way to camp. I hoped you wouldn’t get sick to your stomach for Lefty’s sake as well as yours especially if some of the boys in his outfit were on the same train. So am glad you didn’t feel so bad, I really think those shots have helped you a lot. We were in hopes Lefty that she would be clear over that before you got married, don’t worry about it too much she may feel like the dickens for a few hours but it isn’t fatal. I never heard of a girl dying with cramps-sometimes we feel too sick to die ha ha!

My mother had Endometriosis.  She would suffer three miscarriages between my sister and me and would eventually have a hysterectomy a few years after my brother was born.

We picked up 4 sailors on our way to Burbank. They were going to school here in Pasadena and just came out here to get to “the corner of Sunset and Vine,” and do Hollywood. Gosh two of them didn’t look a day over 16, I know one of them had never shaved yet you could tell by looking at him. Coming back we picked up 4 soldiers-they were older a couple of them were pretty tight. Gosh you make me dizzy, Omaha, Chicago, Pittsburg, Washington, Greensboro, and Durham all in one paragraph! Why at your age if I’d done Carneiro, Brookville, and Salina all in 2 days I felt like I really made a trip! Listen here kid I think you’ve been doing the United States the last three weeks! If anyone asks you that’ll be a honeymoon to tell the Grandchildren about. How far is Durham from camp? And can Lefty make pretty good time coming and going? After all he does have to have his sleep. Yes Vi I knew as soon as we got your telegram that you’d stay with Lefty as long as you could, that is as it should be, and I don’t think you’ll get very homesick for Pasadena-remember how I acted when Pop came out here without me? Just think how lonesome Lefty would be without you and how lonesome you’d be if you were back here without him! The two of you know how you’d have to put up with my scolding you just like before you were married, every time you got lonesome and cried. And now that you’ve  had some time together you’ll be more lonesome without him than you were before, so just be thankful you’re together every minute you can be and crowd all the happiness you can into each hour so if you do have to be separated for a little while you’ll have a lot of pleasant memories to tide you over till you can be together again. But you just mustn’t think of the miles just think how doggone lonesome you will be if Lefty does have to go overseas. So until next time, Lots of love and best wishes. Mom and Dad.

In the last letter from my grandma, she encloses a note from her younger sister. It really says a lot about who my father was so let’s read on.

I don’t know where you get that stuff about your son-in-law being bashful or quiet. If you had seen him hugging Mom all the time and kissing her and everyone else. In fact Vi put on a good act of bawling cause she was being “left out” so early in married life. (but she loved it) I was surprised at the way the folks “Fell for” Lefty.” He does seem to fit right in though. He loved Mom’s dumplings and kraut and pudding. We were all sorry when they had to leave but were so very glad they could be with us when we needed them.

Grandma’s sister Clara lost a son just before my parents arrived in Kansas. It was a hard time for Aunt Clara and her husband George. I am glad that my parents were able to bring them some happiness in their time of need.

Vi and Lefty’s Wedding Picture

This pretty much sums up how all of Mom’s family felt about Dad. He always fit in and went out of his way to do whatever was in his power to help them out.  Dad and Grandma Susie became fast friends and after Pop died Dad became the main man in her life.

It seems as though Mom is now living with Dad in a boarding house in Durham, North Carolina while he is at Camp Butner. What a happy time it must have been for both of them. Sadly I know this will not last as it is just about time for Dad to be sent overseas.

Posted by: notsofancynancy | July 20, 2014

World War II, chapter 82, Dad Tells All

My Dad was honored yesterday on the Facebook Veteran’s page as Veteran of the Day. My stats have been crazy the last two days. Since I feel this post contains the most historical letter I am posting this in his honor.

World War II

Dad Tells All

Chapter 82

Notice the stamp in the lower left corner. This is the last one stamped with the censor

Notice the stamp in the lower left corner. This is the last one stamped with the censor

It is now seven days after VE-Day and my dad is hopeful about getting home and meeting his baby for the first time. The 16 May 1945 letter is the last censored letter there is. What will Dad’s letters be like once it is lifted? We don’t have to wait long to find out.

16 May, Hanover, Germany

My Darlings, By gosh guess what I did. I did my wash after 9:30 tonight. Had quite a place to get it done too. A big boiler and washing machine (the hand style) But had to do something. Have been sweating out getting my other laundry from the company and it hasn’t come.  Well if it dries now I guess everything will be ok. According to the paper I can tell you the town I am in. Hannover and not proud of it either. Oh its [sic] not so bad here. Only not going enough. Back at the company we were on the road all the time. And here it isn’t such. Didn’t get any mail today so haven’t much to say. I did forget to tell you yesterday that Madelyn said she was going to try and get up there before she got married. I doubt it though. Although you can’t tell about her.   We had ice cream again for supper and also steak. Last night we had chicken fried. Boy was that good. Eating pretty good right now. Don’t imagine that will last long though can’t say much for the future. But look for anything. You know I have been having stomick [sic] trouble for the last 4 or 5 days. Nothing bad I guess. Went to the medic today and got some pills to take. So maybe I’ll get by. Well honey I’m all run down and its [sic] almost eleven. So I getter go to bed. I love you my Darlings I love you so much honey. I love you I love you Darlings I love you. All my love, Lefty

17 May, 1945 Quartermaster moved to Ascheberg, Germany, 15 miles south of Munster

This is the first letter after the censorship was lifted. Notice the stamp is missing

This is the first letter after the censorship was lifted. Notice the stamp is missing

This next letter is one of the most important historically to the 35th Quartermaster as Dad tells all. It is six pages long and is written in my father’s neat left-handed writing. The first time I found it is was before I started this journey of transcribing the letters. There have been times during writing the chapters when I wanted to bring this information into the story but I feel this way we get a better idea of how it felt when Mom read it for the first time.  So take a few minutes and really read this letter although I know he is trying to say he is telling it all but I still feel like he is guarding Mom from the horrible truth. I get tears in my eyes each time I read it.

18 May, Ascheberg, Germany

My Darlings, Gee Honey no mail again, in fact for about 4 days. And Gosh have I missed it. Boy sure wish they would get on the ball. Course I’m in a bad mood. Mommie I haven’t much to say tonight so I’ll kinda tell you just what we have done here. And perhaps save a lot of talking when I get home. First we landed in England about 25 or 26 of May a year ago. And in France D+30. There was only about 10 divisions here then and by Gosh to look back at it the small post of France we had then, if the Germans had known our strength and had tried they could have driven our whole beachhead into the ocean. We loaded on boats the 4th of July in a town near Plymouth England and landed here the 7th and was committed into action on the 9th North of St. Lo. We were at Lisdon. Well everything went as wars go. The days before the big push off on Hill 122. Bob, Harker Harvey, Sgt. Lance, Reed, myself, Morgan, Edlund, hauled 4 loads of ammunition up to the 134th. This was our first taste of the real front lines. Because there were machine guns all around us and we were under German 88 fire and [there] was also mortar fire all the time.  No one was hit but we sure found fox holes in a hurry. That began the clearance of the 35th.July 25 was the first big bombing the allies had in our sector. It also helped the breakthrough of St. Lo.  3600 of them and they all went over our area. One of them had engine trouble and unloaded his whole load of bombs and they hit all around us some within 200 yards of the area. Also in the same area we were bombed by the German’s but lucky us they missed by about 100 yards. Boy you should have seen some of the foxholes we were digging about then. 5 1/2 – 6 ft deep then we took brush and anything we could find and put them on the top and covered them with dirt until you could hardly see it and then we made our beds in it and there we slept, a moles life it was.

 Foxhole, Courtesy of The Cain Family

Foxhole, Courtesy of The Cain Family

After the break through of St. Lo and the crossing of the river there we were released from the 1st Army and into Patton’s and started following him, but we were stopped at Mortain and were thrown into action again there. Because the Germans had attempted a breakthrough to cut off our supply lines. Of course it didn’t work and we made history. About this time the German’s had planes over every nite and it was about that time Pop Hanson and I had that long black out drive I told you about. After Mortain we went on to Le Mans and then some trucks went to the Inf. to motorize them in the spearhead attack through France. Well we went about 100 miles that day and were just outside of Orleans. Well most of the trucks were there But Bob, Dudley, Harvey, Haviland and Morris were the ones who went and they had quite a time and the next day & nite. The German’s shelled Orleans all the time and have two trucks were hit. Not bad but they still carry the scars. None of the men were hurt.

Dad wrote " Once was a house, probably the town looks the same

Dad wrote ” Once was a house, probably the town looks the same

So about this time the rear echelon was over 130 miles back and had to be moved. So 30 trucks took off to do that. Well within the next 48 hours we drove 550 miles and had them caught up. It was here I burned my face and eyes so bad. You see I was a machine gunner up until the time I was busted and we had them mounted on trucks and had to ride with them all the time. After Orleans we went on to Nancy and a little town some miles south of there.  We were bombed and scattered by our own planes here. And in the pictures I sent home are bomb craters that was in our area. The ones with Bob, Haviland and Howard and the rest in. Wow did I sweat blood that day.

Robert Winter standing in a BIG Bomb Crater

Robert Winter standing in a BIG Bomb Crater

We were in Nancy for about 6 weeks and then came the big push which Metz fell in. We only had a small part to do with Metz. But a little. And this push ended us in Germany at the Saareguemines Well we were pulled out of there and were suppose [sic] to go into a rest Camp in Metz. We had no rest until then. And the same time the Belgium Bulge. So we only had Christmas there. And what was considered a stop over on the way to Belgium, no rest. But we were there for Christmas and even though the Germans again were starting to send planes over we felt pretty good and had a darn good dinner. Then on to the Bulge were we did a damn good job. So they told us. It was awful cold and had lots of snow. After the Bulge we went back to Metz and were still suppose [sic] to get that 10 day rest but it was the same thing and we went into Southern France to the 7th Army. This is where all the small pictures with all the snow on the trailers were taken. By God it was cold there.  On the way down we stayed overnight in one town where we couldn’t even find room enough to house 180 men. The town was so completely torn up. We hit a couple of blizzards worse than some I’ve seen in Nebr. And they were bad there. But they didn’t matter much we had to go anyway.  When we left there we went through Verdun and stayed overnight there and so on up to Holland where we kind of had to waite [sic] until all got there. Stops to reorganize they called it and into the 9th army. In which we ended up. We went into a holding position for a long time and finally things broke loose and we crossed the [unreadable] river and here we had 21 trucks mobilized the Inf.

Dad Wrote "Service Platoon Men in the back of the truck, Duke in seat and Keller on hood"

Dad Wrote “Service Platoon Men in the back of the truck, Duke in seat and Keller on hood”

Again-Dudley and I spearheaded this one with our Machine Gun Trucks. And what a time we had. It wasn’t so cold by this time we sweat it out. We would haul the Inf. up to town and we would move in Venlo, Holland the Inf. took 4 blocks and we moved in with 21 trucks and went to bed. The next morning we moved on. We hauled them about 12 miles more and they rode tanks from there into Rhineburg. Well we were still up for that rest. Which we finally got. They pulled us out of Rhineburg and back to Bruggen for 10 days. We had 6 trucks in Rhineburg and one was hit pretty bad by artillery again. After the rest crossing of the Rhine I crossed on D+1 and boy that night the Germans sent out some planes and tried to bomb the bridge that leads over the Rhine. Man oh Man did the A-A-A do the sky up pretty. Looked like Rose Bowl on the 4th of July (I Think). They again didn’t do any good so we pushed on and were in the Ruhr Pocket for awhile. Then all at once we were pulled out and made over a hundred mile move into Germany and ended up on the Elbe River where the war ended for us. We were pulled out a couple three weeks before the surrender. Since we have moved back to Hanover and swearing out, the ETO-PTO, or home. Well Mommie I guess that’s about all I have for tonight. I have been writing over 1 ½ hours now and it is really time to quit. I love you my Darlings. I love you so much honey. I love you Mommie, I love you, I love you, I love you so much my darling. All my love Darlings, Lefty

Heilbronn, Germany, Courtesy of the Cain Family

Heilbronn, Germany, Courtesy of the Cain Family

I have to end this chapter with this letter for it really stands alone. Dad worked on this letter close to two hours and really told the story. This is the first time I had heard that my dad was a machine gunner. I am shocked as you sure could not tell by the letters. What really gets me is seeing how much danger my dad was in and how little you could tell when reading the letters.

© 2013 notsofancynancy

Robert “Bob” Winter, Harker W. Harvey, Charles Lance, Alford Reed, Herbert Morgan, Donald R. Edlund, Reynold G. Hanson, Oswald W. Dudley,  Judson Haviland, Myron J. Morris, Truman “Ben” Howard, Marvin Cain, John A. Keller

Posted by: notsofancynancy | July 1, 2014

My Grandma was The Little Old Lady from Pasadena

I am having a heck of a time with my internet connection. When you live rural you don’t have many choices when it comes to internet providers. We had one service for years, and years but all of a sudden it was going offline every day, so I was without internet. The provider could not fix it so we looked for another. We found one and scheduled a day for installation.  When the service guy got here he checked the signal and sure enough it was not strong enough for him to even attempt installing it. So then I was really offline. My hubby has a hot spot on his phone so it came down to him leaving his phone at home so I could have internet access. I don’t know why but my computer will not connect with my WordPress site while connected to his phone.  It would go to the site but does not show anything there. I could not even click on the icon to get or see my comments. So my site has been in limbo. We did find another provider but the wait is a month. I can’t believe in this day and age we have no internet! I slipped out this morning to visit a friend and am using their connection to get this post done.  So here is a repost of one I did on my Grandma Susie. Enjoy!

 

The Little Old Lady from Pasadena

“It’s the little old lady from Pasadena
Go granny, go granny, go granny go
Got a pretty little flower bed of white gardenias
Go granny, go granny, go granny go
But parked in her rickety old garage
Is a brand new shiny red super-stock dodge

And everybody’s saying there’s nobody meaner
Than the little old lady from Pasadena
She drives real fast and she drives real hard
She’s a terror out on Colorado boulevard

Its the little old lady from Pasadena”

First recorded by Jan and Dean in 1960, Then the Beach Boys 1964

Grandma “Susie” about 1930, Kansas

My grandmother affectionately known to us grand kids as Grandma “Susie” moved to Pasadena, California back in 1942. She had driven tractors and such on the farm in Kansas but when they moved here she did not get her drivers license. Grandpop drove her everywhere.

My grandpop passed away in 1972. Grandma “Susie” lived about an hour away from us or at least it seemed that long when we were kids. She was an independent lady and decided it was time to buck up and get her license. At this point she was 69 years old and she had not driven since leaving the farm in the 40’s. That is 30 years! I cannot imagine what it was like for her to learn to drive on the streets of Pasadena. The traffic in Pasadena was already busy back in the 1970’s. But that did not stop her, she was far from a good driver though. She downright scared me, and never drove with my father around.

She drove a Dodge Valiant. It was not red, and it did not go fast, but she did become “The Terror out on Colorado Blvd.” She must have been her mid eighty’s when she took a wrong turn off of Colorado Blvd on to a one way street. All fine and dandy until you know she was driving the wrong way. Yep, the cops called my mom personally as they felt she did not understand she was going the wrong way.

Then there was the time that Grandma’s neighbor called my mom because “Susie” was stuck on the grass in front of the house. For anyone who had been to her house there in Pasadena you know that the hedges surrounding her yard made it near impossible to make the turn to get onto the grass. Mom was baffled. I was scared to be on the streets while she was driving. It was not soon after these two incidents that mom and dad took the keys away from her. But for about 12 years my grandma was “The little old lady from Pasadena.”

The Little Old Lady from Pasadena, no really!

When I think of the Beach Boys song I will always think of my Grandma “Susie” “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena,” who was the “Terror out on Colorado Boulevard.” It makes me laugh even now.

 

© 2012 Copyright notsofancynancy

Posted by: notsofancynancy | June 5, 2014

Remembering D-Day 70 Years Ago

How can one really understand the scope of the losses that were incurred on D-Day? We can look at the numbers but really unless you were on those beaches those early days we can only imagine. Some of us have heard stories of what it was like and now that most of the soldiers are gone we can only learn from their words. In this post we will cover the words of some of the men who were there.

Julie wrote "June 6 1944, D-Day taken from my Dad’s (Harold Winquest) LST, " Winquest-Johnson Collection

Julie wrote “June 6 1944, D-Day taken from my Dad’s (Harold Winquest) LST, ” Winquest-Johnson Collection

According to Militaryhistory.com :

On June 6, 1944 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory. More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion and by D-Days end on June 6, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Normandy. The D-Day cost was high-more than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded.

Harold Winquest was in on the early days of the invasion as he was with the planning division under General Bradley. His daughter Julie writes:

There is a story somewhere of one of the DUKW drivers coming in with Gen Eisenhower and Gen Bradley in the very early days of the war.  I think I figured it was probably June 12.  I found that documented in the First Army diary*.  My mom says that she was at a movie and there was a Pathe Newsreel that showed General Eisenhower visiting the beaches that first week.  He was surrounded by several officers in a circle and all of a sudden she recognized my Dad as one of those men.  My dad came onto Omaha Beach on D Day +3 (June 9). The headquarters had stayed on ships until it was safe for them to land.  He came with one of the early groups to set up a headquarters.  The initial 1st Army Headquarters command post was located in an apple orchard and fields near Grandcamp les-Baines (June 9 to July 2).  I think that is near or behind Pointe du hoc where the Marines scaled the cliffs.  It says the fields were filled with craters from the big bombs.  

I can’t imagine what that was like. To be sitting in a movie theater and there on the big screen was Eisenhower and Bradley and as you look closer there is your husband. I am sure it was a relief for her to see at that point in time he was still alive.

Loading a DUKW, Mr. Johnson's company working Normandy Beach 1944

Loading a DUKW, Mr. Johnson’s company working Normandy Beach 1944

Julie also shared a letter written by her step-father Rod Johnson.

From a foxhole somewhere in France, June 26, 1944

Dear LeMonte and all my friends in and around Holdrege:

Little did I realize last year at this time that I would be writing to you in France. But here I am safe and sound and very lucky and thankful to be alive today.

Perhaps you have been reading about the rukus in the papers and what we’ve been doing over here. Not anymore that anyone else over here has been doing but we’re doing our best to keep the boys up front supplied with what they need, namely ammunition and food.

When we first hit the beach over here it was a bit rough and we had a hot reception waiting for us. It’s a miracle how we got onto the beach. I assure you, “jerry” had made obstacles and mines all along the beach that Heinz has pickles, if I may use that expression.

If you’ve read any of Ernie Pyles articles, he gives the best description of the numerous things we encountered. I want to say one thing for the boys who hit the beach before we did-my hat is off to every one of them who had the guts to ever attempt coming onto that beach! It’s no fun seeing American boys dead boys, dying in the sand and their heads buried in it and part of their bodies lying all over. Ill never forget it as long as I live. Those lads were brace and courageous and died fighting for what we all believe in and are fighting for- Freedom of Living- The right to do what we want to, when we want to and how we want to without any fear of being shot for saying something he shouldn’t or something similar. That is the way these French people have been living for the past four years, afraid to do anything or even open their mouth without first raising their right hand and giving the heil Hitler salute. At first the French were even afraid of us.

I believe because of the propaganda the Germans had drilled into them about how the Americans would treat them when and if they arrived. They are learning now more everyday how we’re treating them, giving them food, cigarettes, and candy and gum to the little children. It is a wonderful feeling to know that all the children back home have homes to live in, plenty of food to eat and no fear of planes coming over to bomb them.

These children over here, many of them homeless, some without parents, tattered and torn clothes and a lot of them are wearing home made wooden shoes. Those I’ve seen have had enough to eat however, because this is farming country around here but I imagine it’s a much different story in the cities of Paris and others in France.”

Rod Johnson's 460th DKUW company, Winquest-Johnson Collection

Rod Johnson’s 460th DKUW company, Winquest-Johnson Collection

Julie tells me that late in Mr. Johnson’s life she had a chance to speak with him about it. She shared his reaction with me. I have toyed with whether the following words are too graphic but I feel I must use them as it was the reality of the shores those days:

Rod’s memories of the day after D Day was very emotional for him.  He usually cried talking about it.  I think I mentioned earlier that his memories of our dead soldiers really bothered him.  Actually it may be too graphic but they had to run over bodies on the beach as they unloaded the ships.

I know that each soldier that crossed those beaches dealt with those images. It is the reality of war, the part of the war my father kept from the pages of the letters to my mom. He does not talk about the invasion in his letters until after VE-Day in 1945 when the censorship has been lifted. What I am struck with in his letters is the fact that he does not let on how bad things are over there and even when he writes the following after the censorship has been lifted you can tell he is still censoring it for my mothers sake. This is what he had to say:

18 May 1945

My Darlings,

Gee Honey no mail again, in fact for about 4 days. And Gosh have I missed it. Boy sure wish they would get on the ball. Course I’m in a bad mood. Mommie I haven’t much to say tonight so I’ll kinda tell you just what we have done here. And perhaps save a lot of talking when I get home. First we landed in England about 25 or 26 of May a year ago. And in France D+30. There was only about 10 divisions here then and by Gosh to look back at it the small post of France we had then, if the Germans had known our strength and had tried they could have driven our whole beachhead into the ocean. We loaded on boats the 4th of July in a town near Plymouth England and landed here the 7th and was committed into action on the 9th North of St. Lo. We were at Lisdon. Well everything went as wars go. The days before the big push off on Hill 122. Bob, Harker Harvey, Sgt. Lance, Reed, myself, Morgan, Edlund, hauled 4 loads of ammunition up to the 134th. This was our first taste of the real front lines. Because there were machine guns all around us and we were under German 88 fire and [there] was also mortar fire all the time.  No one was hit but we sure found fox holes in a hurry.

Dad on the left in the Color Guard.... sometime in the 1940's, Compare it with the picture below

Dad on the left in the Color Guard 1940’s, Compare it with the picture below

There are many things we can look at now on the 70th anniversary of this important part of history. Many died that day but many made it past the beach and went on to fight for our freedom. But today is not about their fight. Today is about those on that beach who did not make it. Those souls who lost their lives that day, we must never forget their sacrifice. I think Mr. Johnson says it best:

I want to say one thing for the boys who hit the beach before we did-my hat is off to every one of them who had the guts to ever attempt coming onto that beach! It’s no fun seeing American boys dead boys, dying in the sand and their heads buried in it and part of their bodies lying all over. Ill never forget it as long as I live. Those lads were brace and courageous and died fighting for what we all believe in and are fighting for- Freedom of Living- The right to do what we want to, when we want to and how we want to without any fear of being shot for saying something he shouldn’t or something similar. That is the way these French people have been living for the past four years, afraid to do anything or even open their mouth without first raising their right hand and giving the heil Hitler salute.

God rest their souls. I know if my dad and Mr. Johnson were still here and able they would be on that beach to honor those who died that day.

That is our Katie behind the flag, saluting

That is our Katie behind the flag, saluting

In their place I am lucky enough to have a niece whose husband is stationed in Germany right now. Her daughter, Katie is in the Ansbach JROTC. In fact I am proud to say she is a Command Sargent Major. They were asked to participate in the memorial festivities on those beaches. It was a sixteen hour drive to get there but today she wears dog tags with her grandfather, Sterling Montgomery and my father’s name on it. She will be representing our family in thanking and honoring those men. I sit with tears knowing the 110th/35th Quartermaster with be represented in honoring the fallen on this 70th anniversary.

The dog tags Katie is wearing.

The dog tags Katie is wearing.

 

*Reference “Normandy to Victory”  by Major William C Sylvan and Capt Francis G Smith Jr.

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