Posted by: notsofancynancy | September 17, 2014

The Suitcase, Chapter 6, The Yoo Hoo Incident

Before we read this chapter I must make some remarks after I got a bad comment on the original post. My father as well as many of the men’s collections I have worked with were not there when this happened. A lot of the men of the 110th QM were not proud of the incident and would have rather took the punishment and brushed the whole darn thing under the rug. We are talking about approximately 300 men in this convoy and only a handful did the Yoo Hoo-ing and a lot of the men did not even see this incident happen. When they got punished they all were punished not that handful of men. Trust me when I say there were a lot of men who were ashamed and quite a few that were mad about it.  I am not sure how the press got a hold of the story but they are the ones who literally blew this incident out of proportion. I recently spoke with a daughter of one of the men from the regiment and it affected him deeply and not for the good. It haunted him until his death. Yes there were some who rode the coattails of the incident and were famous for their role and they were the ones who after the war revived the incident and called themselves “The Yoo Hoo Regiment.” But what about those who were not there or those who did not want the incident public? They had no say in the matter. In this story I intend no disrespect to General Ben Lear he like the men were just caught up in the media frenzy. This one event should not deter from the fact that these men all went overseas and fought for their country. The incident is what it is and that is now a small part of history.

With that said here is the story of the Yoo Hoo incident with new updated images.

The Suitcase

Chapter 6

The Yoo Hoo Incident

It is here in the timeline that the incident that made my father’s regiment famous happened. Dad was on furlough at this time, falling in love with my mom and hanging out with her family in Brookville, Kansas. Even so, news of this incident provided the “mothers” of the soldiers a reason to campaign. This is where Dad’s regiment and Lieutenant General (LTG) Ben Lear were granted the first nicknames of World War II.

General Ben Lear (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

The 110th Quartermaster, 35 Division, still at Camp Robinson was providing ground transportation for the 2nd Infantry to and from the Tennessee training grounds which were about 145 miles away. The training exercises were headed by a newly promoted Lieutenant General (LTG) Ben Lear. From reading my father’s letters at 62 years old he directed and trained his soldiers like a conductor conducts a band, with precision. Lear expected his soldiers to exhibit good manners as well as learn to fight and live like soldiers.

On a hot day in July 1941, the 110thQM rolled into Memphis Tennessee. It was returning to Camp Robinson after six weeks in the field in a convoy of 80 trucks and over 300 men. The men had been praised for being top notch in their field maneuvers and they were proud. They had to remove their hats because their heads had gotten quite big with all the praise they had gotten.

They were almost giddy (if a man can be giddy) as they began their return trip. The Division knew they would be sleeping in their bunks back in camp with full bellies, and a warm shower rather than bathing out of their helmet as they had just learned to do. They broke out in song and tried to pass the time, loosened their ties, and unbuttoned the top button of their fatigues to help with the unrelenting heat. They passed through Tennessee on that hot day and being only 45 miles from Camp Robinson the soldiers were anxious to get some well deserved rest.

"On our way to Tennessee" From the Marvin Cain Collection

“On our way to Tennessee” From the Marvin Cain Collection

It was then the convoy reached a Country Club and there just happened to be a group of beautiful woman in short golf skirts which were all the rage in 1941 They had just finished a round of golf. As boys will be boys and men will be men the soldiers hollered out to the woman with many whistles and lots of Yoo Hoo’s. I am sure many other words were said. They also started razzing the other golfers trying to throw them off their game. At this point an unassuming old man came out from the golf course. He arrived sporting Oxford golf cleats, a pair of cotton seersucker knickers, his matching knee high socks, brown vest and his golf club clutched in his hand. He shook it at the trucks in anger. When the soldiers saw him, it added more fuel to the fire as they laughed and made fun of the old geezer. He stomped and hollered spewing his displeasure in not so many words. The end of the convoy was abreast when the man was finally recognized by the commanding officers riding in one of the last trucks. It was LTG Ben Lear in the flesh. He certainly did not look like a Lieutenant General in his golf clothes. He was certainly not doing a happy dance. He was disgusted with the men’s lack of respect for the lovely ladies and ashamed of them exhibiting such inappropriate behavior while wearing the Army uniform. As the Commanders tried to calm him down, the first of the 80 trucks were so far ahead not everyone knew what had just transpired. Lear got even angrier and demanded that the men return to camp night and they stay loaded in their vehicles until he got there to address them.

Courtesy of the Cain Family

Courtesy of the Cain Family

Now remember, the convoy was so long that the front did not even see LTG Lear and had no idea why they were told to hold their positions on their loaded trucks. There were many baffled soldiers wanting to get the trucks unloaded so they could relax. The smell of dinner filled the air and the men were excited to catch up on the mail that they had missed while they were gone. LTG Lear appeared in his uniform with his stripes and stars and demanded that every man on that convoy turn in their resignation or face their punishment. A lot of them did not know why they were being punished until Lear left that night. The men were aghast with shame as they learned the identity of the man with the golf club, the man that most of the men did not see. LTG Lear was now a face not one of those men would ever forget, and this incident would bind the regiment together long after the war. The regiment was told to go back to the airport in Memphis, set their tents up and fall in the next morning for a field inspection. There was no shower that evening. Although they got the food it was ice cold and not many ate. More than half of the convoy was paying for the remarks of a couple truck loads of men. In the morning they would stand as one.

 

If you look at our service people today you might say, fifteen miles is not such a hard thing to do especially if they are doing only five miles at a time. But these men had only begun training and were only six weeks into field training. Up until now their training was behind books. Most of them were farm boys who had entered the National Guards with the lure of money, a twenty dollar paycheck each month. They were now finding themselves training for a war they did not think they would have to fight Most of the men were truck drivers, clerical workers, secretaries, typist, and officers. Lastly, it was hot and humid having topped the chart off at 97 degrees. Many men fell off the lines that day due to heatstroke and dehydration.

Courtesy of the Winquest-Johnson Collection

Courtesy of the Winquest-Johnson Collection

The “Yoo Hoo March,” as it had come to be known was about to climb its way to too being the biggest controversy so far in the men’s training. Apparently there was a club of moms, called The Arkansas Department of Army Mothers. Once they caught wind of the incident and learned of the plight of the soldiers it was on! I have seen how protective moms can be of their sons. I cannot even imagine how those moms’ made the incident and their displeasure known. Within the month the whole United States knew about the fifteen mile hike and the opinions were flying. Congressmen and senators weighed-in with their opinions. The commander of the 35th Division was Major General Ralph E. Truman, cousin to then Senator Harry S. Truman. The Major General voiced his support for the discipline being too harsh for the infamous incident. It seems from all accounts the only people who did not complain much were the men from the 110 QM. With all the press around they thought they were stars. The crowds lined the streets all the way back to camp with people cheering the men on.

Winquest-Johnson Collection

LTG Lear and the 110th QM would receive the first nicknames of World War II forever being branded as Yoo Hoo Lear, and the 110th Yoo Hoo Regiment. It was also the first time a Civilian would write a song about World War II. The stories went wild and made plenty of newspapers. It also spread by word of mouth. Eventually the story was featured in Time Magazine in July 1941.  Two songs were written about the incident: The “Yoo Hoo Song” was sung to “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”;  and a song called “Yankee Doodle 1941”, with words like “General Lear was playing golf (he is twelve years over fifty), pretty girls were playing too and boy did they look nifty.” There was a Yoo Hoo pack of cigarettes, there were candy bars made, and there was even a Yoo Hoo club started with membership cards.

“Those poor men did nothing wrong,” A group of young Texan woman reported in a newspaper article about the incident. It featured four beautiful college women from San Antonio Texas holding a sign that says, “YOO HOO ALL YOU WANT TO BOYS, Lear isn’t here,” and “Come on down fellows!” There was talk of asking for LTG Lear’s resignation but he defended his decision. I cannot imagine something like this getting into the press these days but our country was trying to learn just how to do this thing called war and LTG Lear was dedicated to making these boys into soldiers.

Winquest-Johnson Collection

Winquest-Johnson Collection

Dad writes about the incident

13 July 1941

That deal about those boys walking home from Tennessee. I guess the general was playing golf with some lady friends and one of the boys hollered and told him not to get it in the wrong hole. That is what started the whole thing.

And in the same envelope he writes to my grandma.

Sure was glad to hear from you. I guess everybody feels the same about the Generals deal on that convoy. Part of it those boys had been on maneuvers for the past 6 weeks. One captain is in the hospital over it and about 10 passed out on the way. The papers down here have sure been full of it. Last Sunday one paper had a full page of letters written in by people along the way.

Then on 29 July 1941 he writes.

I was in town to a show Sat. nite and they had a phase in the news reel about the Yoo Hoo boys. That sure covered a lot of territory. We have heard about it being used in Oregon. They were making fun of it up there.

Our father’s regiment became famous and because of the Yoo Hoo incident they would always be remembered as the “110th Yoo Hoo Regiment.” It was on the brochures of each of their reunions and the story told and retold. The name also stuck with LTG Lear and followed him home three years later. As the ship docked that he sailed home in Lear walked to disembark and was met by hundreds of GI’s shouting “Yoo Hoo!” LTG Lear with a blank face and no acknowledgement of what was shouted stormed ashore keeping his head up, shoulders back, gut sucked in ignoring the Yoo Hoo’s. To this day if you look up LTG Ben Lear you will find that the Yoo Hoo nickname follows him even in death.

Reference Wikipedia, 35th Division, 110th Regiment, the 1958 Reunion Brochure, Time Magazine July 1944, Mike Allred Yoo Hoo Scrapbook Collection, Marvin Cain Collection, Winquest-Johnson Collection

Posted by: notsofancynancy | September 12, 2014

The Suitcase, Chapter 5, 110th Quartermaster 35th Division

I am so excited to get to this part of the story as this is when I start having new pictures to share. Thanks to The Cain Family for the ones in this chapter.

The Suitcase

Chapter 5

Believed to have been taken at Camp Robinson, Courtesy of the Cain Family

On 3 December 1940, Dad writes that he got fired from his job because some other man had lied to the boss. And now,”All I am doing is cooking and cutting wood and waiting for the 23rd to get here.” His induction date has changed to 23 December 1941.

 I guess you’ll have to talk your dad into coming up. As far as I know George chickened   out and didn’t join after all. You might know more about that than I do. You see we don’t run around so much anymore. I figure if I have to pay for all I just as well go by myself, If you know what I mean.

George is on of my Mom’s relatives and he is the one who took Dad to that original barn dance in 1937. He goes on to talk about how he is going out with another girl named Mick. Then

 Oh Yea! I overheard one Sergeant talking and he said we would probably be gone more    than a year so I just don’t know when I will be back. You better talk real good to your dad so you can come up during Christmas vacation. We get twenty new trucks before we leave. I can’t think of a good ending for this book so I’ll just close. Sincerely ….Lefty

I can detect the fear of uncertainty, and feeling of being let down in Dad’s letter here. His friend had agreed to join the Army with him and now the guy is avoiding him or is Dad is avoiding George because he always makes Dad pay for everything?

Before his mother passed away my father was taking care of her on her sick bed and now it sounds like he is taking care of his dad. He is going to be sent away and it is going to be longer than a year. Note how he signs this letter,” Sincerely,” I wonder what happened to all the, love, hugs and kisses he has been sending up until now? Was he just upset over his choice to join, uncertain?

On 22 December 1940 the men from the National Guard Post were discharged. On 23 December 1940 they were mustered into the Army and it is then they become 110th Quartermaster 35th Division, and he was assigned to Company C.

Lefty home on leave in Nebraska 1941

2 January 1941 Company “C” 110th QM Regt. 35thDivision

Well I hope you got home O.K. We got off to a very late start this morning but got to the end of the line tonight. I didn’t even go to bed Wednesday morning. I just went home and packed my clothes, polished my shoes and read the paper. We got the trucks out about 1:30 and I got stuck the first thing. Then after we got loaded I went back and got stick again in about the same place. I am being a very good boy. I am staying here and catching up on some writing and sleeping We are in the post office and did not have enough room in the one room they gave us so we are sleeping in the hall and every place else we can think of.” “Well we will go through Salina sometime tomorrow. Wish I could stop and come out but that isn’t possible. Well I guess I better go to bed and get some sleep. Lots of hugs and Kisses Lefty

Ok so they got to see each other one last time before he left. And she is the one who came to Nebraska It sounds like they are on their way to Camp.

Postcard found in Lefty’s stuff, Camp Robinson

On 16 January 1941 we find him finally in Camp Robinson and he writes;

I have been having a pretty swell time here. We have been doing school in the afternoon for about 1 ½ hours. Then we are off until 4:30. We haven’t had anything to hard yet. Anyway I don’t think so. Some of them have been gripping about too much work though. I really like to drill. I guess maybe that is why.
I still like it here although I was really mad when I wasn’t made a first class private. I really worked for it. It rained here and I am on guard again from 4-6. So I am pretty wet. I won’t be able to change clothes until after tomorrow noon. At least that is what they told us. It is warm here thought and I am setting by a fire so I am not cold.
I cut my finger and had to go to the dr. with it. I had my hair cut off close to my head. I have about 1 ½ inches left. It feels good too.

He ends with love and kisses and a happy birthday to mom, she has just turned 18 years old.

“Vi”

Dad then writes to my grandma, about the trip to Camp Robinson, how guard duty works and then he goes on to say,

 I am proud to be here although I will probably change. I sure hope not. As of yet I haven’t seen only about two piles of “little rocks.”

Awe, my grandma probably made a joke about those “little rocks” in Little Rock, Arkansas.  My grandma and dad both had the same sense of humor.

In February Dad writes to mom asking how she would like to be married to a carpenter. That is what he signed up for and has made a couple of chairs and a table for his tent. Then he gets an assignment and is making signs for the camp.  He has twenty-four to make and only has two finished. “I may get transferred to the engineers,” he says as that is “what I signed up for, I hope not,” he states. He ends the letter “Anyway we are having inspection tomorrow by the commander of the Regt, Colonel Poteet. So I better close”.

13 February 1941 he writes;

We got 7 drafters in Tuesday some pretty good boys. We also got eighteen new trucks. I got a new one assigned to drive, but as yet I haven’t driven it. They are six wheels drives. Have 3 gear shifts. Something to play with I guess.

18 February 1941,

I had a very good compliment on my painting the other day. Our Lt. said a professional couldn’t have done a better job.

I am very proud to tell you that as far as I know I have gotten that long wanted promotion to first class private. All I hope now is that I can keep it. I am going to have to work for it anyway.

 Look at what I have facing me. Every day the radio says we are getting nearer to it (the war) than the day before and yet we never give it so much of a thought than a joke. Just think like we do we have to so we have all the fun out of it we can. I guess I got started. I really don’t think we will get into the war itself.

It is just like my dad to make a joke out of a bad situation. But really he does not know what he is up against the devil himself, Adolph Hitler.

8 March 1941:

Well I guess another month has gone by. Having just as much fun as ever, Only not so much work you see I am working for the big shots now.  I told you I was going to be a carpenter. Well I got started last Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday I painted for Colonel Poteet, the commander of the “110th QMR,” and the next two days I worked for Lt. Myers. I guess I have plenty more to do. I don’t have any K.P. or guard until I get through and I really like the work.

It sounds to me like he is doing a lot more painting than constructing.

12 March 1941

Say you thought tobogganing was tough you should see me. We went on rifle range today. I held my nose to close to the safety lock and I sure got it skinned. Have been getting the laughs over it though. There were several that got skinned up. We go on the range for record tomorrow. I don’t know whether I get to go or not, I suppose I will though. I got a pretty good score.

 

Company A Street, Camp Robinson

Company A Street, Camp Robinson

I have been working pretty hard too. Have been painting up at Reg. Hqts. For Colonel Poteet. Also been doing some carpenter work for him. He is commander of our Regt.  You should be proud of me for it. I haven’t done a thing else for the past week except for on range today. Have lots more work there I guess. At least that is what they tell me. Have been getting lots of compliments on my work.”

 

The next letter he writes is to my mother’s mom. He is answering her letter to him. Interesting enough Dad speaks of getting a medal for marksmanship.  What I found interesting is this…….

I shot 146 out of a possible 200. Not so good for me but better than nothing. I think I could do better, but I have to change hands. I have shot left handed all my life and now I have to shoot right.

All of my father’s life he has had problems with being left-handed. They did not want him to use his left hand in school and now they are not letting him shoot left-handed? What? Does the Army not have guns for left-handed shooters?

9 April 1941 finds Dad writing

I am so proud of myself. Tuesday was the fifth anniversary of the 110th QM Regt. Walt (Huntsucker) and I were color guards. Sgt Shores and Sgt. Jeffery were color barriers and they said we were the biggest color guards and barriers in the Regt. They also said we were just about perfect. They took pictures of the Life and Liberty Magazine.  Lt Smith said it should make the World Harold paper and go a long ways further than that. We have that honor for the next month and longer than that if we want it.

Company A, (Dad was in Company C) Camp Robinson, Courtesy of The Cain Family

Company A, (Dad was in Company C) Camp Robinson, Courtesy of The Cain Family

24 May 1941

Today ends the fifth month. It sure doesn’t seem that long. Some of the guys are home on furloughs. I wish I had taken one. I guess maybe I will sometime next month or the next if I can. They say that no more will be given until after maneuvers. We don’t know when that is. But Uncle Sam is always changing his mind. We leave for Tennessee Tuesday. 110 trucks and 84 trailers. We will be gone for 4 days. Taking the 153 inf. and the 110 Observation Corps down for maneuvers. All I have done in the last weeks is one convoy of about 30 miles and two parades as color guard. The rest of the time I have been sleeping. Sounds fun, eh! Send me a picture in your formal. I bet you sure are pretty. I changed my hobby. I am not a carpenter anymore. I am a Co. sign painter now.

Ah ha! I knew it!! Sign painter!

1 June 1941

Home again! Had a very nice trip though. Something to pass away the time with. We went over 800 miles. There were 113 trucks. We were spread over 40 miles. There was one convoy that had a wreck and one guy got his foot cut off and died the next morning. I don’t know which Regt. He was from. I think it was the 161st FA. Tough Luck.

18 June 1941

Camp Robinson-Hospital-Courtesy of the Cain Family

Camp Robinson Hospital 1941 Courtesy of The Cain Family

Gosh we sure are lucky, we got a new Captain and First Sergeant. Things are so much better now. We get every other 24 hours off. Drivers get one 24 off and Assistant get the other. We can get passes to town when we are off duty. We just can’t stay in Co area. If we do we have to work. Gosh they are talking about giving us a $12 raise. I sure hope they do. Maybe I can go on a good drunk without going broke. I sure feel like doing that. I was all ready to come up last week and the Colonel wouldn’t sign the furlough. He

My father gets a furlough over the 4th of July and goes to see my mom in Kansas. He left the night of the 3rd and was back in Camp by the 7th.

7 July 1941

Well I got back ok. That is I am back pretty darn tired. Got here about 3:30 this morning. We got a bus at Joplin that didn’t stop anywhere along the line so we make better time. I sure got here at a swell time. We had a federal inspection this morning and had to get the trucks ready to go to Tennessee. We leave at 7:00 tonight. There is a catch to that too. We are not taking assistants along. There will be an assistant for every other truck. We will drive two shifts and then rest one…..Wish me luck on the trip tonight. I can hardly keep my eyes open so I don’t know how I am going to drive all night……….All my love…Lefty….I love you!

 

It seems to me that every time they meet Dad falls a little more in love with Mom. Each letter after the meeting he is sending all his love to kisses her and in this letter not only does he send all of his love but he also says. “I love you.” I also notice a pattern of him playing down his dating and going to dances with him always “getting in a fight” with someone at the dance. He uses the fact that he does not like the Nebraska girls when there is someone who he likes so much more in Kansas. I really feel like Dad has the love bug.

© 2012 notsofancynancy

Posted by: notsofancynancy | September 11, 2014

9/11 Memorial~We Must Never Forget

Ground Zero, July 2011

I remember I was watching the morning news when the first plane hit. I was confused by what I saw on the television but was looking right at it when the second hit. One of the first things that went through my mind was I was glad my dad was not here to see this. He instilled how important it was to honor our country and he served overseas in World War II to help ensure his kids were safe in their own country. This kind of terrorist attack was what he fought against. So that his kids did not have to see such atrocities as he saw fighting that war.  I knew that was why he was called home in August 2001. To greet all those souls when they arrived in heaven.

I sat in front of the television and ended up late for work. I was stunned and could not have done my work no mater what I tried. My mind kept going back to the moment when I saw that second plane hit. I knew it was intentional even though my mind did not believe it.  I never would have thought that twelve years later I would visit the place it happened.

I had never been to New York before, in fact I had never been on a plane before I went to my Nephew’s wedding in New Jersey in February of 2010. I had a fear of heights which carried over to being afraid of flying. My oldest sister passed away in 1998 and I have always been close with her three son’s, who are only 8 years younger than me. I grew up with them and when they were young it was like we were brothers and sister rather than nephews and aunt. When they moved to New Jersey in 2007 I was devastated. I thought for sure I would never see them again. That was until the day the oldest called me and told me he was getting married. With my sister being gone I felt it was the right thing to do, to face my fear, get on a plane, and represent my sister at his wedding.

A fitting memorial

That first plane ride was one of the scariest things I have ever done. But I did it and it didn’t kill me so I returned in July to see the younger nephew who had the lead role in a play. I stayed a couple of weeks and they insisted they take me to New York. Now I had no desire to go to the city, in fact it scared the hell out of me, but I played along. I did not know what to expect other than all the really tall buildings and lots of people. I hate crowds and had a horrible fear of this big city. Lets just say that TV does not always portray New York as a safe place to go. That first trip conquered my flying fear and reminded me of how safe I always felt with my nephews around me.

October 2011

The middle nephew had to be away from home in September of 2011 so I went back to New Jersey for a couple of months to help out with his teenaged kids. While I was there my niece had gotten tickets to see the 9/11 memorial and invited me along. I was excited and scared. Of course it is scary going to a place which had so much devastation. I was not sure if I was going to be able to handle all the pain the site held.

Memorial Wall

I have to admit it was an experience I would do again. I was afraid that I would feel the terror the hero’s felt when they perished.  I found that the memorial was an eerily peaceful place. Yes I cried a few tears but I don’t feel like the people’s souls who were murdered still remain in this place. I was amazed at all the different nationalities that were represented there. All of us there to show our respect to those who lives were sacrificed.

It is really a peaceful place. It is unexpectedly quiet and serene, but at the same time commands respect. I found a bench and sat down to take it all in. It was a warm day and as I sat I felt a cold breeze pass hitting first my legs and then my arms causing goose pimples. I feel it was the angels who reassured me the souls are not trapped but have made it to the other side in record time.

Amazing water featured drown out the city noise.

The two big water features are amazing and they bring about a calm sense to the area. The noise from the fountains drowns out the noise from the city. You can’t help being touched by the memories this sacred place holds. It certainly is a touching tribute to those who fell that day, September 11, 2001, a day I will never forget.

How about you? Where were you?

A Family Member Memorialized

Let us Never Forget

Flag reflecting in a building

Flag reflecting in a new building. Notice there are two crosses also. I wonder if that was intentional??

© notsofancynancy 2012

Posted by: notsofancynancy | September 8, 2014

The Suitcase, Chapter 4, National Guard

The Suitcase

Chapter 4

National Guard

On 15 March 1939 Adolf Hitler declared “Czechoslovakia has ceased to exist.(Wikipedia) This was a scary time for my mother’s family who came to America from Bohemia, which was part of Czechoslovakia. I am not sure that my Father knew how much this event would have affected my great grand parents had they still been alive. This was the land of their childhood. But this is why they migrated to the United States of America, so their children would have a chance to be successful. They still had family there and for them to hear it had ceased to exist must have been shocking to their children. What does that even mean, it ceased to exist? In my mind I see a big bomb crater on the map where it used to be.  At this time in their relationship I am not sure my father knew where my mother’s family originated. But my dad did not need that as a reason to fight for his country. He fought because it was the right thing to do and he would be proud when it was all said and done. I as his daughter am proud to say he was my father.

Frank Warta Sr. and Emile Podlipsky Warta, My Great-great grandparents

Interesting enough exactly one year from that first mention about the war, on 5 September 1940 my father volunteers in the National Guards, in Lexington NE. The Draft was set into motion at the end of September. There is no talk in the letters about what he did do in the National Guards other than drills and guard duty. What he leaves out is what they are guarding.

Lefty in the National Guard 1940

October of 1940 there are some clues of getting mustered into the army when in a letter dated 21 October 1940 (the day before he becomes 21) he writes, “Well as far as I know we have the 25th of November. I don’t know definitely yet. I was kinda glad at the thought of leaving at first. But now I am not so sure I will like it.” And two days later, on the 23rd he writes “I would sure like to come down before I go to camp, but I guess I can’t. I had my picture taken so I’ll send you another just to show you what I look like in a monkey suit.

Lefty in the National Guard 1940

The next letter that was written on 6 November 1940, I include in it entirety.

Dearest Vi,

Well we got home ok, not a bit of trouble. We got here about 11:30. That is to my brother-in-laws place.
 

I went to guard drill to-nite. We are leaving the 25th of Nov. Definitely. That is what they told us tonight. 

We didn’t go to work until noon today. Because the wind was blowing so bad. I should have written sooner but I was catching up on some sleep. I wonder why.

Only one thing wrong we couldn’t stay long enough.
 

I hope you can come up before we leave. Cause a whole year is sure going to be a long time away from you.
Well I guess I’ll have to close now and go to bed.
 

All my love
 

Lefty

Remember I love you very much

Well there you go! It looks like they met and fell in love, or he really fell in love with her.

On 11 November 1940 he writes;

Dearest Vi,
Here are the pictures I finally got them. George hasn’t seen them yet. I haven’t seen him since we got back. I don’t know what’s the matter with him is. Please send these back and you can write on the back of each picture if you want it and how many you want. I’ll get them for you.

 A new order has come out and the date for leaving is postponed indefinitely. The hospital at Camp Robinson is not completed and we can’t go until it is. So I cannot tell you definitely when we go. They told us last Monday that we would leave for sure the 25th and then today is was different.

 I have been wishing a million times a day that I was back down there Cause I sure miss you. I’ll live in hope that I’ll get to see you before I go to camp.

All my love and Most of my kisses. (I have to save some for the baby)
 I still love you

Wait did I read that right? He has to save some for the baby??? What baby? Have they even kissed yet? Oh my! They have to be kidding each other. My mom is only 17 years old at this time and Dad just turned 21. He has been in the National Guards for a little over two months. I guess mom liked a man in a monkey suit.

© 2012 notsofancynancy

Posted by: notsofancynancy | September 5, 2014

The Suitcase, Chapter 3 The Early Years

The Suitcase

Chapter 3

The Early Years

A Very Young Viola on the farm in Kansas

A Very Young Viola on the farm in Kansas

 

1938-39
In 1938 there are only 5 letters that my father wrote to my mom. Apparently my Mom was not as good at writing as Dad was or maybe she was playing hard to get. There are a lot of words wondering why she has not written back. From reading the letters I can see that they must have gotten together with each other.  The guy that Dad hangs around with is “George.” He was a Vance which is my mother’s grandmother’s name. Some of the Vance’s were well off and owned quite a bit of land in Kansas. I am not sure how George and my father became friends but it is because of him my parents met.

He writes in April, “I am going out for track”, “So far I have vaulted 10’ feet the highest anyone has this year (In this school.) In September, he is looking forward to the football game coming up. He is going to be the first kicker of the season. They lose the game but he kicks the ball “65 yards,” he brags. He finally clears 10’7 on the high vault bar and boy is he proud. I really wish I could know what my mom was writing back to him but it is left to the imagination. It is during this period my parents fell in love, or at least Dad fell in love with Mom. It seems she is encouraging him. The letters go on talking school, after school sports, the harvest, helping to build his brother’s house, his sister getting married and things friends would talk about. It seems almost in every letter he has gotten in a fight with someone, made someone mad, or drank too much.

Silly dad, for making me think he had never done this the first time I came home drunk.

My father’s mother passed away in September of 1936 and she had made him promise to complete school. With perseverance my dad made sure to keep that promise. I know it was not easy when there were crops that needed harvesting, houses that needed building and money that needed to be made. He talks about how hard it is to keep his grades up when he can only get to school two days out of five because of the harvest. What I found interesting was that dad really liked school and learning. “I would rather go to school than work any day”, he says.

In 1939 he graduates and is pondering life. Now that he was on “his own.” In May he writes; “I Haven’t reached the conclusion of what I am going to do, but I have been trying to talk my brother into going west with me. I have always been travel minded and I sure want to go.” He goes on to say “I am going to try to come down this summer but if I get a chance to go west I will probably take that and then come back after I see some country. I have sure seen enough of Nebr to suite me.”

It is in 1939 my father fell in love and it is also the first time he speaks about the war.

He was about to get a free ride and will go a lot of places on that ticket.

© 2012 notsofancynancy

Posted by: notsofancynancy | September 2, 2014

The Suitcase, Chapter 2, The Beginning

The Suitcase

Chapter 2

The Beginning

In order to tell this story I have to go back to the beginning.

My Dad’s Grandparents on their Nebraska Homestead

My father’s family came to the United States from Scotland and Denmark in the mid 1800’s and settled in Pennsylvania. Meeting there, my father’s great-grandparents then went west following the lure of free land with the Homestead Act of 1862. They ended up settling in Cozad, Nebraska. My dad’s parents married and lived in Cozad until my dad’s mom passed away in 1936. It was a month before my father’s 17th birthday. My grandfather then moved the family to town, in Lexington. There were eight kids in the family, but most of them were older. Dad was just a farm boy from Nebraska, born in 1919.

Mom’s Grandparents and young mother on their Kansas Homestead

My mother’s family came over in the late 1800’s from Bohemia, which was part of Czechoslovakia. They settled in Chicago and they also took advantage of the offer of free land and homesteaded 250 miles away from where my father was born in Brookville, Kansas. Mother was an only child, born in 1924.

“Vi”

My parents met at a barn dance. Dad was friends with one of mom’s extended family. In 1937 my mother and father started a pen-pal relationship that blossomed from a friendship and eventually into love. It would span from that first letter through my father’s time overseas in World War II and did not end until he was safely on back on US soil in 1945. It was these letters my daughter found in the attic of my family home. It is thanks to her that I have a story to tell.

Dad’s Graduation Picture

The first letter is written 5 September 1937, my mother was only 14 years old. Dad, who would turn 18 in October writes Mom:

Dear Viola

George let me read his card you wrote him, And so I thought I would write and tell you that I am sorry I didn’t get to say good:by before you left. I was coming out to Ray’s again Sunday nite, but it didn’t stop raining in town until after it was too late. It rained just enough to keep us from working on Monday. Then it rained again Thursday nite and Friday nite so we only got in three days the last week before school started. Not near much when I had planned for a good week. School starting isn’t the worst that could have happened, but I wish we had about three more month of vacation. I am not much of a letter writer so don’t get mad.

Write Soon

Love and Kisses

Lefty

Since I like history I found the post script is also very interesting.

P.S. Farr lost the fight but I think he got a dirty deal even if I was for Louis he shouldn’t have won the fight. In case you want to write my address is, Lexington, Nebraska.”

No really that was his address! You did not need street numbers back then. He did not need one for my mom in Kansas either. Weird, it was just Brookville, Kansas. No numbers were needed.

I searched for information about the Louis-Farr fight in 1937. This is what I found out.

**On a humid day in August of 1937 after postponing the event three days because of rain, British Empire Champion Tommy Farr and the World Heavyweight Champion Joe “Brown Bomb” Louis came up against each other in a long-anticipated fight at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Louis had knocked out the eight of his previous nine contenders and went on to knock out the next seven rivals. Tommy Farr gained respect by the crowd of 30,000 when he courageously attacked and hurt Louis in a fifteen-round fight. The referee, Arthur Donovan Sr., was so impressed and surprised that Louis was unable to knock Farr down he went into Farr’s corner right after the last bell to congratulate him and shake his hand. At that moment Farr thought the referee was raising his hand in victory. Mr. Donovan turned sensing his mistake and almost ran away from him. The crowd saw this mistake and also thought the ref was raising Farr’s hand in victory. All the while the ref was yelling “No, No, No, No!” Of course, no one could hear this. Because of all of the of all the noise the excited, then confused crowd projected. Then after collecting himself and counting the votes Donovan announced the winner. It was Louis, by an incredibly small margin. Apparently the crowd could be heard booing the decision all the way to Nebraska.

This is a glimpse into my father’s character. What is fair is fair! What he heard about the fight was not fair and even though he was for the guy who won, it was not a victory in my dad’s mind. These are the values he instilled in us kids.

This makes me wonder if the one time my parents met, did they actually talk about this fight or was he just making small talk?

Dad writes one letter each month in October, and November of 1937 and they have exchanged pictures. In the October letter he writes,

We are all ok here. There are 6 or 7 cases of polio here and talk of closing the schools again. I hope they don’t school is just getting interesting.

In December he sends her a card that says, “Dive right in, To the New Year.” It was signed. “Love and Kisses, Lefty” (one of Dad’s many nicknames.)

References, **Wikipedia, http://www.bestboxingblog.com/

© 2012 re-write 2014 notsofancynancy

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.

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