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.

The Suitcase, my father’s journey through 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

Click to see bigger

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

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