A day that has lived in infamy for over 75 years. Since I really don’t want to do the math I’m not going to do it for the exact number of years, but it was December 8, 1941 (or was it 1942?). I’ll admit to being very lax in my history lately, reviewing the exact dates, et al. The one date I actually remember clearly is August 15, 1945 (I hope), VJ Day when the war that began on Dec. 8 was brought to its conclusion. My two brothers and I were on the front lawn with Mother, the baby on a blanket she had spread out to keep the grass and bugs off him. T and I were used to them, since we played outside almost every waking hour.
By VJ day I had already been served a “chocolate” pie by my sweet older brother (mud was the main ingredient in this pie, with some small pebbles added to the recipe), received my first haircut under a street light, courtesy of the same brother and a neighbor boy, played Hansel and Gretel with the monthly sugar ration brought on by the war (T’s idea, not mine), run thru the house with a blanket over my head (also T’s idea), tripping over my doll bed and knocking out a couple of teeth by the roots. (That one eye tooth came back in when I was a Junior in High School). There were probably a few more incidents that were not as memorable as these, but time has made me mercifully forget.
But the main reason for my writing about this day in history is the family that served in that horrible war. Three uncles, John R., Vird, and Leo, all gone now but forever remembered. John and Vird served the entire time in Europe, both Mess Sargent’s, and both wonderful cooks till the day they passed from this life. Leo was a machine gunner, beginning in Africa and fighting his way north until all of them ended up in Berlin.
Above: Leo, Vird and John, left to right. I’m not sure where this photo was taken because the writing on the back is so faded now it can’t be read. I do remember a few stories told by Mom and my Aunt Marie. From Aunt Marie I heard the latest: Vird was in Paris and managed to check out a jeep for the day. When he drove down one of the boulevards he glance to the right and noticed a familiar soldier leaning against a doorway, looking pretty exhausted, pulled over and yelled, “Hey Soldier, want a ride?” It was Leo, finally that far north and on a much needed weekend pass. Leo didn’t even look at the driver, just climbed in and leaned back. They drove in silence for several blocks before Vird asked, “Well, Brother, aren’t you going to say anything after all these years?” Leo turned then, broke into a huge smile, and uttered his usual epitaph, “Well, garden seed!”. He used that remark for everything under the sun all his life. So, the story is the two brothers had a wonderful reunion, at least as wonderful as possible under the conditions of the time. They had to part after the weekend was up, but each happier to know the other was still alive, and to all intents and purposes still doing okay. I think the next time they all met was Berlin after the Allies fought their way in.
Yay, I found them. The studio photos of my Uncles! Top is John R, next row is Leo then Vird! Did I ever mention the fact that I come from a family of really good looking people?
I also want to mention my Aunt Trudy, an Army nurse who served in the Pacific front. We never heard much about her time in the war, but one of my sisters said she half-remembers something she heard, but can’t remember the source. When future President John Kennedy was rescued from his PT boat, he was taken to the hospital where Aunt Trudy was stationed and she had the dubious honor of giving him a shot. Since she never lived in Kentucky again, coming home on rare occasions, married to a Canadian diplomat, her time as an Army nurse wasn’t spoken of much, so there is no way I know of to find out if this really was the case. It makes a good, fun story though, and I hope she really met him during his time in her hospital.
These are the two photos of my Aunt Trudy that I am most familiar with, the one in uniform the Trudy I knew first when I was a child. I loved her rare visits, as I loved the visits from all of my paternal side of the family. My dad, his brother, and one sister were the ones I knew best, since they all lived in the area and I saw them more frequently. His two oldest sisters both lived in Indiana, one other sister living in Covington, KY, northeast of Owensboro. Just a side note here, I can see the old home-place from the window at the end of the hall, using the longest closeup setting on my camera. A.