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Stanley McCauley video interview on experiences in World War II

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This is Suzette McCord-Rogers and Peggy Stanton and we are interviewing Stanley McCauley at the Native American Heritage Museum in Highland, Kansas.

Mr. McCauley, can you tell where you were born?

Mr. McCauley: In Hiawatha.

Suzette: In Hiawatha, Kansas? You are from Brown County.

Mr. McCauley: In Brown County.

Suzette: What was your date of birth?

Mr. McCauley: February 10, 1927. That makes me 80!

Suzette: No! You're too feisty! When did you move to Highland?

Mr. McCauley: In 1992.

Suzette: 1992. OK. So when you enlisted….

Mr. McCauley: I lived in Leona then.

Suzette: You lived in Leona. What high school did you attend?

Mr. McCauley: I went two years to Leona High School and two years Highland High School.

Suzette: And graduated?

Mr. McCauley: From Highland.

Suzette: From Highland. What year was that?

Mr. McCauley: 1945. I enlisted in the Navy in February, 1945, before I would have been drafted. There were four of us enlisted in the Navy. All four went before graduation. The high school superintendent said if we joined the service we wouldn't graduate. We went ahead and joined the service anyhow and then he graduated us.

Suzette: He was just playing the game.

Mr. McCauley: Well, he was trying to keep us in school and we were just kids.

Suzette: Did you serve in World War II then?

Mr. McCauley: Yes.

Suzette: Did you serve the Korean War?

Mr. McCauley: No.

Suzette: OK. You went with four friends?

Mr. McCauley: Yes. The four of us enlisted, but we went our separate ways.

Suzette: What did you enlist in, what branch?

Mr. McCauley: In the Navy.

Suzette: The Navy. What was your ship?

Mr. McCauley: I never got assigned to a ship. All my duty was all stateside.

Suzette: Stateside. I don't know the Navy terms, is there like a unit, or a division, that you were involved with?

Mr. McCauley: Well, after indoctrination and boot camp, then I went to a yeoman school; at that time the war was over. When the war was over then, they sent us to Chicago to Great Lakes Naval Training Center to discharge other naval personnel.

Suzette: So where did you do your boot camp?

Mr. McCauley: Boot camp was San Diego.

Suzette: Was San Diego.

Mr. McCauley: I went from San Diego to Chicago, Great Lakes.

Suzette: To the Great Lakes. So the war was over, what was the date for that?

Mr. McCauley: I don't know! August '45 I think.

Suzette: August '45 the Pacific and May '45 for the European. So you went to San Diego, then Chicago, what were you going to be trained for to do if the war had continued?

Mr. McCauley: I don't have any idea; I never had any idea. The yeoman school, you see.

Suzette: I don't know what yeoman school is.

Mr. McCauley: Yeoman school is secretarial school. Bookkeeping, and secretary type work. They called us feather merchants.

Suzette: Feather merchants? You used a feather pen.

Mr. McCauley: No! `Fraid not!

Peggy: Why the term, do you know?

Mr. McCauley: I have no idea.

Peggy: Somebody just made it up.

Mr. McCauley: I suppose, yeah.

Suzette: How many people were in your group when you were….

Mr. McCauley: Oh, golly. I don't know. Boot camp had 110, and yeoman school had 33 in that class.

Suzette: Yeoman school was at Chicago?

Mr. McCauley: No, that was in San Diego.

Suzette: In San Diego. And then you got sent to Chicago where….

Mr. McCauley: Yeah, the yeoman school was over about the time the war finished up. And then I presume we'd probably been assigned to a ship if the war hadn't been over, but it was. After that's when we went to separation school.

Suzette: And that was a separation school? And how long did you serve?

Mr. McCauley: About 18 months. I served, I got out in August of '45, no that's not right, '46.

Suzette: Oh, look! He's got a book!

Mr. McCauley: That's where this is all comin' from!! See, my granddaughter wrote this.

Peggy: Oh!!

Mr. McCauley: Uh, huh! She was a senior in high school at that time.

Suzette: It's…Bill and Donna Parish.

Mr. McCauley: Uh, huh, Donna Parish. February of '45 to August of '46.

Suzette: OK. What was your rank?

Mr. McCauley: When I got out, I was a yeoman second class.

Suzette: I've heard that term but I didn't know what it meant.

Mr. McCauley: Secretarial type work. They made fun of us, they made fun of us about like a medic…

Suzette: Why?

Mr. McCauley: Well, we didn't have to man a gun, and we had kind of a special privileges, and…

Suzette: They were jealous.

Mr. McCauley: That was a lot of it, yes, of course. But it was good duty.

Suzette: You enjoyed it?

Mr. McCauley: Oh, yes.

Suzette: Do you have any particular memories that you would like to share with us?

Mr. McCauley: Not really. We spent an awful lot of time in the U.S.O. and things like that. We lived off base…

Suzette: Oh, you did?

Mr. McCauley: In two different locations, yeah. We lived in a former housing development in Bremerton, Washington, at one time. It was the Swan Island Naval Barracks, Portland, Oregon, and we separated a lot of people off ships there. We lived off base there.

Suzette: Was it because of a housing crunch?

Mr. McCauley: It was a housing project; people who worked in the Kaiser shipyard at that time, the ships had already pretty much been shut down then. So they had these housing projects. That was great duty.

Suzette: Was it?

Mr. McCauley: No guard duty, no KP, no anything. We were just like you: go to work at 8 o'clock, and got off at 5.

Suzette: I don't get off at 5!

Mr. McCauley: But you only work three days a week!!

Suzette: No, that's not true. I work a lot more than that.

Mr. McCauley: I better quit pickin' on you, hadn't I?!!

Suzette: That's right. Now you've discombobulated me.

Peggy: What detailed mustering people out of the service?

Mr. McCauley: When did we start doing that?

Peggy: No, what did it entail?

Mr. McCauley: Paper work would be all I know. That's all it was.

Suzette: Did you have to interview people, or just have them sign papers?

Mr. McCauley: Just explain what was going to happen, we took care of their insurance fulfillments and tried to get `em to talk to somebody else about keeping their life insurance and things like that. I don't really remember what I did do.

Peggy: Do they have life insurance?

Mr. McCauley: Oh, yes. Every service man had life insurance. If he wanted to convert it, like me, I had a $10,000 life insurance policy, and when I got out of the service, I had the option of converting it then or any part of it, to 20 pay life, or whatever I wanted to convert to, which I did. I converted to 20 pay life; ….66, they'd be paid up in full. I'm getting $400-500 a dividend every year…a lot of people didn't convert, and my premium was $221 a year for those 20 years.

Suzette: So that was a benefit for you. Did you ever take advantage of the GI Bill?

Mr. McCauley: Yes, uh, huh.

Suzette: What did you do?

Mr. McCauley: I went to vo-ag training here in Highland.

Suzette: And did you say vo-ag?

Mr. McCauley: Uh, huh. It probably wasn't vo-ag, it was probably just ag training, but we had our own instructor and all he taught was ag classes.

Suzette: And how long did you go to that?

Mr. McCauley: I don't remember, probably maybe up to two years.

Suzette: And…

Mr. McCauley: It wasn't a daily thing. It was after hours thing, evening classes.

Suzette: After you finished that, did you use the GI Bill to…

Mr. McCauley: I started farming.

Suzette: Did you use it to get a loan to buy a house or build a house?

Mr. McCauley: No.

Suzette: Are you getting medical benefits today, like from going to the Veterans' Administration?

Mr. McCauley: No.

Suzette: You're just an independent kind of guy. Now tell me, before you went off and enlisted, what did your dad do?

Mr. McCauley: He farmed.

Suzette: He was a farmer. So that was your background, and that is what you were intending to do when you got out of the…

Mr. McCauley: I had no idea when I got out of the military what I wanted to do. But I found a nice little blond girl, we got together, and ____looked good then.

Suzette: Where did you meet your wife?

Mr. McCauley: Highland High School.

Suzette: Oh, you had already met her when you enlisted?

Mr. McCauley: Yep.

Suzette: So you had a reason to come back to Highland?

Mr. McCauley: Yeah.

Suzette: So, did you wear your uniform to catch her, or you already knew her?

Mr. McCauley: I don't think the uniform had anything to do with it!

Suzette: I just had to ask! When you came back, did you get married?

Mr. McCauley: No.

Suzette: You got married before you went?

Mr. McCauley: No. Got married, in fact I didn't date her until after I got out of the service.

Suzette: And then you got married?

Mr. McCauley: Got married in 1948.

Suzette: And so when you came back, did you start working with your dad on the farm again, or you bought your own farm?

Mr. McCauley: Naw, I went to Highland Junior College for two years. When I got out, I started farming.

Suzette: Did the GI Bill help you to go to Highland Junior College?

Mr. McCauley: I don't remember using it.

Suzette: But you did use it for that agricultural class.

Mr. McCauley: Yes, I know I did that. Because we got some reimbursement and we got some checks, but I don't think I did.

Suzette: Maybe you could only do one at a time. I don't know.

Mr. McCauley: I don't remember how it went.

Suzette: Then you bought a farm.

Mr. McCauley: No, I didn't buy one.

Suzette: Went to a farm?

Mr. McCauley: Yeah, went to a farm…

Suzette: Where did you grow, what were you raising?

Mr. McCauley: Corn and cattle. We fed a lot of cattle at that time. We had two or three feedlots around home, lot of guys grew corn, wheat and soybeans; we just grew corn, because we fed the corn to the cattle.

Suzette: And this is what your dad had done also?

Mr. McCauley: Yes.

Suzette: And when you came back, the way that you found Kansans, were they starting to incorporate more tractors and more machinery on the farm?

Mr. McCauley: I would imagine so, don't you? Every year something changes.

Suzette: But do you think the war helped accelerate people on the farm changing over from horses to the use of tractors and machinery?

Mr. McCauley: No, I just think that was just the time, it just happened. People progressed into that.

Suzette: When you got your farm, was that near Highland?

Mr. McCauley: What was that?

Suzette: When you first went out and started farming, was that near Highland?

Mr. McCauley: At Leona.

Suzette: At Leona. Did you form any long friendships when you were in the service?

Mr. McCauley: Not really, not really. I don't think so. There was one guy I was in yeoman school with, and I remembered his name and he was from Marysville, Kansas, and about five years ago he turned up, his picture was in the St. Joe paper. He was the city administrator! For the city of St. Joe! I looked at his picture and that name, and I said, ``I know that guy!'' And it was, it was Chad(Chuck?). That was probably the only friendship, the only one I remember. I just lost track of him now.

Suzette: If you had gone like to California and spent a lot of time, or gone abroad, do you think it would have changed your career choice?

Mr. McCauley: No!

Suzette: You wanted to come home and continue.

Mr. McCauley: No! I loved the farm. I loved livestock; that's all I could think about was the farm. I don't regret it any day.

Suzette: That's good. Did you get involved with the American Legion or the VFW?

Mr. McCauley: For a time, then I dropped out, and I didn't get really involved in it.

Suzette: Was it the Highland American Legion?

Mr. McCauley: Yes it was.

Suzette: A few people have indicated that it wasn't together very long.

Mr. McCauley: (can't understand)

Suzette: Do you have any questions, Peggy?

Peggy: No, none that I can think of.

Suzette: When you did join the American Legion, did you join it just so that you could be with people that also been involved in the military?

Mr. McCauley: I imagine that's the way it was; I don't remember. It's been too long ago. That was the only service organization I belonged to.

Suzette: A lot of people have had different reasons, some thought it was a social organization, others have thought community service, and that's why it appeals. Is there something you'd like to share with us from what your granddaughter wrote?

Mr. McCauley: Well, not really. No, I don't think so.

Suzette: You don't have any service information or anything that you want to share with us.

Mr. McCauley: No, I don't think so. I don't have any wild stories or anything. I never received any medals, except the good conduct medal.

Suzette: Well, that was a good one to receive.

Mr. McCauley: Well, that's what I told them. It's better than a dishonorable discharge, isn't it?!

Suzette: Anything that you want to say, about your service, or how it affected your life, or the lives of people around you.

Mr. McCauley: It was a great experience, but I would hate to have to do it now.

Suzette: I can certainly understand that.

Mr. McCauley: Some National Guard people are going back now for their third trip over there (Iraq/Afghanistan), oh, that's bad. That is bad.

Suzette: Yeah, that would be tough.

Mr. McCauley: Same situations over there today. I don't know how we are going to get out of this.

Peggy: When you left Kansas and went to San Diego, did you suffer any cultural shock from being in the big city?

Mr. McCauley: My heart was so young I didn't know what cultural shock was!

Suzette: What we are asking is, from growing up in a very small town, on a farm, and all of a sudden you're exposed to this big city life on the coast, was that going to affect you?

Mr. McCauley: We weren't thrust into anything but a group of guys with a platoon leader who says you squat when we tell you to squat!!

Peggy: Did you not get to go off base?

Mr. McCauley: After basic training, we had a little more freedom, but still you were under pretty good control. I got in big trouble after one time, though.

Peggy: Oh you did?

Mr. McCauley: I had some family that lived in San Diego, that was when I was in yeoman school, I think it was. And we had platoon leader who pretty lax, and it was midnight we had to be in. And I wanted to spend the weekend with this family. And he said, ``I'll sign you in,''. As long as you signed in, nobody checked as long as your name was checked in by midnight. Well, he got drunk that night and didn't get in. And I didn't get signed in!! It could have been bad, but I happen to know a lieutenant who was on the base, who was a local Hiawatha man, and I contacted him, and he saved me. I was scared! You can't imagine how scared I was.

Suzette: You contacted him to sign you in?

Mr. McCauley: No, after I got in trouble, and I had no idea what trouble I was in.

Peggy: You were AWOL, and he didn't want to be AWOL.

Mr. McCauley: I didn't want to be, I was supposed to be in. They checked the book, and I wasn't in. I think that's the only time I got in trouble. And I haven't told that to very many people.

Peggy: Well you did get a good conduct medal!

Mr. McCauley: Yeah!

Suzette: I think one of the things we are talking about is the society you were raised in, and then you go off to a different society and then you come back. I think it's a little difficult sometimes to describe, but what would you say…?

Mr. McCauley: It was different! Much different! You know, when you go from a little community into anything that's bigger, there's a change. There wasn't that much of a change for me because we were confined too much. We didn't get to get out and go to a park, we did go to a few bars, and things like that, we'd drink a little beer, and we spent a lot of time in the USO there. I don't know why now, but I guess cause they were friendly people.

Suzette: Did it feel like home?

Mr. McCauley: Oh, yes. Lots of young people worked in there. They had dances about every weekend.

Suzette: And did they do other things for the servicemen?

Mr. McCauley: Oh, I suppose they did, I don't really remember except on weekends.

Suzette: You went to the dances?

Mr. McCauley: Uh, huh. You're finished?

Suzette: I'm finished. If you have nothing more to add.

Mr. McCauley: What?!! You're finished!

Peggy: I guess we could try to drag another story out of you!

Suzette: He has a story up his sleeve!

Mr. McCauley: No, not really!! See, I wasn't in the service that long. I wasn't.

Suzette: You weren't in that long, and you didn't have to go out like into the Pacific. So you had a very different experience from other people.

Mr. McCauley: Oh, yes, I'd say so.

Peggy: He's ready for his cocktail hour!

Suzette: Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

(Another story)

Suzette: You scrubbed down a couple of bathrooms with a toothbrush?

Mr. McCauley: We called `em heads. With a toothbrush, yes. There were several of us that had toothbrushes.

Suzette: Were you just learning how to clean?

Mr. McCauley: We probably had been naughty, don't you imagine?

Suzette: I imagine you had! I wondered if you had a naughty reason you were scrubbing with a toothbrush. How long did it take you to clean the bathroom with the toothbrush?

(Tape ends!)

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