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Interview on experiences in World War II

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The World War II Years:

A Memoir Written by Merle Jackson


Note: Merle Jackson wrote this memoir before his death. Dale Jackson, his son, read it for his father.



My name is Merle Jackson. I was born September 5th, 1920 in Blue Springs, Nebraska. My parents were Susie and Leon Marion Jackson. My father worked for the Union Pacific Railroad, in the water service. My mother was a housewife and piano teacher. During 1923 and 1924, she and my father wrote several pieces of sheet music, with my father writing the words.


My older brother, Marion, was born January 15, 1915. When he was three years old, he was very ill with a high fever. It was diagnosed as sleeping sickness and polio. This left him mentally and physically handicapped.


I remember my grandmother on my mother’s side, who lived in Emmett, Idaho. We visited her in 1926, and then went to her funeral in 1928. We traveled on the Union Pacific Railroad, as my father could get passes for us. During our visit in 1926, I went prospecting for gold with Uncle Amos (Mother’s half-brother). We panned for gold in a stream north of Emmett, where he had a claim and a shack by the river. My grandmother, the only grandparent I ever knew, was a very kind and fine lady whom I remember with fondness.


It was during my growing up in Junction City, Kansas, that I started collecting stamps by going around to the different businesses and going through their trash. This was during 1931 and 1932. I also liked to read a great deal, and used to check out library books at the rate of six every weekend. Three good friends in Junction City that I remember were Hoyle (a grocery man), Blaker (a railroad man), and Orick (a railroad man). His wife was Birdie.


In Junction City I got my first bicycle. It was a used one that my folks bought from Earl Hoyle, who used to take piano lessons from my mother. And the joy it gave me! I learned to ride on my father’s large bicycle by leaning the bike over and riding with my leg under the top bar, as it was too high for me to get my leg over. I rode all over town, and later to Fort Riley, just a few miles to the east. We lived on West Ninth Street in Junction City, then on Jefferson, and then back on West Ninth. One of our neighbors on Ninth Street was Glen Maupin, also a railroad man, who had a young daughter my age named Betty Jean. She was my first love. We started first grade together. My teachers in the fourth and fifth grades were Miss Mallory and Miss Viola Meyer. Later Miss Mallory moved to Lawrence, where I was able to visit her.


I do not have many fond memories of Junction City. My father lost his sight in one eye during 1932, and was out of work for almost a year. The railroad would not allow anyone to work with bad sight. My mother supported us on her piano teachings. A loving and energetic person, she held the family together. When he regained his eyesight, my father bumped the water service man at Lawrence, Kansas. We moved there in August 1933, driving our first car, a 1928 Chevy. 


My mother had a large piano class in Junction City and taught many boys and girls that later did well with their ability to play the piano. I learned to play, and then took up the trumpet in junior high. I enjoyed playing the trumpet, and continued playing it during my high school days in Lawrence, Kansas.


In Lawrence, we moved into a box car on the railroad. It had been wired for electricity, and had windows installed—two at each end. It was normally used for the section hands on the railroad. Since a railroad car was vacant when we moved to Lawrence, and we were in difficult financial straits, they gave us permission to move in. They did not charge us any rent. We had an outhouse, and running water was available just outside our back door. After living there a year or so, my father and I built on an additional room. That gave us fifty per cent more living space, and we lived comfortably in that car until 1946. When Dad passed away, Mother was asked to leave as soon as she could find a place.


The junior high in Lawrence was located at Ninth and Kentucky Streets, with a building on each of three corners: Manual, Central, and Old High. I was in the seventh grade, and Miss Wismer was my first home room teacher. Other teachers I remember were Miss Henderson and Dad Perry.


In 1935 I purchased a new bicycle from Blevins Bike Shop in the ten hundred block of Massachusetts Street, the building next to the Granada Theatre on the north. Bill Blevins was the owner, and his son Les Blevins was working there with him. In later years Les and I became friends. He remembered how I bought a bike from his dad for $29.95, with five dollars down and one dollar per week until it was paid for. In order to make payments, I worked for Elliott’s Poultry House delivering dressed chickens all over town for fifteen cents an hour. I later worked for Western Union for twenty cents an hour delivering telegrams all over town. Lastly, I rode for the Crown Drug Store, delivering drugs and related items, including ice cream.


My sister Donna Lee was born on March 30, 1934, and was delivered by Mrs. Barton (a midwife and neighbor) at our house at 442 Maple Street. Along with treating the water for the railroad engines, my father was given the job of watchman at Fourth and Maple Streets to see the schoolchildren across the railroad tracks. Two large tanks on the railroad (where the water for the engines was treated) were located to the east of the depot. I used to help him haul the sacks of lime and soda ash to the top of the main tank, by use of a kind of outside dumbwaiter.


My parents placed membership with the North Lawrence Christian Church shortly after we moved. We worked diligently with a number of fine people, like John and Aroma Kennedy, and Ralph and Marjorie Hubbell, to keep the congregation growing. I was baptized in Junction City in 1929 into the Christian church there by S. M. Smith, the minister at the time. My high school days were normal. I made decent grades and enjoyed trips with the band and orchestra. My best friend then was Clyde James, a member of a family with thirteen children. He was in the Navy during World War II. During one of my leaves from the Air Force, Clyde happened to be back in Lawrence at the same time, and we had a really good time together. Clyde eventually married and moved to Louisiana. At a later time he was killed accidentally when he used a shotgun to prod some cattle to get them out of his yard. The shotgun accidentally discharged, blowing back into him. He and I used to go roller-skating together, and I worked with him a little on weekends at the Lawrence Sanitary Milk and Ice Cream Dairy, where we had all the ice cream we could eat.


I graduated from high school in 1938. I then went to the Lawrence Business College, which was run by Mr. Quackenbush and Mr. Wetherby. I took a Civil Service exam in 1939, and left Lawrence on December 31, 1940 to go to Washington D.C., where I worked for the Immigration and Naturalization Service under the Department of Justice. I lived with my cousin Prudence and her Aunt Sarah until March of 1942, when we moved the entire department to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania over a weekend.


While in Washington, D.C., I was fortunate in being able to attend the inauguration of FDR for his third term. I attended the National City Christian Church, where I made many friends and had many enjoyable times. I visited the Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol Building, and the Tidal Basin during the Cherry Blossom Festival.


When I moved to Philadelphia, I knew no one there except a few people I worked with, a unique experience. While working in D.C., I lived in Arlington, Virginia. I had registered for the draft prior to World War II, and when I moved to Philadelphia I kept my registration in Virginia so I would not be moved to the top of the list in Philadelphia. While there, I was a block air raid warden with a hat, whistle, and flashlight. Because of this, I was not inducted into the Army until October 31, 1942. I tried desperately to enlist in the Army Air Force or the Navy Air Force, but neither would take me, as I was underweight. Doing it the Army way, they drafted me and immediately put me in the Army Air Force at Camp Lee, Virginia on November 14, 1942.


I spent four days at Camp Lee, where we received our clothing and introduction into the Army life. I was fortunate and did not pull K.P. duty during my stay there. We left on November 19th on the train, arriving in Miami, Florida the same day. We moved over to Miami Beach. All the civilian personnel had been removed, and only service men were occupying that area. We moved into a new hotel at about 90th Street. All the mirrors there were stored. We enjoyed use of that facility, along with bathing in the ocean. At this time there was empty space along the beach from 45th to 90th Streets, a far cry from the crowded conditions that existed a few years later. Because of my background with paperwork and my ability to type, I was moved to the headquarters of Basic Training Center #9, which was being activated to the south end of the beach. This was an Army Air Force installation. We moved thousands of men in and out as they had basic training and then moved on or went to Officer Candidate School preparatory to becoming pilots. I worked for a Lieutenant Heckel, who was from Atlanta, Georgia. He was rather a small man and spoke with a southern flavor. We got along well and turned out a lot of work. The job I had was cutting stencils in the typewriter. Although I never pulled K.P. or took basic training, I was fortunate in making promotions rather rapidly. I made corporal on February 3, 1943, sergeant on April 23, 1943, and staff sergeant on June 26, 1943. I worked with a lot of men in that department rather closely, as we frequently worked nights to get orders cut on time for the movement of troops.


I enjoyed riding the jitney buses over to Miami proper from the beach, and remember a small business place located at the end point of the jitney runs. They served fresh-squeezed juices of every kind for ten cents a glass. I stopped there first every time I made the trip. I became acquainted with a number of young people through the Christian Church in Miami, and enjoyed many activities of an evening and on weekends. After being there for several months, several of the men I knew got together and chartered a fishing boat for all day on a Sunday. There were six of us, and we had a great time deep-sea fishing. We caught about 150 pounds of fish, which we gave to the boat owner. All we went home with was a good sun burn. The reflection of the sun off the water really did the job, even though we were in the shade of the boat.    


Lieutenant Heckel was promoted to captain, and we parted friends in September of 1943, when Basic Training Center #9 was discontinued. Many of us were transferred to Basic Training Center #4 while awaiting orders to a new duty post. The personnel at Basic Training Center #4 were very jealous that we might get their jobs, and they transferred us out as quickly as possible. In July of 1943 I was in charge of a troop train that went to Denver, Colorado. We got a five-day delay en route, which I was able to spend in Lawrence with my parents. It was during this time that Clyde James was also home on furlough. It was the last time we were to see each other.


During my stay on Miami Beach there was one strange order that those of us in headquarters were instructed to write. It concerned the Jewish men being sent into combat. Those having Jewish names were given the choice to have their names changed legally so that they would not be recognized as Jews in case of capture. This applied in particular to those going into the European area. I had occasion more than once to write the orders changing their names. This was done under an act of Congress, for their protection.


On October 5, 1943 we left Miami by train going to Moody Field, Georgia, which is located close to Valdosta, Georgia. No one seemed to know anything about that post, so I didn’t know what I was getting into until arriving. Apparently more surplus personnel were shipped there than needed, and they had a time finding where to locate us. Moody Field was an advanced, two-engine flying school where pilots were being turned out by the hundreds. I was assigned to the adjutant’s section and worked for Sergeant Bill Hovey. We cut orders for the movement of troops, and kept track of the various assignments given to the officers of the base.


The barracks I lived in was a temporary building. It had two floors, with a large bay both up and downstairs that held about twenty men on each floor with a cot and foot locker. At one end downstairs were two private rooms for the sergeants in charge. I shared my room with a Sergeant Hans von Schlieben, who was a nephew of General von Schlieben of prominence in Germany during World War II. He was a large, raw-boned man who had run away from Germany when very young and settled in Philadelphia. He was in the photo business there when drafted into the Army. We got along well, as he worked extra hours at his job and didn’t go out much, while I took every opportunity to be going to Valdosta or wherever.


Bob Graham and I became friends, as we both went to the dances at Georgia State Women’s College in Valdosta. Bob was from Aurora, Illinois, which is close to Chicago. We went to church services and so forth and enjoyed each other’s company. We also double dated with girls from the college. One Friday evening, I went to the college for a carnival being held there, and while standing outside the fortune teller’s tent talking to the roommate of the girl I was dating—who was the fortune teller—a young lady came up and talked with her. She introduced us. Her name was Jean Willis from Nashville, Georgia, and she was a freshman. She was an attractive, wholesome girl whom I instinctively liked, but then we went our separate ways.


The Baptist church in Valdosta had something going on each Sunday evening after services for the servicemen. There was singing, programs, and refreshments, and they had a good attendance by both servicemen and college girls. Several months later, I started sitting with Jean at the evening programs at the Baptist church. Jean was a member of the Methodist church, and I was a member of the Christian church, but we enjoyed being together and so started dating. She invited me to visit at her home in Nashville, which was about eighteen miles north of Moody Field. Her parents ran a furniture and hardware store in Nashville. She had two brothers: Donald was the oldest, and Wilbur was next. Jean was the youngest. Wilbur was in the Merchant Marines, and Donald was in the Army Engineers. He was in the Aleutian Islands when the Japanese made a surprise attack there. They attacked early one morning, and he and others of his troops came out of their tents wearing only their underwear and carrying their rifles. Fortunately they were able to repel the Japanese, and Donald was not wounded.


Jean’s folks were friendly but cautious. Jean would cook steaks for me on the weekends when I came to visit. Our friendship grew. I thought she was the greatest girl I had had the good fortune to meet, but the Belgian Bulge [the Battle of the Bulge] took place in January of 1945, and many men were being transferred from the different branches of service into the infantry. The major I worked for asked me which school I would like to attend, and transferred me to the radio gunnery school in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They kept me and many others for a few weeks, then transferred us into the infantry and sent us to Camp Howze, Texas, which was an infantry training center that had been closed down. The barracks were in a state of disrepair. I spent three months in intensive training for the infantry, and was part of a three-man BAR [Browning automatic rifle] team. I also had an additional six weeks of training in order to keep my rank of sergeant. When I left Moody Field, I reluctantly made a decision to break off with Jean because of the uncertain conditions existing during the war. There didn’t seem to be much of a future that you could plan on.   


In December of 1944, my father took sick. Mother kept me informed of his condition, which got increasingly worse. When she informed me of the situation, I got leave from Moody Field and flew home under difficult conditions. I flew to Dayton, Ohio, where the snow had us grounded for 24 hours. Finally, the weather cleared enough for a flight to go to Saint Joseph, Missouri. The flight officer doing the flying had never flown the type of plane we were in, and a sergeant had to come out from the control tower and brief him on the instruments before we took off. The runway was icy, and I didn’t think we would ever get up enough speed for a take off. Finally we lifted off and went up to 20,000 feet, where the sun was shining. We all had checked out parachutes, just in case, but we landed safely. I had to get to Kansas City to get a bus home, so I went to a truck stop and picked up a ride in the evening with a trucker going to Kansas City. The battery on his truck was weak, so we rode that night with no lights on. We were so grateful that a full moon was shining to illuminate the countryside. When I finally arrived in Lawrence, I found that my father had passed away the preceding day, and the funeral services were set for the following day.


I felt very badly that I had not been able to reach home and talk with him before his demise. I admired my father, but we were not close. He was very good to my mother, and they had a good life together. I can remember many evenings when we lived in the box car by the railroad tracks that he and my mother would sit in two rocking chairs by the wood stove. She would sew while he smoked his pipe and read the newspaper. On Friday evenings at about ten PM we listened to the radio program “The Shadow,” which I never forgot. Radio was new in the 1930s, and the first source of home entertainment.  


During my stay in Texas, I contracted pneumonia. The wood stoves in the barracks had no grates, and the windows were broken out, so we wrapped up in two blankets on our cots and slept as best we could. I didn’t have any more serious illness during my tour in the armed forces. We carried M-1 rifles, which we learned to take apart and put together blindfolded. We also had a course in anti-tank warfare, which taught us to fire the bazooka. I became acquainted with some fine people in Texas, but the one thing that was the turning point in my life came during one bivouac. We lived under field conditions, and I was sharing my tent with three other men. Each man had a shelter half, which they fastened together for a larger unit. I received a letter from Jean containing a recent picture she had had taken wearing a cashmere sweater and a beautiful smile. This changed my thinking, and from then on I thought of her a lot and made plans in my mind—but without telling her. I don’t think she ever forgave me for not sharing them with her.


In June of 1945, my infantry outfit shipped out of Texas to Fort Meade, Maryland, where we all awaited our orders to be shipped to Belgium. The men started shipping out immediately. We were very puzzled when about a hundred of us were held for about four weeks. Suddenly we were transferred back to our former branch of service, and sent to a new assignment. I was sent to New Orleans in the first part of July, 1945. We had not been paid for over a month, and everyone was broke. They had us living on the docks in former warehouses. At night the mosquitoes were numerous to say the least, and everyone used netting to escape their attack. It was rumored that if a dozen of the mosquitoes got together, they could pick up a man in his cot and fly away with him. We were close enough to town to walk, and I was able to visit the old French quarter and the university located in the center of town. It was colorful and interesting, but we would have enjoyed it more if we had had money in our pockets.


I left there on July 27, 1945 on a converted luxury liner. Black-out conditions were observed. There were very few officers, so the first three grades—sergeants—were treated like officers. We had separate tables and could order food we chose. At night we had the privilege of going down to the galley to get sandwiches and coffee. The first night was great, but the next day we had some rough seas, and I became seasick. What a horrible feeling! It lasted until the 30th, when we landed at Fort Buchanan, just outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico. I was transferred back into the Air Corps and was sent to Borinquen Field, near Aquadilla, Puerto Rico. This field had tornado- and hurricane-proof barracks and hangars, made of marble and steel. The barracks had the mess hall and day room on the first floor, and sleeping quarters on the second and third floors. It was very nice and compact.


After two weeks I was assigned to the headquarters and headquarters squadron of the Antilles Air Command and flown to my new duty station at San Juan, Puerto Rico. This headquarters was underground, built into solid rock. It was completely air-conditioned and very modern. I worked under a captain in the air inspector’s office. We made trips to Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and several other air bases in the Caribbean. After a couple of months there, I was promoted to the job of sergeant major under General Lundberg. In order for anyone to see the general, they had to go through first me, then a major. I also cut orders for the men in our command.


The local situation in Puerto Rico was bad, with most of the people very poor and living in quite bad housing conditions. The men wanted the Yanks to go home, but all the young women wanted to marry a soldier and go to the USA. One weekend the general offered me his private boat, manned by six men, to go sailing and fishing. I took several sergeants, and we had a good time. One other weekend I checked out a vehicle and took three men to a town across the island. We really got an eyeful of the living conditions of the people in the rural areas. We saw small shacks on stilts, with pigs and chickens running around underneath. It was really not pleasant to view. I was promoted to tech sergeant on November 1, 1946. It was during this period that I wrote and asked Jean to marry me. I wrote her a long letter every day during working hours, as I frequently had free time. General Lundberg retired, and a colonel took his place. I had accumulated enough points to be sent back to the States and be discharged, but the colonel wanted me to stay until I could get someone trained. So, of course, I did. He even offered to make me a warrant officer if I would consent to remain in the service, but I declined. All I wanted to do was come back to the States, get discharged, and then get married.


Puerto Rico was tropical, and we had the privilege of going swimming every day. It rained almost every afternoon for a short period, so we had to be careful to get any clothing we washed placed in the sun, or it would not dry. There was an open-air theatre where they showed movies every night, which we frequently attended. I had an Army driver’s license, so I could get a vehicle for personal use now and then.


I wrote my own orders for return to the States, and made the destination Camp Gordon, Georgia. I wanted to stop to see Jean and talk to her folks to see if they approved of our marriage, then come back to Kansas to find a job. When we flew into Florida, the first thing that happened was that I was called on the carpet at headquarters about my destination. The normal procedure was to send a soldier as close to home as possible for discharge. I finally persuaded them that I would pay my own way home, and that all I wanted was to be discharged in Georgia. I was finally discharged at Camp Gordon, close to Atlanta, and took a ten-hour bus ride to Nashville, Georgia to see my wife-to-be.


I talked to Jean’s mother first, because both parents were seldom home at he same time, due to the furniture and hardware store that they ran. She was very kind, and gave her permission. When I talked to her father, I wasn’t sure he would give his permission, but he finally did. We were very happy and made plans to be married in June. I asked her brother Don to be my best man.


I arrived back in Lawrence at the end of March, 1946. I moved into the house my mother had purchased at 447 Ohio Street, and started looking for a car and a job. I located a 1936 Oldsmobile at Hudson Motors, run by Les Reber, and bought it for something like $800. It had six cylinders, but that didn’t matter, as there were few used cars available then. They were just beginning to build cars again after the war. I ran across a man who was starting an abstract of title office in Lawrence, and we got my job working for him put on the G.I. program. His name was V. P. Wilson. He was a strange man with a nice wife and a very rebellious son. I learned the abstract business working for him. I did most of the courthouse work tracing the title chains, and then typed the abstracts. The first year he made $10,000, but he didn’t think that was enough so he closed down. He wanted to go back to Oklahoma and Texas, where he had worked in oil leases. Our office was at 704 Massachusetts Street, together with the Hemphill real estate office. Through Thornton and Chet Hemphill, I met their brother-in-law. He owned the Evans Auto Supply Store, and he gave me a job on the counter in a wholesale auto store.


During 1947, after the close of the abstract company, I went to Wichita and took the state abstractor’s exam. Rather strange things happened after that. They would never give me a grade, and would only say that I had not passed. Shortly after that, I heard from a reliable source that even though I had passed, the state board contacted the abstractors in Lawrence to see if they wanted another abstractor in town, and received a negative reply. They consequently told me I had not passed. I had tutored another person, who took the exam and passed, so it was a very frustrating situation. Nevertheless, I put all that behind me and worked hard at the Evans Auto Supply at 918 Massachusetts Street, phone number 200 and 201.


Going back to April, 1946, upon finding a job with the abstract company, I phoned Jean in Nashville and asked her to set the date of our wedding up a month, from June to May 5th. She about had a heart attack, as did her mother, but they consented when I told them my new job required me to start the later part of May. We were married at the Methodist church in Nashville after the morning service on May 5th, and with tearful farewells headed for Kansas in my 1936 Olds. We had our honeymoon traveling across country, and only had two breakdowns. That depleted the little cash I had, and we arrived in Lawrence with less than ten dollars. But we didn’t care: life was wonderful, and we were in love.


On April 23, 1947, our first child, Diana Ruth, was born.  We were very happy, even though we didn’t have any money and were living in the upstairs apartment at 447 Ohio Street. Jean had started working at Hallmark when the company first came to Lawrence in 1946 and were located on the west side of the 700 block of Massachusetts Street. She worked about one month, until she became sick from being pregnant. On January 30, 1949, our second child, Wendy Kay, was born. Two fine girls made our lives very happy. During this time, I was still working at the Evans Auto Supply. I worked on the counter and then as city salesman, calling on service stations and garages, as well as car dealers. We did a lot of business, but the boss always “talked poor,” so our salaries were never much to talk about. During the pea season in early summer I would work nights at the Stokeley Canning Factory. They operated 24 hours a day during the few weeks of the pea harvest. I also had a part-time job working weekends and some evenings for Mr. Wuthnow, who ran the Conoco Service Station at Ninth and Indiana Streets. During this time, we bought a 1948 Chevy. It was maroon-colored with flecks of gold, and a beauty when cleaned. When I was working at the service station, that ’48 Chevy was the best-greased car in town. Each year we would drive back to Georgia to visit Granny and Poppy Willis. Trying to find the shortest route, we took every available road. In later years, we were so grateful for interstate highways that shortened the trip from three days to two days.


Hudson James was the manager at Evans Auto Supply. He was the older brother of my friend Clyde James, and also of Bill and Vernon James. Like me, they also worked at Evans.  During this time I became interested in old coins, and watched the cash register every day. A lot of old coins were in circulation during this period, and I acquired the bulk of my collection then. One afternoon, Clyde Norris came to the counter and wanted to talk to me. We had done his income tax returns during my work in the abstract business. He wanted me to work for him at the Norris Brothers’ Plumbing and Electric Company, and offered me a salary that was much better than the salary I was getting. I went back to Dave and told him I was offered a better job with an increased salary. He advised me to take it, as the only good job at his place was the manager job. We parted friends, and I continued to buy auto parts there wholesale. Ivan Roberts, Don Crumet, and Vernon James were still working there when I left.                    


Jean and I began looking for a house to buy. A new housing project was being built on Forrest Avenue. Only the show house was built at the time, but we liked the blueprint for a house at 610 Forrest Avenue. The house cost $10,500. We paid for it with a G.I. loan of 4 ½ per cent on a thirty-year pay. What a beautiful house and home! Everything was new, and it had shrubs and small trees. The first colored pictures I took were of Jean standing by one of the eight feet tall maple trees in front of the house. There were about thirty houses in the development, and ours was an ideal three-bedroom rancher located close to McAllaster School and a few blocks from the Church of Christ at Fifteenth and New Hampshire Streets, which we were attending.


Our family grew larger. Merle Junior, our third child, was born on August 11, 1954. He was followed by Dale, born May 22, 1958, and Tracey, born June 16, 1960.


My mother taught herself to type. She got a job at Lawrence Memorial Hospital working the desk on the night shift. During the day she gave music lessons and supported Donna, Marion, and herself. The house at 447 Ohio Street that she bought in 1945 was a good buy. It only cost $2,500. After she moved in, she took the wallpaper off all the walls and painted them. She made the house into a real home, as well as a studio for her piano lessons. Donna was a rather headstrong young lady, and gave mother some anxious moments. On June 15, 1952 she married Norman Luallin, son of Alex and Catherine Luallin. Norman was in the Navy. After he got out of the service they located in Littleton, Colorado. Marion was a constant problem for mother. He didn’t like being told what to do, and he ran away numerous times on the railroad. However, he always came back, and he did do painting around the house and kept the lawn.


Our house at 610 Forrest Avenue was a great time in our lives. With our children growing up and going to school, we were in the PTA for what seemed forever. We didn’t have much money, and had to live from payday to payday, but we had a good life and made a lot of friends. It was good to have a house of our own, and a new one at that. Jean was always there, with a good meal on the table, when I came home from work. As time went on, my work at Norris Brothers became more difficult for a number of reasons, mostly because of the firm’s finances. I spent many sleepless nights worrying about my work, and came close to a breakdown in the 1970s. A person can stand just so much pressure, but I was able to survive. When I retired in 1982, they had a party at Chuck Norris’s home, and all the employees were there. We had a good time together, and ate good food. They gave me a set of airplane luggage, a very nice and expensive set. We have used them many times,


Since 1982, my life has been full. I do volunteer work with a number of organizations, including the AARP, and the governor’s Council on Aging, the auxiliary at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, and Independence, Inc. I am particularly proud of my work with the Council on Aging. I plant a garden each year, and that keeps me outdoors a lot. Jean has a habit of buying old things at sales, so I do a lot of furniture refinishing. We both have ten-speed bikes, and enjoy the river levee ride, usually going five miles each afternoon that the weather permits during the summer. With the pleasure I am having in retirement, I really believe I could live to be a hundred.           

















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