Christmas Leave, Ft. Lewis, Germany, Back Home

More on the talk with my dad.

After his 2nd 8 weeks of basic, he got leave from about Dec. 10 or 15 to Jan. 7 or 8.  He flew from Ft. Lewis to Chicago, and took a train down from there.  He got off the train in Litchfield, where Mom was working that day as a bank teller.

But, before I get to that, I forgot to mention that sometime on their honeymoon, cause Dad was gone for 10 weeks before and left 7 days after the wedding thereabouts – yes, step-Grandma Louisa, John wasn’t “a bit early” – Mom got pregnant.  How did Dad find out about his – by a letter, a letter!  Can you imagine finding out you are going to be a father by a letter!? Well, that’s how it was back in the 50’s.

So, Dad took the train from Chicago to Litchfield, got off the train, and was walking to the bank where Mom worked, when a guy he used to work for or with, Earl Plume from Monkey (or is that Monkee) Brothers (Bros?) saw him and gave him a ride from the train station to the bank. Now. I don’t know if you know about small town, but I know where this train station and bank are now and they are less than a mile away from each other, a mere  15-20 minute walk if even.

Still, it was December, so it may have been cold, Dad accepted the ride.  When he got to the bank, I think they were about to close, and he walked in, and someone told him, “She’s in the back counting her drawer.” and he went to the back to surprise her. Yes, she knew he was coming in, but didn’t know he would come to see her.

He reported back for duty January 7 or 8 of 1957, took a train to Chicago and a plane to Ft. Lewis, Washington.

From there, the battalion was supposed to go to Korea, even though the truce was signed when Dad was 19 and had his first physical (at this time, he was almost 23 [Jan 15]) .  They were to be a police unit.  Instead, after a few days, they got their orders to report to Germany.

So 720 troops boarded a train to New York City, New York so they could catch a ship to Germany. He told me the trip took 4 days.  Why you say?  Because it should have taken about 48 hours or less by today’s standards.   Well, because the Army did not have right of way of the tracks, so they had to keep pulling off and sitting and waiting for commercial trains to pass.  Four days from the state of Washington to New York.

He remembers leaving from New York Harbor and passing the Statue of Liberty and that they landed in Bremerhaven, Germany.  From there, they proceeded to Erlangen, Germany – about a 6 hour drive.

After 10 months, because their expertise was with one form of the Howitzer, which became obsolete and no longer serviceable in 1957, the unit was disbanded.

Then, Dad went to Giessen, Germany, about 2 1/2 hours from Erlangen.  He served 16 months total in Germany, 2 years in the Army, minus 10 days.  He arrived home on June 27, 1958 and my brother John was already a year old.

He told me that John was not like most babies.  He wasn’t afraid of Dad and went right to him, walking already.

For about a year, he stayed at the farm, Mom’s parent’s farm, in the house.  He work for Grandpa for, I think he said $40 a month.  After about a year, and with my brother Mark on the way, he told Grandpa that he wanted a raise or he’d have to get another job.  Grandpa told him he couldn’t pay more, so Dad got a job at the local paper plant.  I’m not sure when he took this job, and I forgot to get more detail on this, because I know that when his mom got killed, and his brother, Marvin, hit by a train, Dad was in the hospital for a hernia operation, and Mom was pregnant with Mark.  I think Grandma and Uncle Marvin died sometime in February, 1959 and I know Dad told me before that he hernia operation was all because of digging fence posts holes, though I can’t remember which fence post holes they were.  The ones by the house, someplace else on the farm, I don’t know.

Dad work at the paper plant for 13 years, and then went to full time farming, in or around 1971 or 1972.

Mom and Dad moved into town, into a duplex right by the post office.  After they had me, they bought the house that Dad lives in today.  I think I was about nine months old when they moved to that house, so Dad has been there for 52 years now.  Wow. I’ve been in my house for coming up this month on 10 years.  I can’t imagine being here when I’m 95!  Course, Dad wasn’t 40 something when  he moved in there, more like 28, and he’s 80 now, so Wow, is all I can say to that.

So, that’s the story from last weekend from Dad.  I found out a bit more about his Dad’s farm, but that’s for another post.  And, I still want to find out more about that Shivaree!



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