Friday, January 30, 2009

Hunting--by son Mark

Well, here goes....Some of the best times on the farm were in the fall.  I always loved to hunt and we had an abundance of places to hunt.  I still remember one of the first times that I was able to carry a gun myself when we went pheasant hunting.  It was either Christmas or Thanksgiving at Aunt June's and Uncle Clarence's farm south of Simpson when I was about 10 years old.  It was the beginning of lessons in gun safety.  I believe that Grandad, Dad and the boys and Uncle Clarence were all along that day.  We went to a pasture on the northwest corner of the mile line just north of Uncle Clarence's place.  We were all getting out and lined up to walk the grass and trees there.  I was carrying a Mossberg bolt action 20 gauge shotgun.  There was a thumb tab labeled 'safety' located under the rear of the bolt action.  I don't know why they called it a safety because it wasn't safe (didn't work properly) , and me being on my first hunt that I could carry a gun, I had my finger in the trigger guard  and my thumb on the safety tab.  Needless to say in all the excitement I had a real strong trigger finger and as we were walking along my gun, (which Dad had been real diligent in gun carry safety, had been pointed at the ground) decided to 'go off'!  Needless to say, there was a hole in the pasture about a foot or two from Uncle Clarence's foot and I got the priveledge of watching the cars until everyone got back from the hunt.  It was a lesson I will never forget, TEST YOUR WEAPON BEFORE YOU USE IT!  Whenever I used that gun again I would always carry it with the bolt in the raised position and close it before I shot,  just to be safe.

Starting in about my 8th or 9th grade year I would go hunting along the creek (Pipe Creek) north of home just about every evening after chores whenever I had enough ammo.  Mom had a nice Marlin lightweight 12 gauge pump that I would use.  It 'kicked' pretty good but was easy to carry and maneuver.  The more you hunted that stretch of the creek the healthier the birds would be and the more coveys there would be as you would keep them scattered.  I got pretty good with the gun and could shoot a lot of '3 bags' when I would raise a covey of quail.  I had to let the birds fly away for a bit on straight away shots or there would not be too much left except wings and a poof of feathers.  I would always get startled when a pheasant would rise and usually shoot before getting lined up, kinda frustrating but eventually I got over that.  I would look forward to that time of the year starting with Dove through the end of Pheasant and Quail season.  I never really got too involved in Duck and Geese hunting but would sometimes hunt the slough areas in the field for Teal when there was water there.  I didn't do much Deer hunting as they weren't as plentiful then but I do more now.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


On weekends I worked at the City Airport.  My job was fueling up planes, washing windshields, cleaning the leading edge of wings, getting planes ready for the people who were renting them, and keeping the hanger clean.  Instead of taking pay I took it out in flying lessons.  I learned in an Aeronica Chief.  The man I worked for was well known in aviation  He was a barnstormer.  He gave flying lessons to Gen. Patton.  He had several planes and ran a charter service.  I would go with him often if he had room.  He is now in the Aviation Hall of Fame.  He died this past summer at age 101.

Our neighbor had several children and one day he asked me if I could drop candy from the plane for one of his sons birthday.  We made up some little parachutes out of handkerchiefs then tied bags of candy on them.  They went out in the country about 5 miles from town and I went and got the plane.  It was one I had never flown before with a stick rather than a wheel like I was used to so I was a little nervous but I flew over them and dropped the parachutes with the candy.  They thought this was great.

At Christmas time they gave 80% of the Fort time off to go home or whatever.  Christmas was in the first week and I got stuck in the 20% that had to stay.  Darlene rode home with the couple we lived with.  Monday morning I went to work.  There wasn't much to do because the base was pretty much at a standstill.  My commanding officer and I were talking.  He knew I was taking flying lessons and he asked if I needed some cross country flying time.  I said yes, I could use some.  He told me to go check if I could get a plane and take it home then come back Sunday, pick up my pass and drive home.  He said he would cover for me.  So that afternoon I fueled up the Aeronica Chief and headed north 600 miles.  This plane had no radio and very few instruments.  I charted my route on maps that would show a windmill and 2 tanks, a small town water tower, or a farm pond.  It was visual flying.  I stopped at Anthony, Kansas to fuel. It was a small airport and I was lucky there was someone there to fuel me.  I was almost home when I noticed 2 airforce planes flying real close, one on each side of me.  The pilots were pointing me to get off.  I wasn't paying attention and I was flying over the bombing range at Shilling Air Force Base at Salina.  They escorted me and I got off!!

A neighbor had an alfalfa field that was 1/2 mile long.  I circled the house at home and they came and watched me land and picked me up.  I drove some stakes in the ground and tied the plane down.  While I was at home I had to give rides to the whole family.  My mom had heart trouble so we had to take it easy and she got along ok.  My sister clamped both hands around my leg while we were making a bank and she wouldn't let go.  I had a good friend come out in the evening to take a ride.  My neighbor was carrying the milk to the house and I throttled the engine down and came up behind him.  It scared him because he hadn't heard us coming.  I hadn't seen their windmill so I had to pull up quick and level out to keep from stalling.  He dropped his two buckets of milk and my friend riding with me got sick to his stomach.  I told him that behind him were some containers and he filled one and one half of them.

So I spent Christmas week at home with the family.  Early Sunday morning I headed back to Lawton.  I stopped at Anthony once again for fuel.  When I got within 100 miles from Lawton their was a large storm to the west of me which I didn't appreciate.  Then I noticed a plane I thought I recognized flying beside me.  It was Ralph Swaby, the owner.  He got worried about me in the storm and came to see about me because he knew what time I was supposed to be back.

I landed at 3pm at the airport, went home and got some clothes, picked up my pass at the base, and drove home and spent another week with the family.  At the end of the week Darlene and I and Steve headed home (back to Lawton).  By the grace of God, and having a good commanding officer and flight instructor I got to enjoy 2 weeks at home.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ft. Sill, Oklahoma

       We liked Oklahoma.  We rented a house with George and Anne.  All the people were friendly and we had good neighbors.
While we were at Ft. Sill several things happened.  That first spring they ended the Korean Conflict so I never had to go there.  Shortly afterward we got a new sergeant.  He had spent several months as a prisoner of war in Korea.  They were caught behind enemy lines and ran out of ammunition.  He told us that one of our 5 star generals had something going on (party)  so the ship that had the ammunition had to sit in the harbor and wait to get unloaded.  So they ran out of ammo.  He was in that big torture march of prisoners.   They had to march a lot of miles.  
When Eisenhower became president he gave a one year extension to all soldiers who had less than one year left to serve.  I had more than a year left so it didn't affect me but some of our guys had just a couple of weeks left so they had to serve another year.  They were not happy!
Our oldest son was born while we were there.  I took Darlene to the base hospital early in the morning.  When we got to the nurse's desk they took Darlene and told me I couldn't stay.  I was to go home,  then to work and they would notify me when she gave birth.  They notified me  between 10 and 11 am.  When I got there Darlene had Steve with her.  They were in a large room with two other women with new babies.  There was no air-conditioning.  This was July 16th so it was real hot.  There were no screens on the windows and there were big fans in them.  The women took total care of their babies 24 hours a day.  They had to walk to the cafeteria three times a day for meals.  The birth and hospital cost us $7.50.  That was a good thing because I got $37.50 per month.  We did pretty good the first week then it was "beans" for the rest of the month.  Darlene got $96.00 so we were able to pay our half of the rent but we were broke most of the time.  But we were young and in love so we lived on that, I guess.
Fort Sill was  a Field Artillery Center.  One day they were practicing  shooting 105 Howitzers.  They made a mistake on the setting and one landed in someone's kitchen in town, blew up their refrigerator.  Fortunately, no one was injured.  The commanding officer got shipped to another base.
We enjoyed the Wichita Mountains and Dodo Park.  Darlene liked fish and chips and Dodo Park had the best.  We also often went to an amusement park west of town.  They had rides and miniature golf and usually had special entertainment.
Steve's crib was by the window in our bedroom and when he was big enough to stand up in the crib he would get up at 3 am to watch the train that went behind our house every night.  He would grab the venetion blind in the middle and bend it down.  When the train was gone he would let go of the blind and it made a big noise from bottom to top.  He would go right back to sleep.  We got used to it and didn't even hear it.
We had a fan we ran in our bedroom at night.  One night we decided it would run better if we oiled it.  So, we oiled it--while it was running!!  This was NOT smart.  We had a circle of oil spatters all around the room.  We decided we'd have to wallpaper the room.  They had this new wallpaper that was pre-pasted and that sounded easy so that is what we bought.  The instructions said to cut the rolls to the proper length and wet them in water in the bathtub.  We finished the papering in the evening and it looked real nice.  When we got up in the morning it was all coming loose and falling off.  Those were the "good old days"???

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ft. Sill

We arrived at Ft. Sill and went to Battery B, 2nd Battlion, and reported for 8 weeks of basic training.  There were 223 of us.  We were divided into four Companies.  Mine was B Co.  
The usual things happened.  They would get us up and outside at 3 am to stand at attention and get yelled at.  Then they'd send us back into the barracks and have us bring out a full foot locker.  I was on the second floor so that was a problem.  They gave us so many minutes to do this and if you were late you had to do push-ups over a 5 ft. wide rock walled drainage ditch 4 ft. deep. Sometimes they made everybody do it because someone smiled when they shouldn't have, or for any reason they could think of.
One week we had no eggs for breakfast all week.  Come to find out the mess Sgt. took all the 30 dozen egg cases downtown and sold the eggs.
The guy sleeping in the bunk above me had a bad heart.  It shook the whole bunk.  Finally they sent him home.
One of the guys was getting married on Christmas eve.  There was an ice storm and his best man couldn't get there so he asked me to stand up with him, which I did.
Darlene came down just after Christmas and she and another soldier's wife got rooms in a lady's house in town.  I was still in basic training so I could only go in on weekends.  Later we two couples rented a house together.
During the first week of Advanced Survey Training a friend of mine told me they needed 2 mechanics in the motor pool.  George (of the couple we rented the house with) and I went to our 1st Lt. Battery Commander and told him that George had a mechanic shop and I worked for him. He told us "I'll call over there and tell them you are coming".  George had no mechanic shop but we were both farm boys so we handled it just fine.  
People would walk through our shop and pick things up off of our work bench.  We would charge up condensers and lay them on the bench so when they picked them up they would get shocked.
We had a Coke machine in the shop.  At that time Coke bottles had the name of the town where it was originally bottled on the bottom.  At break time everyone would put a quarter in the "pot" and whoever had the bottle with the name farthest away from Ft. Sill got the money in the pot.  Also, we would stick a wooden handled screwdriver in a pop bottle, take an air hose with a chuck on it and we could take the screwdriver out of one pop bottle and put it in another one just by the air blowing over it.
One of the mechanics in our shop was originally from Germany.  He was in the German army and fought against us in WWII.  He came to America and became a citizen because we (U.S.A.)  went over there and freed them from Nazi-ism.
We had a Warrant Officer we used to play tricks on.  We'd jack up his car and put it on blocks just enough that it would spin out.  We would hear some choice words from him.  When he got out of the service we were taking inventory and came up short on a lot of stuff.  They discovered it in his garage in town so they sent us to go load it up and bring it back.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Army 1952

Darlene and I had just got married in September, then three week later I got my greetings from Uncle Sam.   It said to report to Kansas City induction center on 11-21-1952.    That was just one week from Thanksgiving.   So on the 21st I boarded a bus in my home town with other men heading to K C.  When we arrived at the induction center they had us strip our clothing for a shower and 'delousing'  and gave us some army issue clothing.  There were three young men from another state that had long johns on but only the bottoms, the tops had worn out and they had taped the bottoms on to their body.   They didn't want to take them off but they had to.  It was very painful because they had had them on for a long time.   That evening we boarded a train (my first train ride)  headed to Camp Crowder, Missouri (where the sun comes up in the south and sets in the north??).   The first thing they did was line us up and told us if we had a pocket knife to put it in a bucket up front.   One of the guys standing by me said his brother said not to do it because you won't get it back. The ones that did never saw their knife again.   The next thing was showing us how to make our bunk bed.   They told us  it had to be taut enough that if a quarter was dropped on it it had to bounce or we would be in trouble in the inspection in the morning.  They had us stand guard for two hours shifts with a ping pong paddle.  In the day time we would march and they were aways smarting off.  They would have us march into a wall or ditch just to aggravate us.   But the worst thing was Thanksgiving day they fed us turkey.   About 2:00 A.M. men started to go to the latrine and by morning there was no room left.   We all got ptomaine poisoning.   The sinks were full and every place was occupied.   The latrine was a disgusting mess.  I think we were there about ten days, then to Fort Smith, Arkansas where we got off the buses in the middle of the night and had a short arm inspection.    Got back on the bus  and headed to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Battery B for basic training.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Saturday, Jan. 3rd was great grandson Joey's first birthday.  We were invited over for ice cream and cake.  His mom had suggested he could use some new sleepers with feet in them.  We thought we'd be smart and stop in a bigger town on the way and pick some up.  Guess what--no sleepers in any of the stores--finally found one, not exactly what we wanted but it had to do.  We also took him a stuffed monkey made for his grandpa Thom by his Aunt Gevine when he was little (probasbly about 50 years ago).  Thom called it "Flopsy", drug it everywhere he went (mostly by the tail). and wouldnt go to bed without it.
We don't see Joey too often so he always has to look us over real good.  But he is a happy little boy and makes up easily.  He had been standing alone and taking  a few steps for quite a while but when we got there Sat. he was walking all over the place and was so proud of himself.
Then there was the cake.  It was a decorated 'farm' cake.  There was a little cake just fior Joey.  They put him in his high chair and set the cake on the tray.  In about five minutes you never saw such a mess in all your life!   He had to have a bath after the cake.
It was a great party.  We pray it was the first of many.