Saturday, April 21, 2007

Life After the War

When I reported to Wold-Chamberlain Field the first of September, they informed me that the PB4Y school had been closed down and that they would have to return me to carrier aircraft duty at Alameda, California. I lacked only a few months duty having my eligibility time to become a Chief Petty officer but the Navy had announced that discharges would be made according to a point system whereby those with the most combat duty would be the first to be discharged. Well, I opted for discharge since I had points to spare. The Personnel officer informed me that they would have to get my personnel records from Washington, D.C. before he could discharge me but that I could stay on the base without duty and have continuous liberty until the records were received. I only had to check in with personnel about every second or third day to see if my records had arrived. I remember that Minneapolis was very hot the first of September when I arrived and by the 12th of October the day that I received my discharge, the nights had become extremely cold. I thoroughly enjoyed the stay in Minneapolis. No duties or responsibilities and I could either stay on the base or rent a hotel room in town. I could either eat at the base or buy my own meals in town. I flew on a couple of hops and one of them was over Duluth and Lake Superior. I got to see the Minnesota Golden Gophers play football a couple of times. I met some girls and attended some shows on Hennipin Avenue and when I tired of running around in town, I could have free run of the base. I never did get to ride in one of those PB4YIs, flying coffee shops, though. I think that Wold-Chamberlain Field was only a Navy Ground School for them and if the program had continued, I would have had to have gone on to Olathe, Kansas for the actual flight training for them.

Anyway, I had opted for the discharge which came through, and I was separated from the Navy on October 12, 1945. 1 headed for the Ozarks proudly wearing my "ruptured duck" (the discharge button on my uniform). When I got home, Mother was ill with Tularemia (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever). The Boone County Hospital had not been built at that time, and Martha Lou Cecil, mother's first cousin who was a registered nurse moved in with us and started taking care of Mother at home. I had read an article about Streptomycin in the Reader's Digest and asked Dr. Ross Fowler about it. He had not used the drug but gave us a prescription for it and I was able to get it filled at Sims Drug and Martha Lou started giving mother injections and Mother beg-an to improve immediately. That was probably the fastest recovery from that illness that anyone had ever had in Boone County up until then.

I had about 90 days to make up my mind whether I wanted to go back to work for the War Department in Washington, D.C., or whether I would go to college under the GI Bill. I opted to go to college because I had always wanted to and was never financially able and I felt that if I went back to work that I probably would never enroll. So, comes February, 1946 and I enroll as a freshman at the University of Arkansas At Fayetteville. I was 26 years old and had been out of High School 6 years, having attended only service schools in the interim. My nerves were shot to pieces and it was certainly difficult for me to develop study habits.

I enrolled in the College of Business Administration and went four consecutive semesters before taking a break. In the summer of 1947, 1 decided that I would go to the wheat harvest in Kansas and get some outdoor exercise. I wrote to Glenn Froetschner at Larned, Kansas, an old buddy from VT-6 and he informed me that if I would come out that he would put me to work as he had a section of wheat of his own (he was the only one married of his ten brothers and one sister) and he was also helping his father and brothers with three other sections. Frosh had married the girl that was the Home Demonstration Agent in his county and when I got out there, they took me into their home and treated me as a member of the family. I got there a couple of weeks before the wheat was ripe enough to cut and the boys were baling alfalfa hay. They were using a John Deere pick-up bailer, that used bailing wire instead of binder twine. I do believe that those were the biggest bales of hay that I ever loaded onto a 2 ton truck. They had the barn nearly full of hay already and we had to relay them to the very top of the barn. If it was outdoor exercise that I wanted, it was outdoor exercise that I got. I did not realize how soft one could get by sitting in a classroom for four semesters in a row. Well, we worked hard but Frosh's wife was as good a cook as anyone ever ate after and we didn't lack for anything to eat. Also, we were ready to go to bed with the chickens because we got up with them every morning and was working from see to can't see. Thank goodness the hay hauling didn't last but two or three days and then he put me to riding a tractor and pulling a one way disc, tilling summer fallow land. I did this for about a week before they started cutting wheat. Frosh had purchased a new Minneapolis Moline tractor and had a new Moline combine that he pulled with it. His father had an old John Deere combine. They put me to driving the truck and picking up from the combines. We took some of the wheat to the elevators but finally we had to start binning it because the elevators could not get enough railroad cars in to take it off their hands. Finally, when we got the bins all full, we ended up just unloading it on a concrete slab to await the time that it could be taken to the elevators. We would get up by day light and eat breakfast and after breakfast we would grease and service the equipment until the dew dried off enough to start cutting wheat. The middle of every morning and every afternoon, Frosh's wife would bring us cookies and lemonade to the field. We would stop from 30 minutes to an hour for lunch and as I said, we never lacked for something good to eat. I had ridden out to Larned with Doyle Hickman who had been to the harvest before. Doyle used his ton and a half truck to haul wheat to the elevators for different farmers but he had gone on out beyond Larned, to around Syracuse, Kansas. When we finished cutting Froetschner’s wheat, I could have gone on out and joined Doyle but I had word from back home that my cousin, John Womack at Checotah, Oklahoma had two or three hundred acres of watermelons in the Canadian River bottom and he needed some help to haul them to the fruit market in Joplin, Missouri.

So, I went to Checotah and helped Johnny haul watermelons for a little over a month. When we finished with the watermelons and I returned to Harrison, I worked for the Arkansas Highway Department driving a dump truck and hauling chat for seal coating the highways until it was time to start back to school in September.

Under the GI Bill, single veterans received only $65.00 per month for subsistence allowance (above books and tuition). It was pretty hard to make that pay all of the expenses. Lt. George Hill had returned to West Concord Massachusetts and had taken over the operation of his father's shoe manufacturing business. In connection with the business, he had a "direct selling" program and he would furnish his salesmen with catalogues and a few samples. He let me be his sales rep on the U of A Campus and I made some money selling shoes to the boys in the dorms in my spare time. I had also become acquainted with an old TBF pilot, David L. Piper, from Pine Bluff, who was in Business School and who was a member of a Naval Reserve Squadron at Memphis, Tennessee. David talked me into joining the Reserve and flying as his radioman at Memphis one week end per month. They would send a DC-3 to Fayetteville and pick us up and we would fly TBF's for the week end and then they would fly us back to Fayetteville on Sunday afternoon. We could make an additional $40 or $50 per month by doing this and it surely helped with the expenses. David's wife was in Graduate School and they lived in an apartment at Camp Neil Martin so they also needed the extra income. In the summer of 1948, we were in training at Memphis for two weeks and during that time we flew down to Pensacola, Florida and did some of our flying there. I had to enlist in the Naval Reserve for 4 years but I was only paid for active reserve duty. And after about a year, I had them place me on the inactive list so I could spend more time studying since I had increased my academic load to 17 or 18 hours per semester and I didn’t have time to spare with the reserves.

I had to have 130 semester hours to graduate with a BS in Business Administration. I finished the 4 year course in 40 months and graduated in June, 1949. 1 was 28 years old, still single, had just purchased my first automobile by cashing in the remainder of my war bond savings. My major was in Personnel Management and I was determined to return to Harrison where Oberman's Garment Factory was the largest industry, employing about 300 people and the nearest thing they had to a Personnel Manager was a payroll clerk.

I was dating Fern Raulston whom I had met through a former classmate. Fern had moved to Harrison while I was in the service and had graduated from High School and was working for Moore and Baker law firm as their legal secretary. She helped me to write letters of application for every job opportunity that we could hear about and I had decided that I was going to have to leave Harrison before I would be able to find work. However, in September, we heard that Westark Production Credit Association was going to need a local Field Representative, as Hugh Shaddox was moving to Fayetteville to go into the insurance business. I made application for the job and was hired and went to work for them the first of October.

I had fallen deeply in love with Fern during those four short months. I felt that I had found the perfect one for me. I asked her to marry me and she accepted. Since we didn't believe in long engagements, she married me for my money on my 28th birthday, December 25, 1949. It took two Presbyterian Ministers to marry us at 8:00 A.M. in the Presbyterian Church on a Christmas Morning! and, my life has never been the same since then.

1 comment:

Morgan said...

I have no idea if you still check this or not, but I am Glen Froetschner's granddaughter. It brings tears to my eyes to hear the stories about my grandpa. I was young when he passed away and never got to know him as well as I should have. Thank you for this little look into my grandparents early life.
-Morgan Warner