These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place.
LAD – After working in Venezuela for two and a half years, the company required that I take two months off and go to a temperate climate. They didn’t care where, just that I had to be out of the tropical climate. So I went home. Just before the ship landed in New York City, an announcement came over the PA system that some government employees would be coming on board. When they arrived, they asked everyone for their passport. They told me that I wouldn’t get my passport back. I went to Trumbull and shortly thereafter, got my conscription notice, classifying me 1-A. Because of my draft status, I had trouble finding a job. I figured that if I signed up, then I could pick which branch of the service I went into. I went to New York City and tried to get into the Navy and the Air Force but I was rejected because of my eyesight. I was finally able to get a job at the Producto Machine Company (in Bridgeport). They made machines and dyes. It was a fairly nice plant, it was considered pretty good equipment. In December, the Japanese bombed Perl Harbor and shortly after I got a notice to report for duty. I was able to get a deferment because of my job but by April, 1942, I had been reclassified 1-A. I received a notice to report for duty in May. Two days later I got a letter from the Navy saying they had lowered their eyesight requirements and I was now eligible. I tried to talk the Army out of it, but was unsuccessful. So I went into the Army.
Dan and I were both in France in 1945. I had been corresponding with Dan and I knew he was going to be married on a particular day in mid-summer. I talked my Captain into a three-day pass but it was limited to Paris. That was as far as I should go. So I went to Paris and checked into the Hospitality Hotel. I left my duffel bag there and put a little sack in my pocket with a toothbrush and that’s about it, I guess, maybe a comb too. I decided to try to get to Calais (where Dan was to be married). I didn’t know how far it was, maybe fifty or sixty miles from Paris, north of Paris, up on the coast. I got a ticket on a train and the train went about five or six miles per hour for about ten or fifteen minutes, then it stopped. It stood there for a long, long time, then it went a little further and it stopped again. I was noticing that cars kept going by so I got off the train and hitchhiked. I beat the train by a day. I didn’t have much trouble hitchhiking. An English soldier came along on a motorbike and asked me where I wanted to go. I told him Calais. He said, “That’s not far. I’ll take you up there.” So that’s how I made the last two-thirds of the trip to Calais. I had no trouble finding the house; it was Chiche’s mother’s house, her mother and father’s house. He was a pharmacist. It was fairly late in the afternoon when I got there. I stayed the night and the wedding was the next day. As I recall, they were expecting me when I got there. The third day, my pass was up but I didn’t hurry to get back. I went back to Paris on the train, and this time, it went pretty well. I grabbed all of my equipment out of the Hospitality Hotel and checked out. I took the usual bus to go from Paris to Marseilles, but by this time, I was one day over my pass. When I got back to camp there was nothing there, just damaged grass and fields. Everything was gone! I finally found an officer who was walking around and asked him what had happened. He said that everybody had shipped out, Saturday, I guess it was, or Sunday. I told him my name and he said, “Oh, yeah. They tried to get a hold of you but the Hotel said they couldn’t find you.” So he told me where to go and what to do. I went to the location he told me about and they knew all about me. There was another fellow there, Bob Mark. I was with the 3019th and he was with the 3020th. He had been left behind to gather all the equipment. I said, “That’s what I’m supposed to do.” So, Bob and I got together and found our equipment, we both belonged to the hundred and forty-ninth Battalion. We got all the equipment rounded up, got it to the dock and finally were able to get a ship that would take it to Okinawa. I think it took us close to a week to get everything ready and get aboard. We started out but when we were about two hundred miles from the Panama Canal, the word on the PA system was that the US had dropped a bomb on Hiroshima. We got the message in the afternoon, and the next morning the ship turned around, went back out to the Atlantic and up the coast to New York.
After I returned to New York I was stationed at Fort Dix. I don’t know how many months, a couple or three months. They didn’t know what to do with me. I went home every weekend and came back on Monday. Finally they said to me, “We don’t know what to do with you so you might as well go home and get discharged.” So that’s what finally happened.
For the rest of the week I’ll be posting more Childhood Memories of Trumbull.