Growing up as the youngest of four, life on the railroad was an endless adventure for Marjorie. Most mornings, the family was up and working by sunrise. Unser was already guiding the train to its next destination and Marie and the children were doing their part to help get breakfast ready for the other passengers and workers on the train.
As a child, I loved watching my parents play hand after hand of Rook with my Aunt Bessie and Uncle Millard. The famous deck of cards was always brought out after everyone had their fill of fried chicken and pecan pie on those twice a month Saturday night gatherings.
The soldier in this story can honestly say that he only enjoyed two meals during the 2½ years of his military service and they were both on Christmas day
In 1948 the men of the 139 Static Bakery unit assembled in the cookhouse where they anxiously awaited a meal delivered to them by officers, which was the tradition in the British army for generations.
Fifty-six years later, Billy tried to express his feelings about that afternoon in the tent on Christmas day 1948 and every time he thought of things to say, tears came to his eyes and he had to move on.
Wartime Memories: Operation Varsity
I was a POW January 6, thru April 29, 1945. There was a lot we missed out on in those days as POW's. We were on a 95 mile forced march in 1945 between Nurenburg and Moosburg.
I was assistant communications officer of a non-divisional heavy artillery group (the 52nd). As such, I had the time for, and was frequently assigned, a variety of extra duties. One time-consuming and paperwork-intensive task was that of survey officer. That is, I would be assigned to investigate the loss of, or serious damage to, government property.
I was assigned to do the required Report of Survey when the 52nd Group Commander's driver wrecked the CO's jeep. This hot potato involved a kid who was extremely popular around the headquarters but who had wrecked his jeep while, as far as I could tell, drag racing.
Eva Hamlet's story of survival spans several generations. Even though her beloved husband, Eddie, could never talk of his being taken to a concentration camp at the age of 13. Eva has chronicled her story of survival against the Nazis and The Third Reich in the hopes that this horrible tragedy will never be repeated.
The holocaust left her with only a few distant relatives as the remainder perished in the "Iron Furnace" of Hitler's concentration camps. All of their personal belongings were destroyed.
Before 1910, there was little need for gas stations because owning an automobile was restricted to the wealthy. During this time, motorists were required to visit the local kerosene refinery on the city outskirts, haul a bucket of fuel to their vehicle, and then use a funnel to pour it into the car's gas tank, which was located under the front seat.
Around the 1920s, gas stations expanded. Some put up neon signs to advertise their name and many added vending machines and water fountains. New pumps offered two grades of gasoline without hand pumping and had glass covered gauges that displayed the amount of gas being dispensed and the cost.
A gas station attendant, sometimes called a "gas jockey," cleaned the windshield and checked the oil and water while the tank was filling up. In those days, it took around 8 minutes to fill the small 5-gallon tanks that were common on the automobiles of that time.
Every fall, when the weather turned cold, they would go with their daddy to slaughter two or three hogs. The meat was hung in the smoke house so that they could have pork chops, ham, bacon, sausage and other good foods throughout the year. (Walt likes to say that his grandpa ate fatback everyday of his life and it finally killed him.. ..when he was 98.)
Just about every part of the hog was used. What was left over, was the fat. They handed that over to Mommy Brown. She would drag out her big black wash pot, into the backyard, and build a very small fire underneath it. She would then cut the fat up into little chunks and begin to cook it down. This is where the boys came in. Mommy didn't have time to stand over that pot all day and stir, what with keeping up the house and all, so Walk and Buddy would be put to stirring the pot.
After many hours of this business, the result was this gooey white stuff called lard. Mommy Brown used it all year long for cooking just like we would use vegetable shortening today. On top of the lard there would be a layer of crunching stuff called crackling. If you've never had cracklin' in your corn bread, then you've never had corn bread.
The 145th was isolated from the main army and in constant danger of falling victim to the enemy's cavalry which was very active. The 145th filled a gap which existed between the Union right and the Potomac, holding the two paths and the road which ran along under the high bluff skirting the river.
This prevented the Confederates from flanking the Union forces in that direction. The 145th held its position until the morning of September 19, 1862. That morning the Yankees discovered that the Rebels had escaped. In company with other troops, the 145th went to the field to bury the dead and care for the wounded. For four days the wounded and dead had lain as they fell and left an intolerable stench in the air.
The men of the 145th grew sick from privation and exposure and the severe duty on the polluted battle field. Within a month from the time the 145th had been ordered to the front, between 200 and 300 men were disqualified for duty. Many men died or were permanently disabled or discharged.
While on a billeting party, I parked my jeep in front of a building that I wanted to check out to see if it was suitable for the company command post, (CP). When I came out, I was surprised to find two Germans looking over my jeep. They were just as surprised to see me and for a moment it was a stalemate. I didn't like coming face to face with armed enemy soldiers but since I had been trained to react, that is what I did. I pulled my Tommy Gun up at waist height, took it off of safe and stood my ground. The enemy soldiers had their rifles hung over their shoulders and it did not appear that they were ready to fight.
I put my finger on the trigger and waited. The Germans said something to each other that I couldn't understand. They started to take their rifles off their shoulders and I thought, "This was it." The one German could speak English and he said, "You in 14th Panzer Division?"
To that, I replied, "Yes."
"Do you always feed German Prisoners before they are locked up?" the German asked.
I replied, "We try to feed them if it is possible." The German said, "We surrender, the war is over." With that comment, they took off their steel helmets and tossed them to the ground. This was always a signal to us that they didn't want to fight anymore. They unloaded their rifles and leaned them against the jeep. They put their hands behind their head.
The first few years of our farm life as I recall, were without electricity and plumbing. We had kerosene lamps for light, and a "Number 2" pitcher pump on our well for water. I'm not sure why they called it a "Number 2" pump, but I guess it must have been because of the size of the pipe coming out of the well. Then there was the other necessity in life, the "2 Holer" outhouse.
Our family came from a generation that was known as the "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or just do without" people! If we wore a hole in our shoes, we would put a piece of cardboard in them. As time went by, and the hole got too big, Dad would glue rubber soles on our shoes. If our clothes got holes in them, Mother would sew patches over them. If our farm plow or wagon broke down, we would fix it with hay baling wire.
Mother cooked on a wood stove, and later advanced to a five burner kerosene stove, where two of the burners were under the oven. She had a "safe cabinet," or Pie Safe, that had a screen on the doors and sides. This is where left-over food that would keep without refrigeration was kept until the next day.
January 2006Dad had nightmares from his military service. Once Dad told my mother, don't move Teen (his name for her), there's a snake on the ceiling. He would also cry out orders to other soldiers in his sleep.
After the war he bought a big store in the country. The town was 4 miles West of downtown Gettysburg and called Seven Stars. He transformed part of the house into a small general store and he called it Rileys General Store. It had everything you could need from shoes, dresses, sock, undies, mens wear, shotguns, shells, nuts, bolts, and of course, food.
Easter time was a time for some of us getting colored peeps and then ducks. The peeps turned into adult chickens and so we had eggs to gather. This to me was fun. Then we even had duck eggs whose yolks were an extra dark orange. I did not notice any difference in the taste. Of course, these adult chickens also became an occasional Sunday dinner. So did the ducks, I think. I only remember the ducks swimming in any little puddle they would find after a rain.
My father told me of camping out with other boys and shooting chickens with umbrella staves with a string on them so they could retrieve them. They also fished in the Saucon Creek near the area where the sewage plant is now. At that time it was farmland with only a few houses. Because he started work when he was twelve years old, there could not have been too much of this activity. This area is where the B.O.F. is located now.
The First World War had the Bethlehem Steel expanding beyond this area. The Heights, as it was known, became a slum and was later torn down after W.W.2.
We had no bathroom so all baths were taken in the kitchen. Water was heated on the stove and a large tin tub was the bathtub. Wood and coal were kept outside. The Corn Crib was the coal bin. Water was pumped from a well outside near the back porch and hauled in bucket by bucket. This was usually my job as my father worked swing shift and was gone most evenings. He worked down on The Heights and took the bus, a five-cent trip. He smoked Bull Durham tobacco and rolled his own cigarettes. I know one time he walked home to save the five cents for a sack of tobacco.
Dr. Bloss lived on Broad Street near Second Avenue and had his office in the rear in a little building. I remember having to go there for my vaccination so I could go to school. At that time boys got them on their arm and girls on their legs. I guess that was so girls did not have a scar that would show.
On the way home the big treat was an ice-cream cone at Avondales out door window, the forerunner of a drive up. Small cones were five cents and a very large cone cost only ten or twelve cents. This was big money in those days. The cones were scooped out with a trowel not a dipper and the men liked to see kids get there share.
The tow path was where the mules that pulled the canal boats walked. These mules knew just how fast to go and when to stop. The Chain Dam in Glendon, Pennsylvania, was where the canal boats crossed the Lehigh River. Coming from Philadelphia they entered the lock and were raised up to the river level. The boats were pulled upstream and then cut loose to drift across to the north bank where the canal is. The mules were taken across on the suspension bridge.
We had a large back yard with buildings along the alley, one of which was an outhouse. My brother Neal threw a kitten down the hole one summer day and cousin Earl had the job of fishing it out, but I don't know who cleaned it up. I do remember the honey dipper coming to clean the outhouse as they were called. Now there is a job that disappeared and no one regrets its demise.
My mothers father, Franklin Zettlemoyer, was found dead in the Monacacy Creek, behind the paint mill. It was not understandable how he got there.
We were led to believe he was in the state hospital at Rittersville, Pennsylvania. That is what the nut house was called. When I started doing genealogy, I uncovered the truth. He had been injured at the iron works, this was before the Bethlehem Steel Co., and he was in Saint Luke's for a time for a head injury. He was the first patient admitted at Rittersville, Pennsylvania. He was transferred to the poor farm, or the county home for the elderly, as it was known. This was located near Schoenersville, Pennsylvania.
I asked myself why are you writing this story of your life. I really do not have a definite answer to that question. The only justification I can think of is to give my grandchildren an idea of what life was like in the old days.
Have you ever tried to picture your parents as young people, much younger than you are now? Its difficult or impossible to get a clear picture of your mother or father as a young person let alone as a small child. If you can't picture someone you are as close to as your parents how could you ever imagine what it was like for your grandparents. Perhaps that is what I am trying to shed some light on.
Our grandchildren live a different world than we were raised in, some for the better but much of it must be improved. I believe that prior generations also had their great differences but my generation has probably seen more changes in their lives than any other generation. We lived through the great depression, WW2, Korea, Vietnam and the cold war plus living at a time of the greatest technological advances ever known.
Thelma Wenzel recalls a tornado hitting St. Louis in 1896. "It was on Dolman Street," she said. "Mama knew that the tornado was upon us. She had a lamp in one arm and me, an infant at the time, in the other.
Each room we entered, the way through would be blown away as soon as we left it. We would just barely get through a room before it was gone. Mama was trying to keep me against her chest because of the vacuum being created by the tornado. She was afraid that I would smother.
I was learning long division in school. One day I was trying to reason out the way to do a particular problem. I finally got the answer, but my teacher came over and said, "Thelma Wenzel! You cheated! You must have turned to the back of the book and gotten the answer."
"Well, I had not cheated! It would never have occurred to me to do such a thing. My mother brought me up to be honorable," she said. "You weren't anything unless you were truthful and honest. That was one thing that I had to be," she concluded.
Aside from not having a car, her family didn't have the luxury of running water or electricity. Lighting consisted of kerosene lamps, heat consisted of a wood-burning stove, and water was retrieved from the well. Julia did attend a one-room schoolhouse for a few years. Children from five or six different grades were mixed in together.
A typical day for Julia consisted of getting out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to water the horses and get ready for school. She would come home at from school 3:00 and help her mother prepare supper. Her family ate dinner at 5:30 and she would go to bed when the sun went down. Occasionally, she and her mother would stay up later and listen to Tom Mix or Lux Theater on a battery-operated radio. It was after high school graduation that Julia started working for the New York Telephone Company.
She worked there for six years. Her starting weekly salary amounted to $16.00 a week when she was in training and gradually increased to $18.00 per week.
Shortly after her husband got back from WWII she became pregnant. The New York Telephone Company didn’t allow her to work when she showed obvious signs of pregnancy. Unfortunately, she had to discontinue working even though she wasn’t having any problems with her pregnancy. She accepted this regulation that New York Telephone Company set, as it was the norm at that time. As a rule, during her age cohort, women were expected to stay home and raise a family as well as do all the household chores.
There were many stories about great-grandmother Amanda (born 1846); that she had been a slave and that the slave owner had been her father; that she had a white half-sister who visited her and finally, that she received a government pension that made her affluent for her time and community.
I had recently been given a photograph of great-grandmother Amanda and remarked to my Aunts Ernestine and Hallie that they resembled her a great deal. I asked if they remembered their grandparents.
Neither had any memories of their grandfathers, but recalled when their mother's father died in Dayton, Ohio in 1919. It was their first train ride and first time away from Kentucky.
When questioned as to why he was in Ohio, they replied that he was in the Old Soldiers Home! My brain was racing, Spanish-American War, World War I? The answer floored me! They said that both of their grandfathers had fought in the Blue and Gray War!
Pearl Harbor hit the news. Life began to accelerate. When June was twelve the war was making an impact even in the vacation paradise of Florida's most famous beaches. Her father worked at a Chevy dealership, painting and striping the newest model cars. One of his duties in those years was masking off headlights so that only a thin strip of light would beam through. He also volunteered as an air raid warden.
The local population was determined not to become easy targets for the Germans. Along with controlling the amount of light emitted by their car headlights, they took care to close their window blinds at night.
Gas was being rationed. Churchgoers who couldn't afford the fuel to attend regular church held meetings in their homes. The community chipped in where it could toward the war effort. June remembers selling rubber for a penny a pound. This led to the catastrophe of her brother selling off her favorite rubber doll. When she found out she reamed him thoroughly. Since has never let her 5' 0" frame keep her from voicing her opinion in no uncertain terms.
It was funny. Pre-war, many Americans dreamed about moving to Florida to get away from it all; but during the war, many Floridians, including June's parents, looked to the central states for escape.
They figured that in the landlocked states they wouldn't have to deal with rumors of U-boats patrolling the waters at night and worry about their robotic crew members goose-stepping along the beaches and who might at any time detour to the local bakery.
Nicolo Anthony Prato was born on October 14, 1927, in his grandfather's home in the Bronx. His father, Pasquale, often bragged that within minutes after giving birth, his wife, Agnes, would get out of bed, take the wrapped baby in her arms, and prepare a meal for the family. Philip, their first son, told his mother that he hoped the angels wouldn't take Nick the way they had taken his baby brother, Ralph. Agnes looked at her newest son and commented about the curls that were already forming in the baby's reddish brown hair.
Rats were one of the problems of raising chickens in the backyard of their Bronx home. And, as Nick often said, Bronx rats were nothing to mess with. Besides selling the eggs and manure from the chickens, Agnes worked in the garden, raised her two sons and also operated a sewing machine in a local factory. During lunch and breaks, Nick would be carried into the factory so she could nurse him. Pasquale sold vegetables and fruit from his truck. Before the holidays, Nick's dad piled his truck high with Christmas trees.
Often, while shoveling snow for the family or to earn money, Nick's bare hands would bleed. Gloves and new shoes were a luxury the family couldn't afford. Sometimes, when food was scarce, Nick and his brothers caught sparrows so their mom could add the birds to the spaghetti sauce. With three growing boys in the house, it took a lot of the little birds to make a decent meal for the family!
I was born in 1852 in Murray County, Georgia. My first owner that I am able to recollect was Dr. Black.
One of my young masters was John Edmondson, another, Tom Polk Edmondson. I was Tom Polk's waitman until he went to the Civil War between the North and South. Bill, the youngest, was quite small. All of the waitmen and waitresses stayed in the Edmondson house now known as the Chief Vann house. The room in which we stayed had a fine carpet on which we slept. Mr. Edmondson gave us fine blankets and we surely did sleep warm and comfortable.
My old mistress, "Miss Beckie", was very good to us. She took more pains with us darkies than our parents did, simply because she had more to care for us with, and too, she loved us.
Louis Tesio was born in New York on July 29, 1896. He had 2 younger brothers, Frank (AKA Frankie), John, and a sister, Nina. He was the oldest of his siblings. He grew up speaking Italian. His mother and father were from the Pimontese region of Italy (Torino).
One of the places they grew up in was the Bronx, NY. He followed in the footsteps of his father and became a musician. He owned a music store, Tesio Music, which his father had begun and gave lessons to the neighborhood children.
During the Great Depression, a man had come to him begging for work. But Louis had none to offer him, so he had him play at an event with other band members. He used resin on the bow of a violin, and the man "played" with the band, getting paid for his "work". My grandfather was known for acts of kindness like these.
When they got closer to the river, with Charlestown on the other side, Paul Jr. could see a boat rocking with the tide. The two men that were with his father got into the boat and looked toward the man-of-war's masts outlined against the new moon. They motioned for Paul Sr. to get into the boat also, but he hesitated.
"The oars will be heard. We cannot risk that." he said.
The sound of his father's words excited Paul Jr. He wanted to help his patriotic father, so he ran back to the house where the girl had called out to him. He picked up a small pebble and threw it at her window to get her attention. When she came to the window, he whispered, "Toss me down a bit of soft cloth in the name of the Sons of Liberty-any type of cloth-for muffling my father's oars. He is bound for Charlestown in secret, and when I give it to him, I must go home."
The little girl tossed down her red homespun petticoat and the young patriot took it to his father where it helped muffle the oars on the boat that took Paul Revere to the Charlestown side of the river, so he could mount the saddled house which Deacon Larkin had sent for the "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere."
My Uncle Walter Mansell was crippled and had to walk on his knees. He owned a Shoe Shop in Perkins, Oklahoma.
The twins were babies when we made this trip in the wagons. My mother had three babies, then, and so we led a cow behind the wagon to have milk for them. We were on the road for eight days coming 160 miles, from Durant to Perkins. My parents settled on the south side of the Cimarron River with some people that we met. We camped there until we rented a farm from the McGee family."
"On Christmas Day, we would get an apple, orange, banana, or some candy. We always had a big Christmas. The fruit was a big treat, then, because we didn't get stuff like that very much. We always had a Christmas tree, but we didn't have no boughten fancy stuff to decorate our tree with, so we made our decorations out of paper. We would make rings and paste them together to make a chain to decorate our tree. We colored the paper with crayons because we didn't have no boughten paper."
A short distance from our house there was a creek, fed by a spring up on a hill with a waterfall that was about five feet high. This was where Mama washed our clothes in a zinc tub. Papa went along to carry the bundle and make a fire under the black iron wash pot. Mama put the clothes on a big wooden block and paddled them. She boiled them and rinsed them in three tubs then carried them home and dried them on a clothes line.
Our social life was built around the church. They had singing conventions. I remember Papa and Mama would always go. A teacher came to teach singing and we always attended. Mama sang alto and I loved to hear Papa sing. I think these meetings were in the summer when the crops were laid by. They had books with shaped notes (now the notes are round). They would have dinner on the ground and preaching once each month.
We lived ten miles from Groveton, the county seat of Trinity County. The road was graded and the men who lived in the district worked the road. They used oxen to pull heavy logs over it to make it level.
This four barrel 22 caliber Derringer was made in Italy. It previously belonged to Lloyd Floyd. Lloyd Floyd was born around 1890. After statehood he was elected Sheriff of Le Flore County, Oklahoma. He carried this Derringer in his boot during the entire 42 years he served as sheriff. He was even reelected as Sheriff after his youngest brother Pretty Boy Floyd was killed for bank robbery.
I also have a cobblestone pill box big enough to hold 60 people., that came from Lincoln County, Oklahoma. It's round and has two floors in it and slots about four inches in diameter all the way around it. If the Indians attacked, the settlers would all run and get into it. They kept enough supplies in it to last them about a month. The pill box was fixed so the settlers could lay on the floor, stick their rifle barrels up to these holes and shoot out of them. They had to be careful not to stick their rifles out of the holes, because the Indians could grab them.
In 1933, when I was a kid, I was out coon hunting one day. I found this tree with a hole in it. I reached down into that hole, and I could feel something soft. I had gloves on and I pulled it up. It was an old leather pouch and I dropped it. Of course, when it hit the ground, it came apart. I took a pouch and gathered it all up and took it home. Then we spread it all out on the table. I found a treasure in that old oak tree. I found 33 gold pieces and thousands of dollars of Confederate money.
My Grandfather, William Coate, was born April 11, 1835, in Bloomingdale, Indiana. My grandfather and two of his brothers were shoemakers. There was something physically wrong with all of them. One of them got hurt in the Civil War. I forgot what was wrong with the other one and my grandfather had club feet. My grandfather moved from Indiana, where he was born, to Eudora, Kansas, just west of Kansas City, where he and his two brothers opened a shoe repair shop called `The Cripple Shoe Shop.'
I was five years old when we moved to Oklahoma back in 1929. We had a Moon Car and my sister used to make Dad so mad because whenever there was any sort of trouble with the car and he would crawl under the car to do something to it, my sister would sing an old song to aggravate him called `Get Out and Get Under the Moon.'
I went into the Air Force and while I was in the service, I went through mechanic school first, then through gunnery training. I was an engineer on a B24. That means that I was a flying mechanic. I took care of checking the flaps, landing gear, generator, etc. I also manned the top turret guns when we were out on combat. Then later, I retrained on B29's.