Hastedt, Elmer (2)
Elmer Hastedt Oral History
Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin
CW: Will you please give us your name.
EH: My name is Elmer Hastedt I was born January the 6th in 1923 and Mom always said it was a terrible terrible snowy day. We lived on the third road on County Road11but it was frozen. I know she said that it upset the horses because Dr. Davis was our doctor from Hamler. She just thought he could never get through the snow with the car, but he did get through and delivered me then.
CW: Yours was one of those kitchen deliveries I bet.
EH: Oh yes.
CW: That was common in those days.
EH: We didn’t go to the hospital for that. They’re coming back to that now.
CW: Yes they are just going around to those peoples now. Now we have the EMS people who can get them to the hospital in no time if you need to.
EH: Our granddaughter is a RN and she is the health nurse for Henry County. Her name is Annie Roseanne Hastedt. You see a health nurse at the Henry County Hospital.
CW: They say that is a really nice organization. They do a lot for people.
EH: They say it is. She never tells us what is going on. She is not supposed to. Oh later on she might stay that was my patient. A friend of ours Bob Helberg, that I was confirmed with, he complained to her last week. We were confirmed together. We were born into the Lutheran faith, Missouri Lutheran and we had to get married. She is shaking her head. It’s not quite what you think it is when I say we had to get married. It so happened that we had several dates and I had asked if we could be engaged before I went overseas. She was kind of on the ornery side. We had only about five dates and it was kind of unexpected. I really liked her.
DH: We didn’t know each other that well.
EH: Her mom and my mom were conniving.
CW: They wanted to get you two together.
EH: It was always this thing that whenever I’d come home, or having a date - she would say is she Lutheran? Is she German? If she was anything but that, it was always a NO. I introduced Dorothy to my folks one time and she thought that was the girl I should have. So I am in California and I get a letter from Mom and she says “Dorothy and I are coming to see you”. Oh my, California was at that time in early 1944 was just loaded with service people. Wherever you looked the place was loaded with service people. I had been at Camp Pendleton training with the Marines. I had volunteered for the Navy. I went to the Navy Boot Camp. Then they sent me to New York. I thought they would surely send me to Germany because I am trilingual I can speak High German, Low German, and English. Some English. One day they said, now this was in the winter of ‘43 and ‘44, there was an awful lot of snow. It was as high as a car.
CW: That could not have been in California.
EH: No, it was around here. They had steam engines. The railroads didn’t have diesels yet. They would have to stop, oh, every 50 to 60 miles to load coal on, and so it took two weeks, but in that two weeks we were stranded. We were a week in Colorado in the mountains. That train could not move because there was just too much snow. We finally got to California and then I went to Camp Pendleton, a Marine camp for training. I thought this is odd because I thought I am a sailor. I am not a Marine. That was the first thing we met when the train stopped there was a Marine Sergeant and the line that he used was very colorful. He said why am I scraping the bottom of the barrel. You know how that makes you feel.
CW: Oh yes.
EH: I got my Marine training there and slowly moved, and we moved North near San Francisco. We were sent to a race track. It was called Pan Foran. How that is spelled I don’t know but it is a very high class race track. It hadn’t been used yet for the Navy or any troops. The horse stables were clear along one side. The race track they say was cork covered.
EH: It was high priced. We were the first servicemen who were moved in there and I can remember the morning, it was cold. They dumped us off at 2 o’clock in the morning. There was no place to go. They brought us in there by Greyhound bus. We had no place to lay down or anything, so we crawled into a shed and covered ourselves up with old newspapers. The next morning we thought why there had never been any servicemen on that base. We had to clean the horse stables.
CW: That was your job!
EH: Yes, that was our job. With me being a farmer that was real common for me.
CW: Just do it and get it done.
EH: There were four men in each horse stable. We cleaned one up and they furnished us material so we could build our own bunks. We had two bunks on each side. We had one on top of each other. We put a table in the middle and that was the best place I ever was. We just closed the double barn doors. They were hinged you know with a small door on the top. We could open the top part of the door and look out. And if we didn’t want to look out we could close the doors and we had privacy. That was our first experience there because they didn’t know where to put us.
CW: You were kind of glad you were at the bottom of the barrel.
EH: We did more training there and we were scheduled to go overseas. It was a little bit later, I don’t know what year, and I don’t know what month it was, but I got a letter from Mom and she wrote in that letter that she was coming to California and she was bringing Dorothy with her. You see that is where the part comes in that we had to get married.
EH: I had two mothers that were conniving. Her mother was just like my mother. You gotta be German and you gotta be Lutheran.
CW: Your mother was the same way then.
DH: Well she was always worried about who I was going out with.
CW: Oh yes.
EH: So what am I going to do with two women. There were a million servicemen in this area. . No matter where you looked there would be a serviceman. Well I had gone to Redwood City every Sunday morning to church. There was a Missouri Lutheran Church there. A girl there had asked me to go to lunch with her. Her dad was in the Marines and he was overseas. She said it is just my Mom, my brother and I. You could come and eat with us. It started to be a habit. Every Sunday I had some place to eat. It was pretty good.
CW: You got a good meal there.
EH: Yes. I told her this story as to what the heck am I going to do. She said that would not be an issue. We have an extra bed and they can stay here with Mom and me. So then those two came and her and I talked it over and you asked me if we could be engaged and I said yes, but I don’t want to marry you, because where I am going it is going to be bad. I knew I was headed for the Pacific to get the Japs. So we became engaged. That was the beginning of our new life really. I was overseas for two and a half years after that.
CW: Back to the visit, what did you do to entertain them?
EH: The minister, Mom had taken some, beings he was a farmer, he could get more gas coupons. I didn’t know that because I wasn’t born when that happened. Maybe you can remember when Dad had coupons to buy gas. She had taken some extra coupons along. These people didin’t have a car where they stayed, but the minister there he liked me and he got a car and Mom furnished the coupons for gas. He was our entertainment. He took us around and showed us different things. We rode on the cable car in California.
DH: We weren’t there that long.
EH: No we weren’t. It was maybe four or five days.
DH: It wasn’ t that long.
EH: He was ready to go.
CW: When he went overseas you had no idea whether you’d come back or not.
EH: Well that way we had made one scheme her and I, In the service at that time if you wrote a letter you would just put on it FREE. You didn’t need to put a stamp on it. I had bought three or four six cent stamps - airmail stamps. You know we didn’t have any money. I only got 21.00 each month, but the insurance came off of that and we just didn’t have any money.
CW: When my husband and I were married he was a private first class. :We got just thirty seven dollars each month or something like that, but we made do.
EH: He hadn’t had college then yet.
CW: Yes he was through college.
EH: He would have graduated as an officer.
CW: Yes, He had to apply and then you wait. He had become a corporal.
EH: Did he go to the Pacific too?
CW: Yes, he went to China.
EH: Was that during the Korean War?
CW: No this was during WWII. They had a radio station there and they would guide the pilots because a lot of them had come over the hump. That was such a special flight.
EH: Oh yes. That is what I was in too - communications.
CW: Oh were you!
EH: 7th Fleet Communications. That is why I never got a ship. There was only 20 men in our outfit, one officer, one bold woman. He was only 57 years old. They guided our outfit. He was our officer. He was a very nice man. Like I said we only had 20 men and we landed in New Guinea first.. In the beginning we left San Francisco and I remember that morning. Another thing happened that night. Everything at night was secret. When we went under the Golden Gate Bridge there was only one car crossing it. I thought am I ever going to see this again! They gave us each an apple to eat. I don’t think we were out of the harbor when the apple left us. Everybody was standing on the left side heaving and feeding the fish. There was only that once and after that I felt good. That was my beginning of WWII. First the beginning and then the invasion of the Philippine Islands - Latte Island. Pelosa was where we landed. We landed on Maybee. I have seen pictures of soldiers wading in the water when they landed.
CW: MacArthur put it in the papers “I shall return”. It was a long time but he finally did.
EH: And we landed on Pelosa which was Tackloven was about 10 miles east of us. The first night when we landed, of course it was at night, it was raining and it was humid. We had been in New Guinea for some time. You couldn’t get any place on time. We were used to the heat and the rain. Hurricanes too. In the Philippines it was cool and windy but still it was raining. We didn’t have anywhere to go and it was dark and we lost track of our group.
CW: That would be scary..
EH: I know we had one guy with us. He was our cook. His name was Fred Steiner. That is another whole story. He was kind of a ladies man, anyway, in the States he hadn’t trained with a rifle because he had signed up to work in a plum factory in Colorado. He didn’t work in a factory, that was just an excuse. He had a girlfriend there. So he didn’t take any training to speak of and they chose him and they put him on the back of 6 file - that is an Army truck. It was all full of and they were hauling a tank. They put him into the truck and threw in a Tommy gun. He looked at it and he said I don’t know how to shoot this thing. I can still hear the Marine Sergeant said you - you’ll learn. When nobody was looking he appeared without the gun. That was Freddie, he could get into all kinds of situations.
CW: Now just what did you do with the radio connections? What was your job?
EH: I was mostly a guard. We learned in New Guinea, we learned how to find poles and lay wire and it was our job to lay telephone wire. It was a communications wire. Of course communications wasn’t like it is today. Primarily my job was to guard. We went in with the seabees they went ahead of us and they built steel stations, radio stations. We had very large diesel engines with generators on the back. We rigged up the electricity for the communications. It was my duty primarily to watch those engines at night and the daytime too. It depended on what shift I had. I remember one night I had a shift, a lot of times at night. Night time was the worst shift you could get. You couldn’t hear anything because there would be two or three diesels running. They had very big engines.
CW: And noisy.
EH: You couldn’t hear anything, you had to rely on your smell. I had found an old piece of block of wood and I set my rifle down beside it. I could watch my engines too. I was sitting there watching the gauges when suddenly during the night someone kicked my rifle. Of course what that person didn’t know is that I had my bayonet right by that block between my legs. and I just missed his toe. It was one of our own guys. We had some Philippino boys, they were supposed to be helping us guard. They had dogs. They were kind of flexible. It depended on where their gravy came from. They would have fought on the Japanese side just as readily as for our side. They had to watch their own pants too. He had been with them and he had some 2 by 2’s. They were from the palm trees. They would climb this palm tree, and when it flowers they had a reed that they would stick into the flower. They always had these molasses buckets and they strain that juice and ferment it and it tasted horrible. I tried it one time and I said I am not going to drink that. Anyway he had drank some of that and what happened to him. I didn’t tell the officer what had happened. I never saw him again. I told some of my buddies I dare not tell . He just dissappeared. I don’t know what they did with him.
CW: You know speaking of these messenger boys. Dr. Flora in Napoleon.
EH: Yes I know him.
CW: He was a messenger boy.
EH: Is that right!
CW: He was just a little kid.
CW: He said he could go through the lines. He could go just anywhere. He liked the servicemen.
EH: I never knew that. We treated them very well. In fact we doctored with him.
DH: He delivered our grandson.
EH: Debbie and our son Bob have that greenhouse over there. You know up on the corner there.
CW: Oh yes.
DH: She had him for a doctor. I know that for sure. Because they had two boys, but I never knew that.
EH: Of course when I came back I didn’t talk about the war.
CW: No, they wanted to forget the war as soon as possible.
EH: That first night on Latte I can’t forget it but it was raining and it was two o’clock in the morning and it was a warm rain but still you get wet and we had ponchos and we pitched those together because we had lost track of our commander. So we rigged up these ponchos together wo we could stay out of the rain. There was a Jeep nearby and the Jeeps always had a gas can on the back. I found a molasses bucket, you know a Karo bucket and I scooped a little bit of sand in it and put a little bit of gas in it and poured sand. Now these boys weren’t farmers. They had never been around a farm or anything. One was from New Yawk (York) and two were from Pittsburgh. And they asked me what I was going to do now. I told them I was going to get rid of the mosquitoes. They said that’l blow up, and I lit a match and threw it in there and we hid under the ponchos. The first night on Latte Island, why any kind of light was forbidden, because at night - Washing Machine Charlie, he had different names from different groups I found out later - that was a Jap bomber that would come flying over real low, and any sign of a light or anything they would fire a machine gun.
CW: Oh my!
EH: So we had to watch out for Washing Machine Charlie. We soon learned that.
CW: So that is what they called a Washing Machine.
EH: At Camp Logan which was 10 miles east of us they could not lower their beam on their light. When we seen those lights come on we knew there was a plane coming, or else they wouldn’t be using those big lights. They would shine in the sky but they couldn’t get low enough, so it didn’t bother them.
CW: The poncho over the fire, it must have been a pretty thick poncho or it would have left the light in..
EH: I don’t know anymore if they were
CW: I bet they were.
EH: We used them a lot.. Latte too was a lot different weather than New Guinea. I had quite an experience coming from New Guinea going to Latte. They picked us up - we had been on Latte about 4 months because of the jungles. We didn’t have much trouble with the Japanese, as our southern division had pretty much subdued them. It was extra duty for us waiting to invade the Latte Island. Of course we didn’t know that. At 2 o’clock they loaded us onto a ship out in the harbor. They wouldn’t allow any lights whatsoever. It was pitch black there. Of course in a small boat they took us out in the harbor and climbed on this ship. It was about 50 feet high. They called it a ropes net. They threw it over the side and the ropes were about a foot apart. We had to put our foot in there and climb up there. We would have to climb up there. Of course you were climbing like ropes. They warned us that if you fall we can’t pick you up, it will be the last time you fall. They weren’t allowed to use any lights to find you. When you get up there a sailor will help you. I got up there and some sailors pulled us up. There were 20 men in our outfit so we were in the fantail.
CW: What is a fantail?
EH: That is the back, aft is the back. Anyway that is where they put us. All 120 of us. Our clothes were pretty tattered and torn. We had been campaigning in New Guinea but it was nice and warm on the deck. When it got daylight that morning here came paratroopers fresh from the States. I can’t remember what unit they were in. I think they were part of the 11th Airborne, I can’t remember any more. They had to stand inspection and they all lined up and the old I think they took us down for breakfast. Anyway we kind of stayed to ourselves those guys were real nosey and they thought we were Japanese because we were as yellow as yellow can be.
CW: From the quinine pills.
EH: That’s right. He explained what it was and how it had affected our skin. It took us a long time to get information from them.
CW: They wanted to know what you had been through.
EH: And they wanted to know what had happened. The comical part of it was one of my buddies bought himself a little button key accordion. He couldn’t play a thing and neither could I. I said I could play a piano key accordion. I had learned it from Dad. I can play the piano key, but the button key is different. It is like a harmonica. You get different sounds by pushing. So I am playing what I learned from Dad. I can do shoditches and waltzes and so forth and it wasn’t too long and with the first couple songs I played, he came up to me and said “where the h___ are you from?” I told him Toledo, Ohio. I danced to that music in West Hope. There was a famous place where us kids all went on a Sunday night. There was a dance hall there, a bar, and that is where we met the girls. We danced at that time. That was a long time ago.
CW: So this man knew about West Hope.
EH: I said where are you from and he said Deshler. I danced at West Hope with that stuff you are playing. I asked him what his name was and he said Paul Peterson. I said where hast du her pluggin stoggin? I said that to him in German. He said yeah and we started talking Low German together. He looked at me and I didn’t know we were bilingual. One of my guys whispered in my ear. You guys are pulling on us. You guys can’t understand each other. Tell him to whisper something to me and he whispered tell him to take his hat off and threw it at him. I said . He said they do understand each other.
CW: You have a remarkable memory.
EH: Oh yes that was something to remember. It took us, I think, about five days to get out of Latte. Of course none of us knew where we were going to go.
CW: They didn’t tell you things like that.
DH: Of course you couldn’t write back and tell them anything either.
EH: She can tell you about that part.
CW: Yes, let’s give you a chance to talk and let me know about that part.
DH: I would get letters from him. They would be censored. A lot of the lines would just be cut out. I never knew where he was at and by the time I had gotten the letter he would be someplace else. Well you know all about that part.
CW: He never could tell where he was.
DH: The only was is if he would write it under a stamp and we would peel that stamp off.
EH: You see I had bought 3 or 4 six cent postage stamps with the idea that I had heard other servicemen say that they were censoring, so I would write under the stamp and tell where I was at. She would peel the stamp off and she could see what I had wrote.
DH: We had no way of knowing his whereabouts.
EH: By that time we would be someplace else already.
CW: Oh yes. You know my husband had to censor the mail and he said one of those guys would write a letter to his wife and tell her how much he missed her and he couldn’t wait to get back and in the very same mail he would send a letter to his girlfriend and tell her how much he missed her.
EH: Elmer laughs and laughs and he said he could believe that. The sad part of this is the story of me and Paul Peterson. It was exactly twenty years later his son was in a helicopter, we didn’t have helicopters in WWII, they said Hitler had one and it was very large and they used it only to move his car around. He had a helicopter, but we did not use helicopters. Twenty years later, I think it was the Vietnam War his son was killed when his helicopter crashed on Salewasa Beach in Latte the same place we had invaded.
CW: Was this in a different war?
EH: Yes this was in the Vietnam War. I don’t know if it was exactly twenty years but something like that. They sent his body back to Deshler. I remember we went to the funeral home and he told me that this was his only son and they named the Amvets Post for him.
CW: And he lost his only son.
EH: If you go to Napoleon and see the post it was named Arthur Dan Peterson. That was Paul’s son. So we have been talking about the War long enough.
CW: Alright, Now I have a question for you. Now you spoke German at home probably, and you Dorothy, you probably did too. What happened when you started to school?
EH: We couldn’t speak a word of English.
CW: And you too Dorothy.That would be really hard.
EH: She lived at Ridgeville. She comes from Ridgeville. If we have time I’ll take you to the other farm after a while, it is just down the road from here, that is where we moved to, and I can remember the day we moved my Uncle Fred, my dad’s only brother. He was a very good friend of ours. He was not quite four years old and we had lived on Road 11 and then Grampa and Grandma Hastedt wanted to retire and Dad had to move to the family farm. That is on Road H. Anyhow that is where I grew up then. I had a mile to walk to school. There was a little school house on the corner and we had good teachers. Our first grade teacher could not speak a word of German and the neighbor boys, most of us kids couldn’t speak any English.
CW: What on earth did you do?
EH: Elmer laughs - Well out on the playground we would speak German, and when we got back in the schoolhouse we spoke only English. I can remember one distinct thing, the teacher said, you see we had all the eight grades in this one room, She taught all eight grades. There were about 50 kids in school, I think that in our grade there was 5 boys and 1 girl. She said, and if you had a class, you would get up in front and sit on one bench, and use the blackboard and she would teach us. She said turn in your papers and I said to Louie Bremer, he was my buddy and I said, what does she want, I don’t understand very good. He said we have to hand in our papers. Of course he told me this in German.
CW: Oh yes.
EH: I don’t know it took maybe about a month to learn. I could speak some English.
CW: Dorothy, now you tell me what your experience was.
DH: We had a twin brother and we were lucky. We had a teacher that could talk the Low German. That really helped us a lot. She taught us the English language and I don’t remember too much of it. Elmer can remember better than I can. I remember she was like a mother to us. She was a wonderful teacher. That is how I learned. I could do both languages, German and English. Now he couldn’t talk any Engish at all. I had a sister and a brother that were older and they tried to teach us at home. When they would come home from school my sister would say you are going to have to learn this too. I thought well I’m not going to learn that stuff. Like my little grandson would say “I know everything why do I have to go to school”? I remember that it didn’t take us very long to learn.
CW: I remember asking my husband how did you manage in a one room school. You couldn’t have learned much. He told me he learned a lot because when he got his studies done he would listen to what the older kids were doing.
DH: I can remember my brother, he was a couple of hours older, learning came easy for him. I was just slower. In the third grade, the teacher wanted to hold me back and when I came home I was just crying and I told Mom that I didn’t want to stay back. So we went over to the teacher and we talked to her and she said we’ll give her a chance. Of course then my mom took over. Of course my mom had only about three years of school. She and my older sister they took over and I made it. I was able to keep up. School was always real hard for me. In Catechism I couldn’t memorize very well. It was just hard.
CW: You might have felt kind of in the shadow of your twin brother. You might have thought well he can do it and I will just hang back.
DH: That could have been, I don’t know. He was the one that would always go ahead and I would follow. That is how we always got into trouble.
CW: You would have walked right into trouble. Tell me about it.
DH: One time, you know those binders, you have to turn them in the back and that would clip it off you know.
CW: Do you mean those wires.
DH: Yes, and he told me to turn that wheel and he said I am going to put some straw in there and I will have it clip it off. We were maybe 4 or 5 years old, I am not sure. I said okay so I was turning there and pretty soon I got tired of that and told him I want to do that too. I wanted to do that. He said okay. He was back there and I started turning and he put straw in there and it would get clipped off. All at once I got my finger in there and I said OW and I started hollering. He said what am I going to do. Then he came and turned it back so I could get my finger out and I was bawling and walking towards the house and Mom asked me what had happened. Of course he got the spanking for it. He said I should have known better. It was my fault because I had stuck my finger in there.
CW: So he led you right into trouble.
DH: He always went before I did. I guess I was a little younger.
CW: What was it like when you first got married? When did you get married?
EH: Right after I came home in 1946, July 14. Coming up it will be 65 years.
CW: That is a good long time.
EH: If we both live that long, you never know nowadays.
DH: We didn’t have a place to live.
EH: Oh that’s right.
DH: We had to move in with his folks.
CW: That would be hard.
DH: Well I was from the farm and I knew what we had to do. I milked cows, fed chickens, I cut corn and I helped out in the field. I knew how to pick tomatoes. I knew everything that had to be done. It wasn’t like someone that came out of the city and didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t new to me. It was all stuff that I did at home. Then I got pregnant and we had a little girl. She loved it there. She had all those older people taking care of her and she just took advantage of it all.
EH: I have one sister. I was the only son, but I had one sister and she took care of her most of the time. Dorothy had to work out in the field, but coming back to school neither one of us graduated. I went to high school in the fall, I can’t remember what year it was, probably or so.
DH: Well you got confirmed in 1937 and I was in 1938. That was when you started high school.
EH: Dad would say well you can go but first you got to help me get the wheat in the ground. It might have been closer to 1940 because Dad and my brother and Grandpa they farmed about 200 acres with mostly horses.
EH: We had one Fordson tractor but at the time we couldn’t get it started because they started so hard. You’d have to crank them, anyway I learned to farm with horses.
DH: You liked the tractors.
EH: Anyway Dad said once we got the wheat in the ground then you can go to school. Okay by that time you know I was behind already and finally when I was 16, at that time you could quit school.
CW: It was quite common for them to stop after eight grades at that time.
EH: That is what I did too. I didn’t go to high school. You did maybe a half a year. I started farming for good. We always raised quite a few tomatoes and so forth. She could pick a hundred hampers of tomatoes throughout the day, Dorothy could.
CW: That would be a lot of lifting too. Hampers were heavy.
EH: They were. In those days you had to move about from here to the front door with your hamper (Elmer gestures with his hands the distance) full because you could pick a hamper full in one sitting. You would sit the hamper down and pick. We didn’t know how to raise tomatoes in those days.
DH: They would ripen at different times.
CW: Yes they don’t all ripen at the same time.
DH: We would pick the ripe ones and let the green ones on.
EH: A couple of days later you had to go through the same scenario. Every week we had to go through the fields and pick the tomatoes.
DH: That’s what we had to do too, a field of tomatoes here and they all needed picking. Of course we went to Ridgeville High School, my brother and I for two years. The third year we got word that we had to go, since we were on the county line we had to go to Tinora. They would bus us there. Then we didn’t want to go to Tinora, we wanted to stay in Ridgeville. I can remember that real well. It was quite the thing.
CW: You would have to be separated from your friends.
DH: I knew all those people in my class and when September came around again Dad said you have to make up your mind if you want to to go because I will see once if you can still go to Ridgeville. So he went and he got told he would have to pay to go to Tinora. He said for two of them I just can’t do it. I said I am not going because it was hard for me anyhow. I just told my dad that I was not going. I said I would rather pick tomatoes.
CW: You know during the war my father-in-law, now the boys were all gone to war, and he had these tomatoes that were all ripening and he needed help, so all we daughters-in-law came and while Grandma took care of the little ones, we harvested tomatoes. He said that was the best year he ever had. Of course he had free labor.
CW: We had a ball, we had a good time. We had somebody taking care of our children.
DH: I could imagine. When we were married we had a little girl and then a few years later I was pregnant again, and I said this isn’t going to work, I need a place of my own. I said I can’t do that to his folks with having two babies there.
EH: Although we never had a squabble. We always had a babysitter you know.
DH: I told my father-in-law I just have to have a place of my own. He said we are going to get you one. He did and we have lived here ever since.
EH: We had to pay $400.00 an acre for it. There was this house and a barn, but not that big machine shed over there.
CW: Did you have to pay extra for the house and barn?
EH: No, that all went with it. We even had a bathroom here. At home we had no bathroom because we didn’t have any electricity. Or else it was just new. I can’t remember.
DH: I think they had just put it in, maybe during the war.
EH: I think they did because at home we always had to go outside. Where she came from they had a bathroom in the house already, so that wasnn’t very nice either for her. But she never complained about that. We were in love.
DH: I was going to have that baby in June and come December I just said we have to move pretty soon so I could get into my house and get things ready.
EH: That is when we moved over here.
CW: Was that a boy or girl you had.
DH: It was a boy and then we had another girl after that. She lives in Louisiana.
EH: She is a phlebotomist. I think she is in the lab, she works in a blood lab. They have lived there 20 some years ago.
CW: Back in those days you didn’t have any idea whether you were going to get pregnant or not you just did your best.
EH: There was no such thing as planning, you had no idea.
DH: I was sick all nine months. I thought I wasn’t going to get that way again because I couldn’t take it. I guess I lived through it.
CW: Were you as sick with the other children.
DH: Yes, all three of them.
EH: They are all three years apart.
CW: Oh they are!
EH: Judy is 63 and Bob is going to be
EH: Mary is three years younger. So they are all three years apart. We didn’t have a telephone. We had electric lights which was new at home yet. We had a new furnace.
DH: I was used to a furnace because we had one when I was still home but he wasn’t. So that was pretty neat.
CW: So then did you farm this land and your parents too?
EH: Uncle Fred, it so happened that he died real early. He had a blood clot and in those days they took him to Defiance Hospital and if I can remember, Dad stayed there with him by laying on the floor. He slept on the floor by the bed and he said the nurse came in and checked him and around 4 o’clock and she said why this man is dead. That was his only brother. At that time Grandpa Hastedt had cancer, and he was dying from cancer, so suddenly Dad was all alone. That was just before the war. In July of 1943 I wanted to be a sailor. I knew I had to go to war there wasn’t any question about it.
DH: That was right after Pearl Harbor.
EH: I wanted to join the Navy and become a sailor, more of a Marine than a sailor because I wanted to be in the Marines. Going back to the War that is another whole story.
CW: Tell me about it.
EH: Well I will tell you some things. We were on Latte and we had moved in about , oh I suppose, we didn’t know how far we were. We could have been in a mile maybe. We came to a river and we set up our diesel engine for our communications and we had mechanics, we had guards, and that was it. Just twenty men is all we had. One morning, I always had a lot of guard duty although I was listed as a mechanic. That is what I had studied in New Guinea and I could work on engines too. We all took our turn as guards. We were not supposed to cross this river because that was forbidden territory. The other side of the river you didn’t know where to go and the Japs would be there and so I was on guard duty looking across the river and it was raining and I always hated my helmet, it always dripped down and I very seldom wore it. It was raining and so I was wearing a helmet and It just barely got daylight and I could see something crawling, oh maybe fifty feet wide. There were dead Japs floating in it and it was real dirty water. Anyway I saw something that crossed in the grass moving. They called it goon grass. It was a very tall grass. I knew it was a Jap crawling along the river bank on the other side. And it was just getting daylight and everybody in our group was in their hole sleeping. Finally I decided to fire on him. I thought if I do then the twenty Japs behind him.
CW: They’d be after you.
EH: Yes because it was just a scout crawling around. When I shot he rolled down to the edge of the water and here it was an alligator. They called it something else. It was, I can’t think of the name right now. A couple of years ago they wrote in the Crescent News that they had seen one two feet long in the Philippines It was the largest one they had ever seen. They are just like an alligator. Anyway it was this thing and it rolled down to the water and of course I shot and everybody was out of their hole and asked where did that shot come from. I didn’t want to look too stupid so I said “I don’t know, I heard it too”. It wasn’t very long then the Philippinos came along and butchered it. They thought it was delicious I guess.
CW: They were probably hungry because they wouldn’t have had very much to eat.
EH: No they never had much to eat. That was one of my dumb experiences. I had a lot of guys and when I think back, I could sit here for two days and tell you things, but I am not going to because I don’t want to remember it.
CW: Yes I understand. Do you know Lenhart Lange? He ran the Holgate Lumber Company.
EH: Oh yes.
CW: He was on a ship and his job was to get way up in the top and when he would spot the Japs coming in or maybe an airplane coming in his job was to shoot at the pilot. The pilots could dive bomb and go right into the ships.
EH: They were kamikaze,
CW: To this day it is very hard for him to tell about it.
DH: My dad was in the service too and he never wanted to talk about it.
EH: Of course he was in World War I.
CW: World War I was tough too.
EH: I am reading about it now. They have made 20 books all about the Wars. They are so interesting. They tell how Hitler got started and how he persecuted the Jews. We have been to Germany twice. We went once in ‘71 when the Wall was still up and, you see I have cousins there, and they can’t speak any English, so I always have to write them in German, anyway I said to my Grandmother Hasted’s niece and I said to her husband, you know I would like to see these internment camps where so many Jews were killed. She says you know what that is all gossip, that never happened. Those people didn’t know what was going on. Then we went back again in ‘91
DH: That was their son-in-law.
EH: Yes it was our son-in-law who lived near Denendausen. The older folks had died and his son-in-law I had asked him about it and he said and he hesitated and he said I’d really like to go there and show it to you. I told him what his father-in-law had told me that it had never happened. Well he said my Grandpaw, and I was in service and Grandpaw and I would take our bicycles as it was about five miles from his house and we would drive by there on our bicycles and we could hear children crying. I would say to Grandpaw what is this here? He said “I don’t know”. He said he never did find out. None of the German people knew it, we went in there then at Vernegaden and it was quite something. Have you ever seen that.
CW: No, but I have been to Germany.
EH: So many Jews are buried there and the Germans took pictures of everything. You could be in that museum all day and not see it all. There were dead Jews and they would load them on trucks and bury them. It was just horrible.
CW: That is just the way it was.
EH: Yes, that is the way it was.
CW: Talking about World War I, a friend of my fathers, I don’t know if he went and tried to enlist or they were deciding to draft him, one or the other so they were all lined up, and they gave each one in turn a baseball and they told them to see if they could hit the flag up there. So my father’s friend could hit the flag and they said to him “you can hit the flag, you’re in”. It was just like that. The Army, Navy, or whatever. Just so he could hit the flag is how they determined that. Times have changed.
DH: I don’t know if it was but my father came over and said goodbye to us. We knew he was going overseas. My dad just shook his head and he said that poor guy doesn’t know what he is getting into. He just hated to see him go.
CW: I’ll bet because he had heard just enough.
DH: My dad had been in World War I. He said he doesn’t know what he is getting into.
EH: Well, it is probably a good thing they don’t know.
CW: I am glad they are getting some of these boys out of Afghanistan.
EH: It’s awful. They don’t know their enemy because they all look alike. With the Japanese there was no question. We knew who they were. One thing happened that I would like to mention that bothers me today very much, I don’t know if it was on Latte or Leeson, I can’t remember for sure, but one night when I was on guard duty and laying in the grass and I could still hear the Philipinos, camped near us they had dogs and the dogs started barking and that was a warning that the Japs were coming n. In the murky darkness we heard a group of them coming, lined up, I don’t remember if I shot, right away some of our boys shot, and when they shot, pretty soon the Japanese exploded. They were loaded with dynamite and hand grenades and they were going to blow us up. They were to come in like
EH: and so , I think there were 9 or 10 of them and we killed them. The next day, of course it was real hot, and you could still see them there, all swelled up you know, and it started to stink. We thought somebody should bury them. They said you shot them you bury them. Here there was a big bulldozer the seabeas had left sit there and one of our boys said he knew how to run a bulldozer. So they dug a hole, oh it was about 20 feet deep, a real big hole and we just pushed them in there and covered them up. As I look back today I don’t know where the grave is. I don’t know. I lost two buddies and we marked their graves. They are buried now in Hawaii I think. I think back now the Japanese boys had maybe wives and kids, and they had parents, and they don’t know where they are at. I can’t go back and find it either. Now we have a minister who is still in the service in the Air Force, and he is a Colonel. He is our minister and he goes to training every once in a while and he says, I told him that story, I don’t go to church because I can’t walk very well, and I can’t stand being around people too much. The last couple of years I haven’t been to church. He comes and gives me communion. I told him this the last time and he says I think I could arrange to find that grave. I told him I didn’t know if it was on Latte or Lausaine. I wouldn’t know where to start to look for that grave. What sits in my craw is that they had children, they had parents that never knew where it was. I never found out where they stayed.
DH: I think in World War II there were a lot of them, even our boys. how could they know.
CW: They are still trying to locate some of these graves, but they would send their boys out purposely to kill themselves. It seems to me that was just as cruel as not being able to bury them.
EH: They were having a media base and they were good soldiers. They were good soldiers but they had no pity for anybody. They had no compassion. They were a tough enemy.
DH: It’s just like we have now. You know they are tough. They kill themselves because they think that is the way to get to heaven.
CW: When I was in China, this has nothing to do with that, but they showed us this cliff and said that this is where couples would commit suicide from. If they couldn’t get married or for some other reason they could not be with each other. They would just jump off this cliff.
EH: It was on Guam they told us, I stopped at Guam, but I never left the ship. there was a lot of rock there, but they said to them the Americans will torture you and the men and womem all jumped off the cliff and killed themselves. They couldn’t get them to stop.
CW: Are there some more memories you would like to add to this.
EH: We worked hard as most people did, the Depression hadn’t started. In 1928 Dad bought a brand new Model A Ford. That was really something but the Depression wasn’t going yet. The Depression started in the ‘30’s and we lived through that Depression and we always had something to eat. We had our own hogs and we had milk. We had chickens. We never went to town, oh come to think of it, I hadn’t been away from home except for one time when I was probably six or seven years old Dad and Mom took myself and a neighbor boy to Toledo to the Zoo. That was as far as I had ever been away from home. You know it was something to get out in the world and see how other people lived. I still think that a farm boy could manage much better than the boys from New Yawk (New York). Pennsylvania Pittsburg. They didn’t know anything. They couldn’t help themselves even if their life depended on it. Now I had a buddy who is a Mormon and a lot of times when we were still in the states we would be put on shore patrol and him and I would patrol together and we would talk about religion. He is a very devout Mormon. He was killed on Latte. We lost two men on Latte and he was one of them. He was my best friend. I never had a friend after that because you know I could get along with anybody, but I didn’t bind to anybody else’ like I did to him. I told Pastor about that. I said I will see him in heaven and Pastor is a confirmed Misssouri Synod Lutheran.
end of tape
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