Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, February, 2004
C. Mr. Huddle is showing me a picture of his family. Let’s see, that’d be-how many generations ago?
D. He’s my great-grandfather.
C. And, tell me what he did?
C. Farmed? And then he must have also-didn’t you say he built that house?
D. Well he did but the first house that he built was a log cabin.
C. And that was where?
D. Right there by the fairground where the house sits now.
D. And he built another house. He built one on down the road later on. Corney Schumaker owned that house then, later. And he built the third house.
C. So he was sort of a carpenter then.
D. Yeah, the white house is still standing there.
C. Yeah. Built of good sturdy boards too I’ll bet.
D. There’s more of the family. Another generation’s on there. (shows a second picture)
C. This is a generation younger?
D. Um, hm. This is the same John Huddle and his wife. She was a Shumaker.
C. Oh, I’ll bet that’s how he happened to build for Schumaker.
D. Yeah. This is my grandad here and this is his wife. Dan Huddle. And this is Helen. Remember Helen Travis, Dad’s sister, schoolteacher?
C. I probably met her.
D. She taught at Malinta, McClure and other Wood County schools. But this is my Dad here/
C. Oh, the little one. He’s a cute little kid. My sister has the cutest picture of our father when he was just about that age, maybe a little bit older. He had to wear a dress to get his picture taken. He was just about ready to graduate into pants and he was so mad because they took a picture of him in a dress instead of pants. (laughs) It shows all over him in that picture.
D. Now this is Elizabeth Sudyam’s father and that is her mother.
C. Oh yeah. She looked just like her mother, didn’t she.
D. Yeah, she sure did.
D. This is Will Huddle, my grandad’s brother. He wrote the family history from down there in the Shenandoah Valley. They have a reunion every year. He went there and helped get a history together of all the Huddles.
C. When did they come to United States?
D. 1740 or 1730, I guess. They settled in the Shenandoah Valley.
C. They were there during the Revolutionary War then, weren’t they.
D. Yeah. As a matter of fact my sister belongs to the DAR.
C. Did he fight in the Revolutionary War?
D. No, no. They were farmers. They were all farmers, about ten, twelve generations of them now.
C. Well that’s something (the picture) your grandchildren will treasure some day.
D. This is the picture of one of the family reunions down there in Virginia.
C. Big one!
D. This is John’s girl Brenda and that’s Johnny. Well, I’ll have to write it all down sometime.
D. Oh, well that’s Will Huddle’s house. I wanted to show you where this one was.
C. This was Daniel Huddle?
C. Say it again.
D. I think the first Huddle born in Henry County-uh-there was Samuel Huddle born to John and Catharine Shumaker and-uh-I think he was only four months old when he died, and he’s buried down here in Hoy Cemetery. And everybody always wondered why he was buried in Hoy Cemetery. He was buried in 1861, I think it was. I don’t know if there was many churches in Napoleon at that time. There was a church there at that cemetery and that’s where they went to church. But John Huddle was a charter member when they started the church up there in the corner by Emanuel’s church and St. Paul Lutheran. There was one settin’ in the corner there, what was it?
D. Episcopalian? Yeah, he was a charter member there when they started. I don’t know what year that started.
C. That was a beautiful little church and I thought it was too bad when they just sort of -what’d they do, tear that down or something?
D. Yeah. They tore it down. But anyway this boy only lived four months.
C. How’d he happen to die?
D. I don’t know. Nobody knows. Of course there’s this little stone down there on it.
C. They had so many diseases then that there was no cure for, and the kids’d get sick and there wouldn’t be any penicillin. All of a sudden they’d be gone. But then they always had quite a few children so they had others, but it made it hard, I’m sure. That’s O.K. Don’t worry about it. (both laugh)
(tape turned off while they discuss change of subject)
E. Well maybe I’d better start back from the beginning.
C. O.K. Do that!
D. When I was a Junior in High School Leo Dunbar took Dad and I out to Moline, Illinois where they were building that new self-propelled combine and Dad was interested in gettin’ one and-uh so he took us out and they was experimenting with it. There wasn’t any self-propells around at that time. I went along with them the first day. They toured the factory and then we went out to the farm and I got sick-awful sick. I laid in the car the whole day-oh just dry heaves. Then in the hotel that night I felt worse; then the next day we come home and I was really sick. I laid at home in bed for two days and then Dad finally called Dr. Delventhol and Doc come out and took a look at me and he said, “You’ve got to get him to the hospital right away. He’s got a bursted appendix.” I don’t know how he knew that but .
C. Well he probably felt all over your abdomen.
D. Yeah, they operated that day yet and-uh-I know everybody was worried because my Mom’s brother had died just a couple years before that from bursted appendix.
C. Oh yeah. Well back in those days they didn’t have any penicillan.
D. No, all they had was sulfa drugs. After that last operation I had they didn’t even sew me up. They left it all open. I just laid on my back and they kept pouring in sulfa powder.
C. Oh my gosh!
D. Yeah They’d pour on whole cupsful, just covered it with sulfa powder and let it heal from the inside out. The Doc told me that.
C. Is that what they did this time?
D. No. The first time they just sewed it up but then I got infection from that and the last time they left open then. I laid there in bed and people didn’t think I could hear but I could hear everything that was said. Couldn’t hardly talk but I could hear everything that was said. My Grandad came in one day and said, “Oh he’s a gonner. He’s a gonner.” (laughs)
C. Oh no, what a terrible thing to hear! (laughs)
D. He didn’t think I could hear but I could hear just as plain as day and-yeah. But then I was just about ready to leave the hospital and Dr. Delventhal and Walt Crahan went to the Ohio State/Michigan game up at Ann Arbor and on the way back they had an accident and Dr. Delventhal broke his leg. His office at that time was up above the bank, Community Bank.
C. That’s where it was.
D. Up that long stairway.
C. Oh he was a colorful character! Remember how he used to call everybody a ‘horse’s ass”? One day on his birthday the nurses got together and baked him this cake in the shape of a horse’s ass. (laughs)
D. Well, he was quite a doctor.
C. Yeah. He was a good old soul.
D. My wife would go there. She was afraid of doctors but she wasn’t afraid of him, I don’t think.
C. Well he was such a good guy.
D. Yeah. Sometimes you’d go in and sit there and wait, and you’d ask him how much you owed and he’d say, “Oh, get ya the next time.” Sometimes he didn’t even charge. It wasn’t very much either. Later on Doc and Walt Crahan and Charlie Bauman, they used to stop out here and Doc would always come in the house. He always had to come in the house to see Hazel and he’d give her a big hug. Oh that’d embarrass her to death.
C. (laughs) And he knew it, I’ll bet. Just to be ornery.
D. Yeah the three of them travelled around together quite a lot I think.
C. His wife-what was her name? I forget her first name. Delventhol’s wife.
D. Oh gee, she did?
C. Anyway, she smoked and he didn’t want her to smoke, so she rigged up a tent down in the cellar and she’d go down in that place and smoke a cigarette. Then he found out about it once or smelled it on her or something so her jig was up at that time but I remember her tellin’ about that.
D. I remember goin’ to his house at night to pick up medicine when the kids were sick or something and Hazel would call him and he’d say, “Oh pick it up, up to the house.” He’d have it sittin’ there on top of the mantel of the fireplace.
C. Would he make housecalls?
D. Oh yeah. They don’t do that any more.
C. Nope. Not any more. Just about the time my husband was starting to practice in 1951 people would say, “Oh it’s better just to go to the office but then if you need him he should come out to the house.” He made a few housecalls. He went to Bessie Yaichner. Did you know her? I think she’s dead now but anyway he used to go out there because she-(laughs)-she would be in the window watching for him when he’d drive up in the driveway. She’d leave the window and by the time he got to the house she was in bed and oh she hadn’t been out of bed for days. (laughs) But when he left her husband would give him some of this homemade wine and he said, “Boy it was wonderful stuff. It was really potent!” (laughs) So when Bessie was sick he’d go out and see her.
D. Yeah. I remember when our first boy was born-John-born in 1949-the doctor bill was $40 and the hospital bill was $60.
C. Is that right?
D. It’s a little different today. (laughs)
C. And you stayed in the hospital.
D. What: nine, ten days? They didn’t throw you out the next day.
C. And $60 for the whole thing.
D. Yeah. And that was in the old hospital, the old house yet.
C. And I remember Isabelle Aderman said-see she worked in that hospital-and she said, “Many’s the time we had to carry the patients on a stretcher up those steps. There wasn’t any elevator.
D. That’s where I was, in that old hospital on the top floor and they had to go out and get some men to go out to help carry me down to operate, then back up. While I was in there the Neuhouser boys all came in because their brother-in-law-he run the fox farm at Ridgeville Corners. He got crushed behind a truck up against a building. Yeah, he was married to a Neuhauser girl and they brought him in there and they put him in the room across the hall from me.
C. Did he live?
D. Yeah, he did live. It crushed his chest but he lived and the three Neuhauser men, Emil, or Ival and Menno-I don’t remember their names anymore but they run the Hatchery and were in there every day to see their brother-in-law and then they’d come across the hall to see me. We became good friends. In fact they built the chicken farm up here. Remember they raised the chickens and one of them put out a lot of pine trees. blue spruce. The three I’ve got out there in the front yard he give me when we built the house.
C. Did you build this house?
D. Yeah, about 35 years ago.
C. I always liked the layout of this house. Who planned it? Did you or Hazel or
D. Yeah we did I guess.
C. That’s what I thought. You drew up your own plans.
D. Drew up our own plans.
C. Yeah and that’s the way people used to do and it’d be perfectly fine. You didn’t have to have any architect to design it.
D. Howard Mitchell was the carpenter and he had Don Dickman. He was the carpenter that helped me. We helped. John was a senior in High School so he was home a half a day too and he helped. Yeah. Hazel kept track of everything we spent and it came up with just a little under $25,000 for the house and the pond and everything. Got a full basement. It’s a lot different today.
C. Oh yeah! $25,000 I think is what our house cost but we didn’t have a pond or any acreage. Well now, you were in World War II?
D. Yes. I thought maybe that’s what you were coming out for.
C. Well it was one thing. (both laugh)
D. That’s another long story.
C. How’d you get drafted, or didn’t you?
D. Well, I graduated from High School in 1944, and-well let’s back up. When Pearl Harbor was bombed in ’41 and I remember going with my Dad up to the Armory. He had to go register ’cause he was only . . .I was 15 at the time. He must have been 36 ’cause he had to register and I went along up there to the Armory. I had no thought of gettin’ in but of course he was worried that he was going to go. But then when I graduated in 1944 I got the ‘Greetings’ letter a couple months later and 40 of us left Napoleon on Dec. 7, 1944.
C. So you were drafted then?
D. When Pearl Harbor was bombed on Dec. 7, 1941 by the Japanese I was 15 years old and in the 10th grade. I remember going up to the Armory with my Dad. He had to register for the draft. I never thought I would end up in the service. I graduated in May, 1944, turned 18 in July, got a one-month deferment to help on the farm.
Then I got a notice to report for a physical. Well we went down to Cleveland to take a physical. That’s what I thought, we were goin’ down for a physical, but that night I ended up in Great Lakes Boot camp. (laughs)
C. Never had a chance to go home or anything?
D. No, no-and I just sent in a while back and got my service records and I came across one sheet in there that. . . I see what happened now. We got down there and they had a whole bunch of us in a room. There were people from all over taking their physicals and officers there. There was one officer said, “Who wants to go to the Navy?” Well right away everybody just put their hands up. They wanted to go to the Navy instead of the Army. So this fellow said, “You, you, you and you step up here. You’re in the Navy.” And I was one of the four.
C. Had you put your hand up?
D. Yeah. I’d sooner have the Navy than the Army. But then I got the service record back and it said I volunteered; I’d enlisted. (laughs) I wasn’t drafted. They had blanks there to check and I noticed that the blank on ‘drafted’ wasn’t check and here I’d enlisted that day. That’s how I got in the Navy, but I’m glad I did. I went through the Boot Camp up there in Great Lakes and in basic engineering school.
C. Was that in Cleveland?
D. No that was in Chicago. Great Lakes, Illinois. It’s a big naval training station up there. I spent, I think, 10 weeks in boot camp and then I went to service school, basic engineering for another eight and then I got a ten-day leave, I think. Come home and then I went back to Chicago and I shipped to San Francisco, Camp Shumaker, and then I caught a ship that had just come back from Okinawa and they needed some replacements, some extra men so twenty of us got aboard the ship there.
A word about the ship I was assigned to: APA-48 Uss – Leon. It turned out to be a breat ship. It was 492 feet long, 8100 tons. It could carry 2000 troops and all their equipment: trucks, jeeps. It carried 26 landing craft (LCVP’s) to take the troops ashore. Had a crew of 500. It left Norfolk March, 1944 for the Pacific on its first trip. It had gone through five invasions starting with Saipan, Jalua, Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa-all without hardly a scratch.
She was being known as the Lucky Leon. I boarded the Leon in San Francisco on May 20, 1945 with 20 other replacements and believe it or not 299 Navy Waves. The crew didn’t even notice us replacements coming abooard. (laughs) (The Waves were the women’s division of the Navy.) We took the Waves to Pearl Harbor, then came back to Portland, Oregon to get the Army troops. They had dances in the mess Hall every nite. I was sicker than a dog the first three days out. Sea Sick. Nothing any worse. Got over it and never got seasick again, even in the typhoon. After things got settled down my job was in the fire room. Had to watch steam boiler 4 hours on, 8 house off around the clock, 7 days a week.
And we went up to Portland, Oregon, got a load of Army troops. Sailed up the Columbia River–that was a nice view. I thought, “Boy this is gonna be nice.” We went up to Portland and loaded up troops. They loaded troops day and night. We weren’t there very long. Then we sailed right back down the river and across the Pacific, way over to Okinawa. Got there at Okinawa while they were still fightin’ down at the far end and-so we unloaded our troops.
C. What did you do?
D. I was down in the bottom of the ship. I was a fireman way down at the bottom and-uh-of course I volunteered to be a fireman. Most farm boys were firemen. When you go into the Navy you either wear a white band or a red shoulder band and the white band was ‘seaman’ and the red band around your arm was ‘fireman.’ They thought farm boys knew a little bit about machinery so they made them firemen. So we were made electricians or something like that but I got to be a fireman down in the fire room. I was a boilermaker really, my rank was boilermaker third class and-uh-after Okinawa we pulled away
C. What’d you feel like when you went into Okinawa, weren’t you pretty scared?
D. Well, we got a good scare before we got there. One night about three o’clock in the morning the Captain-y’know they always blow that whistle real loud and the bosun mate blows a whistle. It makes a real shrill noise and you hear it all over the ship. It wakes you up real quick. Then, “This is the Captain speaking.” He said, “We’re being trailed by a submarine and can’t make contact. Presumed to be enemy.” He said, “Just be alert. That’s all.” (laughs)
C. I’ll bet you would!
D. (laughs) That was three o’clock in the morning. I didn’t get much sleep the rest of the night. But the sub never bothered us. We were zig-zaggin’ of course. Ships did that during war. But he said the sub followed us for a ways but he was waitin’ for something bigger and then-uh-many years later we had a ship reunion and I found out what that sub was waitin’ on. A couple days after that is when the Indianapolis got sunk, the cruiser Indianapolis, right in that same area. Big loss of life on that. 800 men drowned and got ate up by sharks. That was a mess.
C. That was a bigger ship than yours was.
D. Yeah that was a big ship, a cruiser, and it had just delivered atomic bombs at Tinian, China and of course we didn’t know this till 40 years later. We didn’t know anything about it. The Indianapollis was going from Tinian to the Philippines.
C. But they had already delivered those bombs.
D. Yes, we were goin’ through that same area. I looked back at the timing and everything. But anyway we got to Okinawa with the troops and unloaded them. I got to go ashore. I rode ashore one day on an army dukw, went ashore with the troops.
C. Were you scared?
D. No. Well, the Captain was good to us fellows who worked down in the fireroom and it was awful hot. I don’t know. He treated us right. He told the officers to leave us go ashore a day if we weren’t standin’ watch. We could ride ashore, spend the day on the beach and ride back again at night cause there was always boats goin’ back and forth, either landing craft or dukws back and forth. But we were there only a couple days and unloaded. Then we backed off and went to-uh-Ulitli Atoll.
C. Did you unload troops there?
D. Yeah, troops and equipment. Then we backed off and went to Ulithi Atoll, a couple little maps.
C. Is that spelled like Ulysses like Ulysses Grant?
D. No. It’s Ulithis, somethin’ like that, a group of islands. They moved the natives off. The Navy took over. They had a marine airbase there, and while we were anchored there we were sittin’ there and waiting. See, they had the invasion of Japan all planned. It was supposed to take effect in October but then we found out later they moved it up to September. They were gonna go in September. While we were sittn’ there at this atoll I noticed on the bulletin board one day, “Anybody of a certain age and certain height and weight and so forth could volunteer for the Naval Air Corps.” Well, I thought, “Yeah. I took flying lessons before I went over there in Wauseon. And I always kind of wanted to be in the Air Corps. So I just volunteered. So there were just two of us on the ship that volunteered and fit everything so we went ashore; they took us ashore that day.”
C. At where?
D. At that atoll over to the Marine Air Base. The Marines had an Air Base there and they had a small hospital. We went over there and took our physical. We spent all day. They took us over in a small boat and-uh-we took the physicals and that afternoon before we left the officer called us in and he said we passed everything and we’d be leavin’ in October for Pensacola, the Naval Air Station. He had the orders all wrote out and-but then on the way out he said, “Take a look at the bulletin board when you go out.” We walked by the bulletin board and it said, “A large bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, equivalent to 20,000 tons of TNT.” Here that was the first atomic bomb, the day we took the physical..
C. Isn’t that something!
D. And it never said, ‘atomic bomb’. We didn’t know that till later. It just said, ‘the equilavent of 20,000 tons.”
C. They probably didn’t dare let that information out.
D. Well it wasn’t very long then till we got back on ship and about the next day then we took off, back to Okinawa. We got back there and then we loaded up Marines and-uh-for the invasion of Japan I guess. The plan was still on to invade. And then we found out it was an atomic bomb, whatever that was. That was something new. And then the next day, I think the third day another bomb was dropped then on Nagasaki. So then we were just settin’ there waitin’ with the load of Marines on ship and. .
C. Outside Okinawa, were you?
D. Yeah, we were settin’ there in the harbor, in the bay on Okinawa and the second bomb was dropped on the 9th. Oh, that was a busy place. We’d go to General Quarters night and morning. The kamicazes were comin over and they’d come out of the sun . . they’d wait till just about dusk and they’d fly out of the sun and you couldn’t see ’em.
C. Couldn’t see ’em?
D. Couldn’t see ’em. They come out of the sun and you couldn’t see ’em but we’d go to General Quarters every afternoon about 4 or 5 o’clock we’d go to General Quarters. Everybody takes their battle station, they’d seal all the hatches and we had smoke generators and . . .
C. This was on board ship?
D. Yeah, on board ship. They had smoke generators. Our captain, he was very cautious. He’d start up these smoke generators and they would hide the ship-make so much black smoke you couldn’t spot the ship. Some ships had those on and we had ’em on each end of the ship and one in a small boat along side the ship. He really hid the ship. So much smoke you couldn’t see nothing. So we came out a little lucky.
C. Did it affect your breathing?
D. Yeah, especially us that were on duty down in the fire room. They had to shut off the ventilators. They sucked that oily smoke down in the fire room so they had to shut off the ventilators and then the heat starts buildin’ up. It got pretty hot, sometimes 120 down there. It got warm down there. But we set there then . . .
C. Is that near the equator? It is isn’t it?
D. No it’s pretty well north, Okinawa is. It’s pretty close to Japan. It’s not that far away.
C. So it would be north of the Philippines?
D. Oh yeah, north of the Philippines. We sat there waitin’ to see what was goin’ to happen after we dropped those two bombs and then they told us one day, they said, “Watch for a white plane. Don’t fire at it. The Japanese are going to fly in a white Betty bomber over Okinawa down to the Philippines to talk to Mac Arthur, talk peace.” So we waited. A lot of us that were off watch we sat up there on the deck of the ship and we were waiting all day long to see if that white plane would fly over, if they wanted to talk peace. Well, we never seen it but then we find out later what happened, the Japanese delegation came in two Betty bombers and for some reason they landed on Ile Shima. Of course we were out in the bay anchored. We didn’t know that. Ile-shima is a small island next to Okinawa. Ernie Pyle, a reporter was shot and killed on this island just two weeks before this. These Betty bombers were painted white with green crosses.They landed on Ile-Shima and they ran into each other. They crashed their planes. I don’t know how they did it. I think one of ’em stopped or something and the other one hit it. There are different versions to this story.
C. Oh my gosh! Did they die?
D. No, they didn’t get hurt but they wrecked the planes so they loaded them in a C-47 army transport and they flew them down in an army transport to the Philippines. (laughs) Oh, things were really movin’ fast and furious that day. This was August 18th.
C. Oh that would have just been a hair-raising time because . . .
D. It was, because the kamikazes were comin’ in every night and . . . The last air raids we had was on the 19th.
C. 19th of October?
D. No, it was the 19th of August. It was about two weeks after the bombs dropped. Kamikazes came in and of course we made smoke again and they didn’t get out ship but they got . . .one of ’em hit the Pennsylvania battle ship. I was just readin’ a little while ago about that. Twenty men were killed on that and then they hit another transport ship and twenty men there were killed, or twenty-one. But that was the last of the kamikazes. They didn’t any of them come after that.
C. Were both of those ships in the harbor?
D. Yeah, right there in the harbor. Oh, there was 1000 ships around that island. They were just waiting for the invasion of Japan. They were just like-a lot of ’em.
C. Stacked up like Pearl Harbor.
D. And then B29s, the bombers, they were so thickin the air goin’ down to bomb Japan it looked about like a flock of crows in the air. B29s were just-hundreds of them. A lot of them were based there on Okinawa and Iwoshima another little island there along the side. Another was on Guam and Tinian and some of those other islands too but they just-they’d take off and circle ’till they all got up in the air and they’d head for Japan and it’d look just like crows flyin’, them great big bombers.
C. Well did you ever learn how to fly one of those things then, or . . .
D. Oh no. After the atomic bombs were dropped and the war ended they cancelled that program. They didn’t need aviators any more. Then, oh golly, we were so busy then! As soon as they signed peace. . . I don’t know what day it was they signed peace, the Japanese finally. . . . It was about the end of August, 20, maybe 25. And then we took off right away with our load of Marines, goin’ to Manchuria, Darwin Manchuria with this load of Marines because the Japanese had a bunch of Americans in prison up there, prisoners of war in Manchuria, but we got up there at Darwin and the Russians were already there and they wouldn’t let us land.
D. Yeah. Them Russians, oh, them Russians come in the last day of the war, you know, about two days before, they come in the war. But they walked right over Manchuria, took it all over, took over North Korea, and they wouldn’t let us put troops ashore, so we went on down and put them ashore at Tiensin, China. But they was supposed to go in there and help get the prisoners out but they were a long ways from the prisoners ’cause they were in Manchuria. Well then, we come back to Okinawa again. No, from there we went to the Philippines and loaded up a load of Army troops. We carried 2000 troops.
C. Wow! That’s a lot. Now this was after they signed or before they signed the Peace Treaty?
D. This was just before they signed the Peace Treaty. The peace hadn’t been signed yet. That was Sept. 2 I think, but we went to Thailand before the peace was signed. There’s a long story to that too but . . .
C. Oh, tell!
D. We had seven ship reunions after the war and-uh-our Chief Executive Officer went on to be an Admiral. He’s still in good health and he comes to all the reunions and he fills us in on all the-what went on behind the scenes. And when we anchored off the coast of China there before we took the Marines he didn’t go in but he sent in another boat officer and he sent in some Marines. They went in to shore and they were supposed to make contact with somebody in there that they had made contact with there and they were gonns show ’em where to land the Marines the next morning but when they got ashore they couldn’t fine their contact and they were in the-where was that-the Yangtze River or something-in this boat sailin’ around there tryin’ to find a place to land and-the war was over. The peace wasn’t signed but the war was over and
C. How could that be?
D. Supposed to have been. But anyway they circled up by the dock in the boat and they happened to look up there and see there was a Japanese officer up there and he had three men with him that had rifles, and they didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know whether to pick up their rifles or sneak out or-they’d spotted ’em, they spotted each other, and all at once this Japanese officer said, “Can I help you?” He shouted down there, “Can I help you?” It was in English, perfect English. This officer was tellin’ us about it at the reunion, and he said, I told him “Yes!” I said, “I’m lookin’ for a place to land the Marines in the morning.” (laughs) But anyway he went along with them back to the ship that night, this Jap officer, and rode the first boat in in the morning. And here he had been in college over in United States. He went back home for a visit just before the war and he got caught, and they made him an officer in the Japanese army and he said he talked perfect English and here he was aboard our ship that night. Of course most of us didn’t know that but he spent the night there and went back with the Marines in the morning.
C. So he was really a friend.
D. Yeah, he knew the war was over. He got the message the war was over and he was willing to help.
C. But those people wouldn’t know whether to trust him or not.
D. No, no, they were in a pretty tight spot, I tell ya. But we dropped our Marines then.
D. At Tientsin, China. From there we went to the Philippines then and picked up this load of Army troops and then we-and by that time the peace had been signed aboard the Missouri in Japan. The peace was signed Sept. 2 I think it was and -uh–
C. Excuse me, but where did you drop those Marines off in China? Was that by the Yangtze River?
D. Yeah, right there at the mouth of the Yangtzee River. I think they called it Tiensen. So they went on in to Beijing and up through there. So then when we picked up troops down at Manila; we landed there at Subic Bay and we got to go ashore while the troops were loadin,’ and Manila-there wasn’t a building standing. That was a smashed city. It was just smashed somethin’ awful. So we loaded troops and there was 20 ships loaded troops that day and that’d be 2000 on each one. That’d be 40,000 troops, and then we all headed for Korea. We took the occupation troops to Korea.
C. Oh, they went from the Philippines to Korea.
D. Yes. We had full military escort that day to-oh it took us about three or four days to get up there. We had escorts, destroyers, runnin’ along the side, air cover overhead. We didn’t know what to expect in Korea.
C. Did they still have to zigzag their way in?
D. No, we went straight. Uh-when the peace was signed we started goin’ straight, didn’t zigzag. But we got in mine fields, a lot of mines.
C. Oh, how did you know where you were goin’
D. Before we got to Korea all ships stopped in the ocean and each ship picked up a Jap pilot to guide the ship in. Yeah, we were the lead ship of the convoy. We had 20 ships in the convoy, but we had two mine sweepers out front and they had a cable between ’em and they cut a path through the mine field. If they hit a mine it would pop to the surface. They were on cables. You couldn’t see ’em; they were underneath the water but they were on cables. They’d pop to the surface and then they’d shoot ’em with 20mm cannon or something. Blow ’em up. So they shot up quite a few mines on the way up there. Then we went up the-Inchon River-took a whole day to get up that river.
C. I remember that being in the news, Inchon
D. Then we landed up there at Inchon, and the ships went in a big tidal basin and the tides up there are 30 feet. The water goes up and down 30 feet. We went in high tide and then when the water went out-30 feet-we were sitting high and dry in the mud.
C. Oh! I never heard of tides being that high.
D. But most of the troops got ashore at high tide and-uh-that was somethin’ though we were sittin’ there in the ship and there’d just be mud and all these people comin’ out from the shore and we couldn’t figure out what they was gonna do. When we left Korea our Captain ordered 500 Jap rifles brought back to the ship. Each crewman got one. I still got mine.
C. In the mud?
D. They were all carryin’ buckets, pickin’ up clams. They were so hungry that even with all the commotion goin’ on they still came out and picked up clams, bucketsful.
C. You know, Dr. Flora was just a kid at the time of World War II and he was a messenger. Being as little as he was he made friends with either side and he was friendly with everybody.
D. He didn’t show his age either I’ll bet. You know, you can’t tell how old those boys are.
C. No, so he did a lot of good in WWII, just delivering information. He was smart; he’d just memorize it.
D. But anyway we left Korea then. We dropped off the 40,000 troops. That’s what they put ashore there that day, and the Russians had their troops there. On their half. They drew a line and they cut Korea in two, and there’s still 40,000 troops there. United States kept 40,000 troops over there for the last 60 years.
C. So we took over South Korea and the Russians had the North.
D. Yeah. Then we left there and we went back over to Okinawa for the next adventure. Then we got part way back and Captain got a message that a big storm was coming up through the China Sea and-one of our ships got diverted after we left Korea over to Darwin, where we were supposed to land our troops to begin with, in Manchuria. Well here the Russians got our prisoners out and one ship went over there to Darwin and picked up our prisoners of war. The Russians put them on board our ship and then they joined up with us then oheadin’ for Okinawa.
C. Who did?
D. This other ship that picked ’em up, and then they joined up with us, and then we got down there in Okinawa and found out this storm was comin’ and the ship that picked up the prisoners came up alongside of us pretty close and history says that they called over and said, “What’s up?” And our Captain said, “There’s a big typhoon comin’ up the China Sea and you’d better fall in line and go along with us.” You know, the ships gotta go to sea in a typhoon. If you’re not you’re gonna get shipwrecked on the shore. They all head to sea. Head right in to the typhoon. Right in because you have to hit them waves head first because if you hit them sideways they’ll roll you over so you hit ’em head in. And we got into that storm. Oh it was bad. About the second day I’d just got off watch that morning down in the fire room. That was a major undertaking getting’ up and down the ladders cause the ship was a rollin’ 30 degrees, just rollin’ up and down and sideways.
C. Oh! Was there water coming in the hold?
D. No, no water. All the hatches were sealed between the rooms you know, to protect ’em in case they hit somethin’. And it was so hot down there and I come up on deck and nobody was on deck , and I was hangiin’ on just watching this ship and it was about a half-mile from us and it was up and down. One time you’d see it, then you wouldn’t see it.
C. How high would you say those waves would be?
D. Oh, 30, 40 feet high. Big enough to hide a whole ship. They would be big swells. And I was lookin’ right towards this ship and all at once the whole side opened up. They hit a mine. It blew a big hole in there. You could drive a car or truck through it.
C. Did it sink?
D. No, it didn’t sink but it knocked out the whole fire and engine room. Killed about 25 people.
C. That’s like down there where you were!
D. Yeah. It could have been our ship just as well as that one.
C. That’s what a mine did to you.
D. Yeah, that was a mine. I have a history here. You’ll have to read that. It tells all about it. But it was dead in the water. No power cause the whole engine room was flooded, but we couldn’t do anything ’cause we could barely stay afloat ourselves. And a cruiser came along then later in the day and they tried to get a line on it. They was afraid they’d hit it, and there had to be 400 prisoners of war on it, American prisoners-been in prison for four or five years. They sent us letters later and they said they’d spent all that time in a Japanese prison camp and they thought they’d die on the way home.
C. I wonder if Jim Huff was on that?
D. No, I asked him about it later. He wasn’t on that one. He don’t know anything about that, and a ship then later in the day, a two stacker, a little-this little ship came along and he got close enough to it that they could get a little line across. They shot a line across; they usually just shoot a small line, then they pull a bigger line and a bigger line. Just keep pullin’ a bigger line till you get a size that you need to pull. And they hooked on to that ship and took it under tow and then, so they could keep it headed the right way so it wouldn’t upset.
C. The typhoon was still goin’ on?
D. The typhoon was still goin’ on. And then it-it lasted only about three days, three or four days.
D. Then after that died down then they told us to go to Okinawa. They took the prisoners off and it says in the history that after they took the prisoners off they took it back out to sea and sank it. It had a bad hole in it and-uh. Well anyway, let’s see, we went back to Okinawa again. I don’t remember just how that was anymore. Oh, then we-that’s a whole ‘nother story. We thought-they were startin’ to test the atomic bomb already at Bikini Atoll, and our ship was in such bad shape. It was an old ship really compared to some that was made later. We thought we had to take it over to Bikini and they were gonna use it to test the atomic bomb, see. They lined up a bunch of ships, old ships, and they dropped atomic bombs after the war to test them, and they done that right away after the peace was signed. They had some more bombs. They wanted to test them. Then, we didn’t go to that. They decided we needed to haul Chinese troops, so then we had to start hauling Chinese troops from way down in southern China and Burma. We hauled them up to Tiensen at the mouth of the Yangtzee River, and we made five trips doin’ that, haulin’ them Chinese troops up there, and there was 20 ships involved in that deal. Might have been the same 20 ships almost, but they figured they hauled about a half a million Chinese soldiers up there to fight the Communists. The Communists were startin’ to take over China then. It wasn’t the Japanese; it was the Communists.
About this same time we had to shut down both of our power plants to fix them. We were dead in the water for two days off the coast of China.
C. Oh my golly! Yeah, ’cause after World War II that’s when . . .
D. Oh yeah. Right away. So then we stayed there on the Chinese run for quite a while. Oh maybe it was a month. And then finally we got done with that. We headed to Saysebo, Japan. That was our first contact with Japan. Now Sasebo’s on the back side toward Korea. They had a big harbor there and big docks. We tied right in. That’s the first time we tied in at the dock. We went right up to the dock and tied to it.
C. How do you spell that?
D. Sasebo. It’s on the map. It was just 50 miles from where the atomic bomb was dropped, Nagaski. So the officers on our ship took the Captain’s jeep and they went over there to see where the bomb had dropped.. Of course the rest of us didn’t get to go but the officers went over there.
C. It’s probably just as well! It’d be unhealthy.
D. Oh, it was a mess! There wasn’t nothing left over there. I know that where we tied up at Sasebo the buildings were all-all’d been bombed and burned out. Yeah.
C. There was a song about that time: ‘Say-se-bo, da-ta-data.’ But that may have been French for ‘Say yes’ or something. I don’t know-just guessing, but it could have been that name.
D. Well we loaded up again our Marines, a bunch of Marines to head back to the States. A bunch-a-we only had 400 aboard. We could haul 2000. Of Chinese troops we hauled 4000. We only had bunks enough for two but we hauled four because they said they could sleep in shifts, some could sleep in the day and some at night, but I think most of them stayed up topside anyway. It took five days to make that trip one way, when we was haulin those Chinese.
C. Was it real hot too?
D. It was hot, and the Chinese officers would eat with the crew. They ate with us. And a lot of the officers could speak English and they could talk. The Chinese of course couldn’t. And-uh-they got out to sea and it was rough waters, the South China Sea, and a lot of them got seasick. Oh, they’d get seasick! And all they ate was rice, you know. They cooked rice right on the decks. The decks were steel and they built fires right on top of the deck to cook their rice. They brought their rice along.
C. It’s a wonder they didn’t burn the ship down.
D. No, it was all steel. And they brought all that rice in bags-big 200 lb. bags. I don’t know how they carried them around. And that’s what they lived on. Of course the officers ate with us. They liked our food. (laughs) Then the officer told us, he said, “These troops are gonna, when they get up there they’re gonna surrender. They’ve been fightin’ five years. They’re tired. They’re done and I know they’re gonna surrender.” And that’s what happened. Even with a half-million troops hauled up there it wasn’t very long till they surrendered and the Communists took over, all across southern China. And that’s because they surrendered. That’s what they done.
C. I don’t blame ’em!
D. But those boys got so seasick when they got out there, and we lost quite a few of them every day.
C. Oh they died!
D. Yeah, we had to go around and bury ’em. Had to go around and pull ’em out of the hold, up the steps, up the ladders.
C. Oh, did you have to do that?
D. Well no, I didn’t have to help but the seamen had to do all that, all the deck seamen. The Chinese troops wouldn’t touch them I thought that was strange. They wouldn’t touch these bodies, but these seamen had to pull them up out of the holds and they’d tie a weight between their legs and throw ’em over the side and the Chinese would sit around there laughin’ and-uh-we couldn’t figure out what was goin’ on and we asked some of the officers and he said, “Oh, they laugh when they die. Their misery’s over when they die.” He said, “They cry when they’re born.” (laughs)
D. I’ll have to ask some Chinese sometime about that. He said, “They cry when there’s a baby born. They laugh when they leave us.”
C. That’s just hard to believe.
D. I know but he said they did. They wouldn’t even get up. The boys had to pick them guys up and bury them at sea. That was a crude way of doin’ it. Well anyway we went back to Japan and then we loaded up some Marines that had been through all those invasions out there. We had a load of bad ones. Some of ’em was even hospital cases. Mental cases. They had a few of ’em even locked in the brig when we come back for their own safety. Yeah they were just a kind of a bad bunch. Boy, they could tell horrible stories that went on in them islands.
C. In the islands?
D. Yeah, you see they’d been up through them islands, those Marines, and they ended up in Japan in Occupation Duty, then we picked them up to take ’em back to the States. Yeah. This was in December, this was in December when that was goin’ on. We picked them up there at Sasebo and then we left for San Diego.
C. In other words, when you dropped off the Chinese you picked up these Marines, the bad ones, to bring home.
D. Yeah, the bad ones to bring home. Seventeen days it took us to come straight across and we didn’t see an island, didn’t see anything in those seventeen days comin’ back. We got into San Diego Christmas day. Isn’t that somethin? Christmas Day we pulled in to San Diego and then we put some of those Marines ashore right away, took some of them to hospitals and-uh-
C. I’ll bet you really would liked to have gotten off that ship to go home!
D. Well, I finished it up. The Navy had a point system and you get enough points then you were out and a lot of ’em left the ship right there in San Diego. They had enough points: if you had dependents and it depended on how long you was in service and this and that, you could get out of the Navy. And a lot of them got out over there before we even done the Chinese bit. Some of ’em got off the ship and come back.
C. You and Hazel hadn’t gotten married by that time?
D. No, no, it was way after that. This was still ’45, yeah, ’45 and we got in there on Christmas Day. Then we stayed there about a week and then we went down to Panama Canal. We were goin’ to Mobile, Alabama and there was about half the crew left on the ship yet. That’s about all that was on the ship, so the Captain wanted to give everybody liberty down in Panama. That was a great liberty place. We spent two days on each end so everybody’d go ashore on liberty. We went through the canal, then we spent two days on that side and we headed for Mobile, Alabama and the shipyard. And they were goin’ to decommission the ship. The Navy turned it over to the civilians so then we were goin’ across the bay there, the Gulf of Mexico. The Captain sent down orders one day; he said, “Let’s try out this tub; see how fast she’ll go-flank speed.” So we were to pour out everything we could-make as much steam as we could and see how fast it could go. He said, “I always wanted to see how fast it could go.” So it was ‘flank speed ahead’ (chuckles). We got her up to, I guess it went about 17 knots. Usually it’s only goin’ about 11, but it went 17 knots.
C. How did that compare to miles?
D Oh, probably 20 miles an hour. And it was shakin, oh it was just shakin’ somethin’ awful as if it would fly apart.
C. Oh dear!
D They didn’t hold it there too long, maybe backed off to standard speed. Then we pulled in there at Mobile, Alabama, and went up the river to Chickasaw, pulled in there and docked it, then about a week later we had decommission ceremonies. Everybody had to wear their dress whites. Of course we hadn’t had ’em on for a year. Put on dress whites, all lined up on the ship and they had a decommissioning ceremony, they called it. The Navy turned it over to the shipyard there. They took everything off it that was Navy. We had to work there about two weeks takin’ everything off of it. Took the guns off and anything that had to do with the Navy they stripped off.
C. Well then, they gave it to civilians?
D. Yeah, they sold it to a civilian outfit then to haul bananas from South America. Well, the history says later,1970, it was sold to a scrap yard over in Spain. It was taken to Spain, sold and cut up for scrap. After the decommissioning ceremonies in the afternoon they loaded us all on buses. Actually there was about a couple hundred left there yet. It took four or five buses.
C. By this time you were really anxious to get out, I’ll bet.
D. Yeah, yeah. They took us to New Orleans. We went to New Orleans at the Navy base there and then next day they give us papers and everything there to head home. They gave us a 30-day leave. Yeah, everybody took off, had a 30-day leave.
C. How’d you get home?
D. Train, I think. I’m not real sure. Usually went in and out of Lima. I know when I went to Chicago I’d go to Lima, then take the train into Chicago. We’d board the train there in Chicago and that takes you right out to Great Lakes, right out to the front door. I made that trip quite a few times. Then after that 30-day leave I still didn’t have enough points. I wasn’t in there long enough. I had to go back to Chicago, got on the train again and went to Seattle. At Seattle I took another train and went down to Treasure Island in San Francisco. Bay. You’ve heard of Treasure Island, haven’t you? That was where the World’s Fair was in the late ’30’s.
C. Yeah, I’ve seen the signs to Treasure Island.
D. Just as you go over the Bay, the Oakland Bay Bridge. You gotta go over the Oakland Bay Bridge and you cut down to Treasure Island.
C. I always wondered why they called it ‘Treasure Island.’
D. That was a big naval base then. I stayed there then about two weeks, Treasure Island.
C. Why was it called ‘Treasure’?
D. Oh just a fancy name for it.
C. Because they had the World’s Fair there maybe.
D. Yeah, the World’s Fair. Mammoth big buildings-boy! Big quonsut buildings-big, big buildings. There’s two buildings. They said there was 5000 sailors slept in each one, I mean bunks. Two-tiered bunks. They said there was 5000 in there. Man you could, at night you couldn’t hear yourself think: snorin’-oh! (C. laughs) I was there about two weeks and then I caught another ship-had to go right back out again. That’s it. (laughs) It didn’t last that long though. In about another three or four months I got out permanently, but I had to go right back out again.
C. Byron Armbruster was . . .
D. Byron’s got quite a story, I’ll tell ya!
C. Yeah, his 90th birthday comin’ up. He gave us his story too and he said that they came home from Europe and they were slated to go right on over to the Pacific.
D. Yeah, the ships were all headed that way, but when they dropped those bombs everything kind of slowed up.
C. It was either him or Bob Downey, one or the other, they expected they’d have to just keep right on going.
D. Yeah. I have a map that shows right where we were to land our troops, in the southern part of Japan, right on the island, right where we were gonna land. It was only about a month away. They said they moved it up to September and they dropped the bombs in August and they were goin’ in the next month.
C. I’m so glad they didn’t. That would have been so many lives lost, the Japanese and Americans. Both. They wouldn’t give up. They said the women and kids would fight just as hard. They wouldn’t give up either. That’s the way it was on Okinawa. They had to kill everybody.
C. What was the purpose of that? Why did the Japanese want to fight I wonder?
D. Oh, I don’t know. There was kids runnin’ around on Okinawa in packs, 30 to 40 kids in a pack. That’s all the-there wasn’t any grownups, adults at all, just kids. And, I suppose they were girls and boys both; they looked like boys but I’m sure they were half girls, and they just run around and they’d scrounge food wherever they could and wherever the Army had a kitchen or somethin’ they’d hang around there trying to get food and-I’m sure they fed a lot of them too, the Army, but they just would nobody give up. They’d get down there on the far end of the island, what was left just jumped off the cliffs, committed suicide.
C. Oh they did.
D. Oh yeah, there was pictures of them, women and men both, they just jumped off the high cliffs in the ocean and committed suicide before they’d surrender. Didn’t make sense. But these Marines, this one Marine was so shook up he said one night there on Okinawa they had a machine gun, he and another fellow, and they heard a noise out ahead of them in the bush. He said they opened up and fired, figured they was Japs comin’ after ’em. In the morning they went out and counted ’em-all kids. Runnin’ around there at night, they just got mowed down . But he felt bad about it but he said it was either them or me. They wouldn’t have hurt ‘im; they were just tryin’ to be friends, these kids you know. If you had anything to eat they wanted it. They were starving.
C. Ah, that’s sad!
D. Yeah, we’d take apples along with us when we went on shore leave, and they’d fight over the apple core.
C. Over the core! Well that’s why the prisoners were so emaciated; they hadn’t had enough to eat.
D. Yeah, the Japs were the worst.
C. Why was food so scarce, I wonder?
D. I don’t know if it really was; they just made it scarce.
C. Why would they make it scarce? I don’t understand.
D. Well, their philosophy was different. They thought anybody that surrendered didn’t, shouldn’t live, I guess. They should fight to the death. That was their training.
C. Oh yeah. That was honorable
D. Fight to the death. Yeah. Oh I didn’t-the night the peace was signed the battleship was you know, in Tokyo Bay and that night in Okinawa all the search lights came on, all the ships that had search lights came on. Search lights were on the shore. They was just rakin’ the sky.
C. Did you wonder what was goin’ on?
D. No, no, it was just celebration you know. Even we had some search lights, rakin’ them back and forth across the sky, and then everybody started firin’, firin’ their guns, celebratin’ the surrender you know. And oh, there was a lot of firin’, tracer bullets. See, every so many bullets there was a tracer bullet, so they could tell where they were goin’ and the sky was just red with traacer bullets.
C. Oh, it was!
D. Oh just red. And search lights yet, and they kept that up for a couple hours, everybody -oh, a thousand ships sittin’ around and everybody shootin’, shinin’ lights, and then later on years later at a reunion the Admiral said, “Yeah, there were nine sailors killed that night, stray bullets.”
C. Oh, but tracer bullets wouldn’t kill them.
D. No, tracer bullets wouldn’t but they used live bullets too. Yeah, but I suppose with all them bullets flyin’ around they had to come down somewhere.
C. Probably some of them shot straight in the air and it came down and-
D. Yeah. They was all shootin’ straight up, all around the island. You know they came down somewhere.
C. So after you were mustered out then you came home here, did you?
D. Yeah, I got out in August of ’46. Then Hazel and I got married in ’48.
C. Had you known her before?
C. How’d you happen to meet her?
D. Well, my sister got married first. She married Hazel’s brother, Lawrence. Do you know them up town there, Lawrence Leaders? They got married in the spring and then they took Hazel and I along on a blind date I guess and then we got married in September. And
C. What did Hazel do before she got married?
D. Well she just got out of school. (laughs) I got her right out of school. See, I was gone for two years and I come back and she graduated that year, I think and then we got married in the fall. Yeah, there was about three and a half years’difference in our age I guess.
C. Yeah, you still would be pretty young if you went in when you were fifteen.
D. I was 22 and she was 18. Hazel lived out on a farm out west of Holgate and she had to milk cows twice a day.
C. By hand?
D. By hand, yeah. Her Dad hated to lose her. He had to sign papers too in order for her to get married.
C. Yeah ’cause she wouldn’t be 21 yet.
D. He kind of hesitated a little bit. (laughs)
C. Did you have to ask for his permission or . . .
D. Well, I guess I must have. He went along to the courthouse to sign. Yeah, I don’t know.
C. Well then where did you live then when you were first married?
D. Down the road here was another house up on the hill there. It’s still there. I was born down in the house where John lives.
C. Which one?
D. On the corner there, right across from the township house, that big house? I was born right there, Dr. Fiser was the doctor.
.. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
C. George Rafferty said he spent-oh I don’t know how many trips he made to Chicago to try to convince Campbell Soup to put their plant here. He said he didn’t get any cooperation from the City fathers. Do you know anything about that?
D. George did?
C. Yeah, that’s what he said.
D. To get ’em to come here before they built?
D. Well I don’t know about that. Well I was on the first zoning board. I was on the zoning board when Campbell Soup came in here and built, and Moses Dickey was head of the zoning board, and we’d always meet over at Moses’ house and then we met down here at the township house with Campbell’s attorneys and they wanted us to set their land all outside the zoning you know. They threatened to pull out and not build here unless we set their land all outside the zoning and man we got phone calls from the city officials and they really put pressure on us to set that land out so Campbells would build here. We finally did . That was way back in the ’50’s.
C. So then the City Fathers helped you in a way.
D. Yeah, they got it in here but they weren’t happy. It was in Harrison Township instead of the city. They’ d liked to have had it in the city for taxes.
C. But better to have it outside, really, as big as that plant is. Remember the one that was built in the middle of Defiance and put out such an odor? What was the name of that? It was a real stink in the heart of the city. So you were on the zoning board?
D. Yeah, I was on for a long time. I was on for 30 years, then John followed me. He’s on now, so we’ve been on since it started.
C. Well, Byron Armbruster said that there were several canning plants in the city and one of them became Campbells, so maybe they bought out one of those little ones, did they?
D. Well there was other plants here during the war. Lippencott, then it went to Loudon; then Campbells.
C. Yeah, that’s the one I guess. And Foster.
D. That’s different over there in Foster’s I guess. But I remember when I was in high school I worked at Campbells cause when my folks died I noticed their Social Security numbers was right in line with mine: one two three right on the end.
C. You father’s?
D. Yeah, cause we got them all at the same time causes we all worked at Campbells Soup. We worked at Campbells and we had to get Social Security cards. We got them all at the same time. I didn’t realize that until they passed away but I worked there when I was in high school and Dad had an old Model A truck he took over there and he would load canned soup and haul it over to the fairgrounds and they stored it over at the fairgrounds in those buildings.
C. Oh they did?
D. Yeah. That’s where-he got paid for haulin’ it over there and couple of us would go over there and help load it and unload it. And at that time there was German prisoners-of-war workin’ in the plant, back in the back, stackin’ boxes and things, unloadin’ railcars. There was a whole bunch of German prisoners back there with an armed guard but they weren’t goin’ nowhere. They were happy bein’ here I think. They were stationed up and Defiance at them CCC camps up there.
C. Oh, I wondered where they stayed. Now Ed Peper said that he remembered when he was a kid there were German prisoners-of-war working where he was, but I don’t think it was Campbells. Would it have been the lumber yard where he worked in Holgate?
D. Oh they worked other places. Up at Pleasant Bend I’ve got a friend up there, Winzinger, they built a barn up there for them, German prisoners. A big barn. Carl Winzinger. Anybody that wanted to work could get it.
C. They weren’t a threat or anything.
D. No, they weren’t any threat. See, they was glad the war was over for them. If they’d been Japanese it might have been a different story. (laughs)
C. Well we had Japanese people that we forced ’em to go someplace here in United States. Nobody knew anything about it. It was kept very quiet but just now it’s come out, but I think they were probably treated all right. I never heard of any cruelty toward them.
D. Oh you mean out there in California? I think, they had to do something. There could have been some bad ones in that bunch. It turned out there weren’t any but who know? They could have been. During the war they had guards out here on the railroad bridge across the river. They were posted there all during the war.
C. I didn’t know that. Is that the one here by Campbells?
D. I don’t know about that one but the one right here on the DT&I railroad; they had a guard house on each end. There’s a fellow walked the bridge there, with a rifle. (chuckles)
C. I’d hate to be on there when the train was coming. He’d never . . .
D. Well, he probably wasn’t out there then but he . . . yeah, you’d never know if they had any sabotagers or not.
C. So, when you and Hazel were first living there across from the Grange house, that was on the north side of the road?
D. Yeah. That’s where we lived first. Oh, we moved up and down this road about four times.
C. Oh did ya?
C. How’d it happen?
D. Well, Dad bought a farm down the road where that brick house is down there?
D. So we moved in there, lived there a couple years.
C. Was that brick house there at the time?
D. Brick house, way down? Yeah. That was the Nelson farm.
C. ‘Way down.’ What do you mean?
D. The big brick half a mile down the road from the corner.
C. Yeah. About a half mile west.
D. From the corner. Yeah, he bought that farm after the war. We lived there and then he decided he was gonna remodel that so then we moved where he lived, down on the corner where John lives, moved in there.
C. And John lives katy corner from the Grange?
D. Straight across.
C. Straight across. Moved there then.
D. That’s where I was born. Moved back in there awhile and then, I don’t know what happened. We moved out of there and we moved down here on the hill.
C. On the other side of the road?
D. Yeah. Finally Hazel said, “That’s enough of that. Why don’t we build a house?” (laughs) So that’s when we built. Got my Dad all upset I guess but that’s when we built.
C. Why would he get upset?
D. Oh I don’t know. (chuckles) Y’know when you came back from service a little bit, you matured pretty fast out there. Always worked at home before that and I think your folks expect you to come back and work at home.
C. Oh, be the same, and you’re not.
D. Yeah. They don’t want ya to go out on your own. Hazel and I got married when we didn’t have much to farm here, just one little farm back here I was farmin’ for a fellow. There was a farm for rent up along the river, the Lenhart farm, Walter Lenhart, and he had two farms right after we got married and he said he’d rent one to me and we were goin’ to move up that way but my Dad wouldn’t have that. He said I had to stay here with him, so I had to go back and give ’em up. (chuckles)
C. I’m surprised that he would do that.
D. Yeah, he wanted us down here. He didn’t want us up that way, close to her folks.
C. Is that near where she was born and raised?
D. Well up that way, yeah. It’s a bit closer. Yeah.
C. So, what did you raise then when you were farming?
D. Oh, when Campbells came we started growin’ carrots then. We still grow carrots for Campbells, corn and beans and carrots.
C. Potatoes still?
D. No, we used to grow some potatoes but we give it up.
C. Karl said you have three refrigerated barns now.
D. We’ve got one. One refrigerated barn here. Jay’s got a couple.
C. Oh, that’s where he got the number.
D. Yeah, Jay’s got a couple, but we’ve got one. We store carrots for Campbells in it. We’ve got ’em in there pretty near the year around; they come and go.
C. Don’t they get rotten in there?
D. Well we’ve got refrigeration.
C. Oh that’s right.
D. Yeah, yeah. We’re haulin’ in right now every day, take some over to Campbells.
C. How do you refrigerate a barn?
D. You’ve got air tunnels in the floor. Air comes up through the floor. Yeah, ya gotta keep ’em cool; the air’s gotta stay cool, 32, 33 degrees or they go bad. They go bad quick if it isn’t cool.
C. Well what’d you do, did you just keep buying land then when your crops turned out pretty good?
D. Yeah. This farm here I bought in three different pieces. Ernie Buchop owned this farm. The first 40 acres on that farm I bought and I raised some hogs over there on that side. Then I bought this 40 along the road here and then that’s when we built the house.
C. That’s hard work to raise hogs isn’t it?
D. Yeah. I always liked hogs and I had hogs when we first got married. In fact Hazel’s dad gave us a sow that was gonna have pigs. That’s where I got started, and he always give each one of the kids some livestock or something to get started. I liked hogs. I had ’em back here on this other farm and I raised them over there in the woods. Then I built the building over here after I bought this 40 acres , then moved the hogs up there and kept ’em inside a building. And then I bought some other hogs to go with them to feed out and they got sick, and then I got the whole bunch sick.
C. What’d they get sick from?
D. Well, the ones I bought came from Virginia or somewhere-feeder pigs. They were gonna feed ’em out and they got sick. The other hogs I raised my own, they caught it. Doc Gregory was makin’ more money than I was so. . . (laughs)
C. How’d you get out?
D. So I sold them out. We sold out, and-uh-we had borrowed money at that time to build that hog house and after we sold the hogs we had a dickens of a time getting’ that paid off. Oh, we had a heck of a time. So we decided right then and there-it was only $7500-but that was a lot of money back then. But once we got that paid off we both decided we would never borrow any money for anything except land.
C. That was a pretty good rule.
D. That’s what we always did. We never did. We never borrowed money for anything. If we couldn’t pay for it we didn’t get it, but we’d borrow for land.
C. Good guide to go by.
D. Yeah. And we still do that today, I do. Not many people do that. (chuckles)
C. I remember when Ed was in medical school some neighbors of ours said, “Don’t you buy things on credit? Well look at what all you can buy! You can. . .” We said, “No. We’re not goin’ to do that.” We didn’t.
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