King, Alma and Evelyn Pilliod

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin

CW: I’m interviewing Alma King and Evelyn Pilliod who will hopefully tell us about what it was like to live in the country or the country area, a small town in the early 1900’s.

EP: Early. 1913. Well, houses were much the same as they are today, and many of them were built then and-a Toledo on this mud street.

CW: A mud street!

EP: Yes. My mother lived in Toledo and my Dad and he came down to the County Fair with a friend of his from Defiance. He came for the sole purpose of introducing her to this man and it worked. (laughs) It was George Fierd from Defiance and he married her best friend. They remained friends all their lives. She had come from Canada, I think, too.

CW: Had you mother come from Canada?

EP: Yes, she was born in Canada. They used to skate on skate boards.

CW: Did they skate on the Maumee River?

EP: I don’t remember but she mentioned the skate boards.

CW: Did you do that when you were a girl?

EP: No. I don’t–I think it was before and-a she

CW: While you’re doing some thinking I’ll ask Alma some questions. This is Alma King who presently lives in Angola, Indiana. Alma, you lived in the country as a child, did you?

AK: I lived about 12 miles out of Napoleon and I was the baby of the family which meant that everybody was my boss. I did whatever anybody told me to. Good timing. And we had a hard-coal burner which was a beautiful thing with a lot of chrome on it and it really heated. And my sister and I would get dressed around it. Everybody else would be out of the house by that time. And one time she gave me a push and on the chrome of the stove it said, “Favorite” and part of that for years was on my bottom! (laughs) I think it’s disappeared. And she really caught it too. But we did not have electricity but had kerosene lamps all over that had to be cleaned every Saturday and when I was little they didn’t have indoor plumbing either and last thing at night one of my brothers would have to take me out to the Outhouse, and they hated to do that. (laughs)

CW: What sort of toys did you have?

AK: I had a doll that I dearly loved and we used to play cards quite a lot, some game, I don’t know what the game could have been but my Grandfather lived with us part of the time and he taught us. And the whole family would gather around the table to clean for instance hickory nuts, do family projects like that together.

CW: Did you have popcorn by the dishpanful?

AK: Oh yes. We grew our own of course. Used to make ice cream. I remember mixing it up and setting it out in the cold in winter weather, mostly whipped cream, I’m sure. That is, we children did that. And we had a car. We were among the first to have a car in that area and but the roads would go bad in the winter so when fall came they would take the tires off the car, hang them on the wall of the garage, block up the car till spring, and switch to a surrey. Like to go to church we had a surrey and

CW: Did the surrey have runners on it or wheels?

AK: Wheels.

CW: How did you get to church when there was snow on the roads?

AK: I don’t think that stopped the horses. I think the surrey would go right through. That particular road, it had gravel on it between our houses and the church, so that would be possible but we couldn’t go to town . But in the summertime on Saturdays everybody would go into Napoleon and find a good parking place where you’d expect to see everybody you knew walking by and visit with them and the children would run all over town which is the unsafest thing I could think of in this day and age, but then nothing happened. But my Dad had taught me that if anything ever happened I was just supposed to say, “John Hahn.” (laughs)

CW: That was his name?

AK: Yes. And then when I was 13 and time to go to high school my parents moved into Napoleon and my brother took over the farm and I got lost the first day in high school. You can’t imagine what a tremendous switch that is from a one-room country school to a huge high school. At that time I got lost and I remember Oldfather was so nice to me, told me where I should go and of course I also was talking German in those days and one day walking up to the school building I thought, “My goodness, I’m thinking in English!” (laughs) It was really a completely different life. Talked German at home and English everywhere else.

But I lived through some very interesting times in our history, that’s for sure. And when the Depression came and ruined everything and the year I graduated from high school I was all set to go to college on a scholarship and my Mother said they couldn’t even give me spending money and that was true. They didn’t have any cash. And so I went to work at seventeen as a bookkeeper for the Coal and Ice. My boss was about four feet tall but he was a brilliant accountant really and my Mother one day decided she’d better walk down there and see who I was working for and she decided she didn’t have to worry. (laughs)

CW: I remember your saying you lived in a very big house.

EP: My grandfather built it, and he also put up the building that the clothing store was in. That was in the late 1800’s.

CW: Your grandfather built the building. Then did your father run the clothing store?

EP: Yes. After he quit.

CW: After your grandfather quit.

EP: Yes. And

CW: What was the town like at that time?

EP: On Saturday, just as Alma said, everybody came into town; the kids went to the movies.

CW: How much did they pay for a movie?

EP: I don’t remember.

CW: I think I remember someone saying it was 10 cents.

EP: I don’t think it was any more than that. And they I don’t know.

CW: What did you play with your sisters?

EP: Oh we played with dolls. We used to play cards. With Grandmother we played Casino. We played , I think we played Hearts. I’m not sure.

CW: I remember playing Kick the Can outside. Did you play that? You’d set a can up.

EP: We played Fantan cards. Outdoors we played under the lights at night and the whole neighborhood was involved.

CW: Playing in a card game, do you mean?

EP: No, no. In the games under the lights.

CW: Were they electric?

EP: I don’t really remember flames.

CW: I think the electricity must have come to the small towns before it did to the country.

EP: Maybe.

CW: Because when I was married in 1941 I remember they still had just not very long before that gotten electricity in the country.

AK: My brother had gotten electricity about ’39 where I lived. I thought it was something that I probably ought to something unusual. When I was a baby my brother, who later turned into a minister, was supposed to take care of me and the hired hand was plowing a field, which meant you had horses before the plow and hired hand behind that. And all at once the horses just refused to go another step. They absolutely would not go. And the hired man went up there to see what was the matter and there was Alma propped up in the previous furrow. My brother had thought that was a nice place to park me. And the horses wouldn’t go any farther.

CW: That was right where they were headed with the plow!

AK: I think that is really interesting. He also sat me on the edge of the stock watering trough one time and of course I fell in. But he fished me out. (laughs) He was not the world’s best baby sitter. That’s all that occurs to me right now.

CW: What about when you first went to school, Evelyn?

EP: Well, we had Mass first upstairs over the school. There was a chapel over the school and

CW: Did they have hired teachers or?

EP: We had Nuns

CW: Were they good teachers?

EP: Well, we didn’t know any better, of course.

CW: Strict?

EP: Yes. Strict. They came from Toledo.

CW: How did you get to school? Did you walk?

EP: Oh yeah. All the time. We walked to and from. Of course Margaret Sloan, they had chauffer who brought her and a carriage in the event it was raining. We plowed through the water.

CW: Did they tease her about that?

EP: No, I don’t recall that they did. They just knew the Sloans. The Sloans owned a gas company at that time.

CW: Taking to the woodshed. What did that mean? That he would get a spanking?

EP: Yeah.

CW: Did they send them to the woodshed from school if they misbehaved?

EP: Oh yeah. From school.

Connie Wulff: Did you ever have to sit in the Dumb Seat? In the corner with the Dumb hat on?

EP: No. I was good.

CW: Tell about the Bridge Club you started.

AK: Nobody knew anything about it. We started in this 500 Club and gradually moved into Bridge and enjoyed it immensely, a very nice crowd of girls.

CW: How many? One table?

AK: Two tables. And our mothers would fix wonderful lunches. I remember Evelyn’s mother made this delicious date pudding with whipped cream on it. I can still remember.

EP: And eighth grade had their club too.

AK: But we were all equally stupid so if you made a mistake it didn’t matter, but we learned, and enjoyed it very much. And played golf a lot too during those years.

CW: What was the golf course like?

AK: It was in the same place as it is now but the clubhouse was on Bales Road.

CW: Did you carry a bagful of clubs?

AK: Oh yes, and then after a while we had a –what would you call this thing on wheels that you pulled that held the clubs? I don’t remember the name of it.

CW: A cart.

AK: A cart, yes, and Norm taught me how to play golf. He taught me a lot of things! (laughs) He let me use his clubs too.

CW: Did you ever play at that little town of Texas nearby?

AK: Maybe just once. We would play at Valleywood. And at Wayne Park there were dances every Sunday night, Saturday night? I don’t know which.

CW: What were they like?

AK: Which were very well attended. That’s where I met Norm.

CW: That was when?

AK: 1930 and I was a senior in high school.

CW: Did they have big bands then?

AK: Yes. The people came from miles around to those dances. They were very popular.

CW: Did you go to the dances too?

EP: Yeah.

CW: And I’ll bet they had some famous bands.

EP: Yes. They had the Cotton Pickers. Oh, we practically lived out there sometimes. (laughs)

CW: Did you go across to Gerty’s Island ever?

EP: Yes. Not often though. We went to a number of places on the river. Indianola was one. That was an island. And we went to–what were some of the others?

CW: What did they do on those islands?

EP: Danced.

CW: Oh they had a dance floor there?

EP: Yeah. Some had a marble floor.Seems to me that one was–

CW: How could they have boats big enough to carry a lot of people on this small river? What sort of boats were they?

EP: Oh they had cargo boats going down here. It was quite a waterway at one time. My Dad used to tell about the times that they arrived in Napoleon and the captains would get together for a big party and–anyway it was quite a celebration.

CW: Canal boats?

EP: Yeah. They had carpet bushes What they took we don’t know. They thought a real passage

CW: Passage on through to what?

EP: To board–

CW: Oh, I see. Probably to carry the cargo down to the Mississippi or something?

EP: Yeah.

CW: They were just getting started on that when the railroads came through and killed all the canal business, didn’t it.

EP: the swamp made bricks for us.

CW: Brakes for the canal boats?

EP: No. For the ships.

CW: Oh, on the ocean? Did they make those big brakes and then send them on the canal boats down to the ocean maybe?

CW: What sort of mischief did you girls get into when you were in high school?

AK: Yeah, but we don’t talk about that. Probably we’re not too innocent.

C,. I’d like to hear about Halloween. Can you tell us about Halloween?

AK: A little. But one thing I remember I think is so nasty. We left tires out of a car back of Snyder’s house.

CW: Let the air out of the tires you mean?

AK: What a thing to do to someone, and we thought it was funny! I’m ashamed of it. (laughs) I suppose we did the soaping of windows too. But we also had parties where you got all dressed up. I remember that.

EP: I remember Aunt Em, the ‘s wife, always dressed up as a little Dutch boy. She had won a prize on the boat for her costume and she always dressed in that outfit. She was quite

CW: I remember making–we’d take empty spools that thread had been on. We’d notch the edges because those were always wood. Then we’d wrap a string around them, put a pencil through them and then we’d sneak up to somebody’s window, put the spool against the window and pull the string and it would make this loud clatter on the window. Then we’d run. We thought we were really bad! (laughs) But we didn’t have any Trick or Treat in those days.

AK: You did the trick.

CW: Yeah. We did the trick.

EP: We used to collect food.

CW: On Halloween?

EP: Uh huh.

CW: And what would you do with the food?

EP: Eat it. Candy and stuff. I don’t remember popcorn but we had popcorn balls.

CW: Oh yeah. They would make popcorn balls. My mother would do that.

EP: We always pulled taffy at Christmas and my aunt said it was supposed to get white.

CW: Did it?

EP: Uh huh. Then it was ready to cut off into pieces.

CW: I remember going to a taffy pull. It was kind of a party. And they woule cook this taffy till it was just about right and then we were supposed to pull it, but it was so hot I could hardly touch it. I didn’t like it very well.

EP: We always made–my aunt made taffy and she made peanut brittle too. That was just a custom at Christmas time.

CW: Did you ever have maple syrup that you cooked down to make maple sugar? One thing I remember was going to a party at the Legion it was, something like that, and there was a dish like a cereal bowl full of snow at each plate. And they cooked the maple syrup and then they poured it on the snow of each dish. It would harden right away, then they’d pull it out and eat it. Other times we’d have an empty cereal bowl and they’d pour a little and we’d stir and stir and stir until it would become hardened and then we had maple candy.

AK: That we never did.

CW: Must not have had many maple trees, I’ll bet.

AK: Yes, we had maple trees. Not that I remember.

EP: That trance

AK: This is Alma again. Back in 1916 a man came around and sold my Dad a Mitchell car which was a beautiful thing, a seven-passenger car and there were drop seats behind the front, back of the front seat to make the seventh seat. And it had side curtains in case a rain came up everybody had a job to do to put the side curtains up.

CW: You had to snap them on, didn’t you?

AK: Yeah. Snapped on, but on clear days my Dad, if we didn’t have side curtains up, my Dad chewed tobacco and whoever sat behind him in the back seat was going to get it! (laughs) We resented that. But if you went on a trip you expected to have a couple flat tires or something go wrong. You were prepared for that. You could repair innertubes, I think, vulcanized or something, and you allowed extra time and we did make some trips. The man who sold my Dad that car ended up to be the father of my future husband. He had a garage here in town: King’s Garage and they and my parents used to kid each other that he came out here just in time for dinner. (laughs)

EP: Well, my father had a seven-passenger car too. It had been ordered by some of the Pilliods in Swanton and he decided that he had to have that car, so they sold him the car instead. The Pilliods had to get another one someplace. (laughs)

CW: Do you remember what kind of a car?

EP: It was a Cadillac. And oh gee we had more fun with it before we got rid of it. Remember we used to pound the carburator? It would stall and I would get out and pound what I thought was the carburator and we’d start off again. We took it to Miami once when Gerry Boyer was down there and stayed for the weekend and there anyway and back again. We had a great time with it.

CW: Do you remember having flat tires?

EP: Uh, no I don’t.

CW: The roads in Pennsylvania anyway were deep ruts from the buggy wheels. When we’d go in our car we’d goup over a hump and down into another rut. It was hard driving, I think.

Karabin, Martin (written)


by Martin Karabin, born October, 1934

(This story accompanies Martin Karabin’s oral history. It should be read before reading the oral history, as it will help the reader understand Mr. Karabin’s remarkable story.)

My father’s home was with his parent in the town of Bezmihowa, county of Lesko, state of Rzeszow, Poland, it was about 4 kilometers long.

Town was in the valley. Large creek ran the length, one main street ran through it, and it was divided into Lower, Upper and the center in which we lived. Poles inhabited the Lower, Ukrainians inhabited the Upper and the middle was comprised of about a dozen homesteads which included Poles, Likes and mostly Jewish. They owned a bakery.

My mother’s parents lived in Stefkova, Olszanica, Rrzeszow, Poland.

Before the war, mother worked for Panstwo, a kind of hierarchy appointed by the state. They had the biggest house in the town. They entertained often the visiting dignitaries, and were well to do financially. The two older children were about my age so I was at their house often and enjoyed finer foods and particularly desserts. Here my mother learned the art of entertaining, cooking and most important, baking fine torts, some of which was passed onto my wife.

Mother had 4 brothers and no sisters. The oldest brother was drafted by the Polish army but ended up in Siberia. After a time they were rescued by the British general and sent to the Arabia and Egypt. A few years after the war ended mother with help of others brought her brother to America. My father had 6 brothers and two sisters. The oldest brother was brought to America and some years later the youngest brother came. All others perished during the war while their parents survived and lived to a healthy age of mid-nineties.

One time Russian forward party came through, about 8 or 9 of them with tattered clothing. They begged for rags to cover their feet and asked if they could pick and eat the peas, which were ready in the garden. My grandmother told them they could have them. A few moments later, a German tank rolled around the bend slowly patrolling the area. The Russians vanished and were not seen again.

When I was 8 or 9, I took the two cows grandparents owned out to pasture some distance away in the hills bordering another town. There began artillery shelling from the top of one hill into the woods on the other side of the town to which the cows and I were close. As the shelling continued the mother cow made a moo sound and began walking toward home. The younger cow, calf of the older one began to follow and I too followed right behind. When we got closer to town, there was a depression in the dirt road with high banks on either side, and as the shells came whistling over our heads, the older cow mooed again, and both she and the younger one both fell down to their knees and I did too. There was a great explosion above but the shrapnel did not affect the cows or me. Only later did I find out that the family living there and their home was completely destroyed And as we proceeded home we crossed a little creek on the other side of a small hill before approaching the town and home, I heard ps, ps, ps of bullets landing in the creek. That day the cows brought me home safely.

As the war was raging and the artillery shelling from time to time, there were rumors about atomic weapons. This inspired the townspeople get together and build a large bunker in to which many could fit. It was built at the side of a hill using wooden logs which were stood up two deep and sandwiched in between was piled earth about a foot thick. The roof of this bunker was also made of logs in three layers criss-crossed with earth sandwiched between each layer. When the bunker was completed people gathered as in a drill to estimate if of sufficient size. There was a decision reached that another bunker of even larger size was needed but was never built and the fist one was never used anyway.

As the war progressed, war materiel was abandoned in the woods on the hills. There were machine guns and artillery guns. There were unused artillery shells, grenades and other munitions. Some local adults, but mostly the younger set, would mess around those things. As a result often there would be a report of someone losing limb, getting badly hurt or even getting killed. One of mother’s brothers met a girl from the neighboring town to Bezmihova and as was a practice the means of transporting oneself was by walking. One day they both arrived in Bezmihova on their way to Stejkova where he lived. As evening was approaching, mother found out that the local partisan group intended to kill my uncle because he was a Pole while she was Ukrainian. Mother quickly was able to borrow a horse and a wagon, buckboard type and had me on the wagon to drive it out of town with both my uncle and the girlfriend covered behind me on the wagon. Mother ordered me to ride as fast as the horse would go since we had to take the long way to be able to use a road. As it turned out night came upon us as we entered the woods bordering the next town on the road to Stejkova, which hastened our escape. The partisans, some on horseback gave chase but it was too late.

In Stefkova, as the Germans were retreating a German officer gave my uncle a trained German shepherd dog to keep. He was well trained. He would stand on his hind legs with front paws on the man’s shoulder and if that man even twitched, the dog would attack.

After the war ended, the powers in charge decided that Poland was for poles and all the Ukrainians were to be deported to Ukraine, Poland was to be for poles only. My mother was placed under guard , brought to Lesko along with many others to board the train. No explanation was acceptable from her even though she was Polish as were both her parents. At the age of about 10, or 11, being a kid I with others kids went through the city of Lesko where stores were looted, tons of paper everywhere, but finding what was happening I did not know until I located my mother. She asked that I try to get her brothers to vouch for her. I walked and ran as much of the distance from Lesko to Stejkova, found one of my uncles, then both of us hurried on foot many kilometers back to intercept the train that was about to pull out with mother on it. We got back to Lesko just in time to rescue mother.

After the invasion of Poland by Germany, there followed a great famine. Because the crops were confiscated, it left the people with little to live on. Many went to look for certain weeds in the fields and woods such as fern roots, nettle, thistle and loboda’ a geen-gray weed known here as arrach or orrach. that grows on good and poor soil. Thistle in particular tasted very good provided you had some fat to fry or sauté it and provided you could find it since many others were looking for the same thing. When UNDRA, the United Nations Relief began to arrive in Poland, mother got involved and was able to obtain lard and salt which was in high demand as she distributed those provisions in town. Of course, there was never sufficient quantity of foodstuff to share with everyone. Also mother had to account for all that she received and distributed.

During the war there was little danger from either Russians or the Germans. The front lines were generally somewhere else, only the shelling was evident from time to time but the shells did not drop anywhere in the town of Bezmihowa. When the Germans came to the town, they checked everyone over for disease. One girl, a teenager was found with lice on her head, she was publicly shaved and treated to get rid of lice.

In general the danger came from your own people who formed the underground. Instead of fighting the enemy, the rode roughshod over the townspeople, issuing orders and collecting food and clothing for themselves.

Between the Upper and Lower Bezmihova was a central section which generally was considered to be part of the Upper Bezmihova because mostly Ukrainians lived in the Upper and mostly Poles in the Lower. In the middle there were perhaps a dozen homes of which my namesake, Karabin, occupied half. We were all related in some manner. My cousin directly across the street, after joining the partisans, became very aggressive. We got word that he wanted to kill mother because she was a Pole and interfered with his plan for the possession of my grandparent’s estate. Mother and I spent many a night in hiding, generally at someone else ‘s house where the partisans did not expect us to be. The leader of the partisans was a woman, a cousin of my mother, but that did not matter.

The partisan’s activities culminated one dreadful night when they murdered three or four people and in addition the mayor of the town was murdered in my grandparents’ house where we lived. He stopped in for a visit and was quickly overcome by a band of the same partisans in the early evening; they punched with their fists and clubs until he looked dead. Since it was a small bedroom where it happened and we were preparing for bed, all of the action was happening in our presence. I screamed loudly and mother was told to shut me up or that they would. They dragged the mayor’s body for over a kilometer to the town office and hung him there with another. After that incident which might have been during the occupation of the town by the Russians, investigations began and the leaders on the partisan group either skipped the area and some were captured then taken away.

On one occasion during the occupation of the town by the Russians, everyone had to house the soldiers. This resulted in numerous claims of rape including one of a five-year-old girl. Our house was assigned a captain who after being there for a few weeks became more trusting. One Sunday morning he spoke out by telling us not to miss Mass. Then he recited the portion of the gospel that would be read that day at mass in our church, which was Eastern (Byzantine) Catholic Church. His knowledge of the readings from the bible for not only that Sunday but others that followed astonished every one. He explained that he was studying for priesthood in the Russian Orthodox Church. He also begged not to be exposed for it would have meant a certain death for him.

In the central section of town was a settlement of Jews, about 6 families. As a kid I played with a couple of my Jewish friends. The family owned a bakery which produced some very fine rolls and breads along with some sweets. One day they were told to pack up and were escorted under guard, loaded on a truck and transported to Lesko, the last we ever heard about their whereabouts while their houses remained vacant thereafter and the bakery after a while was burned down. At this time mother decided to move to Stefkova to live with her family. One day I was out somewhere and as I was returning home I saw a long line of Jews of all ages gathered on the road. This town like Bezmihova had one main road through town by which houses were built They carried no belongings and with them was one of my uncles carrying a carbine guarding them. Later I was told that if my uncle refused to guard the he would have been shot on the spot. Among those in line was a good friend of my uncle’s. Through some mutual understanding that did not reveal to others what they were planning, the friend jumped into the creek which had brush along the sides and a short distance later emptied into a small river deep enough to hide a man. As the man was escaping, my uncle shot at him several times intentionally missing. The German guard quickly ran to the shooter and began to search the creek after my uncle explained what had happened. Over that incident he was nearly shot himself. When every one of the Jews were gathered, they were marched a short distance where they crossed the creek, bridged across the deep banks on each side. There was a mass grave dug and all were shot falling into the grave. When the war ended my uncle received a letter from his friend who was then living somewhere in France telling him that he successfully escaped and survived the ordeal.

After mother and I moved to Stejkova the Germans were occupying that town. There was a small detachment that positioned an antiaircraft gun against a two-story schoolhouse building, the only tall building in the area other than the churches and just two town lots removed from mother’s family house. This gun was well camouflaged. As a kid we could visit with the soldiers and even get some food like soup and fruit, which I would take home for others. Then one day the town was bombarded with leaflets to seek shelter because the heavy bombing of the area would take place to immobilize the antiaircraft gun. Mother took me to hide along the banks of the river not too far from home while others hid under the bridge at the house. When the bombing began, some bombs fell it seemed like on top of the banks of the river cutting the underbrush to shreds. After a day or two of bombing, several homes were destroyed along with part of the schoolhouse, the gun was disabled and the German detachment retreated abandoning the gun at the schoolhouse.

When the war ended mother and I moved to western part of Poland near Breslau which became Wroclaw when the historic 1000 mile strip of Poland which had changed hands each time after each war from Polish hands to German hands and back again. In this part of the country we encountered partisan groups from many factions. There were Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, and Byelorussians. These groups were looking only for support in food and clothing as they passed through. At this time, mother began to push for us to get to America, soliciting the help of her uncle in Johnstown, Pa.

My father was already in the States, coming in 1937, but the local alderman withheld the papers that should have been approved for over a year. When he finally released them it was already too late — the war started. On his deathbed he summoned my father so he could apologize for his arrogance.

In order to get our emigration papers approved, I was summoned to Warsaw to meet with the NKVD. Mother and I traveled to Warsaw. The mode of transportation was train, a bus or tram if you were lucky, then mostly walking. And here we were with our two carry bags; one was a suitcase, dragging our possessions wherever we went. It was difficult to find the location since Warsaw central was basically in piles of rubble but many of the streets were cleared. After several hours of interrogation in which my mother could not participate, my papers were approved. One of the questions that is still clear was, “What makes you think that you are American citizen? Mother and others grilled me on some things. We did not know what would be asked of me but as kids going through the war we quickly learned to keep secrets and not to talk too much or at all about politics. By virtue of my father being born in Philadelphia I was an American citizen. At about the same time in trying to book a passage to the United States, mother learned that the Americans were gathering all citizens to move them to the United States so we boarded the troop ship SS Ernie Pyle for the voyage to America. The ship traveled through the German port of Bremerhaven and then the canal to the North Sea. The voyage was not too difficult; we did encounter storms at sea. Throughout the ocean crossing, mother remained ill, confined to her bed. She would not eat any food that was prepared for all of us. She survived for most part on the fruit that was given to us and the extra oranges I was able to get from the kitchen. On my thirteenth birthday I woke up in the New York harbor.

As a matter of information, being good at schoolwork, I completed 4th and 5th grade in one year but the 6th grade I began twice in Poland due to war and then twice in the United states while learning the English language. At that time English was taught in the 7th grade in Poland.

Karabin, Martin

Interviewed by C. Wangrin, December, 2003

(Please read My Thoughts on WWII before reading this oral history.)

M. That 1000-mile strip has probably changed hands over several centuries I suppose. Some kind of war comes off and it changes hands, so it was returned just before. (laughs)

C. Juanita was saying something about this uncle.

M. Well she was saying the youngest uncle wanted to marry a Polish girl and he was here, so Mother somehow or other, and this was in the western part of Poland where we lived last and she knew a family and knew of a particular woman who had a young sister and so one time Mother and he went to Poland. One interesting part was that when they landed and visited the family then they found not a cab but a gentleman who had a car and–maybe he did provide cab services of that sort but he took them around. He says, “I don’t want anything. I just want to be. . . I’ll take you anywhere you want to go and it was just for the food and lodging. And lodging is a little easier. You stop at the hotel. You stay with whatever family you have in town or your own family. So they managed to travel many miles to get to the area of western Poland where my uncle met the girl–I guess it was Warsaw where they landed. He brought her to the United States and they got married. Actually he took the dress material to Poland with him.

C. Oh he did! Is that right?

M. To have it made, and the wedding was in Poland. But anyways that–and he lived a happy life.

C. Where did they live then, in Poland?

M. No no. He brought her back; he had a visa for her. I don’t know but what it was a little later that she came; he brought her to Princeton, New Jersey. So they have spread out in the ‘land of milk and honey’, things made out of chocolates. So you look forward to it and you really don’t look at the fear. You just want to know where she was ushered through–I don’t even know whether we stopped at Ellis Island. In my coming to America, Mother and I were ushered through to the train. I don’t know whether we stopped at Ellis Island or not. The train took us to Johnstown, PA.

C. So that’s where you met your father?

M. That’s where I met my father.

C. It must have seemed strange, having lived apart from your father for 10 years, at that age it would seem very strange.

M. Well, there were memories, you know, and letters, so I started to know him that way but to have a memory of him–no, just a picture.

C. Yeah. Well at three years old you wouldn’t.

M. And the pictures in those days weren’t as good as they are today.

C. It’s amazing what they can do with those old pictures now though. Now, this is such a good story I think, about when you took the cows out at your grandparents’ house, out in the pasture and then went to get them. Weren’t you afraid when you did this?

M. No. There’s the need: who’s going to do it? So kids played their role in whatever’s happening, and during the war it was oftentimes that we–if there was a battle raging of some sort they would close the school, so we were available. And being available we took the cows out to pasture; this was a fairly long walk several miles or kilometers or whatever into the hills and then well oftentimes we would spend the night and at my age at that time–I was 8 or 9 or so–or there were maybe 2 or 3 other kids that also came along and so at night to protect ourselves we’d build a fire and have plenty of sticks to build the fire away from the woods and out in the wide open so that when the wolves did come we had the fire and we had burning sticks that would have a flame or whatever on the end of it.

C. Oh and then you could scare them away.

M. You could scare ’em away. We did have wolves. They traveled in packs.

C. Did you have a pack that came close to you?

M. Oh yes. They came around us but they stayed there for a little while and we just huddled by the fire and we had plenty of wood already set up for ourselves so it was an experience that we got through.

C. I’ll say!

M. But anyway, as I said, the shelling started one afternoon and we headed back. That was it.

C. Now was the shelling quite close by?

M. Well the shelling was hitting the woods and we were right up against the woods so we’d move away from there and-uh-wherever they thought they had–there was some guns’ position–oh I guess we must have been oh maybe a mile or so away but we walked right by that position to go to the pasture.

C. Oh dear!

M. Yeah. So they bombarded that and as I said here one of those shells and maybe several came down and when they’d whistle over your head or what not the cow laid down and so did the calf and–hey, maybe they know something, so I had enough sense to go down and the thing hit on top of the little ridge and this was a depression in a little wood, and that time it also hit the house and killed the people in the house.

C. Really!

M. The house was right up against the woods and guns that were firing back were right around there in the woods, well catalogued but open and able to fire out there.

C. Now the guns in the woods, were those German guns or Russian or–

M. In this case that was German. Russians were on the other side, in the other area.

C. So what two armies were shooting these?

M. The Russian and German. In our case we had only the Russian and German armies fighting in the area. The Polish army was in Siberia. (laughs) You know when the Germans passed through our area, and of course it was occupation, but when they passed through they continued on and my cousin who is back in Johnstown now, he used to tell this story, so–well the story is when they went in to Rostow (Russia, Ukraine actually down by the Caspian Sea, or the Black Sea) when the Germans came into town they were heralded as the Liberators and the town–and it’s a big town–the city went out to welcome them, lined the streets and what not–and the Germans opened fire on them, mowing those people down.

C. Oh dear!

M. Talk about atrocities! Why would they do that, I don’t know, especially when they were friendly so that creates the very fierce underground. They needed it to protect themselves.

C. Sure.

M. What else can I tell you?

C. Well let me see. When you came to Henry County then you came as an administrator, didn’t you?

M. Yes.

C. Did you find any changes in the area, the people or anything from the time when you first came to now?

M. There’s a tremendous difference in the feeling as to how the world feels today as to the United States. At the time back in 1947 anybody that had an accent or was a foreigner was a ‘hunkey’ so certain people would segregate themselves from you. I had a lot of friends. I went to high school and college and that was not a problem but in your own local areas it would be a little more of a problem. That seems to have vanished completely. Now we have radio announcers, TV–we’ve got them from all over the world, with all kinds of worldly names. You have people that–foreign companies owning American companies. You have managers that are foreign in many of the companies, so you have that and that is a major change.

C. And a good one.

M. Well it’s now the uniformity and I think slowly perhaps the rest of the world will be changing as well. Of course this is still a melting pot where the rest of the world–where they’re very nice people but it’s still pretty much one kind. We went to Spain a couple years ago and Spain is Spanish (laughs) but you don’t have the Americans there, well you do have them here and there but there were many Britishers.

C. I remember Hitler had this great idea that he was going to have a pure Aryan race. They were all to be blonde and blue eyes.

M. Well that’s what his military turned out to be, a lot of them, at least as we viewed them when they came through. Anybody else, well they didn’t measure up. They also had to be certain height too, not just blue-eyed blondes. They had no feeling; if something didn’t go their way, they would shoot first.

C. And there were no punishments for them.

M. Well you wouldn’t know what the results were if they were taken away and punished.

C. I see here on this second page of what you have written you are telling what it was like after the war ended. Would you elaborate on that?

M. In the–after the war ended–and of course at that stage it was the Russians there and for some reason the decision was made that Poland was for Poles and they removed all–the Ukranians or other groups of people, and that included the western end as well because the Germans were evicted from this 1000 mile strip. My mother by virtue of her marriage to a Ukranian and even though she was Polish she was Ukrainian in their eyes, and all of these people were taken to the county seat and there to board the train.

C. Your mother included?

M. My mother was there and she had–and the train of course was made up of cattle cars. Did you see ‘Dr. Zhivago’? (laughs) That kind of thing. And they had those all set up–they started loading them and the train was to pull out that evening. Well I didn’t find out about it till a little later and then I was looking for her because I knew she was in town and we found out what the situation was and she says, “You’ve got to get my brother here to vouch for me or I won’t be here.” And she also told me, “Don’t get on the train.” I was a kid. Again, you get away with a lot being small. At that time in the town a lot of the businesses were ravished. They were–you could go into a store and it would have I guess in our case chest-deep in paper. Paper was something was very hard to get in Poland. If you had one tablet you preserved every page of it and wrote on both sides so it was something new for us. “Look at all this paper that we couldn’t get.” and some of those were clean sheets. But this was store by store by store that had a number of these in this center of the town, the market square. Mother told me to “Just follow that road till you get to–Olszanica, then to Stefkowa. So I ran and and walked and ran and walked.

C. How many miles did you have to go?

M. That’s a pretty good distance there, probably–just a guess, I think it took me over two hours to get to the uncles. And so even with all the shortcuts that you take, I got one of them to come with me and I guess he borrowed a horse so we had something to help us to go a little faster, and so we got there in time to get her off the train.

C. Now tell me, you said cattle cars, that’s the kind with the slats on the side. Were the people just all standing up inside?

M. Um-hm. They were crowded in.

C. I’d say that’s pretty scary.

M. Well that’s part of life. That’s part of the procedure. There’s no real care about that. You see that went on throughout Poland because in our area we had cross-pollinated with Ukrainians, the Belarus, of course that’s another one. Of course all of Eastern Poland is on the border of Russia. And you go across and up in Danzig you have the Germans and of course all of Western Poland is German. The new Western Poland is strictly German. All of that was cleared out.

C. “Cleared out”–what do you mean?

M. Of the Germans. It’s now Polish. Polish people took over.

C. Germans go back to Germany.

M. Yeah. And you don’t go there to buy the house; you just assume the house, property. You just move in to the house. So how do you recover your possessions? Only what you take with you. That’s just it.

C. Harsh.

M. Well, on the surface it seemed harsh but at the same time you were glad you were still alive. (laughs)

C. Horrible war!

M. It was and, you know, everything that’s happening today with Iraq and the others is pretty horrible.

C. Man’s inhumanity to man. When the Russians occupied the town how did they get food and lodging?

M. Well they would be as they came into town they would be marched and knock on the door or whatever and ,”O.K. these two stay here. That one stays somewhere else.” and so you got the whole thing spread out, and every house had one or two. And that’s how they got housing and that’s how they got food. The house provided the food at this particular time when they occupied our town which was, I believe for several months.

The most astounding fact was that the Captain that we had in our house, and we only had one. That captain he, after he got to know the parents and grandparents of mine, he, one Sunday morning he confided–maybe I made a squawk about not going to church or something and anyway he pulled Mother and me aside and said, “Go to church and pray. Today you will hear this Gospel in church.”

C. How did ye know that?

M. He apparently was trained. He did not have a book or anything with him so he must have been trained or whatever, and he told us, “If they found out that I told you so I would be executed.” Religion was not part of anything in which the Russians were interested regardless of what their religion was.

C. Yeah. We read about them stabling horses in church.

M. Yeah. In our case they did not house horses in the church but as I recall I know the church was closed and I know there wasn’t anything–I don’t think they even used the church. There weren’t that many; you know it wasn’t battalions of them coming through. It was just a small contingent there.

C. Interesting stuff! You said that after your mother and you moved to Stefkowa, the Germans were occupying that town. Now was that different from when the Russians were in the other town?

M. Well in this it was occupied but there weren’t that many Germans in this particular instance. What there was, was a contingent of a small squad or two that had an anti-aircraft gun, and that anti-aircraft gun was positioned right against the tallest building in town which was the school house. This was a brick school house and I think it may have had two stories and in setting it up against that it was well camouflaged. There was even a tree next to it, and there was an awful lot of firing from that position. You know, the kids go playing, and I was there a different number of times and often I would bring food home from there.

C. From the Germans?

M. From the Germans. See they had a soup kitchen over there and it happened to be that the schoolhouse was only maybe two city blocks from my grandparents’ house, and they were positioned across the road from the schoolhouse. They didn’t occupy the schoolhouse. The school was closed, see. No school at that time. And our food was in short supply and so I would bring an occasional fruit and even soup from there. I would have a bite or so with them but I took some home. They didn’t mind it. That was O.K. That was extra for them I suppose and so in this case they were very nice as far as we were concerned until the bombardment of the schoolhouse began and the planes came over and–first of all a small plane dumped leaflets all over the place. They just about showered the town.

C. What did the leaflets say? Were they in Russian?

M. They were in the language of the people but the leaflets say something about the–to take cover. There will be bombardment. There is a gun in your town–or something like that–whatever–beyond that but that included at least that much and so when they came in the gun was disabled. The schoolhouse was–well one half of it was destroyed as they had laid a series of bombs across the town.

C. Allied forces?

M. At that point, no. I don’t know that Allied Forces ever got into Poland. It was Russians at this point and they bombarded across the town. Apparently they got some information as to where the gun must have been because apparently only about half of the schoolhouse was destroyed and of course the gun disabled and the German soldiers departed. And that was it.

Now in Poland during the war years there was a great famine. While United States enjoyed the best years, Poland had it tough. While the American Depression was going on Poland had their best years and very fine living at that time but when Hitler and his forces came through…

[No further transcription done. Status of interview tape unknown.]

Heitman, Julia

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, November 8, 2005

Charlotte: Tell me your name?

Julia: Julia Heitman

C: And this is (pause) November 8, 2005 and this is Charlotte Wangrin and Julia’s going to tell me about her childhood, (pause) years ago, (pause) Okay?

J: Maybe I don’t want to tell it all in front of her (laughs)

C: (laughs) And you’ll receive a coffee too.

J: Well I’m trying to think of what, what all we did.

C: Um, first of all, where was it that you lived as a child?

J: On road 17 between here and Ridgeville.

C: Okay, and what have you had some thoughts about what you did in the fall?

J: Yeah, (pause) the first thing that I thought of, was that we always had to pick grapes because they would be ripe at that time. We couldn’t mess around, we just got home right after school, changed clothes, and picked grapes, and carried wood in the house, maybe feed chickens, and then we put… the dishes, we’d always hurried getting the dishes done so we could listen to Amos and Andy.

C: Oh, I remember Amos and Andy (laughs). You know those were white boys but they made themselves sound like black, didn’t they?

J: Yeah, they really did, they really weren’t black?

C: No.

J: Hmm.

C: (pause) So um, did you have a school bus drop you off at the school?

J: (laughs) We didn’t know what a school bus was (laughs).

C: (laughs).

J: No, we walked.

C: How far?

J: Two miles, each way.

C: Two miles each way?

J: Yeah.

C: Was that to a one room school house?

J: Yeah, yeah, you have to ask me questions. That helps me.

C: Okay, so that you got a good bit of exercise just getting to and from school, didn’t ya?

J: Yeah.

C: Walked four miles total.

J: Yeah, and we packed, you know, our lunch everyday. Should I talk about the dog? (laughs)

C: Yeah, tell me about the dog (laughs).

J: We had this wild dog, he always wanted to go to school with us, so he got out of the shed one morning; Grandpa had him, or my dad, had him penned in there, but he got out and we were walking out there on Route 6, just walking away you know, and on our way. Pretty soon we see this big thing going around us, it was our dog (laughs) and he still was trying to go to school (laughs) he had his tail stuck in Hermie’s lunch bucket. (laughs)

C: Oh dear (laughs).

J: So she didn’t have a lunch that day, he had it.

C: (laughs).

J: I don’t know how he, how we got him back home. Dad must have come picked him up maybe, that was one of the highlights of school and (pause) we played this game at school, Andy Over… Annie Over

C: Annie Over?

J: Yeah, and then we played (pause) what we called a baseball game, what we called a Side Ball.

C: What was that?

J: Well it was kind of like baseball but it had only two bases and you just get on one and run on another one and back (pause) and they used to play a game called Stink Base.

C: (laughs) Oh, what would that be?

J: But I never learned it.

C: Do you know how they played it?

J: No, not at all, I don’t know it. See I’ve never been the type to dive in and do stuff, so I never learned it. (pause) But I guess I told you about everything we did in the winter after school, weekends we had to carry wood across the day on Saturday so there would be enough for the weekend. Sometimes we help chop it.

C: Did you have your own wood?

J: Yeah.

C: Your dad would go out and chop down a tree?

J: We had a, well my dad would do that and we had a log house that he would put it in. We’d go out to that log house and get it out of there and carry it in…

C: Did he split it up or did you have to split it up?

J: No, he did that. We just carried it in.

C: Uh-huh (pause). What kind of stove did you put it in, in the house?

J: Well, I don’t know; just a stove, a heating stove of some kind. And it had izing glass on it.

C: Oh it did?

J: Yeah, but they just called them, just a stove. They were kind of pretty, they had like, well like izing glass.

C: Then you could see the fire through that I suppose.

J: Yeah, yeah they were pretty.

C: Hmm

J: They looked like chrome. But I don’t know what they were made of. Of course we had to bring wood in for the kitchen for the kitchen range.

C: What was that like?

J: I always called them ranges.

C: Yeah (pause). Would you describe that for children that don’t know what that would be like.

J: Oh alright, in order to start the fire you would first put a newspaper, they had like four burners, you’d lift the top part off with a crank or something. You’d put the newspaper in and then corncobs and then the wood. And it had like a tank on it we called it, reservoir and that we tipped warm water and it always had warm water. Night time sometimes I would forget to fill it. And there was the pump, there was a pump in the kitchen to pump the water in the reservoir and by that time you would have to fire up again for the range. It still had heat in it but you had to keep poking more wood into it and coal…I forgot that, coal. Newspaper, corn cobs, wood and coal.

C: You didn’t have any electricity to heat it up, you had…?

J: No

C: You just had to keep feeding stuff into the stove and then after awhile the water would get warm, I suppose.

J: Yeah, yeah, mhmm. (pause) Course we didn’t have, well did have electricity but not like we do now, ours was, uh, done by a generator.

C: Oh.

J: Was how I remember it, in a little shed, and sometimes that would go out and then dad would have to turn that on for a couple days, so to charge up the whatever.

C: What was that used for then?

J: That, that was our electricity.

C: Did you have light at night?

J: Yeah, yeah just light, yeah.

C: Oh.

J: Once in awhile that generator would go out and we’d be without electricity, and we had to get out lanterns, and light them up. With kerosene, not oil but kerosene.

C: I wonder why they used kerosene? Was it maybe less dangerous than the oil or something?

J: I don’t know, but I’ve always heard it was very dangerous.

C: Oh, it was?

J: Yeah.

C: Oh.

J: Oh, we’d go out on the…in the winter, we’d go and what we called skating, which was just water out on the field and it was enough of it that it would freeze. We would go out and skate with boots on, no skates.

C: No skates?

J: No skates, either with boots or with our shoes.

C: So what would you do, just run and then slide?

J: Yeah, that’s all. Looked kind of like the pond out here. (pause) And uh (pause) we’d play out in the snow, when it would snow, make snowmen. (pause) What else did we do…

C: Did you put a carrot in for the nose? Or a hat and stuff?

J: No, I don’t remember.

C: Probably put coal in for the eyes.

J: Yeah (pause). See, now I cant think right today, the other day when you were up here, I had no trouble. I, I just can’t.

C: You probably got it somewhere, its still working out.

J: Well that makes a bad position, doesn’t it? And I’m gonna stop.

C: No, actually it makes it easier for the person transcribing. They get time to catch up what they’re typing. When you talk right along, they have to keep stopping the tape and get their typing caught up, to where the talking is.

J: I’ve always wondered how they do that.

C: And turn it back on and type some more, listen some more and then back and forth so its much easier to transcribe, a tape that has a lot of gaps in it. And that’s good, there’s nothing wrong with having a gap because that gives you time to think of new things, that you want to say.

J: Yeah, when we would play in the barn, on the hay.

C: Oh, would ya? How did you do that?

J: Well they had kinda like ladders and that you’d climb up on, on the stud I think of the barn. Like a ladder we would climb up on there and jump on the hay, then jump down because there was a pile of hay on the floor too.

C: Oh.

J: But we didn’t climb too high. (pause) We did that mostly when we’d had friends over.

C: Did you play with girls mostly sense there were three girls in your family?

J: Yeah (pause). Well, so now I can go to spring maybe.

C: Okay.

J: Now comes spring and we would be, the school would be out in April, the end of April. We’d have a school picnic, which was really a big deal for us younger ones, really nice. It was warm enough we didn’t have to wear coats, because the weather was different then, than it is now. We had a big picnic lunch, we’d play games…that would be the end of the school year and then we would be off for a week vacation and then we’d start to the German school. Oh, I didn’t tell you I didn’t know English when I started.

C: Oh, tell me about that?

J: Well, I just knew low German. But I didn’t, I didn’t, so we had to learn that. And that took awhile.

C: Had to learn what, English?

J: Yeah.

C: And how did that feel when you went to school and they were talking English?

J: It was hard.

C: Did you never think that you would be able to learn that language or…?

J: I don’t think, but I don’t remember much how I felt.

C: So you evidently weren’t scared?

J: No, which is unusual for me.

C: Yeah.

J: To not be, yeah I had forgotten that part. Okay, so now we start the German school. That’s now a different school, its not the same one. So we also walk to that and that was not quite so far, out on road 17. That was high German, so we went from low German to English to high German.

C: Boy…

J: But I don’t think any of us ever did understand high German. We’d had to do memory work and that.

C: And the words were not even similar, to the low German?

J: Some of them were, we had Bible stories in low German. And catechism and low German.

C: Was that mostly memorizing in those days?

J: Yeah, the minister was real funny. He was just lots of fun. He had a long bench which we had in school, a long bench in front of the school, and she wanted our class to just announce, by 1st grade or 2nd grade and we’d all march up, sit up on that bench. There were only 6 in my grade, after school, 3 boys and 3 girls. That’s the English school now. And then German school this minister had that bench and if the students wouldn’t behave, they’d have to sit on that, on that bench. It was called the “Azzil Bunk,” azzil means donkey.

C: Oh (laugh).

J: It was fun. Oh did you know Clarrisa Frete?

C: No, I don’t think I did.

J: You didn’t know her, it was her father. She was around town for years.

C: So did they give you tests at the school?

J: I don’t think so. I always wanted to be the best but I couldn’t quite make it. A Gattlin girl would always beat me to it, she’d always do her work better than mine. She was a neighbor…

C: Uh, did they have a ceremony when you were confirmed then, when you had learned all the stuff?

J: Yeah.

C: What was that like?

J: It was very similar to that, it was a confirmation, but not in the public school, we didn’t have anything. In the German school we would be confirmed, that was all.

C: Yeah, what was that like then?

J: I would say quite similar to how it is now.

C: You didn’t have a recite any of the stuff you learned?

J: No.

C: Oh.

J: I don’t think, we got very well dressed up. I remember I had a white, crepe-de- sheen dress. (laugh) My mom stitched along the edges and had ruffles on it and we had a flower and just had to sit like this on the picture. We couldn’t cross our legs and have a catechism on our lap, but I cant quite remember about my confirmation though. I don’t remember who was all German. And they were just then beginning to come out with more with English.

C: Oh yeah.

J: And it seems to me that we, maybe we did ask the questions, I don’t know, I don’t remember.

C: I know in some of the churches they had questions that they had to answer and recite something , verses.

J: Yeah, I think you’re right, the more you say it now, it makes me think that we did. And at the end of the catechism school, that would be in, uh, May, June, July. And we had a picnic at the catechism school and now all the parents would come, we’d play games. And had a lot of pop and candy. Oh, we liked that. We paid for it, like 5 cents for a Hershey bar, we thought that was just (pause) …

C: That’s what they used to charge, I guess years ago.

J: Yeah, then we had one game at the end of that picnic called Fish Pond, in a coal shed out there they put in some gifts (pause) you had to win just right, they had like a pole and the kids that wanted to fish they’d hold that pole in there, I think we paid for that too, maybe 5 cents. They hold that pole to that hole in the people inside would pin something on to that pole like a, well whatever the gifts were and they’d pole that…if they were finished, they would get tug on that and the one outside would pull it back out and he’d have this gift and he’d just be thrilled to death that he got a little gift.

C: Oh yeah.

J: So he’d used, when he went fishing, you know that’s what he got, that was the most exciting game.

C: I think they still do that in some grade schools, carnival things.

J: Yeah, oh we used to, well my girlfriend and I used to play along the creek on the way home and we’d always save a sandwich, so the dog didn’t get our own. (laugh)

C: (laugh)

J: So on our way home we would stop and eat, and sit down in the creek, and eat our… and I remember she always had this good looking dried beef, and I always ended up with summer sausage and I didn’t want that. (laugh).

C: (laugh) She probably thought your summer sausage looked good.

J: Yeah, I think she did. What else did we do…

C: What’d you do along the creek?

J: Just walked, on the way home.

C: Well you said you played along the creek.

J: Yeah, that…

C: How, how did you play?

J: Well, this was a different creek, this one was close to where I lived.

C: So how did you play along the creek?

J: We really didn’t play down there, I said we just sat long enough to eat our sandwich. Cause, we are now just about home.

C: Oh, I see.

J: See now its summer, isn’t it? What did I do then? Well my mother always had a lot of chickens; we spent a lot of time feeding chickens and watering them, carrying water in the bucket and well…everything was carried. And help clean the chicken coop (laugh).

C: That’d be a job.

J: Yeah, smelly. (pause) I can’t think of what we mostly did… Oh, another big event in the early spring was to clean up the yard outside. Oh, it would look so nice and we’d rake it enough through the winter. It always looked so nice. And, once, every year one day my father would take us to Walbridge Park.

C: Wow, that would be a big event.

J: Oh, that was something! And I think that one time I was on a Ferris wheel, but only once. I said I didn’t ever want to do it again.

C: Where was that Walbridge Park; is that in Toledo?

J: Yeah, I think it was where we ate our picnic one time, when you, Bill and I went.

C: Yeah.

C & J: Across from the zoo.

C: Yeah, yeah.

J: Yeah, I could never quite understand it, between the two of them, what they meant. Why do they say Walbridge Park and then other time they say zoo? Across from the zoo…

C: Across the street.

J: (pause) What else did we do after school…? Bout’ time for me to, I wish I felt like baking but don’t (pause) let me see what else.

C: Did you ever catch and fish in that little creek?

J: No, I guess I never thought about that (pause) on going back to public school in the winter, one game we played was Jacks, you know what that is?

C: You want to explain in case there be some children listening that wouldn’t know what Jacks…

J: I don’t know how to describe what are Jacks, what they look like (pause) about 6 prongs like that in a ball, you throw, you put em’ in your hand and throw them on a table and then you bounce your ball and try to catch, get those caught. No, you wouldn’t put them in your hand, you’d just reach down on the table and then put them in your hand, try to get that in the hand before the ball came back to the other hand. That was a main game in the public school.

C: Did you play marbles?

J: I don’t think, that was a big thing, wasn’t it… years ago?

C: Yeah (pause) what’d you do at Halloween?

J: I don’t know…I don’t think we did anything. (pause) Now I’m back at the end of summer and I’m going back into fall. I really didn’t tell you much of anything, I had a lot more the last time. Maybe you have to come back another time, for the third time.

C: (laugh) No, I’ll find it. (pause) Did your mother take you to the store to buy your clothes?

J: Yeah, and she made a lot of clothes for us. She always made Margaret’s dresses red and Hermie’s were blue, no, mine were red, mine were red and Hermie’s were blue and Margaret’s were green. She decided they looked the best on us and she didn’t, didn’t like sewing. She did a lot of baking, baking coffee cake on Saturday. Saturday night we’d go uptown.

C: Oh, you would?

J: That was a big thing, we’d go to Spanglers. We’d have beer and hot dogs.

C: Oh, yeah (pause) children too then had beer then, didn’t they?

J: I cant believe that we had beer though at our age.

C: Well, I think that was common.

J: I think we did.

C: In those days …

J: Well, my parents use to make it.

C: Oh.

J: On Saturday night in the winter we’d, uh, play pepper, all of us, and we’d have beer and popcorn and listen to the barn, the barn dance music on the radio.

C: Oh really?

J: My dad always liked that (pause) that was in the winter.

C: (pause) Uh, did you graduate from that 8 th grade school, 8 th grade school?

C: Then what happened after you graduated?

J: Then to high school, scared to death for the…

C: Were ya?

J: Yeah.

C: Why?

J: Just a bashful, country girl, but then it went okay, I liked it. I had a hard time at first, to follow my schedule cause we, we just had, you know, that one room out in the country. Did you ever know Vernice Clymer?

C: Yes

J: Well, she was my 3rd and 4th grade teacher.

C: Oh she was?

J: And she was Greta’s teacher.

C: Oh, really?

J: Yeah, 3rd grade I think.

C: Yeah, she taught 3rd grade for years, I think (pause). And then she had a sister.

J: Vivian.

C: Vivian.

J: They were twins.

C: Oh, wasn’t she a teacher too?

J: Yeah, they looked so alike you couldn’t tell them apart.

C: Is that right, well they must have been identical (pause). Uh, going back to when you first started school, um, did you have any other problems besides not being able to understand the German, or the English?

J: No, really not…

C: Were you left handed?

J: I was, and it seems I was left handed and, uh, they changed me to the, to my right hand.

C: Was that hard, or maybe you don’t remember?

J: I don’t know.

C: I bet that was hard for a child who got to use the non dominant…

J: But I use my left hand now more than my right, for other things.

C: Yeah… it’s standard.

J: I don’t know, I just do (pause). I used to when I’d eat steak, I would cut it with, use my left hand to cut the meat but use my right hand to eat it with

C: Oh, well that’d be kinda handy.

J: (pause) When we used to go out and eat steak, years ago.

C: They ate a lot more steak then, than they do now, I guess.

J: They kinda talk about, you know, fish a lot now, fish and chicken.

C: Yeah… did you, but didn’t use to have much fish here, did ya?

J: No.

C: No, because they didn’t have frozen stuff.

J: No, fish is supposed to be, you know, so good for our mind, has a lot of that Omega 3?

C: Oh yeah… well one way that they did have fish, my grandmother did anyway, was cod fish, salted, and came in the little boxes. Did you have that?

J: No, but I do remember the man use to come around in a truck, I think, on the farm… many years ago. About once a year he’d come in the summer and he’d have something.

C: So this man is, used to come and had something to sell, what was it?

J: Fish… he had fish to sell.

C: Oh he did?

J: Real big ones!

C: Oh really?

J: Yeah

C: So then your mother would buy it and cook it.

J: He wouldn’t come often, I really, only about once, once or twice a year, I think and he usually had a lot of them and they were big ones…

C: He probably brought em’ from Lake Erie or something?

J: Yeah, I don’t know but that was, uh, a treat to us to get those fish.

C: Yeah, yeah.

J: Because we were used to eating all that butchered meat…bratwurst and summer sausage and prettels and…prettels I get hungry for them.

C: Did your father, uh, butcher his own meat?

J: Yeah, he had someone come in and do it.

C: Oh, so it wasn’t where a thing where your family all…

J: They had a lot of men; they were called butchers.

C: Oh, uh huh.

J: And there was Irma, not Irma, I mean Bertha, at the hospital…her father did that for years. They’d go around the neighbors and do the butchering.

C: So the family wouldn’t do much as far as the…getting the meat ready and curing it and everything.

J: No not much, no.

C: Did you mother can beef then?

J: Yeah, she used to can chicken too. Yeah, that beef was good, that canned beef.

C: How did she cook it, how’d she use it in cooking?

J: Usually just, uh, just eat it, the way it was, I mean she’d…cause it was already cooked, you know, and she’d can it, in hot water. Then I think… I don’t remember ever, ever making like, uh, well she probably used it for soup.

C: Oh.

J: For vegetable soup.

C: Uh huh. (pause) Did she make her own bread?

J: Oh, yes….we would, we could not eat white bread, it had to be wheat.

C: Oh really.

J: Because of health.

C: Uh huh.

J: She, she was, fed us well, health, healthy foods.. Lots of carrots and prunes and… she was pretty sharp, I don’t know how she, how she did it but she was.

C: Did she finish, refinish furniture at that time?

J: Oh, no.

C: She did when she was older, I think.

J: Yeah, when we moved to town. She was just too much into chickens.

C: Oh.

J: She liked chickens.

C: Did she have a lot of chickens?

J: Yeah, she had like a thousand in the summer.

C: Oh, really?

J: And one year she had well five hundred at one time. They all died but nine (laugh).

C: What happened?

J: Well, they got uh, uh disease called cockcidiosis.

C: Oh.

J: I don’t know what that is.

C: Hm, I don’t either (pause) Did they, uh, have nests in the hen house, did they stay in, uh, hen house, or did they…

J: No, they didn’t, they ran all over (laugh).

C: Oh, did they?

J: And, we’d have to get, go after them in the barn and the grainery.

C: You’d have to find the eggs then?

J: We’d have to…yeah.

C: What would you do, take a little basket and…go gather eggs?

J: Yeah, yeah that had to be done every day. Then they had to be cleaned and we’d carry ’em down to the cellar and then we’d clean them down there, then they’d clean them and pack them in egg crates and then the egg man, we called him the egg man would come around and pick em up and pay her for the eggs.

C: Oh, mm hm.

J: Oh, my sister and I, Hermie, always had to haul stuff either home or to town and we always had to buy chicken feed at, at the, what they called the farmers’ elevator.

C: Well you didn’t walk to go there, did you?

J: No, no we drove… and not all the time cause we sort of… like I said the last year I lived with Bill’s mother.

C: Mm hm

J: Cause she wanted someone to be with her, cause his father had died and she didn’t want to be alone. We, we knew them real well, my parents and Bill’s parents were friends years ago…but a couple years we drove the car cause we had a new ’28 Chevy and we had to show it off.

C: Bet that was fun for you to get in the Chevy and drive.

J: Yeah, that was a big treat to us.

C: How old were you when you first started driving?

J: Fourteen.

C: Fourteen.

J: And I learned it out in the field…. kinda on my own.

C: You did?

J: I think I did.

C: No one in the car with you.. when you were trying to learn?

J: I can’t, well, there must have been, I, it just seems I learned it by myself.

C: Well, you might have.

J: Well, there must have been someone, probably my father.

J: My mother learned to drive later on, when they, well they were still living out in the country, she liked to go away, she didn’t like to be home all the time. Then she had had to go to town to do things, so by now we have been, we have, uh, increased our, what do you call them, value of car. We are now in a ’36 Studebaker… bright green, and she… I don’t know who taught her to drive, but she was well, not very young… but she was so outgoing she would just talk to everybody. But she..

C: Your mother?

J: But she never learned to back.

C: Oh really, (laugh) never could back a car.

J: So she would park the car wherever uptown and she would just get in and wait till someone came along and she’d ask them, “will you back my car for me?”

C: Oh really?

J: It was funny (pause) she was really funny.

C: I, it sounds like your sister Margaret’s a lot like her mother.

J: It does to me too, recently… she’s uh, she just talks to everybody, you know out there I can just.. yeah she does. Maybe she’s always done that and I didn’t, hadn’t noticed it till just recently. (pause) I forgot to tell you one thing about the summer that we would move that we would move out to a summer kitchen. We had this kitchen off the house and we would take our, empty our cupboards in the kitchen of the house, the house kitchen and carry em out to that summer kitchen and that’s where we would eat. It was kind of like a cabin. Then my dad made a two story building out of it and we’d go upstairs and play, our dolls and whatever we had.

C: Was it cooler there?

J: Yeah.

C: Of course they didn’t have any air conditioning, that’s for sure.

J: Oh my goodness no, and we didn’t have chairs out there, we had two benches I think, or at least one bench all around one side that we’d sit on you know and we ate.. back to the bench. (pause) Do you think of your home back home a lot?

C: No… not now, I think I’m still pretty busy with a lot of other things.

J: Yeah.

C: Some day I will, I think.

J: You probably keep busy… all the time.

C: Well now, yeah, pretty busy, but, someday I won’t.

J: But which is good though, which is, which is so good.

C: Some ways its good, some ways its bad. Well let’s see.

Huff, Jim

Jim STILL Can’t Forget Bataan!
(Half a Century After The Death March)

Reprinted with permission from “Farmland News,” April 7, 1992. Written by Del Gasche.

[Photo of Jim. Caption: When he looks at photographs of the Bataan Death March, Jim can’t keep the memories of the nightmare that began 50 years ago from coming back.]

“Christmas Day of 1943 was the first day I remember without an American dying in our camp: Jim Huff of Napoleon says softly as he looks through a volume of the Pictorial History of the Second World War.

He shakes his head slowly, smiles and repeats the words.

“Christmas Day. 1943. That was a long time ago.”

April 9th will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the fall of Bataan and the beginning of the infamous Bataan Death March.

Jim was there.

He lived through it.

They Closed The Gates

He was born in 1920 on farm near Piedmont in eastern Ohio.

“We milked about 30 Jersey cows by hand,” he says.

“I went to a two-room school. The first four grades were in one room and the four higher grades were in the other.”

He graduated from the eighth grade in 1934.

The following year, the Muskingum Watershed Conservency District built a dam. They closed the gates on Christmas Day of 1935, flooding most of the Huff farm.

“Of Dad’s 177 acres, only 17 remained above water,” Jim says.

“We moved our cows and our family onto 90 acres in the Johnstown area… in Licking County, northeast of Columbus… just before Christmas.

“Mom and Dad hated losing the farm. But it didn’t bother us kids so much.

“I was 15 and I had two older brothers, an older sister and a younger sister.”

Jim graduated from Johnstown High School in 1938, stayed on the farm for a year and, in September of ’39, enlisted in the Army Air Corps.

“Two friends and I enlisted with the idea of attending the cadet flying school in Texas,” he says.

“But there were no openings at the time. And then the Army changed Its qualifications for cadet training and started requiring two years of college.

“The Air Corps offered us a chance to get out because of the change, but I decided to stay in. And I ended up at Chanute Field in Illinois.”

After six months of ground maintenance school, Jim was assigned to the 20th Pursuit Squadron at Hamilton Field in California. The 20th consisted of P-40 Warhawk airplanes.

In October of 1940, the squadron was transferred to Nickles Field in the Philippines, about five miles from Manila.

“I was a long way from the dairy farm,” Jim says. “But it was good duty.

“We usually worked from 7 a.m. until 1 and then knocked off for the afternoon, when it was just too hot to work.”

In June of 1941, the squadron was transferred to Clark Field.

“We knew about the war in Europe, of course,” Jim says.

“But we never thought there was going to be a war with Japan.

“We didn’t think the Japs had any military equipment that amounted to anything.”

A Beautiful Blue Fire

At Clark Field, breakfast was being served one December morning when the news started coming in about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

“There were two pursuit squadrons on the ground,” Jim says.

“The other squadron took off and flew from 8 until 10 without encountering anything.

“Then our squadron took off and flew from 10 until noon.

“Our planes were back on the ground, fueled up and ready to go and we were in the mess hall eating lunch when they hit us.

“Since we were across the International Date Line, it was actually noon on December 8th when they came in, although it was still December 7th at Pearl Harbor.

“We saw them coming. But we thought they were ours at first.

“Man, what a beautiful flight! we thought, never dreaming they weren’t our planes up there.

“Then we saw the red ball insignia!”

The Japanese attack destroyed 18 bombers, 56 fighters and 25 other planes at Clark Field. “We had 32 planes in our squadron… 25 P-40s, a couple of B-10 twin engine bombers and a couple of light observation planes,” Jim says. “I was a staff sergeant with a crew that ranged from seven to nine men and we always took care of the same three P-40s.

“The planes in our squadron were on the ground and all but four were destroyed.

“We had them parked right in a row and they made a beautiful blue fire.”

Out of the 200 men in the squadron, four enlisted men and five pilots were lost in that first strike.

“We learned real quick that foxholes were great inventions,” Jim says with the hint of a smile.

Luzon is the main island of the Philippine group. Manila Bay, a great natural harbor, lies in the southwestern part, opening into the South China Sea.

The Bataan Peninsula borders the western edge of the bay, with the island fortress of Corregidor, just to the south, controlling the entrance.

The city of Manila sits across the bay, due east of the Bataan Peninsula.

At the beginning of hostilities, General Douglas MacArthur had at his disposal about 125,000 troops to oppose an invasion of Luzon. But only about 25,000 of them were combat-ready United States and Philippine regulars.

The rest were Filipino reservists, poorly trained and ill equipped.

On December 22nd, the Japanese landed about 50;000 regulars in two groups and began a pincer movement designed to take Luzon.

By nightfall, General Wainwright’s North Luzon Force was in full retreat.

Most of the 100,000 Filipino reservists under his command had scrambled to the rear in a disorganized mob and the rest had simply melted back into the civilian population.

The following day, General MacArthur implemented War Plan Orange, which included successive fallbacks by Wainwright’s forces along the Bataan Peninsula.

MacArthur reasoned that he could concentrate his forces on Bataan. And with the formidable array of guns on the four islands in Manila Bay, especially Corregidor, he thought he could deny the Japanese navy access to the bay.

“General Homma may have the bottle, but I have the cork,” he told his staff in Manila.

On December 24th, MacArthur and his family left Manila for Corregidor. Ammunition and fuel supplies in Manila were destroyed.

“On Christmas Eve, the Japs arrived at one end of Clark Field and we left from the other end in trucks retreating south on Bataan,” Jim says. “We had trucks but no food.

“There wasn’t any panic.

“We did what we were told.

“There wasn’t any thought of being captured.” Within 24 hours, Jim’s squadron had reached the end of the peninsula.

Between them and the Japanese, the infantry and armor were fighting a delaying action, falling back from position to position as the situation deteriorated.

On January 6th, General Wainwright’s North Luzon Force and General Parker’s South Luzon Force… about 15,000 United States troops… crossed the Pampanga River onto the Bataan Peninsula and blew the bridges behind them.

The Battle of Bataan had begun.

Besides the U.S. Troops, there were still about 65,000 Filipino troops in varying degrees of combat readiness and tens of thousands of Filipino civilian refugees.

The situation was grim.

There was enough food for about a month. There was practically no medicine.

Fierce fighting raged along the front lines.

And by mid-February, Japanese General Homma’s 14th Army had practically ceased to exist.

He called a halt to the fighting and radioed Tokyo for reinforcements.

A counterattack was suggested by American officers but rejected by MacArthur because the Japanese still controlled the sea and the air.

On February 23rd, President Roosevelt presented his war plan to the world.

He offered no hope for the Philippines and stated that Hitler’s defeat in Europe was taking top priority.

On March 12th, General MacArthur, his family and staff left Corregidor for Austrailia. Wainwright was then in charge of the forces on Luzon.

The men on Bataan were dying of starvation and disease and as casualties of Japanese air raids.

At the beginning of April, the Japanese stepped up the intensity of their air and artillery attacks.

By then, Wainwright was the commander of all the forces in the Philippines and General King was commander of the Luzon forces.

On April 9, 1942, General King unconditionally surrendered his 76,000 man Luzon force.

On Corregidor, Genre! Wainwright held out until May 6th before surrrendering.

The Philippines were in Japanese control and would remain so until the beginning of the Leyte invasion on October 20th, 1944.

The liberation of the Philippines and the eventual surrender of Japan on August 15, 1945 would mean nothing to most of the men who came to be called the Battling Bastards of Bataan.

But it would mean everything to the few, like Staff Sergeant Jim Huff, who managed to survive the infamous Bataan Death March and year of imprisonment.

Prisoner Of War

“On April 9th, we got word to gather a’ Mariveles Field,”Jim says. “We had ammunition but no food or medicine.

“The Japs were strafing, bombing and shelling us every day and we knew things were bad, but we still never thought of surrendering.

“Word of the surrender came to us through our squadron commander, Captain Joseph Moore.”

Then the march from Mariveles at the tip of the Bataan Pensinsula to Camp O’Donnell… 65 miles due north along the eastern edge of the Zambales Mountains… began.

Of the 75,000 prisoners… including about 12,000 Americans… who started the march, approximately 10,000 died along the way.

Of the 65,000 who made it to Camp O’Donnell, another 26,000 would die during their imprisonment.

“They formed us into groups of about 500, four columns wide,” Jim says.

“I was in the next to last group to leave Mariveles. We were all Air Force men. “We marched for about seven days. “We lost people every day.

“There wasn’t any food or water. We ate sugar cane from along the road.

“The thirst was terrible. We passed wells along the road. Sometimes guys went for water and were shot and bayoneted.

“Since most of the prisoners had gone before us, the road was lined with dead bodies.

“At night, we sat in open fields, all huddled together.

“There weren’t many guards, but there were enough.

“I was tough. But I was 20 years old and I always believed I’d make it through, right from the beginning.

“We were in terrible shape when we surrendered, nothing but skin and bones. “The first real food we got was one bowl of rice four days after the surrender.”

Once they arrived at Camp O’Donnell, the prisoners who could stand were sent out on work details.

“We picked up ammunition and buried bodies,” Jim says. “Lots of bodies.

“And since we were so weak, it took five or six guys to do the work of one.

“We were losing about 60 Americans and about 1,000 Filipinos each day. Everybody wanted to get out of O’Donnell. We thought anyplace else had to be better.”

Jim spent four months there before being moved to a camp at Cabanatuan, where treatment improved but was still pretty bad. “Christmas Day, 1943 was our first day without an American death in camp,” he says. “I remember that distinctly.

“There were probably 6,000 prisoners there in the beginning.

“We got slapped a lot. We got hit with rifle butts a lot.

“We had to bow to the Japanese.

“It was just pure humiliation all the time. We were slaves.”

Inside the camp at Cabanatuan, a Marine Lt. Colonel named Beecher was the ranking officer, he was put in charge of the prisoners. “He probably saved all our lives,” Jim says. “He brought discipline to the camp and made us act like soldiers again.

“The discipline helped us physically and psychologically. We felt like we were part of the United States military again.”

Jim was 21 years old… a little younger than the average POW, who was probably about 24.

“Being young helped,” he says. “Not many gus 30 and older made it.”

Into The Hold

In January of 1944, Jim was moved from Cabanatuan to Clark Field to help dig revetments… shelters for Japanese planes.

“It was all pick and shovel work,” he says. “We were digging into the sides of the mountains.

“We lived in the same buildings I’d lived in before the surrender, only we didn’t have any water or electricity.”

Early in September, the Japanese moved all the prisoners… about two to three hundred men… from Clark Field into a prison in Manila.

“During the third week of September, the Americans struck Manila from the air with a raid that lasted about three days,” Jim says.

“Those were the first Americans we’d seen since we’d surrendered.

“We had no idea what had happened in the war, either in Europe or the Pacific.

“We hadn’t had any news for 2-1/2 years.”

But for Jim, the worst was yet to come!

“The Japanese began loading us onto boats to take us to Japan,” he says.

“I was loaded into one that had been hauling horses on deck and coal in the hold.

“It wasn’t very big and they sent 20 of us down into the hold to level off the coal.

“After that they filled it with prisoners. We stood on that coal, shoulder to shoulder, packed as tightly as we could be packed.

“We got a bowl of rice every day and a canteen of water every other day.

“There were no toilet facilities.

“Every day, somebody died. And eventually that gave us enough room so we could sit down. “A lot of guys went insane.

“We knew it was only a couple of days by boat to Japan, so we expected to get off every day. But It went on for 38 days!

“We were constantly being picked up on radar by American submarines and we were afraid we’d be sunk, the way many larger ships carrying prisoners were.

“We probably escaped because we were so small and had such a shallow draft.

“We looked like skeletons. I started the war weighing 160 pounds and ended it weighing 90.

“I really can’t remember a lot of the specifics of the boat trip. The body and mind can take only so much and then time just passes without being remembered. I guess I was in a stupor most of the time.”

The ship finally unloaded its cargo of prisoners in Formosa during the first week of November.

“It wasn’t a bad camp, but the guards were brutal,” Jim says.

“We were beaten badly several times a day. “We were loading freight cars with stone using coolie baskets.”

Although friends had tried to stay together at the beginning of their captivity, it eventually got to the point where Jim barely knew the people in his immediate vicinity.

“Every day went by in a haze,” he says.

“In January of 1945, we were moved to Japan and kept in a big warehouse…Camp Number 10-A… about halfway between Tokyo and Yokohama.

There were about 60 Americans and 40 Englishmen.

“We were taken in work details to a steel plant where we shoveled coal.

“We began to understand how the war was going by then. There were B-29 bombers overhead most of the time. There were firestorms all around us. And in March, our camp burned.”

Jim was then moved to Niigata in the northwestern section of Honshu, where he again shoveled coal in a steel plant.

“We worked for civilians there, with hardly any military personnel around,” he says.

We walked about three miles from the camp to the plant and worked eight-hour shifts. They were making drive shafts for PT boats.

“One day, they called us out and said there wouldn’t be any work that day. We stood in line with Japanese civilians to get our food rations.

“The next day, the same thing happened.

“The third day, they told us the war was over.

“When we heard the news, the prisoner next to me dropped dead of a heart attack. He’d made it through all that and then keeled over dead.”

After that, the prisoners were free to come and go. But a Japanese guard always accompanied them if they went outside the camp.

“The Japs painted POW in big letters on the roof of the camp building and then B-29s started dropping food,” Jim says.

“I gained 23 pounds in 21 days. You could hear tin cans being opened all night long. There was case after case of pea soup. It must have been a good year for it.

“We had more food than we could eat. The civilians wouldn’t take anything directly from us, but we’d set the stuff outside the camp at night and in the morning it would be gone.

“I never felt any animosity toward the civilians. “By the end of the war, they were in pretty bad shape.”

Coming Home

About a week after the war ended, an Army captain and two other men arrived at the camp.

“They called us together and told us how the war had gone and that arrangements were being made to transport us out of there,” Jim says.

“In about three weeks, we were taken to Yokohama by train and then flown to Okinawa, where we had our first mail call since early in 1942.

“We also had a steak dinner with ail the trimmings.”

From there, Jim was flown to the Philipines for two weeks.

“The first thing they did was line us up and give us four shots,” he says with a laugh.

“Two shots in one arm, one shot in the other, and a shot of whiskey in the mouth.”

Jim was sick for three days following the shots.

Then he was loaded onto an Army transport ship and sent home across the Pacific.

“We had about 400 ex-POWs on the ship, including 40 or 50 British,” he says.

“We stopped at Vancouver, British Columbia, and unloaded them before coming on down the coast to Seattle.

“It was late in September when I arrived at Fort Lewis, Washington, and I was back home on the farm near Johnstown just before Thanksgiving.”

Jim and his parents went to Florida for a two week vacation, compliments of the USAF.

And then, after 3-1/2 years as a POW, he started his life again.

“I just buried the fact in my mind that I’d been a prisoner,” he says.

“I didn’t talk to anyone about it for 20 years. His brother suggested he go to college on the GI Bill and he started at Ohio University in June of 1946.

He later transferred to Ohio State, where he majored in agronomy, and graduated in ’51.

He went to work for the soil conservation service, came to northwestern Ohio in 1955 and retired 20 years later.

The 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and all the accompanying publicity triggered many of his long-burled memories.

“December the 8th kind of got to me,” he says.

“And I’ve had some dreams lately about my experience.

“Maybe there’ll be more as we reach the 50th anniversary of the Bataan surrender and the march.

“I wake up sweating some nights. But I’ve never had much of a problem with it… not like some other guys.

“I had a close family and a good Christian upbringing and I think that helped me avoid a lot of psychological problems afterward.

“I’ve never felt anything against the civilian population of Japan. They never bothered us while we were prisoners. They mostly just ignored us.

“Some of the treatment from the military was brutal. One time, they lined us up across from each other and told us to start hitting each other.

“I refused to hit the guy across from me and they almost killed me.

A Jap guard knocked out some teeth on both sides of my mouth. I had blood coming out of my mouth, nose, ears, and eyes.

“You learned to overcome things like that.

‘The boat ride was the worst part of all. Those 38 days and nights all ran together in a blur. “When they unloaded us in Formosa they had to haul us up and out with ropes. Only a few guys could climb the ladder from the hold to the deck.

“There was a river close by and they gave us some soap. We spent two days cleaning each other up in that river.

“I don’t know how anyone lived through those boat trips. Mostly everyone just suffered and kept quiet.”

Jim is the secretary of his squadron’s veteran’s group. And last October, they held a reunion in Salt Lake City.

“There are 41 of us left,” he says. ‘That’s not bad considering what we went through.

“I’ve had, a good life since then.

“I loved being involved in agriculture and I still drive around and look at the farms.

“My wife Alta and I enjoy a lot of things. “In the summer, I play a little golf.

“I’m active in the Methodist Church and some civic groups.

“It was a long time ago and I’ve been blessed with a lot of good days since then.”