Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, March 23, 2007
RR: I am Robert Stuart Rowland. My ancestors came from Virginia into Damascus Township.
CW: When did they come?
RR: Oh boy!
CW: (laughs) We’ll just say this is a Centennial Farm so you’ve been here many generations on this farm, O.K.?
RR: They came in the 1800’s.
CW: And you’ve had the farm land ever since?
RR: Ever since 1871. Want me to keep going?
RR: I was born Jan 9, 1925 in the house my father, Carl Rowland had built in 1924. The house is on the northeast corner of East Street, which is State Rte. 65, and Henry Streets in McClure. Yeah, that’s where I was born, right there in town, and my father’s sister Norma, who was married to Clarence Brown, so they went to Tucson, Arizona, sometime in 1926. My father Melgood, and sister June and I followed them to Arizona in late 1926 and we returned from Arizona some time in 1928. Norma returned to Ohio and died in 1928.
CW: Was she your mother?
RR: No, my father’s sister. (reads from a notebook) We lived in the house in McClure for about two years and we moved out here to live on the farm with my father Albert Anthony, whose wife had passed away. This Centennial farm has been in the Anselroad family since 1871. Living on the farm during the Depression was great fun for the kids, but hard on the elders. My uncle, Loyd Buck, Mother’s sister’s husband, had lost his job in Toledo so he and his family moved in with us for about three years. It made a houseful of ten people. We raised sweet corn, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes and other vegetables for the Farmers’ Market in Toledo so it was not all fun for the kids as they had to plant and harvest.
CW: It’s wonderful that you have your information all set up ahead of time.
RR: We farmed with horses and manpower. We always had a few cows, chickens and a few pigs. We had to pump water from the well for our use and the livestock.
CW: Where did you keep it then? Did you have tub for the horses to drink from?
RR: Yeah, we had a trough for the horses.
CW: Would you describe that for youngsters that don’t know what a trough is?
RR: Oh, a trough is a big oblong steel container-or it could be wood too-and you pump water into it and then the cows and horses drink from it and then you pump some more into it by hand.
CW: Was it right there beside the well?
RR: Yeah. Well wherever the pump happened to be the trough would be there
CW: Then how did you get the water into the house?
RR: In a bucket. Carried it in in a bucket.
CW: So you had this bucket in the kitchen probably and they’d dip water out to drink?
RR: Yeah. Then we had a cistern right outside this door here and we had a little sink in the corner here and we’d use a little cistern water too.
CW: That would be really soft.
RR: Yeah. We drank the well water but we used that to wash clothes and like that.
CW: Did you have a holder for water at the end of the stove?
RR: Oh sure.
CW: What did they call that?
RR: A reservoir. We had a cook stove right there. See that thing there? There’s a chimney in there. Yeah, the original chimney. It don’t go out to the roof anymore but it’s there now. But anyhow a great big stove set right there, and it had a reservoir on the far end.
CW: And how did it heat?
RR: Oh, we’d put corn cobs and coal and wood in it.
CW: You had a big place to put those I suppose in the central part of the stove?
RR: Yeah. We had four lids that opened, you know.
CW: And they used to have a tool that would lift those lids.
RR: Yeah, it would fit into the lids to lift them.
CW: You know, I never could understand how those things would stay cool-at least they wouldn’t get burning hot-when the whole thing was made out of metal. There was a ring that went round and round the handle part but that never got hot. I wonder how that was?
RR: Well they didn’t leave it right on the stove most of the time. I think there was a little shelf where you could lay that off-lay that handle up there and just use it when you wanted to. Otherwise they did get real hot.
RR: Okay, in the fall we’d always hunt for rabbits, pheasants so we’d have some meat for lunch. We used to play a lot of ball when we were kids over at Otto Miller’s with Fred Miller, Lee Miller, Lois Miller, Keith Miller, Saul Bush, Warren Brown, Bill Heckler.
CW: So you had a bunch!
RR: Yeah, we had a bunch, and the next road, about ½ mile and Otto Miller used to have a dairy herd.
CW: I wanted to ask you about hunting pheasants. They used to, in about the 1960’s, I believe a lot of people would come from Toledo just to hunt pheasants. Did they do that on your farm?
RR: Um hm.
CW: Did you have to give them permission before they could?
RR: Yeah, they would ask permission. That was back in the late ’40’s even, well right after the war they would come out.
CW: After World War II?
RR: Oh yeah, ’46, 47. Then sometime the pheasants started dwindlin’ out.
CW: They did, didn’t they!
RR: Fast, real fast.
CW: They say it’s because the farmers had improved machinery to work with and so there weren’t places for the pheasants to hide.
RR: That’s right. And I think there were some other animals that happened to.
CW: There’s a fellow this side of Deshler that has raised pheasants for years, then just before hunting season he lets them go-takes them somewhere but we still don’t have any more than we did before so they must not last very long.
RR: They don’t last, they don’t last. It’s too bad, you know.
CW: That’s right. That meat was delicious!
RR: Yeah. We all went to school, McClure High School, and I graduated in ’43 and I got drafted in ’43.
CW: Oh, that was right at the end of the war, wasn’t it?
RR: Oh well, we started fighting the Japanese in ’41.
CW: So it was right in the middle of the war?
RR: Yeah, right in the middle. Back when I was a Sophomore in ’42 I thought, “Gee the war’s gonna be over. I won’t get to be in it.”
CW: And the boys all wanted to go, didn’t they. They couldn’t wait to get in it-travel and get in on all that excitement. Little did they know!
RR: So I got drafted in 1943 and went to training in the Air Corps and June 1 of of ’44 I was overseas, based in North Hampstead, England and I flew 35 missions on a B17 bomber: belly gunner.
CW: What is a belly gunner?
RR: Oh, there’s a ball underneath and that’s where I was. I had two machine guns down there and everything-about like you’re in your home, I guess-you’re all scrunched up in there.
CW: A very small place.
RR: Yeah, a very small space.
CW: Wow. Wasn’t that a dangerous place to be on the plane?
RR: Well, I don’t know. They’re about all dangerous I guess. So (pause)
CW: Where did you fly to?
RR: From England we went to Germany and Holland and Chekoslovakia.
CW: Chek would have been quite a flight, wouldn’t it?
RR: Yeah, we only went there once. I’ll show you some more stuff about that after a while.
RR: Then after relaxing in Florida in August of ’45 I went to Engineer Fire Fighting Co. in Geiger Field, Washington. That’s neas Spokane, and we fought forest fires for two months. Then I got discharged Oct. 12, or ’45.
CW: Now, excuse me, but you went out to Washington after the War was over?
RR: No, I didn’t make that clear. I was still in the Army and when I got back from overseas I went to Florida. We were in Miami Beach and put up in a big hotel for a couple weeks. Then they’d ship you out to somewhere else. If the war hadn’t ended I’d have probably ended out that way. But there was the Big Bomb and that finished that. So they didn’t know what to do with us-there were so many of us, so they said, “You can fight forest fires.”
CW: What was that like?
RR: Oh, it was kind of fun I think. We were out theast of Spokane, up in the mountains we had a camp. Then sometimes we had to get in trucks and go to Idaho or wherever they had forest fires. We did that for a couple months and then they said, “Well, you can get out.” I got my discharge right there. Come home on a Greyhound bus. (chuckles)
RR: Okay. Should I go on?
RR: Okay. On January 7 of ’46 I went to the State Highway Division Garage in Bowling Green, Ohio and started working there and along in 1951 Sarah Jane Fisher come to work there and I met her in 1951. She worked at State Highway and June 22 of 1952 Sarah and I got married. We’ve got five-no, four sons and one daughter: James, John, Dennis, Nancy and Anthony. We’ve got 12 grandchildren and we’ll soon have 8 great-grandchildren.
CW: Things come on in a hurry when you get to the great-grandchildren. I wanted to tell you too that we have a fellow in the Historical Society who’s putting these things on the Internet, so if your children and grandchildren live too far away they’ll be able to get this on their computers. I think it’s probably the typed version they’ll get. I don’t think the voiced recorder will go through. I’m sure they would be interested in that too.
CW: Now, you spoke of traveling in World War II and I was going to tell you-of course my husband was in WWII also and I used to go on the train to meet him. It’d be full of soldiers and one after another would come up to me and say, “You look just like my sister.” Or girlfriend. I finally figured out it was because they were so homesick to see these people, to go home. Anybody would have looked who they wanted it to look like. (laughs)
RR: Do you want to see a list of my travels during the war?
CW: Oh yeah!
RR: Inducted in Toledo in ’43 and left Napoleon and went to Reception Center in Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. Then I went to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri-that’s near St. Louis-for Basic Training.
CW: Was Basic Training a bit shock to you?
RR: Uh–huh. They had so many men coming in so we went through the line once and they didn’t know what to do with us. We had to take it again. We had Basic Training and ½. Then I went to Gunnery School at Las Vegas, Nevada. That’s where I had my first airplane ride. It happened to be on a B17. Then I went to Tampa, Florida at the former Florida State Fairgrounds, and from there I went to Hillsdale and was assigned to a crew and we trained. Hunter Field. And we flew from Hartfield, Florida to Bangor, Maine and flew from Bangor, Maine to Gander Field, Newfoundland. From there we left to go overseas.
CW: Now these dates are interesting because you know you were inducted the 20th of July and the 10th of August already you were going into active service. They didn’t waste any time, did they? And then you went to the Induction Center in Indiana and nine days later you were in Missouri. How’d you go, on the train?
RR: Yeah, we got our clothes and shoes and stuff there and from there we left for Basic Training.
CW: And that Gunnery School-did they have the bedding there in Las Vegas?
RR: Yeah, I never went to town. They kept us kind of busy.
CW: Well they were trying to hurry you through I suppose. And how long were you in that Gunnery School?
CW: Let’s see, from the 20th of November to the February 8th, next year. That’s only a little over two months training. Wow! And then assigned to a crew in April that year. In ’44, that spring, is that when Hitler gave up, the European War was over?
RR: Oh, ’45. D-Day was June 6 of ’44 but that was when they started on-but then it was in the fall of ’45, wasn’t it?
CW: Oh yeah, pretty bad. But excuse me. I interrupted you. Gander Field, Newfoundland. I was there-not at that time but later. I went there to visit friends for a few days.
RR: We flew a new B17 overseas too. It took 12 hours. We went from Ganders’ Field to Prescott, Scotland.
CW: Now what was that new one like? Did it have seats the way they do now, in the plane?
RR: Oh no. It was just a bare plane. There wasn’t any seats to sit on.
CW: Well where did you sit?
RR: Just sat down. In the waist. When you were in the plane for 12 hours or so you could walk around if you wanted to.
CW: Was there a floor or something to walk on?
CW: But then you just sat on the floor. Wow, that’d make a pretty rough landing, wouldn’t it?
RR: Oh yeah. It’s hard on your ears-noisy. But it’s a good plane. One of the beast ever made.
CW: Yeah, isn’t that same type of plane still flying-what number’d you say it was?
RR: B17 Well there’s a few of them flying around. (wife says samething) Oh, I rode in one back from Ypsilanti, Michigan. (looks through pictures) Oh there’s a B17 if you care to look at it. There’s a ball behind the wing-you can’t hardly see it. That’s where I was.
CW: How did you get in there? Was there a kind of trap door that would let you in?
RR: Yes. Here’s my Bomber group. They had the first reunion in 1984 but we didn’t even know about it. In ’85 our radio operator first heard about it so he and I went to Spokane, no, Seattle, Washington. And then we didn’t go for ’85 &’86, then on . . .
CW: Oh, then you went to all of them? Were they all over United States? I see: Colorado Springs, etc.
RR: in ’89 there were 7 members of our crew still living-7 out of 10 and that was the first time we all met. We all met in Dayton.
CW: How many are living now, do you know?
RR: I think there’s five of us left. I’m not sure. Let’s see, pilot, co-pilot . . . Oh, do you want to read this? This is our Co-pilot. He ended up being a Lieutenant-Colonel, and this is what he said about us.
CW: (reads) ” I still believe we had one of the best crews in the Air Force. We did our jobs very well without fanfare and in spite of the fear that each of us tried to hike from each other.” Yeah, there must have been a lot of fear which you covered up. “Except for Jed we were all young kids not long out of high school with limited training thrust into a life-and-death situation requiring professional quality performance: a credos for our mutual preservation.” Yeah, you know it’s something, I’ll bet, that just forces you to grow up in a hurry.
RR: Oh yeah.
CW: Suddenly, from being just a kid who had a lot of options you were forced to fight for you life, really.
RR: Yeah, there were three of us that were 19. I was 19, this gentleman was 19 and our navigator, a little Chinese guy, was 19. The rest of them were 21 and 23 except Jed. He was a Polish guy from Milwaukee and he was in his ’30’s. He was an old man! He was married and had several kids. He wasn’t too fond of this airplane business.
CW: Oh he wasn’t-how’d he happen to be in this outfit?
RR: Well, like the rest of us he got drafted,. Ya gotta go somewhere.
CW: They tell you where to go-you have no choice. Could I borrow this sheet? I could use it in transcribing.
RR: Sure. You can borrow the whole book.
CW: No, I don’t need that.
SR: : He made up a book for each of our children and gave them all one.
CW: Isn’t that nice!
SR: : Robert Blockers, Robert Knoll and yourself: all three Roberts out of the ten. Wonderful people! And Robert Knoll, he just lost his wife last November. She looked perfect health in September and she died just after Thanksgiving. She had a brain tumor. It was such a shock. And this Jimmie here-James really-he was a Municipal Judge out there in California. He and his wife are both Chinese, and wonderful people. And we got a call in July. We were ready to go to my alumni banquet and we got this call from his wife and here he had passed away suddenly with a heart attack. They had gone out for dinner. She said they had a wonderful dinner and they come home and he sat down to the table just fell over.
CW: Great for him but certainly a shock to everybody.
SR: : Is your husband still living?
SR: : How long’s he been gone?
CW: He died when he was 57. He was a doctor, Dr. Winzeler.
SR: : Oh yes, I remember him. He delivered our third son.
CW: He had practiced on Saturday and he died the following Tuesday. He had a stroke. He just went so fast.
(End of Side A)
CW: (Reads from paper Robert has provided)
“I still believe we had one of the best crews in the 8th A.F. We did our jobs very well without fanfare-and in spite of the fear that each of us experienced but tried to hide from each other. Except for Jed we were all young kids, not long out of high school, with limited training, thruse into a life-and-death situation requiring professional quality performance of crew duties for our mutual preservation.
“I felt honored to be a part of the crew in 1944, and I still feel a great satisfaction when the survivors gather again, as we did at the Dayton Reuni0on. There is a special feeling between us after all these years. I trust the rekindled friendship will continue and grow as long as there are survivors of MacDill Crew 188. We look forward to seeing the guys and their wives every time there is a reunion.
“This has been written in this form on December 31, 1991, by Robert M. Blacker, with the help of his wife Margaret and her computer.” Very nice.
SR: Yes, lovely people. They live in Lubbock, Texas.
(RR: is working with papers.)
CW: While he’s doing that, Sarah, can you tell us any childhood memories you might have?
SR: Well, I had a good childhood when I was younger but my mother died when I was 11 and my father was an alcoholic so I didn’t have a good childhood after she died.
CW: What’d she die of?
SR: (speaking very softly) She took poison.
CW: Oh that’s too bad! It’s very hard to live with an alcoholic, isn’t it.
CW: I have a friend whose husband was an alcoholic and you know, he was the nicest person. He was just great until he drank alcohol.
SR: Oh thy all are.
CW: And he wouldn’t abuse her, he wouldn’t beat her but He would just say terrible things to her and she got so she thought she was worthless, and that’s what it does. It takes away the self-confidence
SR: And I think my mother was probably going through her change and it was just hard for her. There were five of us girls, all girls. The only brother we had died at birth and I understand I had a sister that died in Toledo. She was between the oldest and next oldest. She died with pneumonia. Back then a lot of children died with pneumonia.
CW: Oh yeah, no penicillin in those days.
SR: And I had another sister that died-I remember her too-well, after all five girls they had the little boy and then a girl that died. But then they put My two oldest sisters were out working when my mother died. The oldest was a Junior in high school-I think she was. She went to Lima to work in a factory. There were three girls at home and my father had a coon dog and he’d hunt. I remember he’d bring a package of breakfast rolls home and instead of giving it to us girls he’d give them to his dog.
CW: Oh my!
SR: Yeah, he just wasn’t . . .
CW: Was this during the Depression or after?
SR: It was after. He farmed and then he worked for the railroad. He had a good job at the road, I’m sure, but it all went to drinking.
CW: Do you have any memories of Depression days?
RR: I do. It never bothered us. We always ate good.
CW: Yeah, farmers would.
RR: We always ate good. If we had a Depression I don’t think us kids knew about it really. It’s harder on the older ones, the parents.
CW: They had to figure out how to buy clothing, pay rent and stuff.
SR: Well we raised rabbits and we always had a garden. I think that’s how we survived. I remember we had a big potato bin, you know to store potatoes.
CW: Was that in your cellar or outside? A hole in the ground?
SR: No, I don’t think it was a hole in the ground. It was an addition, a room added on to the back. It was kept cool. It wasn’t heated, and we had a bin in there.
CW: Did you store apples that way too?
SR: I’m sure they did. I don’t remember that very much.
RR: We had a cellar the same size as this kitchen and that’s where we stored apples.
SR: That’s the only basement we have.
CW: Did you make molasses or anything like that?
RR: We used to cure ham. We had a wooden barrel and we had a summer kitchen right out here and we’d put water in there and put salt in it. When you could float an egg why then you could quit putting salt in it. We’d put hams in there but I don’t know for how long, and after we got them out of there. . . . we had a little room at the back end of that l building. That part was closed off and it had a door and we’d smoke it in there.
CW: What kind of fuel would you use?
RR: Oh, wood: hickory, applewood, and smoke them for so long. And then you’d put ’em in flour sacks, leave ’em hang and when you wanted some ham you’d go out and get one. They were good. Probably nowadays they’d be considered too salty.
CW: Well they were probably a lot like the hams that that they pay a fortune for now, the Virginia hams. Those are very salty.
SR: That’s how we did pickles too, in a great big crock, and they took grape leaves, I remember, and put over the top after they’d put a lid on it.
CW: Did they have a wooden lid they put on it?
SR: I think they did. I often wonder what happened to that. I often wonder what happened to that, different things, you know.
CW: I remember my husband’s family, they lived on the farm and would get feed in feed sacks. There’d be patterns on the feed sacks and the girls and I suppose their mothers too would make dresses out of those.
SR: They made the best dishtowels too.
CW: Oh I’ll bet they would.
SR: The print ones they used for clothing but later on they were more plain. Well , life is so different now. We say we don’t know how the young people could survive the way we did, you know, in those days.
CW: But I’m sure there’re many many young people now that really have a fear of going into a Depression. They think it would be hard. But anybody I’ve talked to says, “Welll sure it was hard but we also had lots of fun because we had to make our own things.
SR: And the families really got together more than they do now. Now the mothers have to work and there’s just too much going on today.
CW: And they work hard. Of course farmers always worked hard but
SR: It’s easier with the equipment we have now than they when they used the horses.
CW: Well, those were the good old days, as they say.
SR: They were.
SR: Really, we lived here. We didn’t have a bathroom until our daughter. We had three sons and we didn’t have an inside bathroom until just before our daughter was born: June of 1959 was when we got our own place out here because Bob never believed in going into debt or anything and we couldn’t pay for it. Cars and everything, he was that way, right?
CW: You could have borrowed anytime you wanted to, I’ll bet, because they do lend easily. To a reliable person like that.
CW: Well I recall one of our favorite games during WWII was Hitler. Oh, “Let’s get out the Hitler board.” And all would gather around. It was nothing but a big piece of plywood and somebody had drilled holes in it so it was like these Chinese Checkers. You’d throw the dice and then you’d go so many places. But that was a big thing that a lot of us could play. They just made it. We called it the Hitler Board.
SR: We could make up a few today, of Ben Lauden and a few others, couldn’t we! (laughs)
RR: What;s the name of that airfield in ?
SR: Oh, what is it? I can’t think of it. Our children paid the man at the Henry County Airport. He and our youngest son-he’s the one that paid for them to fly up there-Where’s Rene from?
SR: He’s from France and she’s from and they were in the war the same time he was and we’re good friends with them. They live right here on 65.
CW: How’d they happen to live here if they grew up in France?
SR: He came to Detroit and he was a Principal up there in the school and he came over here and
RR: Had to go to the hospital, didn’t he?
SR: Is that the start of it? He got injured during the war and he went over to the hospital, to the American side to get treated.
RR: I was trying to think of how he met Marie.
SR: She worked in a Doctor’s office. Anyway, he lost his first wife in a bad auto accident. She was coming home from Chicago and she got in this accident and was killed.
CW: Oh, oh. How old were the children at that time? Pretty young, I’ll bet.
SR: Well anyway he met this lady and she’s from here. She went to school here. They live on a farm and her folks are here.
RR: He was a year behind me in school.
SR: That’s kind of too how we know them. We go out for lunch once in a while. We must do that, and we belong to a card club, and we have friends in Bowling Green who say, “We must do lunch.” We will. (laughs)
CW: It’s a lot different than it used to be. I remember my Mother-in-Law-oh she was a dear person-but she said, “Well it’s poor cook who can’t cook up a meal when there’s nothing in the pantry.” (chuckles) People would drive up and, I suppose in a horse and wagon before that, on a Sunday afternoon and they’d expect to stay for a meal and it didn’t bother her a bit. She’d cook up a big meal for everybody.
SR: Although I can remember when-of course there were five children here-I would always on Saturday fix the salad and fix the desert and get things ready for Sunday dinner. We’d need that done before we went to Sunday church. And I can remember when this friend of ours came out from town every Saturday night to polish the shoes and I had all the shoes all in a line. I couldn’t get over that. I had all that done. But now they don’t do that either.
CW: Did you used to make noodles?
SR: Oh yeah. Once in a while I would make noodles.
CW: What would you call those sheets of dough? They’d put them on the back of a chair or lay them out on the table or someplace to dry them.
SR: Paper bags we used. Open ’em up and put them on brown paper bags to dry.
CW: Then they’d take the shears and cut ’em.
SR: Oh, we always used a knife and a cutting board.
RR: Roll them up.
SR: Yeah you’d roll them up and slice them on a cutting board. Bob’s mother could always cut the finest noodles. She made the finest of anybody. I’ve tried that and I can’t get them like she did.
SR: Well anyway, these three flew up and then they flew back in a B17 to the Henry County Airport. That’s just been-what-2, 3 years ago maybe? Well anyway three of the crew flew back with the gentleman of the airport, and that was exciting. Then they took some rides there in the B17. Maybe you saw it flying around Napoleon? I don’t know.
CW: I think I remember something about the announcement that they had in the paper.
SR: We belong to Bethel Grange. In fact our picture was just in the paper. They reprinted it because they left one of the gentleman’s names out. Our Bethel Grange is getting to where it’s-Harrison Grange is closed and some came in, Ritchfield Grange is closed and they came in but we’re all getting to the age where it’s hard for everyone to get together so they gave just recently to our Damascus Twp. EMS. They’re doing that all different now and they need another defibrulatoir so they give toward that. In years past they gave $1000.
CW: That was a lot of money in those days.
SR: Yeah it was.
CW: I know my parents belonged to a Grange. I remember going to the Grange to a Maple Syrup party, or Maple Sugar they called it, I don’t know. Well we sat there at these long tables and they had a cereal bowl in front of each person and when they got the syrup to a certain temp they came around and poured a little in each bowl and we were to stir it and stir it until it cooled enough and then we would have . . .
SR: You’d have sugar candy. Isn’t that interesting.
CW: But I never knew what was the purpose of the Grange. What was it, do you know?
SR: It was a farmers’ organization. Now it’s called Farm Bureau today.
CW: Do you have any little stories of World War II?
RR: Oh . . .
SR: Tell her how far you had to march, and they’d sing songs.
RR: During basic training we marched 21 miles one day. There’s something about marching-when you march on the parade field and you’re really not going anywhere, just goin’ back and forth . . . there’s something about marching that when you get good at it il livens you up. The sergeant would tell us ‘To the rear march’ and all that stuff and you’d have a pretty good time really. It was kind of bad before when I was in Basic and I was tryin’ to learn how to march and there were about 40 guys. And every time they’d say, “To the rear march” I’d be lost somewhere. Finally they stopped the outfit and they said I should show up at the sergeant. There was a Lieutenant there so they said “You go talk to the Lieutenant.” So I went to the Lieutenant and he says, “You’re taking too long a step.” He showed me how to march and after that I got along all right. I was a dumb soldier. I didn’t know how to march.
SR: They said you weren’t on plowed ground.
RR: Yeah, they said, “You’re not walkin’ on plowed ground now.” That’s what they said.. (laughs) Oh we had good times-and bad times-as long as we made it through it.
SR: Also they had a tail gunner shot off.
RR: Yes, we lost our tail gunner. And our bombadeir, he got a bunch of flak up his backbone.
CW: Did he survive.
RR: Yeah, he was in the hospital for awhile.
SR: And then they don’t get to go on their mission so they have to go back and finish their mission, so they didn’t all get to come home in this country at the same time. Bob did his all at the same time, or right in a row.
RR: Yeah. And then the rest of them had to stay about a year.
SR: Well you had ten of them and only nine could go on a flight each time.
CW: What did you shoot at from your belly gunner?
RR: We shot at other airplanes mainly.
Cw How do you spell that word? “Ballyre?”
RR: (points to picture) That’s our crew. That’s the day we got our new airplane.
CW: What did you shoot at? Did you have some targets that you shot at?
RR: Oh yeah, during training.
CW: I mean when you were doing your missions.
RR: German airplanes.
SR: The fighter planes.
RR: They’d try to knock you out of the air and you’d try to knock them out of the air. So that’s what we did, and I had two of them 50-caliber machine guns-that’s a pretty good-sized bullet, and I had two of them and they’d spray out bullets like water out of a hose. They’d put out a lot of fire power.
CW: Did they always spray out in tandem or did one go one way and one another?
RR: No, they always went together. The whole ball would swivel. Ball and all wwent with them.
CW: You mean the thing that you were in would turn.
RR: Yeah, like a ball.
CW: So when you moved the gun . . .
RR: Everything moved. It was hanging there on a ball-bearing thing and it would go round and round and the guns would go down-everything moved.
SR: He didn’t have room to wear his parachute in there.
RR: Yeah. Put the parachute out in the waiste.
CW: Pretty dangerous.
RR: Oh, could be. Yes. We were lucky.
CW: Could you hear the German planes coming?
RR: No, not really
CW: How did you know that they were in the vicinity? The radio?
RR: Well, somebody might tell you, but it was up to you to look. In our training they’d flash pictures of different planes and we had to name what they were. They’d just flash them up there just for an instant and we had to identify what they were so that if they were three or four miles, or even five miles, as far as you could see them, you could tell what was coming.
CW: The important thing’d be that you wouldn’t shoot at your own planes.
RR: No, see our own fighters, they knew that some of our gunners would as they say be ‘trigger happy’ and so they would stay out-oh, say, 5/8ths of a mile or so-they’d try to stay out of range.
CW: That was in training.
RR: No, that was all the time. Those fighters, they went-
CW: They went awfully fast.
RR: Yeah, we’d be pluggin’ along with a full load of bombs and gas, going 170 maybe, 180-depending on which way the wind was blowing-and they’d be goin’ by 350, 400 miles an hour. So they didn’t get real close to us but if they’d see one of them German planes they would chase them.
CW: Do you know Lennie (Lenhardt) Lange, used to be in Holgate Lumber?
CW: Well he was on a ship in WWII and he was way up ant the top. He said he liked that. There was a cool breeze and everything. His job was to tell when the Japanese fighters came in, the suicide, Kamikazee. He said he had to wait till they were close; otherwise they would miss them. He almost cried when he told about it because he said he could see the face and he had to give the order to destroy.
SR: Our son-in-law bought us a DVD and a VCR for my birthday and he came over last night to hook it up
(end of tape)