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Monday, December 31, 2012


*this is out of sequence.  I am asking anyone who happens to read this to let me know, if you know of course, why I am getting so many hits from France and for the one titled April 18, 1954.  The following can be found on my other blog The Adventures of Conley McAnally along with other adventures in Italy, Ireland, Germany, and Panama.  Thanks for you help.  Email
I look back on my time in Alaska with smiles, happiness, and humor.  Today I came across a log I wrote at the time I was experiencing all the wonders of Alaska.  Realities and memories don't match up sometimes it seems.
8-15-02.  Hooper Bay, Alaska

We arrived yesterday.  This is the most dismal looking place I have ever been in.  It is dirty, the houses are little more than plywood shacks and the teacher housing, at least for us, is some where next to the type you would find in the ghetto.

There are fly's all over the place, our food has not arrived, we have no phone or TV yet and we only get one station on the radio.  We are very remote here, you can feel it, we feel forlorn and even with both of us here we cannot help feeling alone and isolated.  A silence has fallen between us but it isn't out of anger.  I think I might have made a mistake.

Women are the ones who are the real pioneers and are the back bone.  They make a house a home.  Paula is doing all the right things but I can tell her heart is not in it.  It pains me to see her unhappy.

It is 52 degrees outside, the wind is out of the west at 17mph.

The school building is the pits.  My classroom is OK and in all fairness everyone we have met, native and teacher, have been very nice and helpful.  This is a good thing I guess given the fact that yesterday we were all strangers.

Note:  I will now and then blog more of this unedited log.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Just a Basic Day - Crawling

We had to low crawl it seemed every time we turned around.  As everything in the army there was a specific way to low crawl.  You had to lay flat on your stomach, extend your arms at the elbow placing your hands flat on the ground with fingers facing front.  Then you would spread your legs like a frog.  You would then extend your right arm forward while at the same time bringing your left knee towards the front while maintaining it parallel to and on top of the ground.  Then you would repeat the patters with the left arm and right leg and keep alternating until you got to where you wanted to go.  The idea was to present the lowest target you could to the enemy.  It works.

The biggest low crawl challenge you had is when you had to crawl under live machine gun fire.  During the first few weeks of basic you kept hearing about this and I suspect most of us had seen it done in movies.  It seems like there was always someone who had come across a snake, panicked and stood up and was shot.  It always was one or two cycles ahead of us but what actually was one of those urban legends never really happened.

Our turn to crawl under live fire finally came.  We were herded in to a trench at one end of a big long open field.  It was night.  The machine guns were set up at the opposite end and started firing over our heads.  When a bullet passed by you could hear a "snap" or a "crack" sound.  We were told that is the bullet breaking the sound barrier.  I don't know if that was true or not, but you did hear the bullet whizzing by. 

We were told to climb over the drench wall and remain low (that seemed obvious to me.)  Then we were to low crawl under barbed wire while the bullets zinged over head, every 5th round being a tracer round thus lighting up the night.

No one panicked and I realized that the guns were placed in such an angle and on platforms that one would have to jump up and down in front of the gun and then probably couldn't jump that high to get hurt.

I was sort of disappointed because the position I had in line was towards the end of the column and no fire was going directly over head.  I didn't see any snakes either.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Just a Basic Day - Shaving

If there is one thing the military likes more than shined boots it is a hairless face.  This is in far contrast to the old days or even regulations.  However make sure you shave your mustache if you are career oriented and if you are in basic training don't even bother to try and remind your superiors that you are with-in regulations dawning your handlebar.

One of the guys in our unit showed up with a bright red handlebar mustache.  It was curled on the ends at least twice.  Quite the sporty looking affair.  We asked him if anyone had said anything to him bout it and very indignantly said "no, it is within regulations." 

Two hours later a bunch of us ran into him again and he was clean shaven.  We asked him what the deal was.  He said that the Mess Sergeant refused to feed him until he shave his moustache.  He said he went to complain to the captain but could not get past the company clerk until he shaved his mustache.  Everyone needs to conform now and then I guess.

We had to shave everyday.  Even when we were in the field.  We would use hot water provided by the mess section which we poured in our steel pots.  If there was not hot water cold water had to suffice.  We had no mirrors so to make sure that we got all the right places we were taught a technique that insured we would be clean shaven.  First you select a companion, usually your tent mate, both lather up then looking at each other mimic what the other guys is doing with is razor just like you do in a mirror.  It really works.  Some little trivia there.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Just a Basic Day - Band of Brothers

You do not realize how sheltered of a life you live until you start meeting guys from all over the country in a guy setting, ie like Basic Training.  Just to name a few by geography, I have long lost the memory of their names, - South Dakota (went to law school) North Dakota (called him MoJo for some reason, ran into him ten years later at Ft Sill, had the room across from mine in the officers quarters one AT) Washington, DC (law school, George Town) Wyoming (he was very flexible, could kick his leg over his shoulder, one night we were talking and he told me his Dad had committed suicide, I did not have the nerve to ask how) Boston, Texas, Rhode Island, New York ( the first Jewish guy I had ever met.  He was not cut out for the program but would have been less cut out for the regular basic training program. He was a funny guy, took his pain in stride and never, never gave up and completed the course, he was also a law school guy.) 

We had a lot of guys from back east and down south.  Their exact locations escape me but they seemed to be more interested in where I lived than I thought normal.  I guess the word Kansas in Kansas City threw them a lot.  It took me forever to explain that Kansas City was in Missouri not Kansas and I am not sure they ever did figure it out.  One guy in particular was sincere when he asked me if we had cows on the street and did I own a cow boy hat.

I was very fond of all those guys.  Some were just cool guys, others were down home types, some were nerds but all were likable.  There was not one guy in our platoon that I did not like or nor get along with. 

The last day we were there a guy, one of the nerds, put up a piece of paper on the bulletin board for all of us to put our names and addresses on.  We all just laughed about it knowing who the poster was, but we all seemed to slip our name on the paper.  I don't remember if I copied any of the names down, but wish I had now 50 years later. 

I don't dwell on those guys and each year I remember fewer and fewer.  There is a Basic Training book that was made and it is some where in one of my many boxes I keep stuff in.  Guess I should go find it and pay a short visit to a band of brothers who at one time were very important to me.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Just a Basic Day - PT

PT stands for physical training.  Most recruits are out of shape when they arrive at basic so the Services deem it their responsibility to get one in shape and up to fighting standards.  "More sweat in training less blood in battle" was posted on a big sign when you entered Sand Hill. They do this by not allowing you to walk any where in the company area unless in formation, having certain obstacle courses you have to negotiate before meals, the daily morning run, and of course the Daily Dozen they are called.  The the Daily Dozen are a series of exercises that if dun daily will make you a lean, mean, fighting machine.  I cannot remember all of the calisthenics but they consisted of deep knee bends, squats, push ups (four and eight counts) squat thrusts, waist bends, and others.  After you thought you were through you were supposed to shout "more PT Drill Sergeant" and pretend that you meant it.  If the Drill Sergeant didn't think you meant it he would just have you do more calisthenics.  There must be some logic there some where.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Just a Basic Day - Mess

I am not sure why the serving of food in the military is called Mess.  I suspect it comes from some British Term and not the way the food is prepared or served.  The food we were served while in Basic was good and I can say I never had a terrible meal while in uniform. 

The food was always plentiful and not bad tasting and the degree to which it was not bad tasting was due to the pride the head cook took in his profession.  I cannot remember any specific meal but the food was served on a two week rotation.  That meant that every two weeks you got the same thing.  Like if you got spaghetti on Sunday, two weeks later you would have spaghetti unless that particular Sunday fell on a holiday and then you had the holiday menu.  It varied from roast beef to ham to turkey.

When at all possible we were provided hot meals in the field.  Instead of trays we used our mess kits, a silver looking metal device that could be folded up and carried on your side along with a knife fork and spoon.  We drank out of our canteen cups, which was the metal device that our canteen was held in taht we wore connected to our ammo belts.  The food served in the field really wasn't bad at all. 

C rations were another matter.  They came in tan boxes and contained all sorts of stuff stuffed in a OD green can which was impossible to open almost. They were supposed to come with an opener called a P38 but more often than not they were no where to be found.  Once you came across one you kept hold of it.  Seemed like there was a mix of fruit, a meat can, peanut butter, jelly, cheese spread, crackers, eggs and cigarettes depending on which box you drew.  Kool, Winston's, Chesterfields, Lucky Strikes, Camels, and Marborals.  They were good trading items. The highest trading item was ham slices. It is said that one would kill for ham slices.  That is putting it a little strong but they were tasty.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Just a Basic Day - Bits and Pieces

It has been many years ago and even though somethings stand out very clearly other things are a blur and most aren't remembered  in the sequence in which they occurred.

For instance, we were issued two pairs of boots.  We were supposed to ware a different pair every other day.  The "odd" day boots we were told to make a notch on the inside portion of the outside heal.  I did not want to do that because that meant that I would have to polish twice as many boots as we were supposed to and the army seemed to have a fetish about shinny boots.  So I just ignored the edict and kept one pair as display and wore the other so they would get broken in sooner. 
One day we were in formation when the Drill Sergeant told us he was going to check our boots.  It was the "odd" day so a notch was required.  The Sergeant walked behind each squad and had each man raise his right foot and the Sergeant would run his finger over the spot that the notch was supposed to be.  It became my turn and I wondered what punishment I would have to endure.  He slid his finger along the heal so it would touch the notch and then passed on by with out feeling or saying a thing.  That taught me that somethings in the army you could ignore if you knew who was going to do the inspections.

Speaking of breaking in boots.  No matter what we all got blisters.  We would sit in the middle of the floor in the barracks and prick the side of the blister and drain the puss then put band aids over the remaining skin.  I don't think that is what one is supposed to do to blisters but it was what we did then.

We would run in the morning.  I never was a distance runner and never seemed to keep up, but it was more mental than physical.  I seldom "fell out" but only on a few occasions did I run towards the front of the line when towards the end we were told to "move out," that was sort of a race to the end.  Sometimes I would anticipate the command and start running before everyone else. 

I use to like waking up in the middle of the night.  It was quiet, no one was yelling at me and I could go back to sleep easily.  I use to sleep on the top of my blankets so I would not have to make my bed in the morning.

My favorite thing to eat in the mess hall was eggs, bacon, and toast all made into a sandwich.  I stole a pie while on KP once and hid it under the mess hall and was going to retrieve it after my shift was over and bring in back to the guys in the barracks.  I had a 15 minute break and went and told the guys what I was bringing.  As I was returning to be mess hall I saw the only stray dog I have ever seen on an army post eating the apple pie.  After shift I returned to the barracks empty handed and my story about the dog was not believed. 

Like I said, just bits and pieces.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Just a Basic Day - Hand grenades

Most of us have shot off fir crackers and have pretended to throw hand grenades when we "played" army as a kid.  I was particularly good at both, at least in my mind and I guess successful because I never blew off any fingers like my aunts and grandmother kept telling me I would do some day.

We were sitting in bleachers listening to the instructor as to how a hand grenade worked.  I am not sure of the details now but I do remember that you could not pull out the safety ring with your teeth like John Wayne use to do. 

We were lined up.  Told to do nothing unless we were told to.  The first man in line was given what looked like a short squat pringles can, told to hold it by his throwing hand and place said hand against his chest and when told to "move out" he was to run to a man sitting behind a concrete bunker.  That man would take the grenade out of the container, place it in our hand properly, help us assume the throwing position (you did not throw it like a base ball but a rounded arching motion) and when he felt we were comfortable tell us to throw in the direction we had our non throwing hand pointed (he made sure the non throwing hand was pointed towards the impact area.)  After we threw it we were to drop to our knees and look out a thick glass window and watch the explosion.  One thing was made perfectly clear to us.  If for some reason we were to drop a live grenade we were not to try to retrieve it our selves but to let the instructor do it.  If the instructor thought we were trying to do his job after we had dropped it, he was bailing out of the bunker and let us deal with it.

Grenades are loud.  The first one that went off made us all jump up from the bleachers and none of us waiting were overly eager to toss a grenade about no matter how easy it seemed.  It was my turn
-  Canister in right hand against my chest, order to move out, on my knees behind the bunker, grenade taken from canister and placed in my right hand, now the non throwing hand takes the ring, pulls the pin, aims ring and non throwing hand down range, order given to throw grenade -  I threw that thing has hard as I could, just like a would a base ball, I dropped to my knees and have no recollection of where it landed nor did I see an explosion. 

The good thing is I only had to throw one and for some reason feel like I  could do it now without any qualms and most of all I did not lose any fingers during the process.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Just a Basic Day - "Ready on the Firing Line"

We were all issued an M14 rifle and two clips to place the ammo in when it was given to us which was not then of course.  One of the DI's went through some rudimentary procedures on how to carry the "weapon" which they insisted we call it and if anyone ever called it a "gun" they were doing push ups soon after.

They loaded us on a 2 1/2 Ton army truck and we sat in the bumpy rig for about a half hour.  As soon as we departed the truck we were organized in to firing parties and sent to different stands for a lecture on how to aim and shoot.  This went on for a couple of hours and then they showed a demonstration where a marksmanship instructor fired the M14 holding it against his chin and then is groin.  That was to show us that if held properly the "kick" of the weapon would not hurt us. 

We were told that we were to do nothing on the firing line until told to do so.  We marched off and lined up behind firing positions told to lay our weapons on the ground and then we were handed three bullets.  It would be tedious to discuss the procedures that we had to follow and go through before we could actually fire and the methods we used to site in our weapons, and the long hours we spent doing all of it, so lets just say by the end of six weeks we had a pretty good handle on how to load, aim, fire, maneuver, and hit what we were aiming at.  I found out that all the shooting I did with my BB gun back on Crisp Lake was of some help.  I qualified expert on the final exam.  I felt very comfortable with my gun, oh, I mean my weapon.  Hand granades were a different story however.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Just a Basic Day - Instruction

Like I stated earlier, there is the right way, the wrong way, and the army way.  That goes for military instructions methods also.  I do have to say however that the army and the military in general has a way of instruction that is superior.  They start out with the premise that the student doesn't know anything so they tell them what they are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what they told them.  Oddly enough it works. 

The first class I remember having, and I guess it was on that first day, was how to salute, when to salute, and who to salute.  Not as easy as it sounds.  We all knew you were supposed to salute officers, we were not sure about sergeants however.  That answer is no if you didn't know already.  They showed us a film about saluting etiquette.  Like if you are passing by a restaurant and see an officer through the window you are not expected to salute.  However they stressed that saluting is just a greeting of sorts and the one saluted had just as much an obligation of saluting you back as you had in saluting. 

During our first break we all had to practice saluting each other.  Our hands had to be at a certain tilt and angle and are arms the same.  A sloppy salute was disrespectful and no salute at all.

A lot of time was given to marching and what they called close order drill.  We saw a film and a demonstration then all piled out side again to practice.  Attention, at ease, right face, left face, about face, present arms, (with out a weapon means to salute) order arms, (stop saluting), forward march, column left, column right, to the rear march, right flank, left flank, open ranks, etc, the list goes on and on and seems like we never did it right enough for the DI.

The first few days we just marched to class and back twice a day and really thought we were doing something.  Eventually we were told to fall out in our fatigues (before this we had been told to dress in our class B [ khakis] with canteen and helmet liners.  We were going to receive the rest of our field gear, along with real army helmets and real honest to goodness rifles.  That morning we went to the firing range.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Just a Basic Day - Rise and Shine

At 5:00 AM the lights in the barracks snapped on.  A voice yelled out "Rise and Shine, you have twenty minutes to s*&^, shower, shave and fall out, now get moving ladies."  Well of course there were no ladies around, it is just one of those terms of endearment that drill sergeants use now and then. 

We all scrambled and stumbled over one another to fulfill the DI's (drill instructor) "request" which of course was no request at all.  Some how we all made it outside and lined up the best we could trying to remember in what position we were in the day before. 

Our DI kept yelling at us to get in line, cover down, "are you all just stupid or lazy," and some how we all did a right face and marched to the mess hall.  We lined up and had to run through a gantlet of sorts to get to the entry door.  There was a run dodge and jump, low crawl through a sand pit, and a pull up bar we had to maneuver through and only then were we allowed to enter the mess hall three at a time.

We grabbed our trays and eating utensils as we were yelled to do, food was slapped on our trays while the cooks and servers kept telling us to "keep moving."  We were yelled at to sit at a table for four, hurry up and eat, and get back to the barracks and clean up around our bed.  I can't remember what we had to eat that morning but we usually had eggs, bacon, toast, grits, milk, juice. 

After the meal was gulped we ran back to our barrack bed only to find that our beds had been dismembered and we spent a good 5 minutes sorting that out and finished just in time to hear the DI yell for us to fall out.  We stumbled into formation again and marched off to get a haircut while being yelled at to cover down, stay in step and all sorts of derogatory comments about the way we looked and our intelligence in general.

After a very nice buzz cut we marched back to the company area.  Then marched off to an old movie theater I assumed, and told to take off our ammunition belts, helmet liners, and canteens and place them in front of us and take one side step to the right.  After bumping into each other because every ones right seemed to be different the "squad leader" who unluckily was the first guy in line was yelled at to make sure all the ammo belts, helmet liners, and canteens were in a straight row. 

We were then instructed to enter the building single file, go to an area to sit as yelled to do but not to sit down. 

A Sergeant of some sort got on the stage and yelled "Take your Seats!"  We had to do this several times because the instructor did not like the way we all sat down but eventually we all did it in close enough in unison to please him.  As we sat down we all had to yell out "C-8 -2, pride of the infantry."   Our first lesson on how to be a soldier was about to begin.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Basic Day - Sleep Tight

C - 8 -2 I found out meant Charlie Company, eighth battalion, second brigade.  To me it broke down further when I was told to go into the second platoon, third squad area of what is commonly called WWII barracks.  These are two story oblong buildings that were probably designed before WWI.  The design I suppose was adequate and efficient so when they needed a lot of them they didn't reinvent the wheel, just got out their rubber stamp.

Sand Hill was the place where all basic training trainees learned to be soldiers.  It was almost like it sounds, plenty of sand, rock, gravel, cookie cutter buildings, and little green vegetation.  The structures from barracks to admin buildings were all painted a sand tan color.  Ergo, Sand Hill.

There was another unique feature of Sand Hill - a lot of guys running around in Smokey the Bear hats yelling at everyone that did not have one, mostly us filing off the buss.  We were yelled at to run hear, store our duffel's, run hear get your bed material, run here to eat lunch, run here run there and then here again. 

Our particular nemesis was a red cheeked white drill sergeant named Redman.  As far as yelling drill sergeants go he wasn't that bad.  He in a voice of calm demeanor if drill sergeants have such things, taught us how to dress in military style, hang our clothes, make our beds, how to respond when spoken to, pack our footlockers, and numerous stuff that we all had an inkling on how to do, but not to army standards.  That old adage there is "right way, the wrong way, and the army way" was certainly true.

We were lined up, marched to the chow hall went through a line with the cooks and servers yelling at us to hurry up and someone else yelling at us to hurry up and eat.  As soon as you were done you had to run outside and go to your barrack and stand by you cot for inspection.  Before the inspection came we were told to "fall-in" next to the barracks. 

A captain, our company commander I found out later, said that if we did not like it here we could all go home at anytime.  He said out contracts with the army and ROTC allowed such but just as a warning our home draft boards would be notified and we would be placed on priority draft status and he would see us again in 6 months.  "Now is there anyone here other than the young boy I have already talked to that wants to leave?"  The use of the word "boy" did not escape any of us.

We were dismissed, told to go to our bunks and go to sleep immediately.  It was 7:00 PM.  We all went to our bunks but how many of us slept I do not know.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Just a Basic Day - Arrival

When I arrived at the main gate at Fort Benning I was told to follow the signs that would lead me to the reception station for the ROTC candidates.  Instead I was directed by sign to a huge parking lot where I was told to park my car, get my belongings and stand behind my vehicle until a bus picked me up.  I was not alone, there were many cars already parked, there were about a hundred waiting for a bus, and the cars kept coming.

The army realized in the middle 60's that they were running out of officers, especially young lieutenants.  West Point could not keep up with demand, most draftees were not interested in going to officer candidate school, and the college ROTC programs were dwindling fast.  The army decided to offer incentives to colleges and universities if they would establish ROTC programs, which is what CMSC did.  The new programs needed senior cadre so they developed a two year program where by you went to basic training at a specialized facility which gave you credit for the first two years of ROTC training and you spent your junior and senior year attending military classes while completing your college degree.  After that you only owed the government two years of active duty, the same as being drafted.  Seemed like a deal to me, besides they paid you during the school year a small amount.  I think it was $50 a month.

It was a popular program.  Not only did you get paid to go to school you put off the inevitable draft and when you finally did go into the army, which back then was only a matter of time, you went in as an officer.  I really thought to myself that if I was going to have to go in the army any way I might as well make more money than a private to be shot at.

A bus came by and about 50 of us were herded on and taken to the receptions station.  We were told to go sit under "that tent over there" where they had all sorts of food and drink.  This isn't bad I thought to myself.  Eventually I and 25 others were told to get in line and we started being processed.  Name, date of births, family contacts, sign forms, it went on and on. 

The 25 were then taken to a small assembly area where this scare crow looking captain welcomed us to Fort Benning Basic Training Detachment.  He told us that this is where "we train you to be soldiers" and he hoped we would enjoy are stay.  Seemed like a pretty nice guy I thought. 

As soon as he finished some guy started yelling at us to get up, stand in line, do not get out of order, don't lose the foleder we were given and he marched us single file into a giant warehouse yelling at us all the way to keep in step and not get out of order.  The warehouse contained all the military clothing and other items we would need immediately.  We were given quick exams and then shots via air guns by guys who had probably gotten there the day before.  Some times the air guns would not be flush with the skin and the pressure would blow away part of the skin.  There was many an arm dripping with blood by the time we got out side where another bus awaited.

We all filed on and I was the last one to get a seat.  I heard the guy behind me who seemed to be in charge tell the driver, "Sand Hill, C-8-2."  Off we went.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Just a Basic Day - The trip

Around the middle of May in 1968 I pointed my 1964 Ford towards Georgia.  As far as I was concerned it was about as far away as Crisp Lake and Van Horn as I had ever been.  Not really I guess because I had been to Florida several times with my grandparents, but this was the furthest I had ever journeyed by myself.

My destination was Fort Benning.  I was being given the privilege to participate in a basic training sessions for two year ROTC candidates.  It was a privilege because if I had not wormed my way into the program I would have been doing basic in Fort Lenard Wood and my classroom the following fall would not have been CMSC (what it was called back then.)

I was not familiar with the interstate highway system back then, I don't really even know if they had one as such, so I cut across Missouri towards Memphis.  Once at Memphis I kept driving until I reached Tupalo, Mississippi, spent a short night and hit the road early.

Not much of the nitty gritty of the trip do I remember but I do recall entering Alabama and the first thing I saw was a great big sign saying Welcome to Alabama.  The next sign said George Wallace's White Way.  I noticed the highway was new and was pretty white.  I thought to myself that who ever this George Wallace is he has a nice road named after him. 

I spent the second night about 30 miles from the Georgia state line.  I called a friend of mine I had not seen since high school, Mike Putman.  I knew he was going to medical school in Georgia and his family had moved there also.  He was thrilled to hear from me and was ready to drive to where I was, which was pretty far, but his mother decided that wasn't a good idea.  I told him that when I got settled in at Fort Benning I would give him a call.

The next morning I sat out towards Columbus, GA located next to Fort Benning where I would spend the next six weeks or so.  I had no idea what to expect but knew there was no going back, at least that day.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Minority Report from a Christian Scientist

Christian Science, a real minority

In Fairmount and especially Crisp Lake there was one Negro named Mac who shined shoes in one of the barbershops.   There were no American Indians, Jews, or Mexicans any where to be found around the neighborhood.  Catholics were here and there but really could not be counted as a true minority because most of them lived north of 24 Highway.  We did have one family living on Ash who it was suspected were gypsies, but no one knew for sure.  No the only minority present in our little community was me.

Being raised a Christian Scientist had some advantages.  First of all you did not have to take the yearly polio shot or what ever types of shots they were giving out that year at school.  When it was my turn for some sort of vaccination a parent aid would whisper something to the nurse, a notation was made on a piece of paper and the next child in line stepped forward and I returned to my seat.  I really felt fortunate, shots scared me and I knew they must be painful.  Secondly there were not many rules involved being a Christian Scientist.  No one said if you did this or did that or you didn’t do this or that you were going to suffer eternal damnation or something.  Hell was not addressed as such and talk of heaven consisted of ‘passing on’ and living on in the minds of others.

If you were to ask people what they know about Christian Scientist a preponderance would say “aren’t they the ones who don’t believe in doctors?”  A few might know who Mary Baker Eddy was (she founded the religion in 1875) or that there was a news paper by that name or perhaps to the truly knowledgeable of trivia, that the headquarters of the church were in Boston (or was it Baltimore)  and that Alan Shepard our first man in space was a Christian Scientist.  Four of the five above are true, one is a little iffy. 

The idea that Christian Scientists don’t believe in doctors is not actually correct.  Their doctrine allows each member to make up their own mind on how to live their life given the teachings of Jesus and the Bible as explained in ‘Science and Health with Keys to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy,’ which includes health care.  Some use doctors some don’t, some take medication some don’t, it is really an individual choice.  They are  encouraged to obey all laws pertaining to health care and if shots are required they are to be taken.  There were not many laws back then that required one to have shots unless you joined the military, ergo no shots for this kid while growing up.

For the purist in the religion or the real conservative types Christian Scientist do have what they call Practitioners that are consulted when health matters arise.  To make this concept simple let us just say that if you are ill, you talk to a Practitioner.  They don’t cast spells or perform rites or anything like that nor are they licensed by the church or state as far as I know, they just help you see the truth and as it is said, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”  (Another big saying that Christian Scientist have is “Devine love has always met and always will meet every human need.”)

We had Sunday School like most all churches and I got a good education about the make up of the Bible and knew and still do most of the stories from the old and new testament.  Of course the healing  ones depicted in the Bible were given a lot of attention.

Other churches may have and do look on Christian Science as a cult at least by definition just like they do the Mormons.  By definition they might be correct.  Christian Scientist do not believe in the trinity.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Ghost back then) are part of the belief system but they are all separate entities not just one - a much easier concept to grasp.  God is that indescribable  concept that resides in that just as indescribable place called heaven, Jesus is his son, divine but not God on earth in the flesh, and the Holy Spirit sort of mystically runs around between humans, God, and Jesus. (I always thought it interesting that of the two major religions started in the United States, Christian Science  and Mormons, neither believe in the trinity.  It is probably a coincidence unless one or both religions are really the chosen people and not that other group. That is a thought that you would never hear from a Christian Scientist but probably a core belief in Salt Lake City.)  There is no professional clergy, (they have a First Reader and Second Reader, one reads a Bible passage and the other reads from Science and Health explaining what was just read by the other,) no weddings, baptisms, christenings, official inductions nor funerals are performed in or by the church.  There are no revivals, fund raisers, pot lucks, deviations from the script prepared by the Mother Church read each Sunday morning and Wednesday night service, nor any real fun things to do at all.  It was sort of a boring church for a kid as far as I was concerned.  The service and theology are more of a cerebral nature and if the truth be known eludes most adherents.   

I never felt any prejudice directed towards me because of my religion but I was defiantly part of a system that others did not understand nor were interested in finding out more about and it seems like other parents always wanted me to go to church with their children when youth meetings were held  because they were concerned about my soul.  I usually went because they always seemed to have good treats afterwards and most were my friends from the neighborhood anyway.

Gradually I drifted away from the church and have joined different churches from time to time.  I have been a Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Assembly of God, Quaker, and Disciple of Christ church member in the past.  All seemed about the same, some were a little more demanding on how you conducted your personal life but that really never bothered me because when it comes to religion we are all part of the same hypocrisy.

However one never escapes his early up bringing.  Ideas are planted early and lay dormant but now and then blossom and grow.  You try to kill them off now and then but they keep coming back.  I still consider myself to be a Christian Scientist though I don’t officially or actively practice it anymore except when I become a little ill or just before my annual physical.  I have to do it all by memory now because I don’t have any idea where my copy of Mrs. Eddy’s book is anymore.

The overriding beliefs taught to me in Sunday school that have stayed with me over the years and still imprinted on my mind come from my Christian Science up bringing and other than those I am not real sure about that mystery we call religion.  I am pretty sure that Man is not material he is Spiritual, God is Love and when we pass on we will all be surprised

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Van Horn Gay Days

Van Horn Gay Days


You cannot so it seems have a get together of Van Horn alumni of any size without eventually talking about the swimming pool at Van Horn.  There is always the talk of the boys swimming nude and girls having to ware swim suits that had holes.  The girls also suffered from the humiliation of what I have heard one female alumnus refer to as the “nude parade” after they showered.


I don’t remember feeling humiliated standing in the buff lined up in the shower hall way leading to the swimming pool, in fact no one really gave it much thought or so it seemed at the time.  The one thing that is why in this day and age of openness and acceptance such a thing would never happen and be fodder for lawsuits towards school districts and accusations of teacher perversion.  I mean wasn’t it more conservative back then?  Wasn’t modesty more prevalent?  Apparently not for we all got naked and paraded around as instructed without any thought of impropriety.


Many years later a teacher at Northeast told me that since our skinny dipping days that studies have shown that at least 5% of all teenagers are Gay or at least lean in that direction and the practice was stopped.  If that is true I suppose the percentage has not changed much and that means that in the 1965 graduating class of more than 500  there were at least 25 of our class mates when standing around naked with the same sex were very uncomfortable and considered by officials as psychologically damaging. 


I can honestly say that to this day I have no inkling of who the 25 might have been.  We had some frail looking kids, some shy kids, and some kids that were just strange but to consider them Gay or in those days we said queer or homo never even occurred to me.  The part that bothers me the most is that those who were (and I suspect they were not the shy, frail, or strange ones) must have suffered and done so in silence.  What stress they must have gone through each swim day or while taking the mandatory shower after PE.


Kids are more open and accepting today but I bet many kids still suffer and think they are some kind of deviant and are picked on or bullied.  School officials have recognized this problem and have implemented programs and procedures to eradicate the tyranny of the majority.  I suspect the problem is becoming less and less even though it would not seem like it if you were the target of such harassment.


I don’t know what the swimming attire is now or how many of the schools even have pools nor do I have any clue if showering after PE is mandatory.  If I were to ask the school system I would probably be put on a watch list of some sort and when I ran for president some day my asking the question would be made public and the only support I would receive would be from the Rainbow Coalition.



Friday, September 21, 2012

Crisp Lake - A short and hearsay history

Col Crisp

There was a spring just a little northeast of what is now Fairmount that was used  by the locals as were many such springs that permeated the area west of Independence.  It did not take on its present configuration until the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Rail Road built a  spur to connect with the Union Pacific.  An earthen dam was built that backed up water and Crisp Lake took on its present form.  No one is really sure if Crisp Lake was its official name or if it even had one.  Someone stared calling the new body of water after Col. Crisp of the Confederate States of America and state legislator.  Why they named it after him is lost to history or at least this short narrative.

Regardless after the rail road finished laying track the lake was there and some of the more prosperous in the area thought it would be a neat thing to have a summer cottage by a lake.  Several small little changing stations were erected which lead to bath houses, that lead to attached pavilions, and eventually cottages were erected and sprinkled the area around the lake.  To keep out undesirables an association was established called The Hutchinson Park Association.   Mr. Hutchinson was the first to build a cottage and was sort of the area’s unofficial patriarch. 

The house I grew up in was one of the original cottages.  It was owned by my Great Grandmother Stone, who in actuality was my foster grandmother whom was always referred to as Mother Stone.  Her very large house was over by Mount Washington Cemetery and 639 Lake Drive on Crisp Lake was her summer retreat.

More people started buying lots and from whom I don’t know - may be the rail road, Hutchinson, or Col Crisp.  The Association remained in tack but it did not have the legal power to establish any type of building code because no one really knew to which political jurisdiction it  belong.  Many different types of houses were built that were lived in year round.  Some were very nice houses and the people were of the upper middle class.  But things change 

The prosperous people eventually left the area or bequeathed their property to their relatives (Mother Stone gave my grandmother our house) and upper blue collar workers, for the most part, started moving in.  Sheffield Steel and Standard Oil were very big employers in the area and Crisp Lake got its share of those families.

I lived at Crisp Lake from 1947 to 1966 mostly with my grandparents.  My grandmother lived there till the early 80’s.  When I lived there the lake had rock walls that surrounded it, two sail boats, thee row boats, one of which was mine, and one canoe.  The deepest part of the lake had a dock, diving board and chained off swimming area.  There were plenty of fish, turtles, crawdads, muskrats, frogs, and snakes.  In the winter it was the main attraction for ice skaters from all over the city.

Many birds of water type variety were represented but no ducks or geese.  Then one day two mallard ducks arrived just short of winter and of course the entire human lake population fed them; fed them so much that they returned the next year and brought some of their friends and then more friends each year there after.  Some one must have told a goose because they started showing up and have dominated the place every since. 

There was no EPA at the time to keep chemical pollution from being dumped there by an intermittent stream that some of the minor industries in Maywood used to get rid of their chemical waste.  Along with the chemical pollution from the plants, the natural run off of pesticides from the surrounding terra firma and bacteria brought by the geese eventually destroyed the picturesque setting. 

The social structure of the area changed about the same time.  Sheffield Steel and Standard Oil out sourced and eventually shut down altogether, almost 5000 jobs left the area, the KC School District started bussing, the houses were getting old and run down as were the residents, the rock walls, dock and swimming area went into decay, owners moved out and renters moved in, and then someone, perhaps the City, decided it was no longer fit to swim in.

The Hutchinson Park Association is still in existence if not real viable and there are only three families that still live around the lake that were there when I called the place home and two of them moved in when I was a teenager.  Very few remember what it was like. The Association did look into what it would cost to bring the lake back to its glory days but the cost was in the 6 figure range not counting the logistics of hauling, storing and cleaning up the mud that would have to be drudged up from the lake due to contamination. 

The place has some potential given some vision and money but there seems to be no serious interest in doing so by the people who make those types of decisions. I don’t know what it would take to make the place an attractive area once again.  Perhaps a ground swell of local populace marching on then occupying city hall might work.  If a member of the city council was elected that lived in the area or one who grew up there might do the trick.  Or perhaps some local boy who remembers what it was like back in the day will win the power ball.   The power ball scenario is the one that shows the most promise I suspect.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Van Horn - Otto Kaifes

Van Horn – Otto Kaifes


One time on face book I asked people who their favorite teacher was or which teacher influenced them the most.  It seems that Mr. Kaifes, math teacher and coach, won hands down.  So many voted for him that I began to think I was the only student that never had him for a teacher.  In fact I can never remember even talking to him or either one of us acknowledging the others existence even with a casual nodding of the head while we passed each other in the hall way.  I knew him by sight of course and he always sort of scared me a little.  He always seemed to have a scowl or a ‘don’t mess with me’ look.  I stayed clear of him but from what all I can gather this side of graduation it was my loss.

My ability to solve for an unknown might have been enhanced if I had him for algebra and perhaps geometry would not have mystified me so, for I understand he was a very good teacher and well liked, which in high school is tantamount to the same thing usually. 


Otto Kaifes appears to have had that intangible that many otherwise very good teachers don’t ever quite grasp.  More than one of his former students have told me he was a mentor, a confident, and a man who gave sound advice even if not always taken.  I will just have to take their word for it because I will never know - all is hearsay.  Hearsay however sometimes is as good as truth and even makes a better story. 


Like I stated above, I never knew or even talked to Mr. Kaifes, but I do have a short story about him.  It was told to me by Walt Zuber, whom some of you may know.  Walt became a teacher at Van Horn in 1966 the year after I graduated.  I met Zuber when he was a counselor at Northeast and I taught ESL there after returning from Alaska.  Walt was very entertaining in the teacher’s lounge and told me many stories about my old teachers at Van Horn.  He was surprised I never had Mr. Kaifes and told me a short story about him.  Walt is not above letting fact interfere with a good story especially when it is about some one else so what I relate next I have no way of determining if it is true or not – it is just hearsay you see. 


Kaifes, according to Walt, always drove cars that were old and dilapidated.  He never owned a new car and always bought a junked one for cash.  I don’t think that is too outlandish given what teachers must have made back then.  Zuber said Kaifes, would only perform minor maintenance on the car, drive the thing into the ground,  and when it finally did break down he would just take the title to the car that was already signed and notarized, pull the car along the side of the road, leave the signed title on the front seat, abandoned the car where it sat, and get home the best he could.  He would pick up a new almost junked car as soon as he could and start the process all over again.


Walt said Kaifes did get in trouble once or at least admonished by the principal at Van Horn, who might have been Mr. Curtis (thinking of Mr. Curtis still brings chills up and down my spine) for leaving his abandoned car in the parking lot for two weeks.  I guess it was in so bad a shape that no one wanted it.  The story goes that one of his students’ father owned a tow truck and hauled if off for Otto in exchange for some extra tutoring the boy needed.  Of course he did not know that Mr. Kaifes would have provided the tutoring anyway. 

Since Mr. Kaifes and Walt Zuber are still alive I must restate that the only part of this bland and lame story that I can swear to is that which Walt told me.  I don’t mind repeating what Walt told me even if it isn’t true because there is nothing detrimental stated about anyone and if fact paints Mr. Kaifes in a good light I think.  However, if one of you ever run across Kaifes or Zuber you might ask them about the validity of this tale and if you pass an abandoned car you might just stop and check the front seat, one never knows

Monday, September 17, 2012

Friday Night Lights

I had not been to a Van Horn Football game in over 30 years.  Seems like Tom Koely and I went to one when the Falcons were finally playing for the Interscholastic League Championship but don’t know exactly when that was.  It was a first in school history.   Funny thing is I don’t remember if they won or lots.

When I was in High School I never saw a football game from beginning to end.  The last two years I was playing and my sophomore year I was too interested in trying to talk, with some success I might add, my girl friend, who shall remain nameless, to forgo the second half and head out towards the school busses that were parked un locked and with no attendants. 

But the other night Bev and I had nothing planned and I suggested that we see if Van Horn was playing and go to the game.  Those of us who are in our senior years get in free to all the high school sporting events sponsored by the Independence School District.  Being on social security one has to find free entertainment where one can you know.

When I was in high school Van Horn was part of the Kansas City School District and a fine district it was.  But because of miss management, forced bussing, redistricting, family disintegration, lack of continuity of leadership, and a host of other reason real or imagined the district for many years was just a shadow of itself and Van Horn was one of the causalities. So much so that eventually a grass root effort lead by concerned local citizens and spearheaded politically by Victor Callahan, State Senator from the area bought Van Horn under the auspices of the Independence Board of Education.  Van Horn now has a bright future.  An alumni association has been established, scholarships have been given, and a hall of honor established for distinguished graduates.  I have been over looked for the last two years but eventually they will find me and be proclaimed as one of the honorees.  Well perhaps.

The Van Horn Falcons played the Butler Bears the night we went and unfortunately lost.  However the score on the field may have spelled defeat but those in the stands, kids, band, parents and all were winners.  The enthusiasm and diversity represented by the crowd, let alone those on the field, stood out and made me think that this is how it is supposed to be.  There were people of different races and ethnicities sitting side by side hand in hand, a far different picture than when I went to school there, but those were secondary identification marks.  First they were Falcons.  Nothing else had really changed since I was a young man playing or watching, at least the first half of the games.  Kids were laughing, yelling support, acting stupid, being courteous to the elders (which to my chagrins was me) and conducted themselves in such a manner as to make me proud that I had gone to school there. 

 Home coming is next week.  I think I will go.  Bev wants me to drag out my old letter jacket and let her ware it and if I can find my class ring she wants to put it on a chain around her neck. 

None of us can or should go back to Van Horn and expect it to be ours again, we passed that torch a long time ago.  But just perhaps for a few fleeting moments we will return to those days of yesteryear and remember what it is like to have the rest of your life ahead of you and not even realize it.  And if I am real lucky I might be able to talk Bev into slipping off to the buss at half time.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Homecoming, Reflections, and Epilogue 


I do not recall the day or any special events leading up to the time he got home from the time Dad wrote his last letter.  I am sure there must have been some discussion about Dad’s homecoming but I do not recall any single event except Christmas morning of 1954. 

We had as usual put up a tree and had plenty of presents underneath.  I was as excited as a second grader would be for Christmas morning.  My grandfather and grandmother were not happy at all.  A sadness permeated their face.  I was eager to open my presents and was allowed to do so, but they told me that they wanted to wait and open theirs when Dad got home.  I remember thinking why would they want to wait with all those packages just begging to be opened.  I cannot recall any particular present I got that year.  It would be a nice touch to this narrative for me to say the best present I got that year was Dad coming home and it was but only in retrospect.

While I was playing with whatever I got Mama and Baba just sort of went about their business trying to pass the time away and even going to the front door now and then to see who had just pulled up in front of the house.  I remember Baba going out in the front yard just standing their smoking cigarettes looking up and down the street while Mama busied herself in the kitchen. 

I don’t know how long it was after Christmas when Dad did arrive, but it must not have been that long, like two or three days, because I was still on vacation from school and was allowed to stay up late at night.

My grandfather was working the night shift at Westinghouse and Mama was in the kitchen when I heard the porch door open and though the window pane of our house Dad looked though the glass smiling. 

I am sure that my grandmother must have cried while they hugged and the only thing I remember is Dad telling her it seemed like home had been a world away the last two years. 

My Grandfather got home around and they sat down and opened all the remaining presents.  I even had a couple to open that Mama had hid.  I was glad to get them and while they stayed up and visited I sat next to Dad on the couch and drifted off to sleep.


When I started this blog, which consists of copying almost 300 letters, I thought that I would gain some long awaited insight into Dad’s character..  I have to say that I did not.  Nothing about him was revealed that I had not known for a long time.  What I did gain from this toil was a lot of memories of things that had taken place and that enabled me to put them in perspective on what was going on in the world and my life at the same time he was away. 

From a social historical stand point there were a lot of things that happened.  The Bobby Greenlease Kidnapping, the Korean cease fire, the bank robbery in Fairmount, my jacket with all the army patches which were a big hit at school, the two TV stations (soon to be three) that had come on the air, the impact that the Korean War had on our small community with all the neighborhood young men being drafted, the way they seemed to run into each other so far away from home while overseas,  the comments he made about Mom from time to time, his girl friend Margie, the national and international events that took place, the movies that he had seen that are now classics, the prejudices that he and the country held, and how important letters are to soldiers.  The list could go on and on.  But I will leave an in-depth analysis to social historians that might read these letters some day and there is a good chance they will.  I have made arrangements for the letters to become part of the military archives of Missouri, where they will be preserved and catalogued for future generations.  I don’t mind letting the letters out of the family because it is better they be in an archive someplace than sitting around in a shoebox for another 58 years.

The one thing that stands out the most is how one solitary soldier being drafted not only affected his life but the lives of all who knew him and others in the family.  Needless to say Mama and Baba were profoundly affected.  They like many parents worried all the time and I am sure had plenty of nightmares about never seeing Dad again.  It brought the whole family closer together for Dad was the only one of our family generation of the time to go into the Army.  J.Q. was 4F and Larry and Mike were two young.  His aunts, uncles, and cousins made an effort to keep in touch with him by the letters they wrote and genuinely missed and worried about him almost as much as my grandfather and grandmother.


Dad joined the Army Reserves, or perhaps he was forced to join, I am not sure how it went back then.  They had weekly meetings in Independence on the square somewhere.  He stayed in for two years that I know of and made Master Sgt and then First Sgt.  I have all his Sgt stripes still.

Dad went back to his old job at Westinghouse but I don’t know how long he stayed.  He used the GI Bill to continue his flying lessens and he got rated on twin engines, a commercial pilot license, a flight instructor rating and eventually became an instructor for instructors.

He was Chief Flight Instructor for Air Way Flight Service and Wilson Flying Service out of the down town air port.  He tried to get a job with the airlines but there were too many pilots being discharged who already had more experience than he.  After a short tenure with U.S. Engineering as a corporate pilot and estimator, he retuned to pilot instruction and became very well known in the flight community and was an active member of Quiet Birds, an honorary organization that I have no idea what they stood for or did in their meeting.

He was recruited by the CIA once but turned it down.  He was on their watch list because of that special training he had in the army and eventually at the age of 42 landed a job with the FAA where he ended up retiring as a GS 15.

I am not sure but I think he might have tried to get together with Mom but Mom told me years later that “too much water had gone under the bridge but that Dad was the only man she ever truly loved.”  I know the feeling.  Dad ended up meeting and then marrying Doris, the eventual mother of my brother Brian and my sister Traci.

That marriage lasted a while but then they divorced and after a couple of years he married a lady named Marsha.  He and Marsha stayed married for over 30 years.  They had the normal trials and tribulation of married people but they stuck it out though sickness and health all the way until Dad died in 2002 while I was in Alaska.  I did not attend the funeral, it cost too much for me to return, but many people did show up.

Dad was not really an outgoing guy but had a side to him saved for his close friends that his children rarely saw.  He could be funny, he had a very dry since of humor and seemed to attract all kinds of people as friends and acquaintances from all walks of life, priests to outlaws. 

Dad joined the VFW and after his retirement from the FAA became marginally active in the organization.  He had joined the Masonic Lodge and was a member of the Horse Mounted Guard in the Shrine.  He even went to New York and rode in a parade once.

He visited Washington, D.C. once before the Korean War Memorial had been constructed and said he was walking around some sort of park or something when he saw a bench that had an inscription.  “Dedicated to Korean War Veterans.”  Dad said he sat down on the bench and cried.  I guess Korea was not that far away after all.

Dad some how became active in 5th RCT  reunions but don’t know if he ever ran into anybody he served with in Korea.  I know he went to a couple of reunions in Branson.  The last time he went and shortly before he died there was a parade scheduled in Branson.  Dad decided not to march in the parade because he didn’t think he would make it all the way so he went home without even going to the parade.

Dad very seldom talked about Korea, at least to me.  I did hear him tell his cousin JQ, when JQ asked Dad to go camping and Dad said no, a little of his feelings..  JQ didn’t let the matter drop and kept pressing Dad as to why he didn’t want to go camping.  “Have you ever gone camping,” JQ badgered.  “Yes” Dad said, “Once for 16 months but we called it Korea.” He never mentioned his friends he had made in the army and with the exception of Don Underwood , who was in the reserves with him later and Zink, since he just lived three doors down the street, he never saw any of them again.  I have wondered what ever became of Theiderman and Simnonie.  Jim Rountree and Arkie had been Dad’s friends before he went into the army and he did see them frequently after words but even they drifted away eventually and he had no contact with either of them for many years.  Every now and then after I received my commission he would mention something about the army and Korea in general but nothing of any consequence other than some details about that special training he had but wouldn’t tell me anything other than he had some letters for me he wanted me to have after he died  Perhaps I should have asked more questions but Dad was never the type of guy you asked a lot of questions of.  He could stare right though you and melt you in a second.  I could identify with that kid he reprimanded in the army once that started to cry without Dad ever raising his voice.  However, Dad and I were not estranged, we were just never real close.  I never had a problem with Dad.  I remember some fun times especially the one time we went to my father-in-law’s place in Tennessee for an extended weekend to attend a pig roast, but there were not many.  I was always proud to tell people that Dad had been in the army, had served in Korea, and was a pilot.  He never said much to me about me, but told me once he just wanted me to be happy.  Marsha told me once that Dad was very proud of my accomplishments, those of which I have always taken for granted, but they seemed important to him.  Dad never told me any such thing. 

However Dad and I had come to an unspoken understanding and I can truthfully say that when he died there was nothing left unsaid between us.  I have told each one of my children that if I were to die suddenly that for them not to think they should have said this or that, that I already new how they felt.  I guess that is the legacy Dad left me.  Should it be the same for all of us.

Teddy Stone McAnally
Oct 6, 1928Sept 28, 2002
 Son, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather
 United States Army 1952 to 1954                                                  
 Korean War Veteran

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Letters Date November 26 to December 6, 1954

Nov 26, 1954

Dear Mom, Dad, and Snapper

Another day and nothing much to write about.  Yesterday was Thanksgiving.  We had a big meal yesterday for dinner.  I guess you had quite a day of it too.  It has rained most of the day and has been cold and windy today.  I had 2 letters from you and a box of pecan cookies.  They sure were good. I really enjoy them   The letters were Nov 18 and 19.

Have you heard about this Netural Inspection Team here in Korea.  Well the team that is here in Pusan has two Polish Officer on it and the Korean Provost Marshal want s them out of Korea within a week.  That’s been 3 or 4 days ago.  They are communist and they check on the amount of troops, arms etc coming in and out of Korea.  I see them in the dock area all the time.  No one is allowed to talk to them and they have MPs guarding them and escorting them around Pusan with riot guns.  Since this trouble everyone in the dock area has to carry a weapon.  They are expecting trouble with the Koreans.  Let you know the out come.  You should be getting my letters more often now.  I didn’t write much in the file d but since I have been back I have written quite a bit.  I think the mail has been held up some place.  Haven’t her from anyone lately.  No more news about going home as yet.  They are just up to Dec 10.  The next big drop should get me but don’t think I will make it by Xmas.  I guess they are getting busy down tow with Xmas shopping etc.  don’t seem possible its so close.  Well not much more to write about so I will close.  Will write again later.
Love, Ted

Nov 28, 1954

Dear Mom, Dad, and Snapper. 

Today is Sunday and I got a day off from guard.  I was supposed to go on guard at and wont have to.  Seems good to have a day off.  A lot has happened since I wrote last time.  Friday night 26 Nov the 55 QM burned down in Pusan.  It is located in the dock area.  It sure was a bad fire.  All the clothing, food, oil, gas and all other supply coming into Korea were there.  All most everything burned up and what they saved (3 tuck loads) were stolen by the Koreans, trucks and all.  We were alerted to go down and guard the area around it.  The sky was cloudy and the fire reflected all over Pusan and lit the town up with orange light.  I was just going on guard at and I got to see most of what was going on besides posting some guards all around the fire.  The army moved the Koreans out of their houses and took bull dozers and cleared out a 100 yard strip around the firs so it would spread.  They took the bull dozers and pushed housed and all over.  People were moving out in all directions from the fire carrying what they could on their backs.  You will probably read about the fire in the paper.  It was a several million dollar loss.  That is the third big fire they have had in Pusan since I have been here in Korea plus a couple is Seoul.  We had a 4 man drop yesterday that took up to Dec 14.  There should be a couple more drops this week so I might make it.  Don’t count on it though till you get a letter form me.  Thiderman called yesterday from Co C 1st Bn and left word for me to call but when I called I couldn’t get though.  Guess he just wanted to talk.  He is mess Sgt at C company.  I think you remember me speaking of him.  Not much more to write about.  Haven’t had any more mail.  I am going to mail another box of fatigues home in a few days.  I’ll let you know when I send them.  Well not much more to say so I will close.
Lots of Love, Ted

29 Nov 54

Dear Mom, Dad, and Snapper

Well I had 2 letters today, Nov 20 and 22.  Glad to hear everything is going OK.  Haven’t done much of anything today.  Same old thing.  I guess this is the letter we have all be waiting for.  I just found out I am leaving Korea so don’t write me anymore after you get this letter.  I sure was surprised.  As much as I know now.  I will clean post tomorrow and leave the company Dec7.  So it will be 7 or 8 days from now before I will leave here.  Then I will go to a replacement center and process and wait for a ship.  I hear there is a ship leaving Dec 10 so I will probably be on that ship.  It wont give me much time to get home for Xmas but I might make it in I am lucky.  It will take a least 10 or 11 days to get to the states and 3 or 4  days to process on get home so it will be close.  Don’t look for me before Xmas though and not till you see me coming.  Be sure and not write any more as I wont get the mail you are sending now most likely.  It sure don’t seem  possible from some reason as I have been gone so long now.  Sure will be glad to get home and see all of you again.  About the first thing you can do is have all the gang in, Daisy, Edith and family, Evelyn and Jim, Larry and Mike, JQ, Merlyn and all the rest.  Well I will keep you posted on any new or ideas when I will be home.  Will write again soon.
Lots of Love, Ted

Dear Mom, Dad, and Snapper

Nothing much new for me to write about so this wont be much of a letter for you.  Yesterday I turned in all my field equip and some other things I don’t’ take with me.  I gave a lot of things away and I packed another box to send.  Will mail it in the next couple of days.  The usual things.  As far as I know now I will be leaving the Co on the 7th and may be on a ship “General Anderson” which leave the 10th.  Working on the dock and knowing the desk Sgt at the Port PMO I can find out what ships re leaving and the day and that the next ship after the 7th of Dec.  I am on guard in the morning an it looks like it may be a bad day.. it’s cold and windy out and looks like it might rain.

I got paid yesterday.  I drew $119.  Wong get paid for SFC till next pay I get and I wont get to draw much for that as they will most likely discharge me when I get to the states and all I will have coming will be for part of Dec and Nov.  It will make a difference on my leave time I have coming.  I had 3 letter today Nov 23 and 24.  Also one from Jim.  Jim said he got order for the Far East.  Probably Japan.  If you see him tell him I will be in Ft Lewis before long.  He will probably get on the same boat I get off of.  That’s the way things work or else I’ll pass him some place at sea.  Well guess everything’s I normal in KC and at home.  Don’t look for any more mail after I get on the ship.  So you wont hear for me till I get home.  I wont call when I get to the states unless I get held up some place.  Write again soon.
Love, Ted

6 Dec 54  Monday

Dear Mom, Dad, and Snapper

I am leaving the company in the morning and will go to Pusan Replacement to process and wait for a ship.  I am all packed and ready to go.  I don’t think I will be writing any more so don’t look for any more mail after this one.  I am sending some pictures and some envelopes and some other things and another package.  It doesn’t look like I will make it for Xmas so don’t’ look for me.  Sure has been cold the last few days.  I am glad to be leaving here.  It was down to 25 the other night when I was on guard.  I don’t seem to have to much tow write about.  So then I will close.  I wont write again unless I get held up some place.  So look for me when you see me coming.  Tell everyone hello for me and that I’ll see them soon.
Lots of Love, Ted

This was the last letter Dad sent home.

Next: Homecoming, reflections, epilogue, and miscellaneous items.