|Back to "Memoirs" Index page|
Jack W. Windsor
Redmond, Washington -
"When my wife and I took a tour of colonial America and Washington, DC in 1997, we went to see the USMC flag raising statue of Iwo Jima. I couldn’t stay there because I started to cry. I guess trauma lasts a lifetime. I had to walk away, as it bothered me too much. I am not anti-war when we need to fight, however. I believe that Korea was necessary. The stalemate was only one of several possible outcomes. One outcome could have been World War III."
- Jack W. Windsor
Memoirs for My Grandchildren
I was born in Everett, Washington on February 24, 1930, a son of Willis and Lilly Windsor. I have three brothers and four sisters--Betty, Helen, Dick, Carole, Janet, Daniel, and Alan. In the 1930s, we lived in a house up in a draw or ravine not too far from a powder plant in Everett. One day for no reason that Dad could remember, he got up early in the morning and decided we would go to Selah, which was over on the east side of the Cascades. Later that day, while we were still gone, the powder plant blew up. The explosion moved the house that we lived in slightly off of the foundation. The window in my bedroom was blown into my room and shredded my bed with glass. The bed had glass embedded into the iron railings and bedposts. Had I been in my room or bed, I would have been killed. Later we moved onto five acres across the road from my mom’s parents on Soper Road, in what was called Sunnyside. This was only about a mile from Lake Stevens toward Everett in Snohomish County.
My grandpa on my mother’s side emigrated from Norway in 1903 to Washington. He had to wait until 1904 to send for Grandma because they didn’t have the money for them to come over together, nor did they have anywhere to stay yet. They came from the Oslo area of Norway. We still have a lot of relatives living in Norway, but we have never kept in contact with them. My grandparents on my dad’s side came from Illinois by way of Montana and Idaho. They raised wheat in Montana for a time and worked for the railroad off and on for a few years. They had many rustler tales to tell, as well as World War I saboteur problems in Montana at railroad bridges.
I began school at Sunnyside School in Everett in the fall of 1936. It was the same two-room schoolhouse that my Mom had attended when she was a child. We called the two rooms--each of which had four rows of seats for each grade--"the big room" and "the little room." I was in the little room when I first began school. Each row of desks had about eight or nine seats, but not all seats were filled in the years in which I attended school there. I only went through about three and a fourth years of school there before we moved to Selah in the late fall of 1939. But I remember the teacher's name was Miss Lydia Bishard. She was kind of fat, but she was really nice. I finished up my fourth grade in an old sandstone school to the west of Selah. This school burned down and we all had to double up in the classrooms at another school in downtown Selah. I graduated from the 5th grade in Selah on May 28, 1941, and started the 6th grade in Issaquah in the fall of 1941. I completed the 8th grade there on June 2, 1944. We then moved to Redmond during the summer of 1944, and I began junior high school in Kirkland that year. I completed my last year of regular school in June of 1945. I did not finish high school until the late 1950s after returning from the Marine Corps.
I have many memories from my childhood. My grandfather used to cut trees for wood to burn in the kitchen stove, and when he burned up the brush we kids took tin cans and put a potato in them to cook. The potato had about a quarter inch of charcoal on the outside and a small raw area in the center, but to us this was a real treat. We also took tin cans and stomped our shoes onto the sides, causing the can ends to close in on the center of our shoe. We then stomped around clacking with noise. We did this for years, even in Selah and Issaquah. Kids did different things for fun in those days than they do now. Among other games, we played Kick the Can, Anti I, Anti I Over, Hide and Seek in the dark, and we used cedar shakes as bats to swat flying ants.
One morning a truck loaded down with pumpkins, watermelons, and squash overturned when it failed to make the stop where the road became a “t”. There were vegetables everywhere in the brush, as the truck overturned trying to make a turn onto the other road. I have never liked watermelon since that day. Dad went by just after the accident and hid some unbroken, choice large pumpkins and watermelons, but someone else came by before he came home from work and found some of the ones that he hid. Even so, we still ate a lot of what had been spilled, since a lot of them were broken open and had been left there. This was only about 100 feet from our house, so we had a lot of time to get what was left.
Dad built model airplanes (with rubber band power) during this time. On one plane's first flight, it landed in the chicken pen and a mother hen--or maybe a rooster--jumped on it and ripped it apart with its claws. While we lived there along the tracks, I used to go into a field looking for turtles along a small creek. I never went very far, as there were cattle in the field. If they started coming our way, I headed straight home at once. I don’t recall ever getting any turtles. During this time, Dad, Uncle Claude, and Uncle Mutt went jackrabbit hunting across the Yakima River to the north. They always hunted near a conical hill called "Squaw’s Breast." Sometimes we saw rattlesnakes, and once when I was riding in the back seat, we ran over a huge rattlesnake. It was so long that both front and back tires of the car ran over it at the same time. Another time, Dad and one of my uncles found a dead man out in the sagebrush. They reported it to the police. The police wanted to go out there right then, but Dad told them that the body had been out there for a long time and one more night wouldn’t hurt it, as it was almost dark. I guess they said okay to that, as they didn't go out to investigate it until the next day.
There were still a lot of Stayman Winesap apple trees left in Bussey’s Acres at that time, and Mom and us kids hunted for wild asparagus in the orchards. We could only pick the new shoots or the asparagus would be too stringy to eat. My sister Betty and I also took a wagon, gathered up apples that weren’t bruised, and brought them home. One day we had a wagon of apples that we had picked up from the ground when Lee Steel, the local bully, came along and said that he was going to take them. I was ready to fight him, even though he was a lot bigger than me, so he left laughing. He did a lot of mean things to all the smaller kids in the area until one day my grandfather stopped him and told him that he wasn’t being a very nice kid and that eventually no one would like him. I only heard about that a long time later. I don’t think it did any good, because he kept it up until his family moved away to Issaquah. In Issaquah he was a changed person, and I could hardly believe it. It was a marked improvement over his younger years.
One day David Bernier and I found an old car coil and unwound it. Later for fun we strung it across the street for a car to break. Instead of a car, however, a man driving a tractor came along and the wire caught him in the chest and head area. He kept leaning back in the seat until it finally broke. Needless to say, we didn’t do that again! On that same street, there were a row of large black walnut and mulberry trees. We spent hours cracking them open and eating the meat inside, which was small for the size of the nut. One summer, the man who owned the mulberry trees cut one down when it had ripe berries. I was told later that he waited for the berries to be ripe so that we kids could eat them. For about a week we all had berry-stained hands and faces from being in the tree limbs and eating berries. At the time, they sure tasted good. I later read in a garden book that the berries are described as “tepid”. I don’t think we would have agreed with that statement. To us, they were a treat.
One day Uncle Mutt (Maurice Bernier) built a new doghouse. He lined it with cardboard for insulation and it looked so neat that I asked to sleep in it before the dog got it. Unfortunately, the house was for a small dog and I couldn’t stretch out. I remember it was a very long, miserable night and I got very little sleep. I wasn’t scared or anything of the dark--or at least I don’t believe I was. That isn’t part of my memory of that night at any rate.
One day during the summer there was a large column of smoke to the south, so a lot of us kids headed up to where it was coming from. It turned out that our school was on fire. The only thing that they got out was a typewriter, and it was ruined from the fall when they threw it out of a window. The fire was completely out of control. A lot of windows were broken out, causing the fire to burn even faster. That was the school that I finished the third and fourth grade in. I never had to use a school bus to go to that school, as there was kind of a path up the hill that we followed to get there. It went through several people’s property, so we had to go over a few fences. But no one ever stopped us. That fall we had to take a school bus to get to our new school in downtown Selah, which was about two miles away or so. They had to put double rows of desks in every room to get us all in. I had a seat next to a pretty girl named Ruby. I don’t remember her last name, but she was very popular with all the kids as I remember. I finished out the year of the fifth grade in this school while Mom and Dad moved to Issaquah. Grandma and Grandpa Windsor brought me to Issaquah at the end of the school year because I didn’t want to leave in the middle of the year.
Mom and Dad rented an old house at Goode’s Corner in Issaquah for $2.50 a month in 1941. I guess it was really dirty and full of junk. It was located along a creek that had a lot of coal slack in it. Across from the driveway there was an old sandpit where we did a lot of playing and digging. Uncle Dallas and Aunt Alice moved into a house in Issaquah about this time also, so Dad and Uncle Dallas worked together off and on in the coal mines that were in operation at that time. Around that time, Donna’s mother, Aunt Lena, and Uncle Herb also bought a house along the main street that ran through downtown Issaquah. Uncle Claude and Aunt Wilberta bought a place in Kent, Washington about that time, and I spent the night with them once in a while. The forest below their house was still old growth timber since the loggers had not gotten their saws into them yet.
About that time I got a brand new Elgin bike. Of course all the kids of my age also had their own bicycles, and they all thought that the brand that they had was the best. We never did settle that difference of opinion while I lived there, and probably never would have. We rode everywhere on our bikes, and sometimes I had my sister Betty on the back.
One day we were at the Issaquah Creek fish traps that were near the fish hatchery just upstream from downtown Issaquah. We were netting salmon and other fish out of the pools of water at a small dam. We couldn’t just take the fish home openly, so I kept one that would just fit inside the panel area between the handlebars and the seat of the bike. This worked out perfectly. I got the fish home, where I cleaned it out and put it on the kitchen table for Mom to see and cook for dinner. I then left and went to play somewhere else. Later when I got home expecting to see a cooked fish, there was nothing and Mom didn’t know anything about a fish. We noticed that the cat was about twice her normal size. The cat had eaten the entire fish. There was no fish for us to eat, but the cat was happy.
Edward Goode’s parents owned a gas station and repair garage. There Edward and I made gaff hooks and spears out of bedstead rods. His dad had a forge-type furnace that was open on top. It burned coal, which we could make hotter with a bellows. We heated the metal until it was white hot, pounded it to a point, and then cut a barb into the side near the tip. We attached the spear tip to a pole about four feet long. These rods were usually about a quarter inch in diameter, so they were perfect for this. It was against the law to spear fish, but we did it all the time. The streams were solid with salmon, redfish, and steelhead at that time. There are almost none nowadays, even though to hear the state talk about it, one would think there were lots of fish left in the creeks and rivers. We hiked along the streams and gaffed salmon that didn’t have any white spots on them when we could. If they had spots, thay meant that they had already spawned and were dying. The stream (Tibbett's Creek) that went by our house had mostly redfish going past, but there were still quite a few salmon also.
Another thing that we did that later caused a lot of grief was to throw bottles into the creeks, then run along with our slingshots and break them. This filled the creek with broken glass, and then kids starting to get cut feet (sometimes really deep cuts) while wading. However, we didn’t pick up the glass even then. We used to make our slingshots with a vine maple crotch and make rubber bands from inner tubes from car tires. Inner tubes were made from real rubber in those days. Since there was a war on, the common expression we had at that time regarding the tires and inner tubes (which no one could get without a very good reason) was, "Hubba, hubba. Save on rubba."
The US Army put a small, light plane airfield about a mile away from Goode’s Corner in 1942 for a while. It was complete with machine gun emplacements. We kids went there and saw them once in a while until they ran us off. Occasionally, World War II M4-A3 tanks with rubber on their treads arrived there for an hour or so, then they left. This and a few fighter planes flying by were all we saw there.
During the war, my Uncle Dallas Phelps couldn’t get any tires for his car for a while, so he drove on the tire until it came off of the rim. We could hear him coming for about a mile from the noise the rim made on the cement highway. Dallas and my dad worked in the coalmines around Issaquah and off toward Renton. Sometimes they worked in the same mine. Once in a while Dad took me along, as he worked the graveyard shift. It was Dad and Uncle Dallas’s job to drill and set dynamite charges in the mine face and up in the crosscuts. While they were doing this, I climbed up the side tunnels and slid down them in the dark. After the coal was removed, the bottom of the side tunnels was really slick. Of course, I came home really black. When they had enough charges set to blast down enough coal for the next shifts, they got me out and then set them off. It took several hours for the fumes and other gasses to clear, so they were done for the day.
That particular mine ran under Highway 900 about a half mile up the road towards Renton from Goode’s Corner. On the interface between the coal and the hardened strata, we sometimes found bright red leaves embedded in the side of the coal. There was also an occasional round, solid ball formed of a concentric band of black, hard-as-rock, coal-like material. I never found out what that stuff was. It was said that it would not burn and it could not be broken, even with a sledgehammer (Dad and Uncle Dallas tried). In those days, these balls were called “Nigger Heads”. I think one would be in big trouble on the job if anyone heard that term used these days.
Once when all of us kids were exploring up on the mountain to the southeast of Issaquah on West Tiger mountain, we found several old coalmine shafts going into the mountain. Once in a kind of basin up above Tradition Lake, we found an old mining or possibly a logging camp. It was in really bad condition, with none of the roofs still intact. About 100 yards from the camp there was a large mine entrance, which we entered for a few yards before we thought better of it and went back out. We came upon a section of the ceiling that had collapsed into a big pile on the mine floor. That was enough to send us out. Besides, it was dark and water was dripping. We could see that it was too dangerous to go any further. All of the timbers that had been there had rotted away, leaving nothing to hold up the roof of the mine. I believe that this was the same day that we saw a natural cave on the side of a cliff with a narrow path going to it. We cut down a long skinny tree and slid it down over the top of the cliff right beside the cave. I can’t remember now which kid climbed down the tree to the cave, but when he got near the cave entrance we heard growling. We got out of there very fast and didn’t go back.
Sometimes in the summer we hiked to the lake where Sammamish State Park is today. This one particular time, Edward Goode, Harold Erickson, another kid and I, headed to the lake and crossed a long field. Down near the west end of this field there was a bunch of steers grazing. We were about halfway across this field when they all started to race in our direction. We started running for the picket fence on the north side of the field, as the steers were really coming fast. When we got to the fence, it was as high as our heads, so we pulled the pickets off so as to squeeze through the fence. We then pushed through the fence and out of the field--that is, all but Harold Erickson, who couldn’t get any of his pickets off. By this time, the steers were almost upon us, so he climbed up the fence and dove over head first, causing a picket to go up his leg and up one of his boots. The steers then arrived and started goring at his boot with their horns. We were afraid that they would break down the fence, so we had to lift Harold up to get his leg and boot off of the picket. We then took off into the woods, which went all the way to the lake. There were several inches of water all over since the lake was high. We were all wearing boots of one kind or another, but only Harold had on hip boots, so we had to be very careful of deep water. We were starting for the Issaquah creek area of the swamp when we heard the sound of the cattle coming. We looked around and saw a tree that was leaning into another tree. We all scampered up it until we were about ten feet above the ground. The animal coming turned out to be a huge bull that went right under us, but didn’t pay any attention to us. He went crashing by, and were we happy about that. Fortunately, that was the end of our narrow escapes for that day. We never did get any fishing in however, as we then spent quite a while getting across the Issaquah creek and out of the swamp along that part of the lakeshore.
Another day, Edward Goode and I were up on the hill to the northwest of our house skinning Cascara bark. We had one of his relative’s large dogs along with us. His name was Keokel. We were in the woods alongside of a field, skinning the bark off of some trees, when a farmer turned a couple of really big steers or possibly bulls loose into the field. The bulls headed straight for where we were in the woods by going through an open gate. We climbed up in trees to get away from them. They started pawing the ground and butting their heads against the trees we were in, and we were really afraid. We wondered how long we would be treed. After a while, Edward sick’ed Keokel onto the bulls and they left. We jumped down, gathered up all of our bark, ran to the nearby fence, and scooted under. We were barely to the fence when the bulls started chasing both the dog and us. We then started running across this field with the bulls thundering toward us. We barely made it to the next fence and to safety. We didn’t hang around there to find out if anything else was going to happen, but went straight home.
Speaking of Cascara bark, that was the way some of the people made money in those days, including my dad and Uncle Dallas. We did a few things that were not too nice in the pursuit of earning money on bark. We always looked for Cascara trees to peel. One day we waited until after dark and then skinned a whole bunch of Cascara trees down near the west side of Lake Sammamish along some people's driveway and in their woods. After skinning the bark off as many trees as we could, we then scampered for home, taking the bark with us. The next day, the man who owned the property where we had done our deed came to visit Edward’s father. He had followed the trail of pieces of bark that we had dropped along the road. They led right to Edward’s place, and, of course, to me also. I don’t know what was said, but apparently Edward’s dad got us off somehow. Meanwhile, the Brown kids got permission to finish the job that Edward and I had started. We joined them in peeling the rest of the bark off of the trees that we had skinned while it was dark the night before. Looking back, we weren’t very repentant apparently. Nowadays, we would be in really big trouble, as few people would have let it go so easily.
We used to go swimming down on the east side of the lake a lot. Once we took our sleeping bags along and spent the night. We got up while it was dark, swam out to the pilings from an old saw mill, then climbed up on top and dove back into the water. Once when I did this, I just missed a “dead head”. These were tree logs that floated under water with the lesser waterlogged part pointing up to the surface. The pointed end was about a foot or so under when I dove in and I barely missed getting impaled on the sharp upper end. I immediately quit diving, as I had had such a narrow miss, and told the rest of the kids what had happened. I believe that was the last time we did any midnight swimming at that place.
I was a Boy Scout and once there was a Boy Scout campout for all of the kids. They took us up to the fish hatchery on Tokul Creek near Snoqualmie Falls. There was a large flat area in the woods where we put up camp. I remember that a lot of the kids took all of the leaves and pine needles from under their sleeping bags. Edward Goode and I put all of the leaves and stuff under our bags. That night it rained pretty good and turned the ground muddy. Soon everyone’s bags were muddy except for Edward’s and mine. We played capture the flag while we were there, and it was a lot of fun. Other than paper drives, I don't think much else was done in the scouts. I didn’t get any badges that I can remember.
One day Edward and I were on the way home from swimming on Lake Sammamish. We passed by a Republican cherry tree loaded with ripe cherries. We stopped, ate our fill, and then filled up our pockets with as many as we could. We were riding double on one of our bikes--with me doing the peddling at that particular moment--when one of us started mashing the cherries in the other's clothes. Pretty soon we were smearing cherries and the juice all over each other as we rode along. By the time we got back to our houses, we were solidly covered with cherry juice.
Once Edward and I decided to go picking in the bean fields, which were about three or four miles away toward Renton. When I was ready, Edward was somewhere else, so I took my bike and went to the bean fields by myself. They gave me a row to pick, but there were no beans--which matched the gauge that they gave me. It had a large and a small hole in it, which meant that if the bean wouldn’t go through one or the other, it was either too old or too small. Since nothing in my row matched this criteria, I started just picking, as I then assumed that was what others were doing. I was wrong. When I took my beans in to be weighed, I only had about two cents worth of good beans. I went home crying, whereupon Dad went back and had it out with the farmer about the fact that I had been given a row which had already been picked. They gave my dad 25 cents for what I had picked and we left. That was the end of my bean picking. Meanwhile, Edward arrived, saw my pile of beans that I didn’t get paid for, heard the story, and decided that bean picking wasn’t for him. I wonder if he would have been given a row that had already been picked? Apparently, Edward was smarter than I was.
Edward was the one I spent most of my time with, along with Bob Samson, Earl Tibbits, Harold Erickson, and occasionally Edward’s cousin, Winlock Pickering. Winlock was a couple of years older than us. When we graduated from one of our school years--probably the 8th grade--Winlock and his closer friends chased all of us down, stuck us younger kids under a water faucet, and turned it on. That was our initiation from the 8th grade and I assume into the 9th. We moved to Redmond in 1944, so I went to the 9th grade at Lake Washington Junior High School instead of at Issaquah.
At school we played soccer as a group. All of the kids from several grades were on two sides so there were maybe 30 or 40 on the football field all playing at once. It got really wild, and we played the same game for days with the same sides. I don’t believe the game was ever completed or won by either side. Sometimes a whole bunch kicked the ball in a mob until the ball was somehow kicked to the outside, where it finally went toward either goal. We took up the game again on recesses and lunch hour--sometimes on consecutive days--until we stopped for no particular reason for a week or so to play some other game. One day when the ball was trapped in a crowd of kids, someone fell down and he was next to the ball. The other kids kept kicking at the ball until finally someone kicked the kid on the ground on one of his arms, breaking it. That was the last time that they let us play soccer at Issaquah, that they let us play soccer.
We also played work-up baseball. That usually had three or four kids at bat, and then all of the regular positions, with maybe six or eight in the field. If we were put out, we went out into the last field position and had to work our way back up. I used to love to play, and when I got to the pitcher’s position, whoever was up to bat really hated it, as no one ever got a hit off of me in all the times we played. They always struck out. At that time, I didn’t know that at our age we weren’t supposed to throw curves. One day when I was pitching, I threw a curve and my right shoulder suddenly hurt really awful. I had torn a ligament, and I could never throw any good again. I could lob a ball over my head without it really giving out a painful twinge, but that was all. It is still that way today. When I was in the U.S.M.C., and we were throwing hand grenades, I was okay, as we had to lob them rather than throw them.
One day while Uncle Mutt was visiting, there was a loud “whump” sound and Dad asked what the noise was. I said that one of my fermented quart jars had just exploded. It was blackberry juice and sugar. They then asked if I had any more, and I said that there was one more left. They had me go and get it and they proceeded to drink it until it was all gone. I can’t remember why I had made it in the first place, but as it turned out, they liked it and said it was pretty good. I also remember that they got pretty high on the “wine” that I had made.
Uncle Dallas, Dad, and I used to do a lot of trapping for skunks, muskrats, mink, and civet-cats (a type of skunk). Uncle Dallas also trapped for coyotes on Tiger Mountain. One day when there was about a foot of snow on the ground, Uncle Dallas took me on a coyote trapping tour of his trap line, which was along some old logging roads and old rail cuts, up high on Tiger Mountain. We apparently had never thought ahead because eventually both of us had to go Number 2. Neither one of us had brought along any toilet paper or anything else that we could use for the purpose. We could usually use tree leaves for this, but there was too much snow that day. We went off in opposite directions to do our thing, and eventually returned to our meeting place on the old railroad grade. When we compared notes, I had used several rocks from the bottom of a small stream, and Dallas had used sticks from the road. We continued on his trap line and eventually came upon a coyote in one of his traps. When I got too close, the coyote made a lunge and bit a hole through my right shoe, just missing my little toe area. The coyote had more slack on the trap chain than I thought. He kept the coyote alive and took it home and put it in his chicken house. Eventually he had several in there and kept them until one of them was electrocuted when it bit into a light wire and died. About this same time, someone made him get rid of the rest, as they made a lot of noise, I guess. One day while he was up on Tiger Mountain, he was treed by a pack of wild dogs. He didn’t have a gun along, so he was there for quite a while until they left. In those days, Tiger Mountain was nearly bare. There were only stumps and a few willows and alders up there on the higher parts of the mountain. That was why he was able to get to a tall stump for safety.
One particular winter I trapped skunks with Edward Goode. In the woods behind any chicken house was a good place to catch them. It turned out that the only good access to some of these places was through land that belonged to people that he knew, se trapped together on those places. Otherwise, I trapped alone. Edward didn’t own any traps of his own, as I remember it. Once we set a trap, and then we attached a deadfall pole to it. We took a long pole and tied a heavy chunk of iron on the short end of the fulcrum. The other end was tied to a short loop of wire that was hooked over a headless nail that we had driven into a stake and had placed near the trap. At the fulcrum point, we tied the pole about five feet up off the ground so that when the deadfall was tripped, the skunk (if caught) would fight the trap and eventually pull the loop of wire off the nail. The reason we did this was so that the skunk would not chew his foot off next to the trap. Most animals will do this once they believe it is the only way to escape. When trapping at Issaquah, and later in Redmond, we caught mink, muskrat, and skunks with only three legs, showing that they had been caught before and escaped. When we went to check up on this trap, we had a skunk. When it saw us, it started to turn and spray in all directions. We didn’t get hit, but it stunk so bad that we left the area until later, when it had used up its supply. We then took our catch home, and Mom put it on a board after it was skinned out. I didn’t do any of my own skinning until after we moved to Redmond. I actually only caught muskrats, as well as two or three skunks, while at Issaquah. If my memory is correct, I believe that I caught five or six muskrats in a swampy area along Tibbetts Creek. I did not catch any mink.
One day in the winter, about a hundred thousand ducks landed in the fields across the road from our house. Dad had a .22 rifle, so I took it and one shell, and crept as close as I could get. When I figured that I was as close as I was going to get, I aimed at the densest part of the ducks and pulled the trigger. All of the ducks took off at once at the sound of the shot, and the only thing left was a couple of feathers at the spot where I had aimed because I had failed to aim at a specific duck. The two fields where the ducks were in were about ten acres each, and solid full of ducks. Either they landed there to get any corn that might still be there after it was cut or they had just picked those fields to rest on their migration. Regardless, they were there in fantastic numbers very often back in the 1940’s when we lived there. I rarely see any ducks nowadays, and when I do they are not in any large amount.
Speaking of animals again, Edward and I were out shooting our slingshots when we knocked a baby chipmunk down. It was stunned, but not really hurt, so we put it in a cage and it soon became very tame. It curled up in our shirt pockets, crawled around on our shoulders, and walked and sat in our hands. We had it for about a week before we let it into an apple tree near his house. Needless to say, it wouldn’t come back to us, so we let it go and didn’t try to recapture it again. Another day while in the house, I heard a chattering, high-pitched noise, and saw a bat caught in a spider web. Not knowing anything of rabies in those days, we freed it and then put it outside. We are probably very lucky not to have been bitten while we were handling it, as we used our bare hands.
I didn’t do very much fishing using hook and line while at Issaquah, but the few times that I did it was in some coal ponds up near the old coal mines on Tibbetts Creek. The water was really black and I now believe that we were lucky that we didn’t get mired down in the coal slack (from washing coal), which was the reason for the ponds. There were fish in the ponds, however, and we did catch a few. My best memory of catching fish with a fishing pole was at Echo Lake, which is now located at the top of the hill along the south side of I-90 near North Bend. The only way to the lake in those days was by an old, overgrown logging road. We hunted for crawdads in the creek on the way to the lake, and used them for bait. The only fish that I caught there was a foot-long bass that I caught while fishing off of a rock outcrop on the south side of the lake. Once while the families were at the lake fishing, the game warden came along and tried to give out some tickets to Dad and Uncle Dallas. They were out on a log when he walked out there also. Dallas maneuvered his way toward the shore to try and put the game warden on the outer end of the log. However, the game warden soon caught on and then there was a race for the shore. They got a ticket, I believe, as they talked and laughed for years about almost dumping the game warden into the lake.
Once while we lived at Issaquah, my Uncle Dallas bought me a bow and arrow for Christmas. Edward Goode also had a set, so we went out in the fields and shot at cow pies and anything else that was there. Once I shot an arrow straight up. What a mistake that was. When the arrow turned over and started to fall, we couldn’t tell where it was coming down. I thought it was going to hit me, so I started to run away from the place where I figured it would land. Instead, I ran directly under it. It fell down through my clothes and through my right pant leg and stuck into the ground. It never touched me, only missing me by about a half inch or less. It might have killed me had it hit me. One day I used one of Edward’s arrows by mistake and my bow broke into three pieces when the string snapped the arrow away. His arrows were about two or three inches longer than mine. Apparently that was the reason the bow broke, or at least that is what we thought at the time.
We had a lot of fun one entire summer building go carts. We made them using old tricycle wheels, old bed parts, tin can lids (to attach the axles to the front and back), and anything else that was needed. There were two levers for steering that were attached to each side of the seat, and we tied or nailed rope to the front axle and then to the bottom of these levers. When the carts were working, we coasted down the hill and across a bridge over Tibbetts Creek. There was about a 6-inch drop off on the downhill side of the bridge, and it caused a fairly heavy jar when we left the bridge. This, in turn, caused the nails to work loose, caused the wheels to work off, and other problems.
One year on someone’s birthday (I believe it was Edward Goode’s), his parents gave a party in the dance hall/ tavern, that occupied one corner of the “Y” that was Goode’s Corner. There were several games, and later there was a nice dinner for everyone. I remember that I wound eating with a girl named Loraine Hilden. She had a big crush on a boy who wound up with my favorite girl, Mayme Lou Tanska. Mayme always held a seat for me on the bus to school by having everyone on the bus sit on the seats with their legs across the aisle so that the only seat left for me would be next to her. One of the games we played was Spin the Bottle. Everyone was in a circle and someone would spin a bottle. When the bottle stopped, whoever the cap pointed at was supposed to tell the truth when asked a question. I was really shy, so when they asked me who my girlfriend was, I just said, "Betty Lou Gallager," even though everyone knew it was Mayme. I later found out that Mom and Dad had peaked in the window, eavesdropped on the party, and thought that my girlfriend was Betty. I never did tell them any different.
Above our house there was a sand pit where we dug caves, tunnels, and other kid projects. One time Edward and I were digging a cave into the hill and were about eight or ten feet back with a width of about five feet. We crawled out to take a break and about a foot of sand collapsed into our tunnel. We then pulled out our tools--a pick and a shovel--and had no sooner got back out when the whole roof fell in. Sitting on top of the pile of collapsed material was a large boulder about three to four feet in diameter. We had almost been killed. Later, remembering the large boulder, we dug several tunnels on the flat floor of the sand pit area. We only left about six or ten inches above the tunnel for the roof, so that there wouldn’t be a lot of weight above the tunnels to cause it to cave in. On this particular day, Aunt Inez and Uncle Mutt were visiting, so we decided to scare them. The tunnel was about seven or eight-foot long, open on both ends, with room enough for two or three kids to be in it at the same time. We then put a pile of sand at both ends, and then one of the kids ran to the house yelling that it had caved in on them. Everyone came running and were not at all pleased at our joke when the hoax was discovered. They made us stop digging tunnels after that.
At one end of the sand pit was a large maple tree that had a beehive in it. One Fall, Dad, Uncle Herb, and Uncle Dallas got permission to cut the tree down for the honey. They were to give one half of the honey to the owners of the tree when they were done. However, when the tree was on the ground, there was hardly any honey in the hollow tree for anyone to eat. It turned out to be a big disappointment for everyone, Right next to the maple tree that they cut down was a grove of young cedar trees. Someone climbed up the tree for some reason and the tree bent over, taking him to the ground on a nice, easy ride. The rest of us promptly started doing the same thing, and soon every cedar tree in the grove was either broken off or bent over to the ground, thus ruining the whole grove. Thinking back on some of the things we did, we must have been pretty destructive around there.
During World War II, Dad, Uncle Dallas, and I took an old pickup, along with sleeping bags and other camping stuff, and went off on a Cascara peeling trip. We went up an old logging road on the side of Mt Pilchuck, looking for trees to peel. We had just gone over a rise and were going down through a small, low depression on the side of the mountain, when a rear axle on the truck broke. We were really disgusted, as we were a long way from anywhere that we could get help or any kind of assistance. We got out of the truck, and Dad and Uncle Dallas then discussed what to do about the situation. They decided to try and push the truck back over the rise that we had just driven over, and then coast as far as we could. With a lot of effort, mostly on their part, we were able to turn the truck around, and get going back toward the main highway. About the time we stopped to rest, we noticed a lot of green aluminum parts scattered about. They were obviously from an airplane. We began to search for it and soon found where it had came in straight down, taking bark and limbs off of the trees. It appeared to be a fighter plane, by what was left of it. It had apparently been found by someone before we had found it, as most of the parts were gone, especially the engine and machine guns. We didn't find anything that of any value left at the site, so we went back to pushing the truck over the rise in the road.
We rolled the truck for a few feet, then blocked the tires with a rock to keep our progress and not let the truck roll back. I remember that they used a pry pole part of the time against the rear bumper, as the truck was heavy. I then slid a rock along back of a rear tire. After finally getting onto the downhill slope, it didn’t take very long to coast back to the main road, and then finally stop next to a small stream that ran under the road. While Uncle Dallas and I stayed at the truck, Dad took off walking to Everett, where he could buy a new axle. I believe that before Dad left, they removed the axle. We slept above the road by the trees. It was very warm and the mosquitoes were really persistent on trying to eat us up. I remember that I had to keep my head inside the sleeping bag all night to keep from being bitten, but still got a few welts. It took a long time for Dad to return. It was almost dark when he finally arrived back where we were along the road. While they worked on replacing the axle, Dad recounted his adventures on getting a new axle and returning. It seems that he couldn’t get the axle where he first thought, and had to go farther to find one, hitchhiking all the way. Then on his way back, he walked along for a while with his thumb out before finally getting picked up. The man wasn’t really going to where Dad was going, but said he would take him to the truck, as he had just had work done on his car and wanted to test it out. Dad had hardly got in the car when the man asked Dad what they were doing out there in the hills anyhow. This was where Dad made a mistake of informing the guy that they were out peeling bark. The man slammed on his brakes and ordered Dad from his car, saying, "Someone peeled a tree in my yard, and it might have been you.” It was quite a few miles from where he was dropped of to where we were. No other cars came along, so he had to walk the entire way, packing the axle. I think that about that time we went back home to Issaquah, as I don’t remember any bark peeling on that trip after the broken axle event.
Years later, Uncle Dallas and I did peel some Cascara in that vicinity by wading across the Pilchuck River. With a heavy load of Cascara on our World War II pack boards, we were coming back across the river when we had to go past a tree over the water on the car side, next to the bank. Dallas went over the log, as it was lower where he was. It was too high where I had to get past it, so I bent down to go under the tree. I was instantly caught by the current and taken downstream for about 50 feet before getting my feet back under me and stopping. Dallas dropped his pack to help, but I was able to recover by myself, as the river had become shallow downstream. After peeling the Cascara, we could either sell it green for about half of what we could get if we dried the bark, broke it up into small pieces, and put it into gunnysacks. We always dried it, broke it up with a long club, sacked it, and then sold it that way, as we made more money since we had fences and other wires that we strung up around the place.
Getting back to hunting, one year Joe Boyer and I went deer hunting up the Tolt River on the Weyerhaeuser property. They had gates on their roads, but it was okay to ride a bike or walk in. If we got a deer, they dumped it off at one of their gates. At that time there was an old logging camp in there near where the new dam is. We rode our bikes past the camp and about two miles to the north on top of a hill. We laid our sleeping bags down in some gravel and went to sleep. I woke up near morning and it was pouring down rain. Joe was sitting up with his sleeping bag over his head. About that time, water came into my bag. We had lain down in a low spot and a few inches of water had collected--which now came into my bag when I moved. Was it cold, as it was now snowing. We were both miserable and cold. We decided to go hunting, as it was now light enough to shoot. We were headed for a grove of old growth firs to get out of the blowing snow and rain when I saw a deer about 30 feet away. My thumbs were so cold that I couldn’t pull back the hammer on my .32 Winchester special. I had to put the stock between my legs and pull the hammer back with the palm of my right hand. I then shot the deer twice through the heart. We took a pole, strung the deer across our two bikes at the handlebars, and then rode back to the old abandoned logging camp side by side. We took up residence in the building that leaked the least and made a fireplace using stove parts from the galley of the old cook car on a portion of an old train that was sitting on a few feet of railroad tracks.
That afternoon when we were warm and dry, we went into another building where some other hunters had a big fire in a homemade fire pit inside the old mess hall part of the camp. A doe deer came along and Joe enticed it to come into the building, whereupon, he threw a rope over its head. The deer took off and a year later, it still had a part of the rope still hanging from its neck, according to someone we talked to who had gone in there to hunt. That evening, I saw about 100 deer in a flat about a half mile from the camp, but it was getting dark, so I couldn’t see any horns. I went back there in the morning, but the deer were gone. I climbed up high on a log pile and then I could see a dog sneaking through the brush. I thought it had scared the deer off until I realized that it was a large cougar. I took a quick aim and fired. The cougar staggered, but ran into a fir thicket. When I went to where I had shot it, I found that the bullet had gone through a Hemlock tree before hitting the cougar. I went through the thicket and there was a man sitting on a stump. I asked him if he had seen the cougar, and he said it had gone by so fast, he couldn’t even get a shot. He told me it had jumped right over him on its way up the hill behind him. That afternoon the Weyerhaeuser people hauled all the deer--which several of us had--and dumped them off at the gate where we were parked. We figured that someone would steal our deer there, as it was several hours before we got there to put ours onto Joe’s car. Nobody had.
Sometime in the summer of 1944, Dad bought five acres of land with a partially finished house on it. There was no road that belonged to the property or led up to the land, and there was no well for water. Dad had a wooden water barrel that we took to a place near the east side of Lake Sammamish. There, a pipe stuck out of the hill and water poured out of it. This was where we got our water for quite a while. Dad then had to dig a well next to the house. It never had much water in it, and then it tested contaminated, so we couldn’t drink it. He dug two more wells before one finally had enough water for the house. We had to go through the Roberts property for a while until Dad could get a road up the right of way. Dad used dynamite to blast the stumps out of the road. One of the stump holes had a small spring of water in it. When the bulldozer pushed dirt into the hole and then drove over it, he sank and the dozer was stuck for about a week until be could be pulled out with another dozer. Dad had warned him not to drive into it, but he said it would be fine. He was wrong about that. That place in the road was always a place that required more gravel to be put into it than on the rest of the road. I remember that Dad had a small pickup truck, and I spent a lot of time using a screen to remove dirt and sand from the gravel from a small pit further up the hill to put on the road. We were frequently stuck in the road for the first year the road was there until the gravel finally filed in all of the muddy areas. Later, a large Chinese pheasant took up residence on the road, and we had to stop to honk him out of the way, as it didn’t want to move. Apparently it knew that it was safe from us.
After moving to Redmond, I didn’t want to go to school, as I hardly knew anybody there. I did finish the 9th grade, however, before Mom and Dad gave in on the subject. My reason for wanting to quit was that I wanted to get a job--or at least, that was the idea. These were the years from 1944 through about 1947 when we did a lot of fruit picking. We usually picked with Dallas and Alice and Lena and Herb, but we didn’t share any money with them. I kept some of the money I got, but gave most of what I made to Dad, as he had all of the expenses. Mom stayed home in Redmond while Dad and I went off. Dad and I used to get up and be in the orchards by about 5 a.m., and quit about 2 or 3 p.m., when we had our 300 boxes of apples between us--or when picking cherries, about 25 buckets or so each. The temperature was pretty hot by that time, so we quit for the day. In the fall during apple season, there was frost in the mornings. Then by 2 p.m. it got to around 80 or 90 degrees. One of the things that all of us tried to do in the mornings when it was cold was to sit on the oven door. This warmed us up while we were putting on our shoes and socks. It was a few years before the makers of wood stoves quit making the stoves with a good hinge, as I remember that we always sat there through most of the winters. Of course, after the room warmed up, it was too hot on our back there.
When we moved into the house at 21015 114th N.E. in Redmond in 1945, Dad brought all of our chickens on the first trip. When we arrived back with another load, there were feathers all over and all of the chickens that were not up in the trees had been eaten by the coyotes. They had really had a feast while we were gone. We had a dog there after that, and then the chickens were not bothered much--especially the bantams, as they always roosted in the trees around the yard. The only problem with bantam chickens is that they lay their eggs anywhere. To find them, we had to keep watch and follow the hens when we believed they were ready to lay an egg. Of course, they got pretty cagey, and didn’t want anyone or anything to find their nest. We also had to either put a glass egg in their nest or always leave an egg, or they would move to another place.
My Uncle Dallas and I went on several hunting trips. On one particular trip, the whole family went to Bethel Ridge, and we camped in a campground at the bottom of the hill across Highway Number 12. Uncle Dallas brought along a horse, and we decided to hike up to the top of the ridge and hunt up there the next day. It was snowing, and we were nearly to the top of the hill when it started to get dark fast. We decided to go into the woods to the west of the Bethel Ridge road--which was a dirt road back then--and try to find a cave in which to spend the night. Of course on hindsight, when would someone ever find a cave in the woods anywhere, even if he was looking for one? Well, we did find a cave running down into the ground at about a 45-degree angle towards the south. It was a lava rock cave with a lot of sticks and things in it. I went down into it for about thirty feet or so. We were out of the wind and snow, and it was nice and warm in there. There weren’t any flat spots, so we decided to look for something better and return to it if we couldn’t find anything. It was very dark by this time and blowing snow, but about a couple of hundred feet away we saw a black square and went to see what it was. We found out later that it was the Carpenter cabin. It was not locked. It had a corral in the back, a stove, a lantern, and a bed with a mattress. We found a can of coffee, melted some snow, and were having a cup when two men knocked on the door and asked to use the stove to make their supper, as it was too miserable at their camp to cook in the wind and blowing snow. We told them fine and they gave us a portion. Dallas and I had only brought along one sandwich to eat for the next day, so we were already kind of hungry. The next day, we walked along the top of Bethel Ridge to the south and only saw old tracks. We finally went over the edge in a likely looking spot. It was really steep and the horse put all four legs together and slid down along side of us. We had to go down at least a 60 or a 70-degree slope. We finally got back to camp that evening without seeing any elk or any other game. The trip ended without anyone getting anything, but we did see a herd of about ten elk the next day while out hunting in a group. There may have been a bull in the herd, but we spotted them too late to tell, as they had crossed a meadow and were just entering the woods. I had never seen elk before, and had seen them earlier that day. When they asked me why I didn’t tell anyone, I said, “I thought that they were pack horses.” I was only about 15 or 16 at the time and on my first elk hunt. This was about 1946 as near as I can remember.
During the time between 1944 and 1948, I did a lot of trapping prior to hiring in at Boeing. Some of the time I was with my dad. He and I set traps on the same streams. One of the streams we walked to was Seidel Creek, which was about two or so miles along old abandoned railway grades. One of the problems that we had to contend with at Seidel Creek was that there were a lot of black bear. They ate our mink if they could, along with all of the salmon that was in that stream at that time. Dad and I sometimes found that all we had left in our traps was a mink leg after the bear was through with it. Dad had a trick that he used to prepare traps. He boiled them in hemlock bark, then after the traps were nice and black, he dipped them in wax. After that treatment, they were ready for use on his trap lines, which were over quite an area of King and Snohomish counties. I probably caught about 13 mink, a few muskrats, and some skunks and raccoons.
I only shot one bear, and afterwards I was sorry that I had shot it. We were living at the house in the woods on Novelty Hill on 114th Street when Dallas said he was going to hunt a bear there with his hunting dogs. I told him that I would hike through the woods and wait. When I heard the dogs, I said I would join him and Joe Boyer, who was also with him that day. I heard them let out the dogs, and almost within a minute or two a bear came out of the brush about 100 feet away on the old logging road that I was setting down on. I raised my .32 special Winchester and shot it in the head. It spun around and started to run back where it came from. I shot it in the head again, causing it to again spin around. This happened several times, until the bear was running straight toward me. I then shot it twice in the chest, and it fell and slid along on its chest in my direction. It got up, I fired again, and then my rifle was empty, so I took out my .45 Colt and chased it, firing the gun until it was empty also. I jumped over a log and landed on top of the bear lying there. I jumped back over the log to get off of the bear. The dogs arrived and started tearing at the bear. By now I was out of breath, and both guns were empty. Suddenly, the bear stood up and shook off all of the dogs. I was getting back up off of the log which I had sat down on when Dallas came up, put his gun to its head, and killed it. I had hit it eleven times, shooting it twice in its chest, eight times in its lower jaw, and once in one of its feet. I felt so sorry for it afterwards that I have never shot at any since. This happened about 1947 or 1948, I think.
We also did a lot of cherry picking during those same years. We always did our cherry picking at Selah and around Yakima, and our apple picking at Cashmere and at Chelan. I don’t know the reason for that. We never did pick pears or apricots either, as I recall. We always seemed to pick in the same orchards as Alice and Dallas, and sometimes with Lena and Herb. I also think that once in a while Uncle Claude was there, but I can’t remember him picking. One time we were getting ready to pick, and there was a tree of filbert nuts alongside the driveway. We went out to eat a few and the foreman saw us. We were so embarrassed that we packed up and left. We found another orchard across the river from Peshastin. We were in a small room in a cabin when Uncle Dallas got really drunk and backed his trailer up onto a lumber pile. He left it that way overnight, and in the morning he had a really good hangover. We could hear the people in the next room saying, "Here it is 6 a.m. and they aren’t even up yet.” Actually, Dad and I were up, and had decided to go back to Redmond, as things were not looking like we wanted to stay and pick at this time. We had no sooner got home, when we got a message to come over to the Barton Ranch just east of Cashmere at Monitor. We drove back over and Uncle Dallas met us in Monitor. We started out for the orchards, which were about a mile or so up on the hill to the south of the river. We were still in town when Dallas jumped out of his car and shot a large male Chinese pheasant right in the front yard of someone’s house. He was back in the car with the shotgun and pheasant when the woman who lived there came out and looked around. She did not appear to connect us with the shot. We wound up picking at that ranch for a whole month. I believe that this was the Fall of 1947, as the only fruit picking I did after that was a couple of times when I was home on military leave. I started working for the Boeing Airplane Company in the early part of 1948, so I didn't have time for any more fruit picking after that.
In 1948 I was temporally engaged to a girl named Dortha Roberts. Chuck West, Janet Roberts, Dortha and I went to a lot of movies together. I remember that his car had a rotten cloth roof, which really leaked in the rain. When it was only Dorothy and me, I sometimes took along my sisters Betty and Helen when we went to a movie. I found out from Betty later that Dortha really got upset over this. Apparently she scolded Betty about Betty and Helen interrupting her dates with me. One day, Dorothy, Janet, and I were driving back to their place in a heavy downpour. About a mile out of Redmond on the Avondale Road, we collided with the rear of a car parked partly on the road. They were working on their lights in the rain, with another car parked in front facing our direction with one headlight shining past the parked car, aimed out in the road. I thought that they were coming down our side of the road, as I could not see anything except the one headlight so I moved over further to the right, and hit them square. I had slowed down to about 15 miles per hour, but it was still a hard jolt. The rear bumper of their car connected with the crankshaft on my Model A Ford and totaled it out for all practical purposes. It was cheaper to buy another car than fix it. The car that I totaled was a coupe with only one front seat and a kind of trunk in the back. The windshield shattered (they were made of plate glass in those days), and one small piece of glass cut Janet’s cheek. Otherwise, we were okay. That’s when I bought a Model A Ford sedan with two doors. When I went away to the Marine Corps, Dad made a pickup out of it.
I was making my money in those days by picking fruit with Dad, painting houses for my grandfather, and doing other things that needed doing. Grandpa and Dad were building houses for a living part when not in the orchards. During the winter of 1947 and 1948 while digging in the rain and snow, I decided to apply for a job at Boeing, as I didn’t like working out in the weather all the time. I was hired and was soon bucking rivets on the B-50 bombers. This was in May of 1948. About two weeks or so after I went to work for Boeing, the workers went on strike. That’s when Joe Boyer and I went into the Cascara peeling business. Joe Boyer was my cousin by marriage to Donna Huff. He and I both worked for Boeing. Somebody (very likely Dad) told us where he had seen a few Cascara trees, so we decided to peel bark while we were on strike. We had been peeling here and there prior to that, and were doing okay, but we needed a better source of trees as between us we were peeling about 400 pounds or more a day. At that time we got about 18 cents a pound, I believe. Working at Boeing, I was making about $8.00 dollars a day ($1.00 an hour for me), and Joe was probably making about $1.30 per hour or about $10.40 a day at that time. It turned out that we averaged around $15.00 or more a day peeling bark during the entire strike, and only started to run low of bark toward the end of the strike. I don’t remember what day the strike ended anymore, but we sure were lucky that Dad gave us the lead on that patch, as it lasted us for about three months or thereabouts. When dry, the bark was about half of its weight when it came right off the tree. We got up in the morning, took the sacks of dried Cascara up to Monroe, Washington to the Wolfkill feed store, sold it, and then headed for our cascara patch. We peeled as much as we could carry, took it to the car, ate lunch, peel a second load, then went home. Once home, we cracked and sacked all of the bark that was dry enough to sale the next day. That was our routine for every day of the strike. At that time, my Uncle Dallas and a friend of his were peeling in the same patch, but coming in from a different direction. We didn’t know it for a couple of years, however, as we kept our source a secret from each other. We didn’t see any of their peeled trees until almost the end of the summer. We didn’t know that the trees we saw peeled were peeled by them. The trees that they peeled were a long way into the woods from where we were parked, so we weren’t actually losing any bark to the other as it turned out.
During the year that Joe and I were on strike and before we got into the big patch, we were out with Uncle Herb Huff peeling. There was a logging road, or possibly an old railroad grade, that we used to get back to the car. While heading back after peeling a full load of bark, we went for about a mile with Uncle Herb complaining and maintaining that he had the heaviest load. (Neither Joe nor I were having as much trouble as he was.) We stopped and Joe and Uncle Herb sat down on a short log to rest. The log they sat on didn’t have enough room for me, so I looked about for something to sit on. There was a stump just the right height at the side of the road, so I eased my weight down on it and relaxed. There was a long knot on a log behind the stump, punching into the bark. The next thing I knew, the weight of the bark flipped me over the stump and I went over. I fell head first into a mountain beaver hole. There I was with my head stuffed in the mountain beaver hole, wedged between the stump and the log. I could look along the under side of the log and see a little light a ways down via the beaver tunnel. I started hollering as loud as I could, but even though they were only about 30 feet away, they didn’t hear me. I started struggling and trying to break loose, but the knot in the back of the log held me tight. I did finally manage to work loose and stagger to where they were waiting. They promptly got up and took off for the car. I was too tired to even talk at that time. I sat down where they had been resting and took a rest for myself, as I was exhausted from my struggle with the knot and log. When I got to the car, they wondered what had happened to me, as they thought I was right behind them. I had gone through all that only a few feet away, and they had heard nothing. When we got home we weighed the three loads of Cascara bark, and each load weighed exactly 114 pounds. Herb couldn’t believe it, as he had been maintaining all along that his was far heaver than either of our loads.
Another day, Joe and I went down over a steep bank about 100 feet down to peel. We had strapped the bark on to the pack boards and walked back to the bottom of the steep hill, but the weight of the packs and the steepness of the hill caused us to keep sliding back down. We finally split our loads into two equal piles and took them to the top, where we put the loads back together as we didn’t want to return to get a second load when we could do it in one trip. When we got home, we weighed the loads. One was 210 pounds and the other was 200 pounds. No wonder we couldn’t get up the hill. I only weighed about 135 at that time, and Joe probably weighed no more than 150. In later years we went back to this patch and peeled Cascara when we wanted some pocket money.
When the union strike at Boeing was declared an illegal one by the courts, Joe and I returned to work the next day. A lot of hot heads stayed out and were given about two weeks to return before they were terminated. I went back to what was then Shop 302, where I was put to work bucking rivets again. This was called the 41 section of the airplane or the nose section. One of the guys there mentioned that he knew a man that had an old Colt .45, frontier model, which I immediately went and bought from him. It had a long barrel and somebody had modified the trigger guard, but I bought it anyway (I still have it). Over the next twp years, I bought a reloading outfit and fired over 2000 rounds at tin cans and bottles on the big rock back of our house. I practiced the quick draw every day for two years. Prior to the bullet hitting the ground in front of my foot, I was able to hit a can 50 feet away three times out of four on the quick draw. I got so that I could hit a tin can on the draw about three times out of four at about 50 feet. I took the trigger out of the revolver so that when I fast drew and the barrel cleared the holster, I could let go of the hammer with my thumb, the hammer then fell, and the gun fired. I got away with this for about a year or so before one day I was a trifle slow--or else my thumb slipped off of the hammer a split second too soon. The bullet hit the ground in front of my right foot. This was a wake up call, as I realized that I could easily have shot myself in the foot. After that I only practiced the fast draw with an empty gun, as I didn’t want to shoot myself in the leg or somewhere else.
I remember one of the things that occurred while I was working in the Prop Shop at Boeing in 1950, prior to going into the service. We were installing the communicator rings on the hubs of the four prop blades for the B-50 bomber. The prop was on the end of a bench with a vertical axel so that the prop could be turned. Three of us were installing the rings, with one of us between each prop blade. I had finished my task, and asked them if they were finished. Ralph Menney, the lead man, said that he was, so I turned to the third man and asked him if he was finished. He looked at me as I asked him, but he didn’t say yes or no. I then assumed that he was finished, so I started turning the prop so as to start on the next ring. We were each doing specific tasks on this job, so we needed to turn the prop each time. We had to duck under as the blades came around. As I turned the prop, this guy jumped over the blade and started swinging at me with his fists. I backed off and only raised my hands to ward off a blow. Ralph got in between us and started blocking all of the other guy's swings. There were three supervisors standing about 15 feet away watching us work, and one of them was Marian Metz, the Shop General Foreman. He immediately called plant security. The guy tried to say that I hadn’t warned him, but all of the supervisors had heard and seen it all. They said that he was wrong, and he was fired right on the spot. Two guards hustled him out the gate and I never did see or hear about him again. I believe he was just looking for trouble, as he was kind of a surly kind of person before that happened as I remember.
In July in the summer of 1950, I signed up for the United States Marine Corps. When I was 18 years old, I had tried to get into the air reserve to fly, but failed their physical. Then two years later when the war in Korea started, I enlisted in the Marine Corps. The USMC was always my first choice.
I was sworn in on the 17th, I believe, and wound up being the oldest in the group of eight men. They gave me the responsibility of paying for all the food on the trains to San Diego, California, plus keeping the other men out of trouble en route. We caught a “milk run” to Portland out of Seattle, and it seemed to stop at every farm along the tracks, as it took most of the night to get to our transfer to the “Shasta Daylight” train. This train then took us to Sacramento, where we boarded a third train for the final distance into San Diego. While we were on the Shasta Daylight, we met a group of “debutantes” from New York, with their chaperon. They were all Italians with a darkish skin, and all were around 17 years old. The chaperon wasn’t very happy with all of her charges hanging around with us all day, but she didn’t stop them from being with us. Actually, we were all just being friendly and having a good time on the ride. It took all day for the train to make its run to Sacramento, and we had lunch and dinner with the girls in the dining car.
Some of the guys wanted to spent more of the funds, which I had been given to pay for other stuff, so they were kind of put out when I would not go along with their plan. I had been given specific instructions on what the money could be spent on and did not want to have to make up anything should there be any questions about where it went. By the time we were on the third train for a couple of hours, several of the guys starting to get pretty rowdy and were starting to be a problem. (They were throwing thing around the railway car, and some of the other passengers were getting upset.) I was forced to remind them that I was in charge and wasn’t going to take any heat for anything that they might do. This apparently subdued their rambunctious behavior. They quieted down, but they were unhappy with me over it.
When we got to the train station in San Diego, there was a Marine Corps bus waiting. We took our bags and boarded it, and were soon going into the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (M.C.R.D.). We were soon told to get off, and then the “shock treatment” began. As there were other groups arriving when we got there, there were about 30 recruits. A drill instructor was waiting for us. Someone was talking and he soon had an instructor about one inch from his nose, asking him if he thought that he was still a civilian. The cold water treatment soon made it apparent that we were not at home anymore. We were lined up into columns and marched off to a barracks for the night. The next morning, after breakfast, we were soon given a “shave” haircut and other things. Everything was done on the double, and there was no talking or we were soon given orders to lie on our stomach and do a few pushups (usually about twenty or more). We were given our clothing and our 782 gear. This was all of our required things used in training, including an M-1 rifle, helmet, leggings, canteen, etc.
Boot camp lasted was for about eight weeks, as I recall. A lot of time was spent in close order drill and doing “up and arms shoulders”. We held our rifle in front of us in a horizontal position and in a 4-part count: (1) raised it as high up as we could reach, (2) lowered it down behind our head onto our shoulders, (3) raised it back to the position as high as we could reach, and then on (4) had the rifle back to the horizontal position in front of us. If the drill instructor was feeling in a bad mood or someone was being sloppy or something, we did this exercise until we could not lift the rifle over our head.
Another not fun “exercise” was to “duck walk”. We squatted down with our rifle held high above our head, and then were required to walk while maintaining a formation. This was especially difficult if we were in soft sand, and they seemed to like to have us do this in sand. Sometimes their “exercises” were funny, like the day they had us put our canteen cups on one end of the parade field (about 600 feet away), and then take a tablespoon from our kits and fill up the cups with from a water faucet at the other end. After running both ways for about an hour, I had about ¼ inch in my cup, and almost everyone was laughing all the while. Some of the recruits were not in the physical shape that a few of us were in, so it was really tough on them. I had been doing all kinds of things prior to enlisting and was in top shape when I went in, so most of the “exercises”, while tough, were not as hard on me as they were on some of the other guys.
Sometimes we were required to just stand at attention for long periods. Some finally got dizzy and fell down. Since this was in August and September, it could be really hot, unless there was a light breeze--which there usually wasn’t. About that time, three of the guys dropped their black shoe dye bottles and made big black stains on the concrete floor of our barracks. They spent a lot of time removing the stains and finally wound up with snow-white spots on the concrete. Not long after, another instructor came in to find out how the stains had been removed as their barracks also now had some of the same stains. By the looks of the floors, which had a nice even tan color, it was hard to believe that there had been other dye spills. There probably had been, but had become--with time and mopping--all the same shade.
Eventually we were taken out to Camp Mathews for our target shooting, as we all had to qualify with the M-1. After two weeks of rifle instruction, we were ready for “record” shooting. Some of us had to pull butts while the rest shot for their scores. There was a 6-inch black bulls-eye at the 200, 300, and 500 yard ranges and a 10-inch bulls-eye at the 600 and 1,000 yard ranges. A shot put either a 3-inch black or white spot on the target. To "pull butts" meant that someone had to raise and lower the target in order for the shooter and score keeper to see how close the shooter had come to the bulls-eye. Usually almost everyone wound up doing this for someone before we left the rifle range.
I remember that I wound up with a “sharpshooter” rifle badge. I shot 214, which was a fairly good score. Unless my memory is way off, there was marksman, sharpshooter, and expert for the different levels of badges. There was a different badge for each level. After I came back from Korea, the Captain asked me during rifle inspection what I had fired with that rifle, and asked me if I had used it for record. I told him yes, and that I had fired 214, the same as back in boot camp. He said that he could hardly believe it, as my rifle was in such poor condition. He then asked me if I would like to try out for his rifle team, and I agreed. With the new rifle that was issued to me, I fired a really high score--up around 235, with 250 being a perfect score. While on the rifle team, I averaged around 235-248, depending on wind and other things.
One Sunday while at Camp Mathews (which was a tent camp with wood floors), we were out along the road doing “up in arms shoulders” when the PFC instructor, who was in a bad mood, told us that if the guy in front of us was out of step with everyone else, we were to boot that person in the rear. (There were always four ranks of us and about 82 men in our platoon, so there were 20 or 21 men in each rank.) That day, since we were facing to the left, I was in the third rank from the front. There was one guy in our platoon who apparently didn’t like me, so he kicked me. I stopped, turned around, and warned him not to do that again, but after a few minutes he did it again, even though nearly everyone was not in step with anyone else as we had been doing this for quite a while. By now some of the guys couldn’t even get their rifle over their heads. I got really mad and swung my rifle at him, causing everyone near to duck, including him. My rifle butt still hit his helmet, sending it flying and putting a deep dent in it. I was so mad yet that I raised the rifle to finish him off. By then, however, I realized that if I followed through, it would kill him (he was now cowering on the ground, scared to death). The PFC instructor yelled for everyone to come to attention and his face was white as snow, he was so scared of what had just happened. It took me a few seconds to turn away from that guy, as I was still standing over him with my rifle raised to strike. I was still furious with him, but finally cooled down and came to attention. I figured that I would be in trouble, but I believe that since he was more to blame than anyone, there was never anything said after we were dismissed. The instructor walked back and forth in front of us and I could see that he was shaking all over. Then he called out, “Dismissed.” That was the end of it, except later in a line where we were picking up some gear for something, the guy who kicked me made a remark about me. When I started for him, he took off running. After that, he gave me a wide berth, and I never had any cause to confront him again. He was afraid of me and had really lost face in our platoon.
Another day, while being given close order drill, the drill instructor marched us back and forth. Then he finally had us march in double time. We double-timed over a drop at the bottom of which was a stream with cattails in it, then up the other side to the top, where there was a fence. We no sooner got to the top, when the “about face”, or the "to the rear march” order was given. The final result was that the entire platoon went in both directions at the same time. This went on for some time, with everyone actually having a good time over it. Another time we were marching along when we came up to a cliff and couldn’t go any further. As the instructor had not given a “halt” or a turn command, we just kept marching in place until they decided to give a new order.
The day finally came when we went back to San Diego and we were done with Camp Mathews. While there, one of the recruits kneed an instructor in the privates and wound up in the brig. We didn’t see either him or the instructor again. The instructor wound up in the hospital. We really had a hard time for a couple of days after that event with the guy who did the “kneeing” maintaining that he was only protecting himself. All I know is that we were at attention looking straight ahead when, with the instructor in his face, it happened. I was not a witness as to what actually occurred. We also had one USO show while at the MCRD. One of the starlets was Terry Moore, as I remember. I just looked it up, in an encyclopedia. In 1949, she played in “Mighty Joe Young”, so I am now sure that it was Terry Moore.
Camp Del Mar
We were given ten days boot leave after graduation. There was a group of travel agents right in the barracks to give us our tickets for trips home. I got air tickets for a round trip to Seattle, rode a bus to Redmond, and finally took a taxi to our house. When I got home, everyone was up near Wenatchee picking apples in an orchard about halfway between Wenatchee and Entiat, so I drove over and was soon picking apples while also visiting with Mom and Dad, and Uncle Claude (or maybe Uncle Herb and Lena). I had brought my .32 Winchester along. While we were picking, someone spotted what they said was a bear up high on the ridge above the orchard. I didn’t see it myself, but I got my rifle and took off up the hill to get it if I could. Another man started up also, but I soon passed him up, so he went back down. It was a long ways to the top and when I got up there, I didn’t see a trace of any bear. There was a draw on the other side, so I went into it to look around. By now it was getting late and the sun was going down, so it got dark fast. It was soon pitch dark, so I decided to follow the draw down toward the tent where we were staying. About this time I felt that there was nothing in front of me, so I picked up a rock and gave it a toss. The rock went over a drop, and it took a while for it to hit anything. I was lucky that I had gotten that feeling, as I may have fallen over otherwise. I then had to backtrack up the draw and cross along the side of the ridge until I could look down on the lights of our camp. It seemed so near, yet so far, as I could hardly see my hand in front of my face and I didn’t know how many cliffs would be in front of me on my way down. It took me over an hour to work my way down off of the hill and get to camp, even though I could see it all the time. I also wound up losing a German dagger, which somehow fell out of the sheath during this escapade. I had picked it up at a World War II surplus store (they were selling a lot of neat things in those days), so I hated to lose it, but never even thought about trying to go back and find it. It's probably still up there somewhere.
After we picked apples, we returned home and I helped to saw a little wood. When it came time to leave, Dad broke down and cried. That was the only time that I remember him doing that. I think that what with me going to Korea soon, he thought I might not return. Of course, that possibility never occurred to me at that time. It was only later in Korea, in an artillery duel with the Chinese in 1951, that I started to be afraid.
On the way back to Camp Pendleton, there was a pretty, red-haired stewardess who spent a good part of the flight talking to me. She gave me a key to her apartment in San Francisco. There was no way that I could ever go there, so nothing ever came of that and I never saw her again. I remember that the pilot of the plane kept coming back to the rear of the plane where we were, spending a lot of time trying to get on her good side. But she apparently didn’t like him, as he was getting nowhere with her that I could see.
When I arrived at Camp Pendleton, I was put into a casual company to wait for assignment to a training outfit. We had nothing to do there except eat and sleep. Around 8 or 9 a.m. after breakfast the first morning, I felt like someone had hit me with a club in the chest, and I could hear my heart going “squish-squash” for about 10 or 15 beats. I fell to the grass and lay there for most of the day. There were others lying around, so they didn’t pay any attention to me. I didn’t want to be discharged, so I didn’t want anyone to find out about this happening to me. By evening, I worked up the energy to walk in and lie on my bunk. By morning, I was able to walk to chow and eat and was starting to feel a lot better, but I was really weak. On the second morning, I got my orders, and by that evening I was trucked out to Tent Camp #1 for assignment into the infantry.
On my first morning there, they fell us out with full packs for a twenty-mile hike. I figured that I would go as far as I could and then see what happened, as I knew that there was no way that I could go 20 miles after what had happened to me a couple of days before. We were just about ready to start off on the hike when a man came running out from the office building, waving a slip of paper. They called out my name and three others, and we were off to Camp Del-Mar for tank training. I had been “saved by the bell”, so to speak. I never did report the event. Not long afterward, they asked me during a routine physical if I had ever had a heart murmur and I said yes. Then the doctor said, “They must have been mistaken, as there was no trace of one.” I guess that the blood clot or whatever went through my heart, cured it up, and I have never been bothered since that day.
We began our tank training in the Model M 4-A3, which was an old World War II tank that had a 75MM gun. I believe that tank training was also for eight weeks, with a lot of driving and maintenance mostly. I can’t remember doing any gunnery practice with the 75 MM gun, but we did do bazookas, .50 machine guns, and other small weapons. I remember that the tank tracks were always breaking. We spent a lot of time repairing the tank treads. We also spent a lot of time in classes. One day while attending a class and sitting on a bench along a kind of retaining wall, I noticed out of the left corner of my eye that one by one the others were all putting their legs out. They looked under the bench, and then they put their legs out also. When it got to me, I looked and I also put out my legs. There was a six to eight-inch long, pink scorpion strolling along with his barbed tail over his back. There were also a lot of large, brown tarantula spiders out in the grassy areas where we were. Later after my return to Camp Pendleton, there were a couple of guys who went out at night and picked them up. One day while I was driving a tank, I was going up a short, nearly vertical small bump-like place. With about half of the tank past the top, I inadvertently hit the gas pedal rather than the brake. We shot over the top and then down the other side, which was as steep as what we had gone up. The turret top hatch apparently had a broken latch, as the cover slammed down. The guy in the turret, with his head above the hatch rim, had his jaw driven into the rim of the hatch. His helmet saved his head from being caved in, but the rim of the hatch opening cut his neck at the jaw area, and he had to have a bunch of stitches. I got a lot of flack from the driving instructor, mostly because he was so scared for the guy who was hurt.
There was a group of us in the training company that went on liberty up to Los Angeles together. One of the places where we went was Clifton’s Cafeteria. It was like a buffet, but they had girls delivering the coffee and the refills. We always drank up our coffee as fast as we could to keep the girl at our table, as she was really little (and pretty). With the serving set, which also had the cream and sugar, she couldn’t carry a lot of coffee at a time. She kept saying that we were going to get her fired, but that didn’t ever happen. After I came back from Korea, I ate there once. She was off that day, so I didn’t get to talk to her. That was the only time I ate there after coming back, as a different crowd of us had a different destination in L.A. after I came back. The names of the guys were: Vandegenatche, Ward, Windsor, White, and Widell. When we were called out, that seemed to always be the way we were listed (although maybe not always in that exact order). As far as I can remember, and my photos seem to bear this out, only Albert Vandegenatche (from Montana), Warren M Widell (from Minnesota) and I were together while in Korea and Japan.
One day I bought a money belt, as I had about 85 dollars after being paid. I had planned on buying a revolver to take to Korea with me, but the night before going to Los Angeles, I put it in my footlocker instead of in my new belt. The next morning, my entire footlocker was missing. It was later found in a field behind some empty ammo canisters. Even though they worked out the serial numbers of my two twenty dollar bills (we were paid by alphabetical order), the money was not found. They were going to restrict the entire company over it, but a collection was raised and I did get something, although not as much as I had lost. After the collection they eventually gave us liberty, and off we went. I never did buy a revolver. As things turned out, I didn’t really need one as the Marines supplied us with all the weapons that we needed. One of the other guys that I spent a lot of time with at Camp Del Mar was Pete Tapia. I probably was with others, but those are the only ones that I remember now.
At that time I was a PFC. Privates First Class and Privates were the only ones who had to do KP duty. This was kitchen duty, which meant that whoever got the duty was up about 4 a.m., and worked until about 6 or 7 p.m., or until the work was done. I was lucky and escaped this duty until I was in Korea at Camp Lopez near Masan. We were in a casual company waiting for our orders for Korea, so most of us did not stand this type of duty while we were in training at Del Mar, as it meant that we would miss our training and perhaps also miss the replacement draft to Korea.
The casual company was located in Camp Pendleton. While we were there, two guys were practicing the quick draw with each other. One guy had a short barrel . 45 frontier Colt, and the other had a .38 Smith and Wesson revolver. I asked if I could fast draw against one of them and after making sure both guns were not loaded, I strapped on the .45 Colt. The other guy then counted to three, and we drew. I had the .45 cocked and touched to other man’s stomach before he even touched his .38’s handle. Right there they quit practicing and I never saw them do it again. They were really slow on their draw--but as I mentioned earlier in this memoir, I had had two years practice "drawing" on tin cans back at home.
After a couple of days of lying around with nothing to do in casual company, they fell us all out. By alphabetical order, names were called to fill the entire replacement draft. Nearly half of the names were called out, but again, it was Van, Jack, Ward, White, and Widell who were skipped over as a group. Everyone that was named was put on trucks and taken to an airfield, and immediately flown to Korea.
Those of us who were left were soon taken to San Diego and loaded onto a World War II troop ship with the words “Telfair # APA 210” on the bow. The ship was about 550 feet long. We left the harbor in San Diego in a heavy fog on the 16th of December 1950.
My group was assigned a cabin at the extreme rear of the ship by the fantail. Just outside our rear hatch, which was at the top of a flight of stairs, was a 5-inch 50 gun emplacement. There were also some one-inch pipes about ten feet overhead. I remember going out on the fantail and with the ship rising and falling, we could time our jump and catch the one-inch pipes about ten feet up. When we let go, we also had to time it or it was a long drop if the deck was falling. If we let go at the right time, it was only about a foot drop to the deck.
Before leaving the States, I talked to men who had been on troop ships in World War II and they recommended taking a high cot. They told me that when the seas were rough, there would be a lot of seasick men throwing up. That was the reason why I grabbed the seventh cot up, as that was how many were on each set of cots. I had steam pipe over my bunk, and it was impossible to turn over after I got in my bunk. It turned out that nearly three-fourths of the men on the ship got seasick after about three days out. We went into a really big storm and it didn’t let up for days. It got really windy and the waves from crest to crest were farther apart than the ship was long. When the ship was between the waves, we could look up and see the tops of them. When the ship was on top, both ends of the ship were out of the water.
While going to chow in the lines, we went along an outside walkway. We had to run to the next hatch and dart through so as not to get caught outside when the waves raced along about two feet high on the walkway. About that time some officer came along and saw what was going on. Luckily for someone, he put guards on the outside hatches so that nobody could go outside and get swept overboard. Had anyone been swept off, they would never have been found in that weather.
Once in the mess hall, we saw food all over the floors. Some of the people had not held their food, so the deck was really a mess. The ship rolled about to the left, the bow raised, the ship rolled to the right, and then the fantail rose--and so on and on and on. The deck went to about a 30-degree angle or so--left, right, fore and aft, on and on and on. The mess hall tables had steel pipes on the ends going from the floor, then through the table, and then to the ceiling. We learned not to leave our trays on the tables when the owners of other trays did not hold on to them. Their trays came scooting along, and slid off the end of the table onto the deck. In order not to lose our own tray, we had to lift it up in a timely fashion.
There were no chairs or benches to set on in the mess hall, so everyone had to stand while eating. Since there were usually a lot of men to feed (although not that many during the storm), this apparently discouraged loitering over our meal. I remember that by Christmas dinner, most of the seasickness was over and there were more people eating their meals. Our group was one of the last ones to eat, so they ran out of the turkey. They thawed out some chicken for us. My piece of chicken was burned on the outside, had some cooked area followed by raw, and then ice in the center. I didn’t eat the chicken, but the rest of the food was okay.
On one bulkhead in the mess hall, there was a map. Every day they posted our progress on it. During the storm, on one day's progress we went backwards for 200 miles before going forward again. The storm took one of the life rafts off the side of the ship and the flag was taken off the top also. At our rear door or hatch when the rear of the ship went under water, the whole wall “canned” in for about six inches. When the ship rose, it popped out with a loud bang. The hatch was a good 40 feet above the water line in smooth water, and it must have been under quite a ways to can in like that during the height of the bad weather. There was a support for the bunks next to the bulkhead, so we could see how far the bulkhead came in at those times by watching the gap close and then open up.
The storm stayed with us until we passed the island of Hachijo-jima about a half hour before it got dark a day out of Kobe, Japan. I went out on deck with a bunch of others to look. The island was like a rock pillar sticking up with giant waves crashing against it. I don’t believe anyone could land on any part of it that we saw as we went past. It was really a somber and desolate-looking island. It was also the only land we saw while crossing the Pacific Ocean. After we passed that island, the weather got better and in another day, the water was so smooth that there were hardly any waves at all. I went up to the bow to watch as we went through a million jellyfish about one or two feet in diameter. About every 100 yards or so, we saw a “Portuguese-Man-Of-War” jellyfish mixed in with the other type. We went through these for hours before it got dark. After dark we could still hear the ship hitting them.
The First Dream
While on the ship, I had a dream about the ship on which we were being transported to Japan. The dream was actually a vision of the future with regards to the trip from Japan to Korea. It was one of two dreams I had before the dreams stopped. I had it about a week before we arrived in Kobe, Japan. Here is an account of the first dream and what happened after:
This was the first dream. I notified all of my friends of this dream and the part that they played when it happened. I remember that it was not a normal type of dream, as it was clear and did not fade in any way, even with time.
We arrived in Kobe, Japan, on January 3, 1951, after losing several days because of the storm. After we disembarked, they put us on a train for Camp Otsu, in Kyoto, Japan. Kyoto was one of the few places in Japan that had not been bombed during World War II. We arrived at Camp Otsu on January 5 and got to go on liberty in Kyoto that night. We got lost when it got dark because everything looked the same. We saw lighted areas and headed that way. After what seemed like hours, we finally found the train depot for the ride back to the camp. We just made the midnight curfew by a few minutes.
The next morning we boarded a train for Sasebo, Japan. I was awake going through Hiroshima in the middle of the night. It was a slow train so the trip took quite a long time. We also went from Honshu by railway and via a tunnel to Kyushu during this ride. The tunnel was under a narrow straight between the two major islands. The train cars were really narrow and had small seats. With our two sea bags, each man took up two seats. While going along the tracks, which went through small towns and lots of rice paddies, we saw a lot of kids. Since we were going to be gone for an unknown length of time, we threw a lot of our Japanese money to them. This caused a lot of crowds at times, especially if the train was stopped, which it was quite often on this ride.
We arrived in Sasebo on the afternoon of January 8, and stayed the night. There were beds in the camp we stayed at, but no mattresses or blankets. We left our personal sea bags off for storage until after Korea about this time, but I am not sure where or when. There were a lot of U.N. troops at Sasebo when we got there. They were mostly from Australia, Turkey, the British Isles, and the United States. There were also a few from other countries. Quite a few were personnel who had been wounded earlier and were waiting to return to their outfits in Korea. While we were there, a lot of rumors were going around as to how they were giving out .45 automatics and other small arms. Different guys went out to see if that was true, but no one found any weapons. They had to be content with the weapons that they had been issued back in the United States.
After two days at a camp filled with all kinds of U. N. troops, we finally were taken to the dock of my dream. When we marched out onto the dock, my friends said that my dream must have been wrong, as there was no ship there. After a short while, a USMC Gunnery Sergeant or an officer of about that rank opened a sliding door in the dock warehouse and informed us that we were on the wrong dock. We then walked through the building and they opened up a large door on the other side of the warehouse. We went through to the other dock. There on the other dock was the ship of my dream--the Takasago Maru. From then on, everything took place exactly like the dream.
There was only one narrow stair case up the side, so it took a while to get aboard because everyone had sea bags, full packs, their weapons, helmets, etc. Once aboard, the ship had absolutely nothing on it. There were no chairs or furniture anywhere, but our little group (Vandegenatche, Widell, Sergeant Patterson, a couple of new acquaintances, and I) found a cabin, which we grabbed. It was apparently the only one on the ship with four bunks still intact. Some officers came along and tried to dispossess us of that cabin, but since we didn't know them, we said no. They finally gave up and left. The ship was exactly like the one in my dream, complete with marble floors. A lot of the UN troops from other countries--including US Army and US Marines returning from hospitals in Japan--were out along the rear of the ship, target practicing at seagulls and other objects like sea fish (probably porpoises). All the veterans returning to Korea were carrying live ammunition, while we replacement personnel had none. Some Army lieutenant tried to stop them from their target practice, but decided after his authority was disputed to drop it. We were soon told to get a box of World War II rations, but we had to hunt for about an hour before we could find where the rations were stored. The ship was a maze. We went up, down, and around random passageways before finding the stuff. Everyone else appeared lost while looking also.
The next morning we arrived in Pusan and after a couple of hours of waiting on the ship, a USMC captain whom we knew told us to heave our sea bags over the side onto the dock. Then we wound around through the bowels of the ship until we came to a twelve foot square hatch in the dock side of the ship. Vandegenache took a sledge hammer (per the dream I told him about), banged open all the dogs, and the door swung outward. On the hatch on older and even newer ships, dogs were a kind of lever. When a hatch was pulled closed, one turned the handle part away from the parallel position toward the inside of the hatch, causing a lug end to slide over the edge rim of the opening. Then one took a sledge or some other means to turn the dog about 90 degrees, thus causing the door or hatch to be water-tight. There was a rubber or other kind of a gasket being crushed to prevent leaks. On this particular hatch there were about twelve, as I remember. Sometimes there was a center wheel-like handle with linkage forcing all the dogs to tighten at the same time. This can be seen on submarine interior hatch doors in the movies. They were real mechanisms.
When the dogs were opened, we saw pilings like a staircase, just like there were in the dream. We gathered up our sea bags, marched to a Japanese-operated LST, and went into the tank deck. The LST had no weapons, and had only enough crew to run the ship. The front was buttoned up, the LST backed out, and we were off to Masan. There must have been several hundred of us in the tank deck. With our packs, weapons, sea bags, and us, there was not even room to sit down. They started backing out while we were still standing, so we wound up with everything on the deck, including us. We lay down with our legs and bodies on and under other people until we could finally get somewhat comfortable. Eventually I had to go to the bathroom. I was about 75 feet from the ladder, which went up to the crew and bunk areas of the LST. It was a challenge to get across all the men without stepping on anyone, but I managed it. I stayed out of the tank deck until we got to Masan, Korea, where we disembarked.
On the Pass
We landed in Masan on January 11, 1951. I don't remember how we got from the dock in Masan to Camp Lopez south of town. Most likely we were transported by truck. I was assigned to a tank crew temporarily. B Company, 1st Armored Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Platoon was part of I Corps. Right after arriving at Camp Lopez (within a day or two), a few others and I were assigned to a roadblock on top of a pass overlooking a valley not far out of Masan. We went up the mountain pass with one LVT-A 5 as part of the Pusan perimeter defense and stayed up there for about a month. I was eventually assigned to Tank #B-2, but not until I arrived at Inchon in April of 1951.
We had one machine gun on top of the hill overlooking the tank and our two tents, another machine gun next to the tent, and, of course, the 75 MM, gun in the turret of the LVT A5. At this time I kept my rifle, as I didn’t want to have a .45 colt automatic. If I needed to hit anything, I wanted to hit it. The standard weapon of all the men in the company was the .45 automatic. I was the only man with an M-1 rifle, but they didn’t argue with me over it. I had about 100 rounds of ammo for it, but they didn't like it that I did. Even though we were near the front, they didn’t seem to want anyone to “officially” have any live ammo--but we all did. I never really did understand why this was the case. When we went out on patrol, which we did several times, I was the one who had to go out another 100 yards or so and stand lookout while we took a break prior to turning back. Some of the guys didn't like being out like a target, but I didn’t mind. I guess this was because I had the only weapon that could hit anything over 50 yards. Some of the guys brought along a .45 caliber Thompson sub-machine gun as every LVT A5 crew had one. Each tank also had three .30 caliber machine guns and tripods, one 3.5 inch mortar, and lots of hand grenades.
I seemed to always get the 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. watch while up on the pass. This was usually up on the ridge machine gun. A lot of the time I was with another guy named Aubury. Usually the wind was blowing and since this was in late January and into early February, it was very cold. There was a Sound Power phone system linking all of the posts on the perimeter around Masan. We hummed songs to see if the others knew them. That helped to pass the hours.
One time Aubury was taking a nap in the bottom of our foxhole on the ridge top when someone fired a bullet near us. He came clawing up and I dragged him down. Then we waited to see if anything was going to happen, but that was it for the night. There was always a lot of shooting during the nights, but we never did know who was doing it. The bullet fired near us may have just been a random shot or we may have been sky-lined or something.
One night while Aubury and I were on this same post, there was a commotion down at the tents at our camp. We quickly full-loaded the .30 caliber machine gun, and swung it to cover that direction, as we thought that there were enemy nearby. Normally we kept machine guns on half-load until ready to fire them. There were shouts and other noises down there, but no shooting. Then the small village came alive, as we could hear a couple of screams after a while, and then it got quiet again. We called down to them on the sound power phone, and finally we were told what had gone on. It seemed that one of the guys in my tent had woke up because his mess gear was clacking. He lit a cigarette lighter and was face to face with a Siberian Tiger that was in the tent licking on his mess gear. He let out a scream and slid to the bottom of his sleeping bag. The tiger took off and jumped right over the two guys at the other machine gun, which was only about 20 feet from the tent. They said that the tiger then went up on our tank and maybe inside, but quickly jumped back out. Our captain had his .45 automatic out, but didn’t shoot, as by now the Koreans in the village were in the street. The tiger then bounded down the street and scattered the screaming Koreans as it went through the middle of them and then got away. This was the first time that any of us were aware that there were tigers this far north. We didn't see any more and didn’t hear of anyone else seeing any while we were in Korea.
There were also some very large black ravens hanging around, so I made a snare by bending a small tree over and baiting it with some food. The ravens hopped down out of a nearby tree and studied the setup for about an hour while keeping an eye on us. Then they flew off and never came back while we were there. They were not going to be taken in by us, I guess.
As well as the nights, the days were cold. With the interpreter doing the talking, we took a piece of wood for our daytime fire from each guy who walked by. We did not burn at night. This was actually stealing, so we quit after about a dozen or so, as the Koreans got really upset because this represented a fair part of their load. By this time they had also carried the wood for a long way. We then cut down one of the trees to use as firewood. The next day the Koreans dug up the stump to get the wood, as it was a very scarce item in Korea. We put the wood from the tree in the shrine so that no one would take it when we were not looking. I guess all of the trees were owned and were not to be cut, so we didn’t cut any more after that.
One day all of the Koreans turned pink. It seems that most of them all took a bath on about the same day. Up to this time, they were a kind of light brown, from smoke and other reasons. It was to cold during the cold months, and also by now all of the rice paddies were thawing out and starting to smell, as they used human wastes for fertilizer to grow their crops. Every so often along the road there was a pit, where everyone traveling along would go if they had to, and the farmers would put this in their fields. They also carried the human wastes in a “honey bucket”, and sometimes as they were walking past, it would slosh out and run down their forehead, as they only had a tuft of rice stalks stuffed in the hole to plug it.”
One of the men up on the pass with us was a blond guy named Cozart. The mayor of the town told us that there were six prostitutes there for us. The Captain warned us not to go near them, as most of them were supposed to be North Korean Communists, and were there to infect anyone they could with V.D. One night Cozart got drunk and decided to go try them out. When he returned in the morning, the Captain inquired as to whether he had indulged in the prostitutes and he said that yes, he had done all six of them during the night. The Captain immediately called up the corpsmen and they sent up an ambulance. Off he went to the hospital. We didn’t see him again until the month of May on the Camp Carver base in Kobe in 1951. It turned out that he had caught nearly every known type of venereal disease. He was probably not totally cured yet, but they were sending him back on duty. I know of no one else who took advantage of the mayor's offer other than Cozart. Incidentally, on his first day back in the States, Cozart was accidentally hit and killed by a truck while in a crosswalk when we went on liberty in San Francisco.
One morning while we were watching the far pass that led into the far right side of the valley, we saw a combat formation of troops come around a curve in the road about three miles away. We used binoculars to look at them, but could not identify them. The captain got on the phone and started making inquiries as to what outfit they were. Time passed while a frantic effort went on to establish their identity. They covered the distance in our direction at a pretty good rate. We got ready to start a holding action, as by now there were at least several hundred troops strung out along the road for at least two miles. They looked like all Orientals to us, with no Americans or other nationality of troops that we could make out in the formation. The men started to get nervous about the situation. They looked like an attack formation with a spacing of at least ten yards between each man. However, as they got about a half mile away, they were finally found to be ROKA troops in training. What a relief this was, as there were only about ten of us on the roadblock and we wouldn’t have been able to hold off this size of an attack for very long. By now we didn’t know whether to give a burst in their direction or not to stop their advance. Luckily, they were friendly. The captain found out that there were about 3,000 in this newly-formed company, and they were just out for a final hike before going up north.
Sometimes we went up along the top of the ridge near the pass and shot off our weapons at anything that looked like a good target, such as rocks and stuff. Later if we passed back along our same route, we found that all of the empty cartridges that we had fired (they were called "brass") had been picked up by the Koreans for salvage. We had to really watch where we walked up there, as the whole area was covered with cut stubs of bamboo. The stubs were really sharp, as they had been cut at an angle.
One day we saw a group of Koreans running along carrying a young girl on a stretcher. There was a trail of blood dripping on the ground as they ran along, and when they got to our location they stopped to check on her and she was dead. Our interpreter then talked to them to find out what had happened. It seemed that the young girl of about 11 or 12 years of age had found an unexploded bomb or mortar shell. She was pounding on it with a club of some kind when it exploded. They were trying to get her to the hospital down in Masan, but hadn’t done anything to stop the bleeding so she bled to death along the way. They then left her lying there in the road and went back home. I forget how long she lay there after that.
Around this time I was assigned to mess hall duty. I was moved to the mess tent where all of those who had kitchen or "mess" duty had to sleep. Our sleeping quarters turned out to be in the tent that was the farthest away from the mess hall on the far side of camp in the last tent--in a rice paddy. We had to stay in that tent so that we wouldn't wake up the others when we got up. Our day started about two hours ahead of everybody else because we had to have chow ready for the troops after their morning roll call. We did all of the usual things like peeling potatoes, washing pots and pans, heating water for the men to clean their own mess gear in, and anything else the cooks wanted done. I remember that one particular day we were making a salad out of lettuce, and we were trying to pick out all of the thrips that were in the lettuce heads. Thrips looked like minute black slugs. After a while it became evident that there were too many to remove, as we had other things to do. So we just chopped up the lettuce and left the bugs in the salad. The troops never noticed. Of course, we didn’t eat any of the salad ourselves, nor did we tell anyone else what was in it.
It seemed that there were always a few men who didn’t get enough to eat. They tried to get stuff away from the mess hall to eat in their tents. One day someone took a loaf of bread and as they were being chased by the MP’s, had to throw the bread down, where it got covered in brown mud. We took the bread, cut away the outside, and served it. Another day some guys stole a whole cooked turkey and got away with it. I wasn’t on mess duty when these two events occurred, however.
One night the weather started to change from freezing to rain. Soon it started to really pound down and turn the rice paddies to mud (which they were supposed to be for growing rice). Our tent pegs started to pull out of the ground and the cots started to sink because the water was coming into the tent. We had been walking along all of the time on the retaining wall of the paddy, and the ditch for draining filled up, causing the water to get a few inches deep in the paddy. As I said earlier, the tent was in the paddy. One of the guys managed to get out of his cot, although it was not easy as the tent was now draped over the cots and was really heavy because of all the water. Everything on the floor was under water and wet with mud. We were all finally able to get up and get the tent partly restored, then started off for the mess hall to go to work. Along the way we had to go through the entire length of the camp and noticed that every tent was experiencing the same thing. That was the only time while I was on mess duty that almost everyone came to breakfast. After chow down by the troops, the food that had not been eaten was picked up by Koreans, who I was told served it in a restaurant in Masan.
When I was through with mess duty, I was then assigned to guard duty. One night I was up in the pine trees guarding something or other when I heard a stealthy noise off and on coming in my general direction. There were no troops in that direction that I knew of, so when it got close, I called out “halt”. The noise stopped, but nothing was said by whoever it was. I called for him to give the password, but the man ignored this and started coming closer, saying he was an officer. I again yelled out, “Halt. Give the pass word,” but again this was ignored. I pulled back the bolt on my M-1, and let a round slam into the chamber. This time the man stopped and finally gave the password. It was the officer of the day making his rounds of the guards on duty. He then asked me if I would have fired on him, and I said that yes, I was ready to do that had he not properly identified himself.
Another day I was on guard in the fuel dump where there were a lot of 55 gallon steel drums and all kinds of other things stacked around. It was around 2 a.m. and fairly dark. I had my bayonet on my rifle and the rifle on my right shoulder by the rifle sling when there was a loud bang to my left. There was a man about three feet away from me with his arms up above his head. Without thinking I somehow had the rifle off of my shoulder and slammed the bayonet into his chest area. I nearly broke my hands as it turned out to be a tree with a tarp thrown over a Y-shaped crouch. The loud bang was just the expansion of the drum nearby me. I had to remove the rifle from the bayonet and use the rifle butt to pound the bayonet up and down a few times to finally get it out of the tree. It had penetrated about two or three inches into the wood. My adrenalin gland had really kicked in at that moment, and I had reacted without thinking. It was lucky that there was no one there trying to be funny, as he would have been dead. We laughed about it later, but when I bayoneted the tree, I was really having a scare at the time.
There was a dog that somebody brought to Korea whose name was Jinks. One day the dog's owner was walking along the north shore near some caves. They had been dug as air raid shelters during World War II by the Japanese. The dog heard a noise at one of the caves and ran inside. There was just one yelp heard from the dog, as it was killed by the orphaned children who were living in these caves. The dog very probably was then eaten by the kids, as they lived by stealing anything that they could get their hands on. There were very few pets in Korea in those days, as the animals were served up for dinner if they wandered away from the owners. Years later my family and I lived in Redmond. I remember that when the new immigrants from Vietnam came into the neighborhood, a lot of pets came up missing.
Early one morning we were ordered to fall out into battalion formation. We were soon given the parade rest order. This was a semi-relaxed position that can be maintained for hours if necessary. This particular morning, we had to remain in position for some time. After a while a vehicle came up to the front and a couple of people got out. After a while, they started down the ranks. We whispered among ourselves, wondering what was up, but they told us to be quiet and stay still. Hours went by. A girl stepped in front of each man and stared at him for a while, then moved on to the next man in the ranks. We knew by this time that it was something serious, but didn’t know what. We were also worried that she would just pick out anyone if she wasn’t sure, and it could be one of us. Eventually she came in front of me, but only stayed in front of me for a few seconds before moving on. I relieved at that, as her stare was really un-nerving. Our platoon was the next to the last in the battalion. She got to the last rank of the last squad before she lifted her arm and pointed at a man in that rank. They promptly put that man in handcuffs and took him away before dismissing us. It turned out that the woman was a nurse in a local Korean hospital, and this guy was raping her when her husband came along. He took a .45, shot her husband, chopped him up with an ax, but didn’t hurt the nurse, as she had probably ran off while he was killing her husband. In his tent they found his .45--with blood still on it and on his clothes, They were positive that he was guilty of the murder. They set up a tent with a fence about ten feet from it on all sides, and a 24-hour guard, with orders to shoot to kill should he try to escape. I heard later that he got a life sentence for killing the Korean.
One day back at Camp Lopez, we were out on the beach watching them test drive one of the LVT A5’s. They drove it out into the bay. After they got out about 200 feet from shore, we noticed that the LVT was starting to ride lower and lower in the water. Apparently the driver felt the water rising up inside the tank and tried to get back to the beach. Both he and the tank commander had to get off and swim in from about 100 feet out when it sank in about 25 feet of water. It seems that they had forgotten to reinstall the hull plugs when they drained the bilge. Since that was in February or possibly in March, the water had ice along the shore and it was really cold. Later they dove down and attached a cable to the LVT A5 to drag it to shore.
Another thing that happened at Camp Lopez was that they came one time to collect all of the captured North Korean and Russian weapons to give to the ROKA army as they were short of hand-held weapons. One of the men who had a Russian burp gun was so irritated about giving up his souvenir that he gave it a sling out of his tent. When the weapon struck the ground, it began to fire and sprayed out the entire contents of the 75-round magazine in all directions. It was a miracle that no one was hurt or that no damage done.
Around the middle of March, all but about 15 of us were transported up to Inchon to get involved in the war. The rest of us stayed behind to do guard duty, hold supplies, receive mail, and do other things that I have since forgotten. One day Burgdorf (from Saint Louis, Missouri) came in off of guard duty, jacked back the slide on his .45, thumbed out the clip, and pulled the trigger. The .45 went off in the tent with a roar, but even with about seven or eight men in the tent, nobody was hit. One is supposed to thumb out the clip and jack back the slide to remove the round from the chamber before pointing the gun up to pull the trigger. Burgdorf had mistakenly done this operation in reverse and could have killed somebody as a result. Also, he didn’t remember where the gun was pointing when it went off. We searched everywhere in the tent for a bullet hole and finally found that it had gone into the ground through the edges of one of the rice mats that we had on the floor of the tent. The bullet went between the legs of one of the guys who was standing in front of the stove. Burgdorf was so scared that he nearly fainted from shock from what he had nearly done.
The Second Dream
We had about 2 LVT 3’s there with us and several tents and other stuff. One morning I woke up and told the guys that I had had another of those dreams/visions of the future. The same people who were with me in my first dream were still with me, so they now knew kind of what to expect. Here is an account of my second dream, which took place around the end of April 1951:
After I told them about my second dream, one of the guys looked outside and said, “Well, it won’t be tonight as it is clear as a bell and cold." That night we went to bed and it was still clear out and cold. Around 1:00 a.m., we were awakened by a jeep horn and informed that we were going up to the front. It was pounding down rain and the ground had turned to mud already. From then on everything went exactly like the dream in every respect. What especially stood out was the part about the weapons in the mud portion of my dream. Again, it was Vandegenatche who remembered that the location of the weapons in my dream was under the water in the rice paddy. Nobody knew how the weapons got to that location. As for me, I don’t remember either--if I ever did. After we were on the LST, our staff sergeant (Sergeant Patterson), who had been in both of my dream events, came up to me and told me that if I ever had any more of those dreams, he didn’t want to hear or know about them. That seemed to have had an effect, as I never had any of those dreams about the future again.
While we were still in Masan, we had an interpreter who was sometimes with the guards along the perimeter. Once he excused himself and soon came back with some Korean police, who arrested a woman who was with a group of the “Washee-Washee” women. These women washed our clothing for cigarettes or candy, which they then exchanged for money on the Korean market. The woman who was arrested was found to have a bag with live hand grenades. She was planning to throw them when the right opportunity came along--most probably when there was a group big enough to cause some casualties. I don’t know how he knew she was there--unless one of the women tipped him off, which was probably the case. After all, washing G.I. clothes was how the women along the fence were making their living at that time. They didn’t want to be chased away.
I remember trying to explain American comic books to our interpreter, but he could not see the humor in them and he could not grasp their meaning. He was with us nearly all the time as I remember, but he did not go with us when we left Masan for the trip up to Inchon.
Two things stand out about the trip in the LVT A5 going up to the roadblock. One was that, as we were rounding a bend while driving up the hill on the narrow dirt road, there was a man urinating and the stream was arching out. When we looked back after passing him, the stream was still there as we passed out of sight. We were only going about eight or ten miles an hour at the time, so he must have had a tremendous capacity. The other thing I remember is that a woman was walking in our direction wearing only a short blouse. Both of her breasts were hanging down to her belt line like two long sausages. Apparently, bras were not in style there yet.
The same night after I informed everyone of my second dream, the events then unfolded. We were hustled out of our sleeping bags by our Captain, who informed us of our orders to go to Inchon. We loaded everything up and went to the pier, where we drove our two LVT 3’s into the tank deck of an American LST. We went up into the crew quarters of the ship and spent a lot of time playing cards for cigarettes. I remember that I had a hand of four aces, and lost to a sailor with a royal flush. I forget which of us had the Joker, but I remember that I was so disgusted, I quit gambling for quite a long time. There was only about 15 or so cigarettes in the pot, so it wasn’t worth much. I just figured if I was going to lose with four aces, I might as well quit. (We got the cigarettes free as a monthly ration.)
We arrived in Inchon on April 18, 1951. The rest of our two platoons was stationed in a tent camp on the outskirts of Inchon above some rice paddies near a hill. There was a couple of buildings inside our compound whose walls had been partially blown out by some previous combat. One of them was where we stored extra 75 MM shells for our guns to get them out of the weather. The window in the mostly intact structure was about six feet off the ground level, and no doors were on that side of the building. We formed a line to pass the ammunition. We had several men inside to catch and stack it as we passed it through the window. I was the one who put the shells through the window. I tossed them through, and called out as I did so. We had passed quite a few in this way when we noticed people running away from the end of the building. These were the guys from inside who were supposed to be catching and stacking the shells. Apparently they had gotten behind, but the shells kept coming. They got scared of an explosion, so took off. Meanwhile, those of us on the outside kept the ammo going through the window, not knowing that there was no one left in there to catch the shells. We soon worked out an arrangement where they could keep up, and we finished the job.
Out in a rice paddy near one side of the perimeter was a small shack. While I was on guard duty during the nights, I could see people sneaking out to it. I just assumed that there were prostitutes working there, but I never knew for sure. I also assume that the people going there in the dark were servicemen, but I am not sure. I didn’t see any of them leave from our camp, so I don’t know where they came from.
Sometimes at night we saw men carrying guns, sneaking along in the dark. I kept my eye on them to see if they were going to come near the perimeter of our camp. We never knew who was a danger there. Since we were about 15 miles from the front lines, there could have been a few enemy up to no good, but there was no sniping or other shots fired while I was in that camp. While I was there, a big red-haired man named Whitington was in charge of keeping the shower hot water. The oil stove to heat the water was above the actual shower stall and under the water. There was a ladder going up to the top, and he carried water up there in buckets. One day the roof of the shower caught on fire and he went up there stomping around, trying to put it out. The whole thing was wobbling and dancing about and we thought it would collapse, as he weighed about 250 pounds or more. Also, the sparks from his fire were landing on our tents and burning holes in them. My tent received a couple of nice holes that day, but luckily no tents actually caught on fire. Eventually, Whitington got the fire out with the help of a bucket of water someone took up to him.
One day I got a box of peanut butter fudge that my sister Carole had made and sent to me. I took off all of the walnuts as they were moldy, quickly gave out half to my friends, and hid the rest. Whitington was a real problem, as he tended to camp on our cots and eat our stuff until it was gone if we let him know that there was any candy about. We had to be fast. He rushed from tent to tent at mail time to get in on all of the goodies and help himself without being asked. He was a nice guy, but not where candy from home was concerned. He sure was put out when I told him that the guys had already eaten it all up when I opened up the package. I don’t know if he really believed this, but he had to rush off to get to the others who had received packages that day.
We left Inchon for the Kimpo Peninsula to the west of Seoul on the 22nd of April 1951. We set up at the edge of a wide, flat area, with the Han River about a half mile away. The captain of our platoon called us all together just before dark and told us that if we were overrun, we were to regroup by an old railway bridge that we had driven by earlier. We were also told not to fire on Chinese patrols at night unless we were in immediate danger, as they had left the infantry back about a mile until the next day. They wanted the Chinese to think there were none in the area. While we were on the road to this area, we passed a bunch of burned out T34’s, some of which still had smoke coming out of them. One T34 had its turret blown off, and it lay about 100 feet away from the rest of the tank. As we approached a narrow cut with a small hut at the side of the road, I saw the muzzle of a tank gun pointing right at our tank. My heart nearly stopped, as I thought we were being ambushed there. It didn’t fire, however. When we were parallel with it, I could see a hole in the rear of the turret where a shaped charge had burned a hole through and knocked out the T34 tank. The T34 had driven into the house, and had its gun sticking out of the window, aimed down the road that we had just came up. Somebody may have been taken by surprise by that earlier, but I don’t know for sure about that. The battle at this spot may have been a week or two earlier, but I’m not sure exactly when.
When the Captain told us about the railroad bridge, I never had any idea where it was as I was turned around about that. I knew that we had gone over a bridge, where both sides of the tractor treads were partly over each side. We had to be guided across, as we could have dropped a track over one side or the other if that wasn’t done. We all got across without incident, however. This may have been the bridge he was referring to, but I can’t remember what the bridge crossed. It could have been a set of tracks.
I started digging a foxhole as soon as I had time, as was everyone else. I picked up a steel plate, covered a part of the hole with it, and then put dirt on that. My foxhole was about four feet deep, six feet long, and maybe two and a half feet wide, as I remember. The foxhole was on top of the hill above our roadblock. It was the only one that I dug while in Korea. It was raining lightly most of the time at the area near the Kimpo Airfield, which was not to far from where we were set up. It soon got dark, and another guy named Zelinski, was on guard during the night with me. I had my rifle and he had a Thompson sub-machine gun. We could hear slight scuffling noises, so we crouched down and tried to skyline where the sounds were coming from, but it was too dark. We could not see our hands if we touched our own nose, it was so dark. After a while, the sounds stopped, and we heard nothing more until we were relieved for the night. In the morning we realized that, during the night, a group of Chinese soldiers had gone through single file about 100 feet from us.
That morning I was setting on my cot putting on my shoes when Staff Sgt. Patterson, my tank commander, told me to uncover the LVT A5 turret and get the gun ready. Another member of the crew, PFC Livich, said that he would do it as he already had his shoes on. I had just finished putting on my shoes when I heard a shot. I grabbed my rifle and left the tent, thinking that a sniper was in the area. People were heading for our tank # B2, where Livich was lying alongside the turret with blood coming from his head. I still thought that a sniper had fired until we were told that when he lifted up the tarp over the turret, one of our .30 caliber machine guns had fired. It turned out that the machine gun had been put on full load instead of half load, and the trigger was sitting on a piece of steel welded on the side of the turret to hold the machine gun handle. The downward pressure when he pulled on the tarp set it off. His head was only a couple of feet from the muzzle so the blast took a large portion of his forehead away. I had had a possible close call, and Livich had saved me by accident.
Livich lived for about 20 minutes, and there was nothing that could be done. There was grey matter all over the side of the turret, so he could not have lived with that kind of a wound. Our corpsman tried to do something for him, but it was hopeless from the start. Later in Japan, all of his close buddies broke down and crying about it when they finally had a chance to think on it and it finally came home to them. I only had known him for a short time, as our crew was put together in Inchon just prior to leaving. Most of the men in the battalion were from Saint Louis, Missouri, and had come over as a unit from a USMC reserve outfit based there, so they had all known him for a long time.
It was never determined how or who had last handled the machine gun on the turret, and we all had to file an accident report. It was finally decided that it must have been Livich, as no one could remember who had last taken care of the turret. I don’t believe that it was me, as my job was in the bilge below the turret, setting fuses and passing ammunition up to the gun when we were firing the 75 MM howitzer. I remember that I had gotten mad at the guys for tracking mud in the bilge. As I had to keep that area clean, I wanted to be the only one getting stuff from there when needed.
That night--either the 23rd or the 24th (probably the 24th), we heard bugles, horns, and all kinds of noise around midnight, as the Chinese started the attack. The sky to the north was suddenly filled with flares, and then off to the right in front of us where there was a small hill, there suddenly were thousands of tracer bullets filling the air. Straight in front of us was flat right down to the river. With flares illuminating them, we could see that the river was getting black with boats. All of a sudden, there was a stutter of sound behind us. Red-hot balls flashed a few feet over our tank and whipped up the air around us, they were so close. A row of M48 tanks had slipped in behind us in the growing confusion, and we didn’t even know that they were there. They fired point blank into the boats on the river. Off to our right about 100 yards or so, a row of 155 howitzers opened up, and then for 48 straight hours there was no let up in the artillery barrage. It was the same from the Chinese side. We could hear the shells going both ways all of the time, but fortunately for our outfit none dropped into our immediate area. The next morning, while the shells were flying over, we heard like a freight train coming with clacking and other noises. All of a sudden we could tell that a shell was starting to fall. As far as we could see, men were diving into foxholes. When the shell hit the ground about 600 to 700 feet in front of us, it made a hole about 50 to 75 feet across, which quickly filled with water, as it was in low ground. It was either an 8” or 10” inch shell from the cruiser Toledo out in the bay. The rotating band had broken and it was rattling around on the shell as it came our way. It fell short by about a mile or so. Luckily it cleared our lines by a few hundred feet and didn’t hurt anyone on our side.
All of this time my stomach was quivering from the sounds of the shells and explosions that were going off everywhere. We never knew when a series of shells would be falling in our area, but as it turned out, it didn’t happen. When chow time came there was nothing to eat as they just brought in more shells for the big guns so that they could keep firing. All of this time the Chinese were still trying to cross the river in front of us, but none made it across. After two full days, they suddenly quit the attack and it got quiet. After another day or so, they ordered us to pack up and we moved a couple of miles to the west to team up with about 200 Belgium infantrymen and a couple hundred Gloucestershire troops (British commandos) who had four 25-pound field guns. The Belgians and the British had just escaped a near disaster on the Imjin River. They had been surrounded by a ratio of about 10 to 1, but had fought their way out. The British and the Belgians didn’t like each other, as they blamed each other for the bad outcome of the battle on the Imjin River. Actually, I heard that intelligence had given them poor numbers on the strength of the enemy that they were facing there. Of course, they may have not liked each other before that, but I don’t really know. Their battle had occurred on the 22nd through the 25th of April 1951.
I got to be a pretty good friend of one Belgian soldier during this time. He told me how he and two others narrowly escaped the Chinese during the end of their battle. The men in his trench were shooting and throwing hand grenades. After a while, he became aware that there were only three of them that were alive. The other men were all dead and the Chinese were in the trench with them. One of the Chinese picked up a Sten gun, pointed it at him, and pulled the trigger, but it didn’t fire. He ran at the Chinese soldier and stabbed him with his K-bar knife. The Sten gun's safety was on or he would have been shot. They decided to run over the top of the hill in the direction where their main camp had been located, so they took off running. As they were running over the hill, the Chinese were running in all directions also, and they passed a lot of them without any problems. As they got over the top of the hill, they saw their outfit retreating in the distance. They were the last men off of the perimeter that they had been holding. They soon made it back to their own company. In their retreat, they passed through a Chinese encampment. As they had a couple of trucks, they tore down two Chinese tents and loaded them into their trucks on the way through the camp. These were the only tents that the Belgian soldiers had when we joined up with them. I remember that the Belgian soldier's name was, Daniel Camiel. On the day that we left, Daniel wanted to have a contest of strength with me so that when he got home he could say he had fought a Marine. We had a wrestling match, which I won after about three or four minutes.
This camp was only about a half mile from the Han River. It had Belgian troops manning the perimeter outposts, with the British and our company with the artillery guns. The British had 25-pound field guns, while we had our 75 MM howitzers in our turrets. Both the British and the Belgian troops came into our tent at all hours of the day or night to brew up tea or whatever. However, each left if the other came in. Our particular tent seemed to draw them all the time, as I recall. There may have been other tents which did the same however, as it was a spread-out camp.
One day while I was lying on my cot, a hand grenade came rolling thru the door with the handle lever off. Everyone hit the deck, only to find out that it was a joke. The guy who threw it had removed the detonating fuse. Man, was that a scare. Another day, I woke up about 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning to hear a regular battle going on about 300 yards away. Eventually the shooting stopped. After a while, a Belgian soldier came into our tent to brew up some tea. We asked what had gone on and he said a cow had tripped a flare. They had shot up the area around the cow, including the cow. The owner of the cow wanted to be reimbursed for his cow, and I believe he was given something for it. A couple of nights later, we were again awakened in the middle of the night by heavy gunfire, flares, and explosions. We figured they were shooting up another cow, as they liked to shoot at anything that moved anyhow. When the same soldier came in to brew up tea a couple of hours later, we asked if they had shot another cow. He said that this time they had ambushed about 200 Chinese near our perimeter, and shot a lot of them before the Chinese left the area. The shooting had lasted about 45 minutes or so.
One afternoon I was with a mixed group of all of the outfits in the camp. We were about a mile or so outside of our perimeter, shooting at granite markers and in general, just target practicing. About 1,000 yards away in No Man's Land were three men who were walking along the rise on paddy walls, carrying guns. Nearly everyone figured that they were Chinese, and started firing at them. I didn’t think they were, so I didn’t shoot at them directly. I just shot to their rear about 100 yards or so, as I didn’t want to hit any of them. They took off running for some pine trees until they were out of sight. The bullets hit in the water all around them as they ran. A few hours later, when I was picking up my box of C rations, three of the men from our company came in all covered with mud, saying they had almost been killed by some Chinese out in the boondocks. We looked at each other, but didn’t tell them who had been shooting at them out there.
About this time we went out on a patrol to the river’s edge. A couple of LVT A5’s had gotten stuck and we were to give them some cover. We were on top of a high hill just below the back side and out of sight of any Chinese. Our forward Observer was soon pinned down, as a Chinese anti-tank rifle shot at him if he even put up a hat. The bullets hit the dirt at the foxhole's edge, so they really had him buttoned into the hole. He had to wait until dark to move away from that spot. As he was the spotter and couldn't even look out, we didn’t do much shooting for a while. The next day, our forward observer spotted a group of Chinese at a fair distance away, but still within range. He called up our platoon leader, and they decided to see if they could sucker them into exposing more troops. We fired a round well short, and then waited. Eventually, the Chinese must have decided that they were out of range, for after a while there were about 100 or so out on the hillside. Our company had some radio-proximity fuse shells that our company commander wanted to use up. He didn’t like having them around for some reason. All of our ammunition was left over from World War II, and it was getting unreliable. A proximity fuse sent out a radar-like beam in front, and when it got within about 25 yards of its target, it exploded. The company commander thought that this was the perfect time to use them up. Every tank had a few, but they were not divided up. Everyone was just supposed to fire what they had until all were used up. Our tank had ten, and I remember we fired out all ten in about a minute or less. When the shells were on the way, a flight of jets were soon seen to be making a run on the same target, as some other spotter had also seen them. One of our radio fuse shells exploded next to a jet and it went off smoking. I don’t know if the pilot escaped or not.
Inchon to Kobe
On the 8th of May 1951, we said all our goodbyes and headed back to Inchon to board another American LST. Because another platoon from our battalion had come in from Japan, 1st and 2nd platoon headed out. I don’t know why all three platoons were never kept together. One day while on the LST, they fired off all of their anti-aircraft guns into the sky. It was a nice show with all of the black puffs of smoke above the ship. After the gunnery practice, it was announced over the loudspeaker system that the sailors were to air their bedding. The day was sunny, with numerous small clouds scattered across the sky in the direction in which we were heading. The sailors had no sooner spread their mattresses about on the upper tank deck when a rain shower started. Over the loudspeaker came the order, “Secure your bedding.” The shower stopped and again came the order, "Air your bedding.” Another shower started, and we heard, “Secure your bedding.” By this time, the sailors were all saying, “It’s only a drill, it's only a drill.” They did this several times before the officer giving these orders decided that there was probably going to be one shower after another. All of this time we lounged around on the deck having a good time watching this transpire.
After Inchon, we soon went back to Kobe, Japan, and based in Camp Carver, which consisted of a lot of Quonset huts. There was a high fence around the camp, and just in back of my hut there was a fence, an alley, and the back of a theater. The street on the far side with the front of the theater, was off limits to all servicemen, as there were a lot of dope dens there. On the second floor of the theater was where the girls working on the stage changed their costumes. It was in July, and really muggy and hot with high humidity. The girls usually came out on a balcony where there sometimes was a slight breeze, and changed their costumes. Of course, we all gathered out on our back steps and had a good time with them while they were out there. One evening while we were gathered there, a serviceman came running along. He was being chased by some MP’s. He disappeared and the MP’s walked back along the fence, having given up on catching him. They heard a noise and started looking around. They soon found a hole in the alley about three feet by five feet, where a stone had collapsed into the sewer system. The man was down in the hole, hanging onto the edge of a block of stone, with his feet just touching the rushing water below his feet. They were able to save him. He could have drowned had they not heard him as they were walking back. They had not seen the open hole in the dark and one of them could also have fallen into it. Our camp was more or less in the middle of Kobe. Every day a lot of school kids marching by. Everyone wore identical outfits--something like a sailor wears in appearance. Each grade was slightly different in height.
One evening, four of us were out on liberty. We found a nightclub that looked interesting, so we went in. We got a table right next to the stage and had beer and a dinner. I had to go the bathroom, so I went into their restroom. It turned out to be for both sexes. There was an oval hole in the floor, with ceramic foot–shaped areas on each side to place our feet if we had to go #2. I only had to go #1, so they had standard urinals for that. I was still going #1 when all the dancing girls came in to make up their faces. What a shock! But after a few seconds, I figured if it didn’t bother them, it shouldn’t bother me. As I was heading back to my table, I asked one of the dancers if they all wanted to come to our table after their act, and she said yes. They spent the rest of the evening at our table between all of their dancing and other acts that evening. We must have stepped on someone’s toes, however, as a week later when we thought about going back again, there was an “Off Limits to Enlisted Men” sign, on the door. Oh well, there were a lot of other places, such as the enlisted men’s club, where they had Live entertainment, old-fashioned slot machines, and other gambling. Plus, there were many good restaurants in Kobe, where we got “T bone” steaks for a reasonable price.
One day while I was in our Quonset hut writing a letter, Corporal Cozart was bored and tried to liven up the place. (Earlier, I wrote that Cosart wasn’t seen again until the ship home, but it was after we returned to Kobe that he rejoined our outfit.) He tried to get a sparring match going between a guy named XXXXX and anyone who would do it. Earlier in chow lines and on other occasions, XXXXX acted like a boxer, dancing around, taking jabs, and hitting my shoulder. I always shrugged him off. He now did the boxer bit--jabbing my shoulder and dancing around--in the squad bay of our hut. I finally agreed to spar for one round, as I wasn’t too hot on doing this boxer bit with XXXXX. Cozart went through a long list of things which were not legal and in general made a big joke of the coming match. He tapped something for the starting bell, and XXXXX came at me like he was trying to really hurt me. I just diverted all of his punches. He did not hit me because I deflected all of his punches. The more I deflected, the harder he swung. I started to get annoyed, as I could see that he was really trying to hurt me. Some of his bare-fisted blows stung my left arm because that was the direction most of his swings were directed from. He also got a wild look in his eyes as this went along. Finally I took a jab at him, hitting him on the point of the jaw. He went sprawling flat back onto the floor, then came up off the floor screaming like a mad man. He proceeded to rain a flurry of swings, all of which I deflected. The more I deflected, the harder he continued to swing, getting wilder all the time. I took another jab at him and again hit him on the point of the chin. Again he was sprawled flat on his back on the floor. This time he jumped up, ran to his bunk, grabbed his .45 automatic, and was putting in a clip of ammunition when the guys grabbed him and took the .45 away from him. He yelled, ”Ill kill you, you S.O.B.” when they took the gun away. He said, “Let me at him, let me at him.”
Later the guys told me that he was not trying to come near me. After they took the .45 from him they weren’t really holding him at all, and he could have came at me had he tried. His best friend, Pfc. Boston, pleaded with me not to turn him in, and I finally agreed. Everyone in the barracks said they would keep a sharp eye on him from then on. I believe that when he was doing the sparring around earlier in the chow lines and other times, he perhaps thought that I was afraid of him, and he thus he thought he could “take me.” It didn’t turn out that way. We all then knew that he was a mental case and that he would have to be watched. About a year later, at the gate to Camp Del-Mar in California, Lee Earle and I were walking out the gate when I heard, “I’ll kill you, you S.O.B.”. My heart nearly stopped, as I thought that it was XXXXX. As I turned around, I saw that it was Pfc. Bunker, who was laughing. We had a short talk about it and brought each other up to date on what we had been doing since that day. Then Lee and I continued on our way.
One night when I was doing guard duty on the docks in Kobe, an Oriental approached me. I took out my .45 automatic and slid the safety off. With my left arm across my lower chest, I laid my right arm across my left arm. The man started talking with me, walking back and forth. It was obvious to me that he was trying to get an opening to slip around me. However, I just kept turning so as to face him all the time that he was doing this. After a while, he left and I was glad to see him go. After seeing the way he had been maneuvering around me going back and forth, I was certain that he was the person that had killed two men on guard on these same docks just prior to our arriving in Kobe. When I was relieved, I informed the man who took over the guard about him and gave him some .l45 bullets for his automatic. Sure enough, the guy returned and tried to get behind him also. When he couldn’t, he left. He didn’t return after that. I’m sure that he knew that we were on to him after how we had handled his presence that night.
While I was doing the stints of guard duty on the docks in Kobe, there was a lot of phosphorescence in the water. I threw sand and pebbles into it, which really made it sparkle a brilliant green. I think I had the dock guard about two or three times altogether in Kobe before we left for Camp McGill in Yokosuka, Japan. Our platoon went to the docks in Kobe to board LST 1084 for the trip to Yokosuka on July 9, 1951. We arrived off shore on the 11th of July for an amphibian water landing, and not upon the beach or by a dock. They then ran the LST 1090 up to the beach where we later unloaded hundreds of cases of 30 caliber machine gun ammunition. There were four belts per case in metal cans, and 250 rounds per belt. We loaded the cases onto trucks, which were backed into the tank deck. After about an hour or so of non-stop throwing the cases onto the truck for the others to stack, we took a 10-minute break. After the break, not one of us could even lift a case to put on the truck. We were completely done in by the heat and humidity, and were covered with sweat and black with dust They then took us to where the Red Cross had a tent set up and gave us some coffee and doughnuts (just prior to asking for monetary donations to them). I don’t think anybody gave them anything, as we all got kind of “t d” off by that request.
Camp McGill was where I first became acquainted with Joel D. Whitmire from Evergreen, Texas. We were to spend a lot of time together--on the base and again on liberty, as well as when we returned to the U.S. I only visited him twice in all of the years after the service--once while I was on leave in the summer of 1952 after he was discharged, and again after I retired in June of 1993. We still exchange Christmas cards and notes at that time of year, but he has never come up to visit yet. Time is running out, as his health is beginning to fail.
Joel Whitmire was more observant one evening at the slop shute than I was. He began to notice a confrontation beginning between some U.S. soldiers and some U.S. Marines from our outfit. We were having milkshakes, as we didn’t drink much, when Joel nudged me and suggested that we better leave. We quickly got up and were barely out the door when the fight started. We took off running just before the MPs descended upon the place. We only just got out of the situation. There turned out to be about $3,500 worth of damages, or so they said. Everyone inside was hit for the bill. There were probably other charges on top of the money, but since I wasn’t involved, I don’t know what they were.
There was a field trip to Chigosoki Beach in the summer of 1951. A couple of men took each of the tanks up, while the rest of us went by trucks. We went up there to shoot the 75mm Howitzers and do surf driving. I had been elevated to tank gunner, so I was the one to fire the 75mm Howitzer from then on, on our tank B2. Sergeant Patterson was still the tank commander of our tank. The truck ride up was agony, as we couldn’t go to the bathroom and had to hold it all the way. It hurt so badly that I tried to go over the tail gate while driving along. I was unable to go because of the hard bumps. The truck had about a ton of sand in the back to put a little weight on the springs, but it didn’t help at all. This was the most uncomfortable ride in my life.
When we were out firing one day, the commanding general and some other officers wanted some demonstration shooting by our tank. There were four rafts with a barrel attached to each out in the bay as targets. They were about a mile or so away. While out in the bay in the waves and currents, I sank two of the targets with my first two shots. They quickly radioed us to not shoot at the other two targets, as they needed them for the rest to practice on. Farther out in the bay, there was a reef sticking up with a pointed rock sticking up about 20 to 30 feet or so. I was ordered to shoot at that instead, as it was very a small target. Firing at it probably save the other two targets. I then aimed at the top 1/3 of the sharp peak and, using the Gyroscope and power traverse, proceeded to hit the peak right at its apex four consecutive time before we were told to cease fire. Sergeant Patterson could hardly believe how good we had done. He pounded me on the helmet after each shell hit its mark, as he was very excited. After that, some of the others were given a chance to shoot as they said that I didn’t need any more practice. We only fired out there for two days, as I recall. (I remember that after the firing practice was over, the other two targets were still afloat.)
In August and part of September of 1951, I was on mess duty for the second and last time. It would actually have been the third time, except that on the ship over, I was told to go to the galley. When I got there, one of the cooks asked me what the hell I was doing in there. I answered, “I’ll be dammed if I know”, and he kicked me out. I didn’t tell him that I had been sent there and he didn’t ask, so I left, thus escaping mess duty for a time. I remember how greasy the water looked in the dishwater. I probably would have gotten seasick had I remained in the galley area, as that was the only time on the ship during the crossing that I felt like I might be sick. As soon as I left there, I was okay again. I was never questioned as to why I wasn’t in the galley after that, and they may have forgotten they had mentioned it, as we had no regular officers or NCOs. Except for having the kitchen duty again, there is nothing that stands out about that period, except for a few photographs that I have.
One weekend, Warren Widdel and I decided to go to Mt. Fuji, which was visible from our camp. We went to the train depot to go there, and no one spoke any English. We tried to get across what we wanted, and with a lot of sign language and stuff we decided we were on the right train. We wound up in Tokyo. I believe that we were supposed to get a transfer, but didn’t understand that. We then decided to just see the city, as we now didn’t have time to go to the mountain. We found and rented a hotel room, which was hot and had mosquitoes in the room. We went out for a walk and soon passed by all of the landmarks that we wanted to see, such as the Ernie Pyle Theatre and the Emperor’s Palace--which was surrounded by a moat. We were walking back to our hotel in the early afternoon when we came to a beer hall. It was noisy inside and sounded friendly, so we went in for a beer. We took an empty table about 40 feet inside from the door and were drinking our beer when we noticed that the place was getting as silent as a tomb. We had been involved in our own conversation until we began to notice that all eyes were on us. It was fairly dark in there as there were few lights, and all we could see were U.S. sailors. They were all looking at us. Warren asked, “What do you think we should do?” I said, “Well, we aren’t going to get out without a fight, so we may as well finish our beer.” We did and then we started walking for the door. Seven sailors got up and stood in a line, blocking the door. I told Warren that when we got close, we should charge into them. Two men got up on my left and two more on Warren’s right, and asked if we needed some help. I said we did. It turned out that the sailors decided that the odds were no longer in their favor, so they got out of our way.
Once we got outside, it was soon discovered that we knew each of them from Korea. They were part of the British Gloucestershire Commando unit, which we had been with on the Kimpo peninsula. We shook hands all around, and they said that they were disappointed that the sailors had backed off, as it would have been a good fight. (There were a lot more of them in there, but they had only let four of them join us.) They had figured that would have been seven against six and the fight would be on. Warren and I, however, were happy not to have to fight. We said goodbye to them and they went back in. We headed on back to our hotel room. About another block down the street, we were approaching five3 black soldiers when one of them pointed at us, and said, “There's two now.” It was too late to cross the street, so we again figured we had had it. When they got up close, one of them said he wanted to shake my hand. I figured it was a trick, but I shook hands with him. They went on to explain that when they were wounded near the Yalu in the Chosin Reservoir area, the army troops had left them behind. A group of U.S. Marines had come along and carried them out on their backs. Since they couldn’t thank those men, they thanked us instead. Again, we shook hands all around. This time, we got to our hotel room, where we only had the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes to put up with in our room.
The next day we decided to hitchhike back to our base, as we were short of money. (Money in Japan at that time was military script and Japanese yen.) Our first ride was with a Japanese farmer, who took us about a mile or so along a two-lane concrete highway in the direction of our base. After a short while, we saw a car coming, so we put out our thumbs. When it got close, we noticed the flags on each front fender and the emblem on the side of the car. We quickly dropped our hands. The car stopped anyway. The driver was a soldier and there was a 16-year old girl in the back seat. She had told him to stop and pick us up. It turned out that she was our base commander’s daughter. I can’t remember whether her dad was a colonel or a general anymore. I do remember that as I was sitting with her, she made me promise that I would come to her house and ask her out when I could. I was not going to do that, however, as it would be asking for trouble--or at least I thought so at the time. She was good-looking, but I thought that she was too young anyway at the time. Our trip to Mt Fuji, was a bust. We had had a couple of close calls and were happy to be back on the base.
One day, I went out on liberty with a group of guys to a restaurant to eat. There I met a white Russian girl named Terico Susuki. She could speak several languages and was really pretty. We got pretty close during the last month I was in Japan, and I wrote to her for a while after I returned to the U.S.A. I have a picture somewhere, but don’t know where it is now. I took her to a few movies at the E.M. club in Yokosuka and to other places while we were together. She was really nice, but it was not to be, I guess. A favorite song at that time was “China Night” or “Shina No Yo” (“She Ain’t Got No Yo Yo”).
On September 7, 1951, I made corporal, so there was no more mess duty for me from then on. That was the best part of making the next grade in rank, as I saw it. There were several chevrons given out that day, and they were signed by a general, I was told. The guys said that it would now take a general’s signature to reduce us back, but I don’t know if that was a fact or not. I do know that a one-star general gave out the rank to us that day.
Sometime in December, my name was on the rotation list to soon go home to the United States. We left Yokosuka on January 3, 1952, and headed for Kobe again, where our ship was. On the 5th, we boarded the General William Weigel, a troop ship. We soon met a lot of the men that we had either been in Platoon 38 in boot camp with, or men from Camp Del Mar tank training. After a short visit, one of the men that I had known went back to his cot up forward just prior to leaving the dock. He had no sooner lain down when two men who were good friends to each other came in. One got into the bunk above him. The man standing was toying with a .38 automatic of some kind when it went off. The bullet struck the man above him in the head and he was killed instantly. My friend was awakened by the shot. When blood came down, he got up and left the compartment so as not to be a witness, and then not be able to go home right away. He had his eyes closed when the shot was fired, according to his story at the time. This was probably the truth.
About this time a parody on the World War II song “Bless Them All” became popular with the guys. I wrote the lyrics down.
“Bless Them All”
Back in the States
We pulled out of Kobe, Japan, on January 6th of 1952, and arrived in San Francisco, U.S.A. on the18th of January 1952. The crossing took approximately 12 full days. The crossing from San Diego to Kobe had taken 18 full days due to the storm. Without the storm, the ride back was boring. There was hardly a ripple on the ocean. About a day out from San Francisco, they tried to confiscate all of the war souvenirs weapons on the ship. Most of the men threw their trophies overboard rather than turn them in, so there are a lot of rifles on the bottom a few miles out. I remember that we saw a few movies on the ship, but the only thing that stands out is of a movie on the trip going to Japan. I remember that there was no place to sit, the movie at the chow hall was crowded, and I was at the back of the crowd. I had a piece of rope that barely reached between two vertical beams. I saw a half-inch hole about the same height in each, so I braded a loop through both holes, climbed up, and sat on the rope. It was uncomfortable, but I could see.
We docked at Pier #7 in San Francisco and were then taken to Goat Island (Treasure Island) where the Oakland Bay Bridge crosses. (I don’t remember if Pier #7 is on Treasure Island, or not.) I remember that I went up to the top of one of the hills in San Francisco with a bunch of the guys. For the cover charge at the nightclub, we had a huge platter of chicken tamales wrapped in cornhusks. I really ate a lot of them that night, as they were really good.
After about two days, we were all processed and given assignment orders. I was given a 30-day leave on the 23rd of January and was on my way home. I remember that I wanted to arrive home as a surprise, but when they didn’t receive my customary letters, they had inquired and then knew that I was on my way home. So there was no surprise.
I had orders to report to Camp Del Mar, where I had received my original training in M4A3 Sherman tanks. I returned to Camp Del Mar on the 23rd of February, and was then an instructor in the LVT A5’s, which I had served in while in Korea. Joel D. Whitmire was also in the same company when he returned from his leave, so there were some people around that I had known in Korea and Japan. Joel only had about two months left, so was a “short timer”. About two weeks before he was to get his discharge, he told me that a certain staff sergeant was really riding him, and he was uncertain as to whether he could make it to his discharge without going over the hill (AOL). We talked about it and decided that the next time that he was on him, he would give me a signal and we would take him on right in front of the whole company. This confrontation did occur--and right in front of the base theatre--but he saw that we were going to stand and fight. When he saw that I was going to help Joel out, he backed off and made an apology to Joel. (He was afraid he would lose his stripes, which we all three would have done, not to mention going to the stockade.)
As an instructor at Camp Del Mar, my assignment was to teach driving, gunnery, maintenance, and all of the jobs connected with L.V.T. A5’s. I instructed all of the Marines coming in for training, as well as U.S. Army soldiers. I had this assignment until I was discharged, except for when I was on the Marine Corps Rifle Team. I didn’t use earplugs while on the team, and my hearing was never the same after that.
One day in the chow line, I became acquainted with Lee Earle, who I then buddied around almost until I was discharged. He got out around November of 1953, and I got out in July of 1954. He came to live with my mom and dad for a while in the fall of 1954, and eventually stayed in Washington to live. We did a lot of snorkeling around La Jolla and a few other beaches where there were rock outcrops in the water. It was more interesting to swim in those areas. Also we were after abalone, but did not get any that I remember. We got so that we could dive down to about 30 feet, and then stay down for about a minute. We had an inner tube with a line and a weight on it to keep the tube where we were doing our diving. Between dives we hung onto it to rest.
While we were still in the Marine Corps, we decided to buy a car to get around in, as we were tired of hitchhiking and waiting for rides. In 1953 we bought an old Model A Ford. It soon became evident that the engine was in need of repair. We were able to find another engine, and next to the barracks we began to work on it. We had nearly replaced the engine when the MPs came along and made us put it back together. We were just a few minutes away from being able to lift out the old engine, but they would not let us do that, so we put it back into "operating" condition. We went to a friend of Lee’s and worked all night (just outside their bedroom window) to finish the job. The man’s wife was mad as a hornet all the time. Thinking back, I guess that I can’t blame her. We worked there as that was where the light was. He helped us so as to get finished sooner, I guess. Somebody had modified the seats, and they folded back. We could sleep full length in the car. We camped out way out in the desert of eastern California in that car a few times, doing a bit of shooting with Lee’s 44 cap and ball Remington revolver. Lee’s 45-70 was stolen down in San Leandro, California, in 1954, just prior to his moving to Redmond. I still have mine yet. At that time, we also had a .38 “lightning”, which was supposed to be like what Billy the Kid carried. I sold mine later because the barrel was in such bad shape. One day Lee and I were way out in the hills shooting the Remington cap and ball revolver at a 5-gallon can. We couldn’t see where the shots were going, so I got up close about 15 feet to the left. Lee fired, using a “rest”. The ball only missed me by inches, as the gun was so inaccurate. Needless to say, we didn’t do that again.
Betty and I went south through Death Valley in the fall of 1953 when I returned to do my last stint of duty in the Marine Corps. We had left Furnace Creek, going due south on a dirt road. The road got worse and worse as we went further along until finally we could see where a lot of vehicles had been stuck in the road. I got off of the road and drove along the left side, keeping my speed up around 40 MPH. I avoided all of the clumps of tall bushes and humps with a kind of grass on them until finally the road improved. I was really relieved when the road turned back to being gravel and not being just sand. I had not told Betty how worried I was, as the only thing along there for miles was an occasional water tank. It was not a place to be stuck while waiting for a rescue. Eventually we came to a side road, which ended at a pond of water against a hill with trees and other bushes, including cat-tails. There was a cardboard shack in the trees. We decided that it wasn’t safe there, so we hurried back to the main road (#178) and then wound up on the highway between Barstow and Las Vegas. We had really taken a risk by driving down that road at that time. I believe that that road is now paved, but it was mostly sand in those days. Of course, we didn’t really know what the road was like when we started down it, and didn’t ask anyone at the time either. According to a map of the area, we traveled about 60 to 70 miles of that road that day. I don’t think that I would take a road like that nowadays unless there were other vehicles along for a backup. When we went to Alaska, we did the same thing, however, so maybe I would.
Toward the end of my time, we were on a field exercise in the Camp Pendleton firing range. While waiting at the bottom of a steep hill for our turn to go up, the tractor in front--which was nearly to the top--suddenly stopped and began to come back in reverse. It picked up speed and was soon out of control and starting to veer off to the right, which meant it would not collide with our tank. It missed us by about 30 feet as it bounced and rumbled by. The main driveline which passes thru the bilge had broken and was whipping around. It hit one of the men in the tank who had been sitting next to it, and took a large part of his skull off cleanly--like with a knife. That probably saved his life. He was taken to a hospital, where a plate was put over the missing bone. We were told he had no brain damage from the accident. The rest of us continued on for the remainder of the exercise.
At the position where we lined up the five tractors for gunnery practice, we put up shelters to sleep under. They were just tarpaulins attached to the tank like a tent. While not on duty, we were out in the grass, horsing around and having a good time. I decided to go back to the tanks and get out of the sun, as it was hot. I took a short cut across some really rough ground which was crisscrossed with deep tractor ruts. I tripped, picked myself up, and continued on. I sat down with the other men under the tarp shelter where I had my sleeping bag. My right ankle started to itch, and when I started to scratch under my ankle (with one finger inside my shoe), my finger was covered with goop. I took off my boot, and there was a long, curved cut about two inches long under the outside of my right ankle. There was one hole in the back of my boot, and a matching cut down the outside of my boot to the cut on my foot. I had been struck by a rattlesnake, and had apparently tripped when one of its fangs stuck into my boot. I hadn’t even known when I tripped that it was a snake that had tripped me! The corpsman with the class put some antiseptic on the cut, and it was fine after that. It turned out that while I was out in the grass, the men around the tanks had killed several very small rattlesnakes where we were to sleep. We all hoped that they got them all, as nobody wanted any in their bags at night.
While we were firing the 75mm Howitzers, there was a funny sounding explosion in the tank to my left and a piece of metal flipped out away towards the target area. Then some smoke came out of the turret of that tank, and the gun did not return back to its normal extension in front. It turned out that a shell had exploded inside the barrel, blowing a 6-inch diameter hole in the top of the gun. There were three men inside the turret. Chunks of the gun had flown all around inside the turret, but not one man was even scratched. There were gouges all around on the inside walls of the turret, but every piece of metal had somehow missed them. They were extremely lucky that none of them were killed. It was the nose cone of the shell which had flown out to the front when the explosion occurred. We had several near-fatal accidents on that particular field trip.
On another day, we were out teaching the trainees how to drive. It was the first time for them. We were going down a hill with a ravine at the bottom. I tapped the driver on the shoulder and motioned for him to make a right hand turn. He nodded okay, but we still continued down the slope and picked up speed. I tapped him again and gave a more emphatic order to turn. Again he nodded okay. By then it was too late to do anything, so I braced myself in the assistant driver's seat as we went over the edge and into the ravine. We hit with a hard jolt and stood balanced on the bow before the tank settled back, with the tracks against the ravine wall. Meanwhile, the man in the turret was thrown out and landed in front of the tank. He looked up and I could see his eyes open up when he thought the tank was going to fall on top of him. It took two tanks hooked up behind us with tow cables--and our tank in reverse--to back up over the lip of the ravine.
There was also a lot of driving out in the surf as training for making beach landings in combat. One day while out in the ocean, a shark swam alongside our LVT 5. It was as long as the tank (an LVT 5 is 27 feet long). The shark was covered with barnacles, and was only about five feet from the left side of the vehicle. It was in no hurry, and stayed there for some time as we moved in toward the beach.
One morning during the winter, an LVT A5 from another company sank in the surf. The breakers that day were really big and the tank had gotten sideways and rolled over in the waves about 100 feet out. At that time I was in an organization that they had formed within our battalion called the Underwater Rescue Team.. We went out to see what could be done. I was not looking forward to it, as it was really cold. Tech Sergeant Moore had our only aqua lung, so he went in. We didn’t see him after that. In the heavy surf, we were unable to attach any lines onto the LVT A5 because there was a swift undertow around the tank. We tied a line to one of the men, and he was almost pulled out of our grasp by the currents there when he took a tow line to the area of the bow of the tank where the attach point was. It was decided to wait for the surf to calm down, as by now it was apparent that more people would be drowned if we continued. There was still no sight of Moore, who had been gone for about 45 minutes. Looking down the beach to the south, we saw that there was a man in a swimsuit approaching. It turned out to be Moore. His tank had run out of air, and when he surfaced, he was about a half mile out to sea. The undertow had swept him right out when he first entered the water. He abandoned the air tanks, but kept the air regulator. Because he was such a strong swimmer, he was able to swim to shore, making it in about two miles down the beach. The three men in the LVT 5 were later found miles to the south, when their bodied washed up there. I don’t believe that anyone else except Moore could have made it back that day, as he was by far the best and strongest swimmer in the group. That was the last time we used the group as I remember. I then got out of the Underwater Rescue Team and went into the rifle team.
In the rifle team, I was about the second or third best shot. I won more medals in our competition matches than everyone but our team captain. We fired against the civilians a lot also on some of the remote private rifle ranges. Usually there was a 1000-yard competition, which I liked to do. The civilians all had scopes on their rifles, but we in the U.S.M.C. did not.
Around this time, I decided that I needed a car. Lee Earle had been discharged, and he had the car. We traded the Model A Ford to get a newer Ford, but I am not sure of the year. I did not go in on it as he was leaving the service. I came home on leave in the fall of 1953, and that was when I bought my 1950 Mercury. I paid cash for it, which depleted my cash at that time. I had been saving it to buy land, but the car came first, I guess. That was a pretty popular model at that time. Dallas Phelps also bought one like mine a little later. Betty rode back down to the base with me, and we made a roundabout trip out of it. She took the bus back home when I reported back for duty at Del Mar.
One day while I was just out driving on the highway to La Jolla, I decided to see how fast it would go. I was going about 100 MPH, when a cop coming the other way turned on his red lights. He had to find an opening in the trees, as it was a divided highway. I pulled on the hand brakes only, so as not to let him know that I was stopping. I took a sharp turn onto a side road, and then skidded to a stop. I made a U-turn and went back to a restaurant on the corner. I was just walking in when the cop went by doing about 90 MPH or so with his siren on and his lights flashing. He didn’t come back, so I decided that the speed limit was better, as I could not afford to get a ticket.
On the Christmas weekend and New Year's Day holiday of 1953, I went up to visit Lee in San Leandro near San Francisco. I was passing through the Santa Clarita area on Highway 99 when I was pulled over by a cop. He asked me where I was headed, and I said Seattle. He gave me an eleven dollar ticket, and I was soon back doing 80 MPH again. We went skiing up on Donner Pass with one of his brothers. When trying to bring the car to the lodge, I got stuck in the snow while Lee was skiing. I found some planks by a railroad trestle and got them under the tires. I was then able to back up to some frozen snow and drive around to another road, where I was able to get to the lodge. It turned out that Lee had lost his balance and skidded down the mountain head first through some bushes. He then wound up hanging head first by his skis only over a cliff. It took him a while to squirm his way back up to a safe position above the cliff. We both had had a busy afternoon.
When we were back at his place the next morning, it was time for me to head back, as it was about 500 miles to the base and there was holiday traffic. I headed straight east toward what is now Interstate 5. I was in heavy traffic on the outside lane when I heard, ”whump, whump, whump, whump, whump”. I jerked the car onto the shoulder of the road and watched about 50 cars collide into the cars in front of them. I was the only one not involved, so I drove along the shoulder until I passed all the wrecked cars. I didn’t have any more problems until I got to the top of the “Grapevine”, which was a section of highway north of Los Angeles. From there on, the traffic was completely stopped all the way into the city, and it was stop and go. I was able to get back to camp on time, however.
There was a small restaurant on the beach near the pier in Oceanside called “Betty’s.” They always had chocolate cake, so we stopped there once a week at least for cake and coffee. I also had a lot of chili burgers. Other favorites of mine were hot roast beef sandwiches, banana splits, and milkshakes.
Harold Lietzen, Donald Trask and his wife, and I played a lot of cards at his trailer house around the last year that I was still in the service. Almost all the time it was pinochle, as that was the popular game we all played around that time. I finally got my discharge on July 16, 1954, thus ending the service chapter of my life. I had been sworn in on the 17th day of July of 1950 for a total of four years of service.
I had received an upgrade to buck sergeant on June 1, 1952. When my four-year enlistment was up, I was offered a 2nd Lieutenant commission on the 28th of November 1952, but I declined. I was the last of five men in our battalion who had been offered this opportunity. As all five of us declined the offer, the commanding officer was as mad as a hornet about it. When I was first offered the commission, I went back to the barracks to think it over. We were having an inspection at the time. I looked over the officers--who I would be associated with if I accepted--and decided it was not for me. I walked back to the commanding officer and turned down the offer. When I left his office, the CO yelled out to his gunny sergeant to come into his office. I heard him tell the gunny to enter into my records, "Not interested in the U.S.M.C." When the gunny came back out, he was almost laughing about it and had a hard time trying to keep a straight face. If I had accepted the commission, I would have to be in for eleven years additional service, including reserve time. That was the major factor for declining. I also couldn't see myself as an officer.
Betty and Darlene rode the bus down to Oceanside, and went to the Trask’s place to wait for me so as to ride back to Redmond on our return. The girls had brought their sleeping bags along, so we camped out most of the time on the trip back. We spent one night in a motel in northern Idaho. We stopped in Palo Alto, near Stanford College, where Aunt Ethyl and Uncle Edgar lived. We also took a look at Alcatraz Island before heading for Reno, Nevada. I believe that this was where Betty and I decided to drive in to Bode and eat there, only to find out that it was a ghost town, where no services were to be had. Anyway, we went there with Darlene and looked it over again. We also tried to drive to another town ghost town nearby (I believe it was called Aurora), but the road was too rough, so we gave it up.
We stopped along the highway about halfway between Carson City, and Reno, Nevada, and slept for the night prior to going into town. This was camping out in those days. We backed up into a side road, and I slept on the ground while Betty and Darlene slept in the car. After doing a few things in Reno, we took off for Idaho. As we were leaving Highway 80 and taking a road north to Idaho Falls, we stopped and picked up a hitchhiking Marine at that intersection. We dropped him off in Idaho Falls, even though he would have liked to stay with us. We were tired of him by this time, as it appeared that all he was doing was traveling around the U.S. by thumb, and we didn’t want the company. Our next stop was the motel in Idaho mentioned earlier. It got so cold the night that we were there that we had to build a fire in the stove that was in our room. The room had two double beds, as I recall.
We arrived in Yellowstone Park, and since we had bought some food along the way, we had a picnic on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. Fortunately, we didn’t have any bears for company during our lunch. The only bears we saw while there in the park were along the main roads as we were going near Mammoth Hot Springs, when leaving the park. After leaving the park, we traveled to the north of Helena, Montana, where we again camped out. The next stop was along the east side of the Glacier National Park, where we found a lot of wild strawberries along the side of the road in the Quaking Aspen Thickets.
By the time we left Glacier National Park, we were really hungry and were driving along pretty fast. As we passed a roadside restaurant, we said, “That would have been a good place to eat”. We finally stopped to eat, and by then Darlene was in a hurry to get back to Selah, as she wanted to see Dennis Shaffer, who she later married. We made it all the way to Inez and Mutt’s by that evening, and the tires never stopped squealing while going through the Ellensburg Canyon.
As soon as I got home, I went down to Boeing. They told me that they weren’t hiring at the present time. I then produced my DD214 form. They put me to work in the old engine and propeller shop. The shop was then strictly into testing instruments, valves, etc. There were mostly a lot of women and a few men working in this shop. They immediately put me to the task of learning the job of a girl named Jo Ann Sebrig. She was the shop runner. Her job was to pick up all kinds of odds and ends that the people in the shop needed to do their work. This job also took us to nearly every part of Plant #2 and the Boeing Field. I had two weeks to learn the job, so it wasn’t all that hard to learn. She used a three-wheel scooter with a truck bed in front that had a seat. The seat she sat on was motorcycle-like in the back. It was a fairly uneventful job, except for one particular day. We were driving along the main runway to the airfield when a mini shower hit us. It drenched us in a few seconds and turned her white blouse transparent. I guess she wanted me to see, as she drove back and forth until we were dry, stopping every little bit to ask whether I could still see through it (which I could).
After about three weeks in the instrument shop, I applied for a transfer to something else. I wasn’t very particular as to what kind of job it would be, as I was not going to like being in that shop all the time. Eventually, I was offered a job in tooling, which also gave a 20-cent raise. The shop then offered me a 10-cent raise to stay, but I wasn’t about to do that. I went to a school for a couple of weeks, and then went to work on third shift at the Renton Plant, building the 707 Nose (41 Section) and then later, the wing jigs. After most of the jigs were built, they transferred me to inspection school. This was a school mostly for learning to measure stuff, as well as interpreting the Boeing drawings. At the end of the school I was sent to the Magnetic Particle and Penetrant Department of Inspection (Shop 4800). That was the job that I performed until my retirement in January of 1993. During the 1970s, I was close to being cut back several times due to company aircraft sales, but I was lucky enough to get through my last few years of working and retire. I had a few trying times with the ups and downs, but weathered all of the storms that occurred.
I didn’t think that I was going to like the job at first. But after a short time, I became aware that "job security” was very good on this job. Also, the people with whom I worked were all pretty nice people. My first lead man was Warren Floyd. His two opposites were Walt Mayer and Ralph Alger at that time. After a time, Warren told me that he didn’t like being a lead, as he didn’t like the pressure which he was subjected to. He told me that he was thinking of asking for a downgrade. I thought that he was just talking at the time, but later it turned out that he did, indeed, ask for and was down-graded like he wanted. That was not until I was a Lead Inspector on third shift. Jay Gordon was then upgraded to fill his spot on first shift. It turned out that management was dissatisfied with him and later told me about it, but not until a long time after he was cut back. I had asked Jay to let me come on days for three months. Since he liked third anyway, he said okay. When I returned to third after the three months, management liked my operation better. They cut him back and transferred me back to first shift. Of course, they didn’t tell me all about this until a couple of years later.
While on third shift, I met Eleanor at the Mountaineers, and then again later at The Norselander by the shore below the area where the Seattle Center now is. Prior to meeting Eleanor, and long before I went to the Norselander, I went to dances at Bert Lingrams, which was at the north end of Lake Washington in Kenmore. I danced a few dance steps such as slow waltzes and fast steps such as polkas, schottisches, var-su-ve-anns, and an occasional square dance. I was not a great person at dancing. I had one girlfriend named Sharon Lutz, who wanted to get married. But I felt that I was too old for her, or that she was too young. Either way, I must not have been that ready to get married at that time. Eventually, Bert Lingrams burned down. For a few months I went to different dance places before settling down to mostly going to the Mountaineers, The German House, and the Norselander on Saturday nights. I tried a place up in Snohomish County with Betty and Helen, called Kenny’s Barn, but I didn’t like the style of dances there. I ran into some of my cousins from Everett there, however. There was also a place called the Evergreen Ballroom, where I re-met Sharon Lutz after she had gotten married. She tried to pair me up with her new sister-in-law. Her name was Joan Forest. I was only a dance partner with her on a few weekends there. She was also too young for me to be that interested.
1954-55 - Flying
I did a lot of flying through the winter of 1954 and 1955. Delbert Lee Earle and I had conceived of the plan to buy a float plane and fly it to the remove rivers of Venezuela to pick up diamonds there. We probably would not even have gone had Lee and Norma Kirkpatrack, an old girl friend of mine and friend of my sister's, not gotten married. Both of us learned to fly at the Bellevue airfield, which was right at the top of the hill to the east about a quarter of a mile from the Sunvilla Bowling alley. (This is where I bowl now.) I accumulated about 120 hours while I was flying, but quit after having an accident. That was when I bought the property at 25325 N.E. 80th. The accident occurred while I was flying a Luscomb 8E aircraft. I worked third shift in those days at Renton, so the airfield was right on the way home from work. I remember that I wasn’t all that hot on flying that particular plane that day, but it was the only one not checked out. I took off and after flying about for about an hour, decided that I was too tired to fly. I went back to the field and made my approach from the north. I touched down and was drifting along on the runway when I realized that my ground speed was not falling. The throttle was not completely backed off, even though the lever was all the way back. I looked at my status. It was too late to take off, and probably not possible to stop before reaching the end of the runway. I was able to chop the throttle, but could not get the tail down, as the speed was still too high. There was nowhere to go, as there were planes at the only places where I could have spun out. I had to hit the brakes because Highway 90 was coming up fast. This caused the propeller to strike the pavement, and then I was looking straight down on the runway because I flipped over. I was hanging by the seat belt, and gas was dripping onto the ground. I quickly released the belt while trying to brace one hand on the ceiling to slow my fall, but I still dropped pretty hard. I then scrambled out to safety. I was lucky that there was no fire, as I may not have been able to get out fast enough had that happened. It cost me $550.00 dollars to repair the plane as it was considered "pilot error." I didn’t argue about the throttle sticking because I was too groggy that day to notice in time. I just chalked it up to experience.
Because of this accident I later had to take a check flight with the FAA. I flew a Cessna 120 into the short runway on the east side of Boeing field in Seattle. There, I picked up a FAA representative who was to go with me for the flight. We took off and he had me make two touch and go landings on the wheels only, keeping the tail from touching the ground. After doing this, he then instructed me to head for Kent, which is to the South. Since we were making our landings into the South, we climbed to about a thousand feet, broke to the left and then to the right, thus leaving the landing pattern. I started to climb to around 1500 feet when directly in front of me, a large four-engine Constellation descended directly in front of me out of the overcast. I only had time to put the Cessna 120 into a vertical dive before I felt the turbulence of the larger aircraft, which really threw my light airplane around for a few seconds. While this was happening, the FAA man had been sightseeing (looking down to the right), and hadn’t seen the other aircraft. He was hollering and wondering what was going on. I had to make a quick right turn, then lift the right wing for him to see the Constellation already far below us. We had narrowly missed having a collision with the other aircraft. He then cancelled the flight to Kent and I returned to Boeing field. He got out saying, “You're okay.” And that was my check flight.
I was supposed to be flying for the purpose of getting a commercial pilot's license, which was paid for under the G.I. bill. They paid 75% and I paid 25%. This meant that I had to fly different types of maneuvers and to different destinations in order to meet their requirements. Lee had all of the same requirements, as we were under the same criteria while under the G.I. bill. One day we all took off for Yakima, Washington, with me flying the slowest airplane, the Cessna 120. Lee had the Luscomb (the plane that I did not like). The instructor was flying a four-place Piper Pacer. We landed at an airfield in Yakima, then flew back to Ellensburg, and landed at a small field there. We then headed back to Bellevue airfield. Both of their planes quickly left me behind, as they could see that that the ceiling was dropping fast at the top of Snoqualmie Pass. By the time I reached the end of the Lake, I had to hold my course by looking straight down through the snow. I watched the mountain on the south side of the highway rise up and then drop away as I cleared the mountain on the large loop that the road went around. I kept well clear of the mountains on the north side of the road. I remember that I was at about 6500 feet by the altimeter at the time. That was only a thousand feet or less above the tops of the peaks on the south side of the highway. As soon as I cleared the summit, I nosed down out of the clouds, and there ahead were Lee and the instructor, circling around and waiting for me to come along. They later told me that they weren’t sure whether I had turned back to Ellensburg or not, but thought that I would probably be coming along. Actually, I had not even considered turning back, as I was quite familiar with the pass and the surrounding peaks.
One day I had to fly to Olympia, land there, and return. When I got there, the wind was blowing across the runway from the west at a pretty good clip. When I made my landing, I landed on the right wheel only until the airspeed dropped and the left wheel dropped onto the runway. I taxied back to the tower and went in to get something or other that was required that day. I remember that the guy there was surprised that I had landed at all because of the wind.
My instructor was an Alaskan bush pilot with the last name of Shupe, as I recall. One day he had me fly him to the large airfield at Portland, Oregon, to get something for the Bellevue airfield. He used me so I could get in some of my duel time. When on the ground in a small aircraft there, one could not see anything at all. Had it not been for the instructor, I would have been lost on the ground. I would probably have been taxing around for quite a while and would have been a hazard on the field if the instructor had not been familiar with the layout of the place. There were several World War II airfields scattered around the western part of Washington that I either landed at or just looked over from the air. One of them was over in Kitsap County. While I was returning from that one, a military jet made a pass at me and peeled off to my rear, probably for practice. Another day I was heading for Portland on a cross country flight. When I got to the south of Yelm and started to cross over the hills to the east of Centralia, it got so rough that my head hit the ceiling of the plane, even though I was strapped down tight. I decided to turn back and found that the clouds had really gotten thick in the short time in which I had been in the air. I headed back north and was soon not sure of my location, so I started following a highway on the ground until I was over a small town. I had to circle it until I could make out the town’s name on a water tower. It turned out to be Orting, where there was a railroad track that went to Renton and Lake Washington. I was soon at the airfield and on the ground, having been lost for a short time and then aware of how quickly that the weather can mess a pilot up. The ceiling had dropped to less than 500 feet in the short time I had been flying.
Another day I was to fly to a town in Montana and return the same day. I was flying the Cessna 120, my favorite airplane (after the Piper Pacer, that is), with both wing tanks topped off prior to take off. When I was near Odessa, the engine started to miss and sputter. I looked around, and there was a small airfield right below me, so I landed there. On the ground, the airplane engine was running smooth again so I taxied to the south end of the field and took off. At about 100 feet the engine quit. I immediately nosed down to get some air speed, then pulled back on the stick. I touched down and bounced about three times before coming to a stop, having just missed a pile of lava rocks by steering around it on landing. From first touchdown to stopping couldn’t have been much over 75 feet. There were jackrabbits running all about, as I had apparently landed right in a rabbit convention of some kind. A couple of men stopped and helped me get the plane back onto the runway. By now the engine was running smooth again. It turned out that the gas cap on the right wing tank was not on right, and the gas was being sucked out while I was flying. I walked into Odessa, called up the Bellevue airfield, and the instructor came over and checked out the plane. We both flew back together, as he had caught a bus over to the airport. The landing had broken one bolt, but otherwise nothing was damaged on the plane. The repair was $27.00 dollars all told. I never did make the trip to Montana, as the accident on the Bellevue airfield happened after that and I was about to give flying up. Lee had just gotten married and the pipe dream trip to Venezuela was canceled. Besides, I had just bought the property on Union Hill (where we live today), and wanted to put money into it.
Another thing that was going on one day was that it was overcast at about 3,000 feet. When I got up near the underside of the clouds, it was like a blizzard with heavy snow. If I dropped down about 100 feet or less, it was clear and no snow. I could climb back a few feet and it would be snowing again. Another time while out flying on an overcast day, I came to a fairly large hole in the clouds near Kirkland. I went up through it to where it was really bright and sunny compared to the dreary place down under the overcast. It was kind of hard sometimes to realize that just a few hundred feet up, it was always clear and sunny.
There was and old Stinson Flying Station Wagon that Lee and I were always eyeing, as it was for sale while we were flying. It was the Cadillac of small planes, and could carry either four or five, plus baggage. We never seriously thought of buying it, but would have liked to have had it to fly. Eventually a person did buy it. On his first flight, he landed on the Copalis beach, hit a crab hole, and totaled out the plane.
1956 - Elk Hunting
About 1956, Dallas Phelps, Lee Earle, Kenny Anderson, and I decided to go to elk hunting on the Olympic Peninsula. Dallas and I both got drunk. We set up camp by the Quinault River. I didn’t do any of the setting up because I had passed out after arguing with some passerby who was being helpful. I was left lying passed out outside in the cold. I woke up complaining and they all told me to shut up and go to bed. I woke up with a hangover and didn’t go out that day. There were too many hunters there, so we moved up the coast and set up camp along the Bogachiel River a few miles west of Forks, Washington. Dallas and I went out to the south together, and Lee and Kenny went out as a pair also that day. We crossed over the Mayfield Creek and were soon on the tracks of a couple of hundred elk. Dallas shot a large cow. My scope had fogged up, but I had also wounded a large cow. I borrowed Dallas' rifle, tracked the cow down, and finally killed it after it circled back to where Dallas was sitting. By the time we had cleaned and skinned out both of the animals, it was about 3 p.m. in the afternoon. We marked a trail downhill to the north until we arrived at Mayfield Creek, and then started following the creek toward the west and the direction of our camp. Dallas said that there was supposed to be a trail from the creek we were on over to the river that was used by fishermen. It got pitch dark about this time, and we had not found any trail. I remember that we were sitting on a log on a sand bar. I was eating peanuts and Dallas was smoking his last cigarette when it was decided to spend the night in a hollow tree. It was raining fairly well about that time, and we were wet with sweat in our rain gear. Dallas sat on the log and I went off looking for a hollow tree. We had not seen one single hollow tree while on this hunt, and yet within about 100 feet I found one. The odds on that must be about one in a million, but like the cave, there it was. We didn’t have any candles or flashlights. I found the hollow tree by feeling around in the dark. I crawled inside and it really stank, as it must have been some animal’s den. We decided to continue on down the stream until we got to the river, and then follow it back to camp in the dark.
After a while, we could tell that there were no more large old growth trees around us, so we started looking for stumps which had been cut down. We soon found some and started looking for the logging road that had to be nearby. We were soon disappointed to discover that they had snaked the logs across the Bogachiel River with a dragline, and we could not follow that way out of the woods. It was a little lighter out along the river, but it had high banks, which kept pushing us back away from the river in order to go back upstream toward our camp. Eventually we came to a farmer’s field and Dallas spotted a flicker of light. It turned out to be an old man living without any electricity. He had just turned off a kerosene lantern and was going to bed when we knocked on his door. He told us how to get to a footbridge to get across the river. He also loaned us a flashlight. From the other side of the footbridge it was still several miles to our camp, so we stuck out our thumbs to the only passing car. It was a young couple out on a date. They stopped and we crowded into the back seat with our elk heads, rifles, and our soaking wet rain gear. They were interested in our story, and drove us all the way back to our camp. When we got there, Lee and Kenny were really glad to see us, as it was now about midnight. When we hadn’t returned by dark, Lee had inquired if anyone had seen us. All the other hunters had broke camp and left in a hurry. I guess they didn’t want to have to help find us.
Lee drove into Forks and phoned up for some help to pack out the elk, as the meat was quite a ways back in the woods. My dad, Uncle Claude, and Joseph Boyer came over, arriving early the following morning. We took only one rifle and pack boards, and started in the direction of the meat. We got there about noon. We loaded up with seven quarters of meat and started out on the same path we had used the previous evening. We were able to find the fishermen’s path, but it was a really tough trail. It used logs to cross deep ravines and was muddy. By the time the last three came walking along, stepping in the previous footsteps, their feet were sinking deep into the mud on the trail. By now it was getting dark again fast, so I told Dallas that I was going to make a dash to get out before it was too dark to follow the trail. The others saw me take off, but stopped Dallas from doing the same, as they all figured they were lost by now. I was able to just make it to the farmer's meadow before complete darkness set in. When I reached the fields, I had to trot all the way back to our camp after dumping my elk quarter behind a log after crossing the footbridge. There were no cars this time, so I had to foot it the whole way, which was several miles. When I got to camp, I made a sandwich, grabbed a case of beer and a gas lantern, and drove back to the footbridge, expecting them to be waiting there. They were not there. I took the lantern, but didn’t light it, and walked back toward the trail through the woods. While walking along one of the fields, I saw a light in the woods and they answered back when I called. They were on an island in a swamp and had started a fire in an old cedar snag. That was the light that I had seen. They had gotten lost and couldn’t find the trail. They also could not find the shallow area that they had came over on to get on the island. I followed the trail until I found their tracks, and then located how they had crossed over to the island. They had tramped down the soil, which was the only shallow place as it turned out, and that was now under water. Without the lantern, they would have been stuck there until morning.
When we got back to the car, we all had a beer and then packed all seven quarters in the car, along with all seven of us. It was cramped, but we all got in. Dad, Claude, and Joe then took off for home and they also took the meat with them, along with a note from us. They missed the last ferry across the Sound, so slept at the ferry dock in the car. Joe was the only one who went to work that day. He had gone three days without any sleep. On our hike out the first day, I had spent many hours getting acquainted with my elk head. I had carried it on my shoulders, on my chest, and any way I could think of that first night. I had cut a slot in the fur or the hide at the back behind the ears, and used that for a handle. The head was also covered with large ticks. I apparently didn’t get any on me, however. After that we always referred to that trip as the “ordeal.” We had carried out 770 pounds on that trip--a little over 100 pounds each, as they were big elk.
One day, Dallas and I were hunting down on the Nacelle. While driving along the main highway, we spotted a herd of elk. We looked at our map and then picked out an old logging road that we figured would give us the best chance of approaching their area. We parked on an old logging spar tree landing and climbed to the top of a nearby ridge top. Right below us, sixty-five elk walked by single file. There was not one single bull with them. We sat there for a while, and gradually we became aware of eleven elk across the canyon about two hundred yards away. Lying behind a snag, was a huge bull elk with antlers sticking out. He turned his head occasionally, but no shot was offered. After about an hour of watching, we decided that one of us should shoot into the snag while the other shot the elk, if possible. I shot into the snag and all of the elk jumped up, but Dallas couldn’t shoot as the bull went into the brush right behind the snag. The bull elk went in the same direction as the other elk had previously gone, so I took off running down a dragline path until I came to a wide open draw. There were no elk visible, so I laid my rifle across a stump and waited. Soon ten elk came out of the trees to my right, turned around, and looked behind in the direction from which they had just came. After a few minutes, out of the corner of my eyes I saw two eyes looking at me. Then I saw a huge spread of antlers about ten feet to my right behind a bush. Of course, I knew it was the bull, and spun around and fired as it vanished into a thicket. I missed, but then had it in my sights for a killing shot at about twenty-five feet. Suddenly, I jerked the muzzle up just as I fired. Rather than a bull, it was a huge five-point buck deer. Fortunately I didn’t hit the buck, as it was not in season.
On the day when we were supposed to carry out Dallas’s five-point bull elk (which he had shot the day before), we decided to hunt in the morning and carry out the quarters in the afternoon. Alice stayed in the car while we went out hunting. When I got back to the car, Dallas was not there. After a while I went down into the canyon and packed out one of the quarters. It weighed one hundred pounds. I got back to the car after about an hour, and still no Dallas. We waited around and I finally fired a volley of three shots, then waited for an answer. There was a three-shot reply, and then I fired another volley of three in answer. I decided to hike back down and get another quarter while waiting for Dallas to arrive. When I got back with the second quarter, Dallas was still not back. It was now about three o’clock in the afternoon. It got dark at no later than five at that time of year. We fired more three-shot bursts, and got a reply. Since they were coming from the direction of Radar Hill, we thought we should go around to there to pick him up. We figured that it was him answering us. We had driven back about a quarter of a mile when we spotted Dallas at the bottom of the hill coming our way. He had gotten lost, had followed a stream out to the main highway, and then walked quite a distance to get to where we found him. Along the Nacelle, a buck deer had charged past him. It apparently was in a hurry to get somewhere. Dallas didn’t get much rest, as we went back to the landing, and then went back for the last two quarters. When we finally got the last of the meat to the car, we were both done in. I had carried out three quarters of one hundred pounds each up a really steep hill, and Dallas had walked for who knows how far, and then had to carry the last quarter out of the draw. The road to the log landing was about a half mile uphill. It had been a long day.
One year, Dallas and I were hunting above the north side of Highway #410 on Gold Hill (in the Cascades). We were walking in about six inches of snow nearly on the very top of the ridge which dropped over into Union Creek. I turned to tell Dallas that I didn’t think that there was an elk for miles, and saw that right next to me at about one hundred feet was a six or seven-point bull elk with his horns stuck in a thicket. I put my sights on the neck area, but lowered my rifle as it occurred to me that a man was perhaps wrestling it out of the thicket. I instantly realized that that was impossible, as the elk was on its feet. I raised the rifle to fire, but the bull lunged into the thicket and was gone. Its tracks were the size of a plow horse. We tracked it down into Union Creek, but were unable to get a shot at it. That was the largest elk that I ever got a chance to get while hunting--and I had messed it up. I got a lot of three and four-point buck deer--and even one five-point buck, eight or ten-spike elk, but no elk with a rack.
1957 - Cascara
The year 1957 was a kind of peak on the price of Cascara, as it was always lower after that. About 1957, Dallas, Alice, Marlene, and I went there to peel on a Saturday. We had filled the car up and were coming back to the car with the last load when we heard a noise on the road. We figured that someone had taken exception to our peeling there, so we quietly sneaked out to take a look. Sure enough, there was a man taking a smoke while he waited for us. We sat down about 100 feet from the car and decided to wait him out. After a short while, he began to look at his watch a lot. Apparently he was in a hurry, as he finally went into the woods in the direction where we had been peeling. We (except for Aunt Alice, who was too scared to move), then hot-footed it to the car and loaded our bark into it. Dallas looked around and couldn’t see Alice, so I ran back and practically had to drag her to the car. We were doing all this and making no noise until Dallas started up the engine. We took off down the road as fast as we could go. We had so much Cascara that the car was top heavy and kind of swayed as we went down the road. We were now on the main county road and approaching a sharp curve when Dallas looked into his rear view mirror and saw the man come over the hill behind us, going about 70 miles an hour. The dust was boiling up in a cloud behind him. In the back seat, Marlene was lying next to the car roof on the bark in the back seat and couldn’t even see out the back. Dallas, Alice, and I were in the front seat, but the only one who could see back was Dallas, with his rear view mirror. Dallas said, “Well, I guess we’re caught,” and so he slowed the car down to about 20 miles an hour. Was that a lucky thing, as the car with all that top weight seemed like it wanted to roll over, going around a 90-degree turn. We continued along the road and after about five miles we figured that the man hadn’t made the turn in the road at the speed at which we had at last seen him going. We never did see him again. We also didn’t peel any more bark there either. When we sold the bark wet in North Bend, Washington, we had 770 pounds in the car. That was probably a record for us for one day’s peeling.
1958 - Bear Hunts
In 1958, while tracking down the four-point that Dallas shot on the first morning, we saw a bear in a mountain meadow. I was standing on the left side of a thickly-bushed fir tree, looking at a small black bear, when Dallas said, “Look at the size of that bear.” I replied that it would only go about fifty pound. He said, “It will go seven or eight hundred pounds, or I will eat it”--or words to that effect. I looked at the small cub again and repeated my earlier statement. At that point, Dallas was really upset with me, and grabbed my arm and dragged me to the right side of the bushy tree. He pointed at “his” bear. It was really big and was standing on its hind legs, eating Mountain Ash berries. It had to have been over seven or eight feet tall standing in those bushes, as the bushes were over our heads when we were in them later. If it was the same grizzly bear, it was apparently shot a year later and weighed 800 pounds. When we walked out into the meadow, three bear took off up into a nearby pass and were gone. During the years 1962, 1963, and 1964, I hunted more with my brother Dick than I did with Dallas. One particular deer was at the top of a rock cliff when I shot it, and it fell right down to where I was sitting to within five feet! These were the years in which we met up with the men from the Yakima Fire Department who were hunting with burrows. They loaned us a couple of their burrows to haul out our deer in 1958. Dallas, Daniel, Mike, and I had hiked in with pack boards and minimal gear to go on the first ever “High Hunt.”
One year while hunting with either Dick or Daniel up Rock Creek, we were having coffee with the Yakima Fire department group when a black bear walked nearby at their tent. They wanted a bear, so they all made for their rifles to get a shot at it. The bear took off running and went into a draw filled with bent-over Mountain Ash. These draws were like tunnels through the brush, so the bear ran into one behind their camp at about the 8 and a half mile mark up Rock Creek. About a minute after the bear went into the tunnel, out came one of their friends dragging a deer. They asked him if he had seen a bear, and he said, “Did I. He stepped right on me as he went up the draw.” They never did get a bear while we were hunting around them.
1959 - Eleanor
I believe that this is a good place to enter how I met Eleanor. I used to go dancing at the Norselander in Ballard. One evening, my friend MacGreggor asked me if I wanted to take a couple of girls out for coffee after the dance ended. He pointed them out. I remember that Eleanor was sitting down and wearing a brown coat and that Julie was standing by the door. I said, "Sure," and we went out somewhere. I don’t remember where we went, except that it was nearby. Mac was really taken with Eleanor’s brand new 1959 Impala Chevrolet, as I remember. About a month later, I again ran into Eleanor at the Mountaineers Dance and I asked her if she wanted to go to the "Clarks Around The Clock” restaurant. We started going out after that, and it wasn’t too long before I proposed to her in the car in the parking lot at the Norselander prior to the dance. (I had asked her once prior to that. This was my second attempt.) This time she said yes and we became engaged. That was in the spring of 1959 and here we are 46 years later. I remember that while we were dating we went to Bremerton and took a tour of the battleship Missouri. Once I took her up to Snoqualmie Falls, and we went into the restaurant there. I didn’t know how expensive it was and only had about ten dollars in my pocket. When I saw the prices on the menu, I had to tell her that I was nearly broke and couldn’t afford to eat there. She was embarrassed and we left without ordering anything.
The date for our wedding was set for August 8, 1959. We were married at the Saint Alphonsus Church in Seattle, Washington. The church was only about 100 yards or so from Eleanor’s house at 15th N. W. on 58th Street. I remember that I was in a state of shock at the wedding. I couldn’t believe what I was doing, and it took several hours after the wedding for my stomach to warm up. I felt really good about it by the end of the reception, and had finally gotten used to the idea that I was now married. I wonder how many other people have these same feelings, as this is quite a change. After the reception at the Sorrento Hotel in Seattle, we went out to Lee and Norma’s place for an hour or so before we went to our rented motel room in Renton, Washington. I remember that I washed all of the writing off of the car while Eleanor was sleeping in the next morning.
We went from Renton, Washington, our first night to around Lincoln City on the Oregon coast. From there, we traveled down the coast and on to Crater Lake. We went to Carmel, Reno, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, El Paso, Carlsbad Caverns, and then to Kansas to see Mary and Nate Willis. They were on vacation at Lake of the Ozarks and came home to see us. They wanted us to come to them, but we had traveled 1100 miles overnight and we were too tired. After leaving their place in Kansas City, Missouri, we drove straight west and stopped somewhere in Kansas for another night. We crossed the southwest corner of Nebraska and I had a big breakfast of ham hocks and beans at a town called Haigler. Eleanor had something else because she didn’t like beans at that time.) From there we drove to Wyoming. There had just had a major earthquake in Yellowstone before we arrived, and the roads were full of wide cracks with steam coming out of them. In Wyoming we looked for petrified wood in the rivers in a primitive area. We had gone up a river quite a ways when a lot of steers started taking notice of us. We took off down the middle of the river until we got to the car.
Earlier in Oregon, while driving up into Crater Lake along Highway 230, we stopped at a place called Uncanny Canyon. While standing on a short level slab of concrete, our heights showed a drastic difference. On one end I looked down to Eleanor. But when we exchanged places, our eyes were levels.
When we returned home, we lived for the first year in a rental apartment. We both had picked it out together. It was in Seattle on Revenna and 65th Streets. It was above a candy store and didn’t require a lot of energy to keep warm. We had a mattress with no frame, one bamboo chair, and a table from Donna and Joe. We bought two maple chairs to match and painted them white. This was all the furniture we had until we could afford a couch. We had a really smart parakeet while we were living in that apartment. It could unlock its cage, fly around, go back to its cage, unlock the door, enter, and close and re-latch the door. It stood on our shoulder and clean our hair. It also could take the tartar from our teeth if we let it. One day we bought a black fish for Dad’s aquarium. We didn’t put a cover over it. The parakeet got curious while we were out and fell into the bowl and drowned. I should have put a cover over the bowl or fixed it so that the parakeet couldn’t get out of its cage. But that was hindsight too late. We bought another parakeet, but compared to the first one, it was pretty dumb and boring, so we eventually either gave it away along with the cage or it died and we gave away the cage.
When our daughter Judith was born, we started looking about for something different to live in. We concentrated mostly in the north end of Seattle. There were a lot of really junk places in Seattle, especially at that time. James and William followed very soon thereafter--one per year. We decided to move to a duplex when our year was up, and rented one on 95th Street just west of Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue) between Aurora and Fremont on the south side of 95 Street. I worked graveyard shift during those years, so I babysat Judith during the day and Eleanor did the babysitting at nights. We didn't want to pay rent any longer than necessary, so we looked for a piece of property to buy. We thought that our ten acres on Union Hill was too far out--or at least Eleanor did at the time. We drove around and saw the view from 151st street, and then went to a real estate office and had them make an offer on part of the Johnson’s property. We finally arrived at a price of $4000 dollars for a lot 97 feet wide by about 268 feet long. We got a building permit and started to build what was originally supposed to be the garage part. Later that become the bedrooms and back bathroom. I got a lot of help from my grandfather, Ross Windsor, when we built a small tar-paper shack as the beginning of a building. We planned to enlarge when we could afford it. I worked nights from midnight until 7 a.m., took Judith with me to Grandma Windsor’s, and then worked on building the house whenever I could. Sometimes I paid Dan to help me out, giving him a gun or other item as we had very little money. What little we had was needed for building material on the house.
1980 - High Buck Hunt
My son Bill and I had a couple of unusual things occur that I will mention at this point. In September of 1980, Bill, Don, Monty, and I went up the north fork of the Entiat River for the early high buck hunt. Bill and I hunted separate from Don and Monty so we didn’t always see the same things. After climbing around up in the crags and draws, we walked along in deep grass and wild flowers near a stream that ran along the valley and eventually past our camp. We came upon several piles of what looked like bear droppings. The droppings were full of purple and blue colored berries. Each segment was about three and a half inches in diameter, and broken into lengths of about four to six inches. In addition, each pile was about three feet across and about a foot deep in the center area. We noticed about four or five such piles in an area of about a quarter mile, and the grass and flowers were not trampled down around the piles. We could also see our path through the grass, indicating to us that the piles were probably the result of one stop each by whatever creature made them.
At work later in the week, I inquired of people who had hunted grizzly bear, and they said that most grizzly bear piles were about the size of a standard horse pile. Don and Monty did not walk through that area, so they did not see the droppings. Then, in regular deer season in October of 1980, Bill and I were hunting with Don and Monty again up in the Wolf Creek area near Winthrop, Washington. We decided to leave, as the area was too dry. We could hardly take a step that the deer couldn’t hear the loud snapping of twigs and other residue on the ground. That’s when we decided to go back to the north fork of the Entiat again. So we packed up, and by late evening were set up about seven miles up the north fork again, where we had seen the bear piles. However, we hadn’t been thinking about that when we went up there.
The next day we hiked and hunted all over what we call the upper basin, and only had seen small deer. (We could only shoot three points or better.) After about an hour nap, we decided to hunt down along the lower southern side of the valley. Again as we moved along, all we saw were small deer. After about a mile, we crossed over to the north side of the valley to the trail that we had come in on. We began to watch the snow slide shoots as we hunted our way back toward camp. As we looked up this one particular shoot, which averaged probably 70 to 80 feet wide, a large coal black creature came walking out of the woods on the east side of the ‘shoot’. From our place on the trail, it was about 150 feet away and up higher in the shoot at about a 45-degree angle uphill. The black hair on the creature was about two feet long, and it was waving about in a fair breeze. The legs appeared to be about one-foot in diameter, and we weren’t able to tell the exact number. We figured there were more than two, and less than six or eight. It moved across the shoot in a very quick pace--probably as fast as a person could trot. It definitely appeared to be only one animal, but it did not resemble anything I had ever seen, except possibly a woolly mammoth without tusks. The creature was about eight to ten feet tall, and about the same length. Again, I had a camera, but had no thought of taking any photographs. Also, within minutes we quit thinking about it and continued our hunting. The area of this sighting was less than a quarter of a mile from our camp, but we felt no anxiety or curiosity to look about for it or to try to take any pictures. On hindsight, that was not a normal reaction. When we got back to camp, we had our dinner, sat about the campfire drinking coffee, and didn't give another thought to this very strange event.
1993 - Bowling & Travel
I guess it is time to put in a bit about my bowling history. Dick and a friend of his (Jack Campbell), asked me to join their team during the 1960’s, so for about three or four years, I bowled on a team. They both quit soon thereafter, and I quit after them. When I retired in January of 1993, I joined the Evergreen Seniors bowling league at Sunvilla Lanes, where I now do all of my bowling except for tournaments. They replaced the wooden lanes at Sunvilla in September of 2001 with synthetic lanes, and I have been bowling a little better on them since then. I usually bowl in three sanctioned leagues every week, plus unsanctioned groups during the week. I finally bowled an unsanctioned 300 game on November 10, 2005. (Prior to this, I had bowled 12+ strikes in a row six times, but not in one game.) On the same day, Bob, Don, and Dow also did it!!!! Don And Dow’s, however, were sanctioned, as they bowled theirs in a league that same evening. Bob rolled a 700 scratch series that day, and I rolled a 711 scratch series!!! I've kept score of my bowling. As of July 21, 2006 I have bowled the following:
(Last night in Classic League, I bowled 205, 259, and 214 = for a 678 series, with an average after 36 games of 196.)
My wife and I travel in our retirement. We traveled to New Zealand where we rented cars and drove around both islands with another couple (my hunting partner and his wife, Don and Eleanor Ritter). In Australia we went to Sydney and the Blue Mountains, Ayres Rock, Alice Springs (where we took a camel ride), Kakadu National Park at Darwin, the Great Barrier Reef at Cairns, and a stop in Tasmania. We have been to Norway, the British Isles, most of Europe, the Mediterranean area, and all of the states in the USA except Louisiana. We drove on the Alcan Highway and traveled to all of the Canadian provinces except Newfoundland. We have done seven cruises: Alaska, the Hawaiian Islands, the South Seas, the Norwegian coast, Prince Rupert in Canada, the Panama Canal, and the Mediterranean Sea.
I also helped my son-in-law build an airplane, which he flies now. It can cruise at about 200 MPH. Since I had a lot of welding experience, I helped him do a lot of riveting on his airplane construction. I have been up in it (with him as the pilot). I don’t fly now, even though I still have an old license. I probably would fail the depth perception.
As time passes, my Korean War experiences bother me more now than they did then. I am very grateful that I didn't personally shoot anyone, even though our 75mm gun did. (Some would say there is no difference.) I find that I cannot talk about that time on the river anymore, even though I never said much prior to writing my memoirs either. When my wife and I took a tour of colonial America and Washington, DC in 1997, we went to see the USMC flag raising statue of Iwo Jima. I couldn’t stay there because I started to cry. I guess trauma lasts a lifetime. I had to walk away, as it bothered me too much. I am not anti-war when we need to fight, however. I believe that Korea was necessary. The stalemate was only one of several possible outcomes. One outcome could have been World War III, which could have been much worse. I think Mac Arthur was an egotist so Truman was right to pull him. South Korea has had many years of prosperity due to UN intervention during the Korean War, but unfortunately North Korea has not. Not everything turns out fine for all in war.
I believe that my USMC training at that time was the best. I have never had any unkind thoughts about anyone I served with or their actions in Korea. After return to the USA, I volunteered for the infantry, but was turned down several times. I guess that I was still "gung ho." My time in Korea was an unequaled adventure with great friends and companions. I'm sure none of us will ever forget it. I have never been to any reunions because I have never heard of any. Most likely they would be too far away. I keep in contact with only three friends from the service at Christmas time--none from Korea, however. The rest are most likely not in the old addresses which I have either misplaced or lost somewhere.
When I was very young, I wanted to be a Marine, learn to fly, write a book, and eventually get married and have children. I guess I can say that I did all those things. I was a Marine for four years, was offered a 2nd Lieutenant commission but refused, and was discharged as a buck sergeant. I became a pilot and racked up over 120 hours in light aircraft. I met and married Eleanor M. Curran in 1959. We had three children, and now have five grandchildren. I wrote and finished a SciFi novel in 2003 titled, “These Memories Are My Souvenirs.” These were my goals when I was about 12 years old. I have since retired from Boeing Airplane Company after 44 years--most of that service as a lead in NDT inspection.
The Marine Corps was everything I expected and more. I found the Boot Camp training relatively easy due to all of the hard physical things we were doing prior to enlistment. I was also a fairly good shot before going in. I could hit a tin can at forty feet with a .45 Frontier Colt most of the time, either offhand or with the quick draw. I also did a great deal of big game hunting prior to enlistment, so I was okay there, too. I spent my last year in the USMC on both the rifle and pistol teams and fired in the expert range consistently. I met and had a lot of friends and buddies while in the service. I only keep in touch now with two buddies from that chapter of my life, however. I don’t have any addresses anymore for the others, and they probably have all moved anyhow, so most likely I couldn’t contact them now.
There is a Korean girl working at a restaurant nearby who moved here from Seoul, Korea. To hear her speak, Korea is ages removed from 1951. I am very curious about the little town of Masan-Myan where we had our roadblock. I would like to visit it to see if the town has left the Stone Age yet. I found a satellite view of the Masan, Korea area on the Internet. There were about five views of it on the website, but with so many changes, I could not locate the bay where Camp Lopez was. I would like to see the changes there. The people there at that time lived in mud and stone houses with rice straw roofs. Along the roads were the pits where travelers went to the bathroom. The farmers then spread the human waste from those pits in their fields. Others also came along with “honey buckets” to dip the waste out to transport on their backs with “A” frames to other fields.
I would really like to see Japan again, too. However, I doubt that that will ever come to pass either. I often wonder what became of Terico Suzuki, a White Russian girl from Yokohama whom I became very close to while I was at camp McGill in Yokosuka. She lived with her grandmother, and I believe her parents were dead. She survived the firestorm when we bombed the city in World War II by staying submerged in the middle of a river. I wrote to her for a time, but eventually we stopped.
I wrote the following poem in an English Literature class at Edison Technical College on Broadway in Seattle while finishing my high school diploma in 1960. Because I lost the original, I had to rewrite it from memory. It makes tears come every time I read it, even today.
I’ve had many life experiences most people don’t have, aside from the USMC time. I was luckier than most while in Korea, as I came back unharmed. A lot of my fellow boot camp members from Platoon #38 were already KIA or wounded by the time I got there, and most saw more combat and more danger than I did. I would not give up my service experience even if I could because it was an important time in my life, whether it is called a "police action" or a "war." I don’t consider myself either brave or a hero. It didn’t even occur to me that I could get hurt until the Kimpo Peninsula. I was just there with the rest.
I can't say that my Korea or USMC time changed me other than feeling down about the river time. I doubt if it has affected my life otherwise. I was fortunate not to have been wounded or otherwise disabled. Many of my friends from Platoon #38 were not as fortunate, but apparently I was looked after over there. I don't know whether veterans from other combat eras are treated better or worse, as the subject has never arisen. I would say no. I think the saying, "Once a Marine, Always a Marine" is probably true. I have no explanation for that view, however, other than to say if I had to do over again, it would still be the USMC.
Recently I remembered things our captain said after two days of intense artillery exchange with the Chinese in April/May 1951. There were about 20 or so battalions of artillery plus ships involved, After it stopped, we were informed that more than 10,000 enemy were killed. So I wrote this poem. - Jack W W