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Early signs of things to come
1932 | Gloversville, NY 18 Cedar St.
Dad lived on Cedar Street as a child. When I told him I knew what house he lived in and who his neighbors were, he looked a bit puzzled. I started naming the families on his street from an old census record and he was amazed that I was right. When I mentioned one family his face began to scowl. "Jimmie Erwin!" He grumbled. "He hit me in the head with a beer bottle when I was six!" He couldn't remember why Jimmie had done such a thing, but started to laugh really hard. I asked him what was so funny about a six-year-old getting clocked with a beer bottle. He said, "Jimmie was a local cop for years!"
Why didn't Dad stay in school?
1940 | Fulton County New York
Last Easter (2008) my father, with a sheepish grin, finally revealed why he never made it past the 9th grade. A fellow student threw a bag at him just before class and he decided to retaliate as his red hair is no lie. His teacher, Mrs. Amos, apparently felt the need to intervene and promptly slapped my father for fighting. Unfortunately, my father is famous for his impulsivity and his temper. He punched her back. Needless to say that was the end of his education. He said, "I hated school anyway." When he made it home, he was flatly told that since he was no longer going to school, room and board were $25.00 a month due on the first of each month. It was off to the leather mills from there!
The one that nearly took his life
September 1940 | Gloversville, NY
As my father became less able to get around, I spent more time on the front porch with him just listening. The things you learn. I had always heard he was nearly killed in a car accident when he was young and out of the blue he just started talking one day. His friend Chuck Crandall owned a model A Ford and my father and his friends convinced him to let them take it for a spin. My dad said Billy Dence was driving with a cement block under the front seat to hold one end up, Ed Quinn was in the passenger seat and my dad and Chuck Crandall were in the backseat. He fully admits they were just plain joy riding, trying to see how fast they could go and how quick they could turn when on Bemis School Road they lost it and hit the only elm tree for miles around head on. That cement block under the seat was a bad idea; Billy Dence and Ed Quinn were killed. My father nearly died himself and still remmbered the agony of his enire rib cage being smashed in. He said he could still feel them packing his chest with heat wraps.
Shooting at the Q.M 3039 Bakery
1946 | Berlin Germany
Dad worked in the motorpool for the army in Berlin with Q.M. 3039. It was his job to guard the bakery at night. His worst memory is of shooting a boy of about 14 for breaking into the bakery at night to steal bread. He said the people were starving and it was clear "the kid just wanted to eat." Luckily, Dad shot him in the rear end and then carried him to medical building where the boy recovered.
Dutch's War Service: the most important stuff!
1946 | Berlin
Our family took in an exchange student from Denmark in 2007. When I told my father she was coming he again adopted that little grin of his and said, "I used to drive to Denmark all the time from Berlin." I , of course, asked him why. He said, "to pick up milk", but I could tell by the look in his eye he was leaving something out. "Anything else?" I asked. He just started laughing. I said, "great, Dad, when my kids ask what Grandpa did during the war I have to tell them he did the beer run!" He simply chuckled, "it was a very important job!" Wonderful! He added that on nights at the end of the week when the beer ran out his fellow soldiers would toss him over the quadrant fence (he was the smallest) to go fetch whiskey from the locals. I'm still waiting for a story from him that doesn't involve booze, violence or just plain miscreant behavior.
Time off in Berlin
1946 | Berlin
Dad gave me a picture of the guys he served with in Berlin. He has a book filled with pictures of people at the beach where the guys went on their days off. Lots of ladies in swimsuits. One friend he talks about is the other Donald. He can't remember Donald's last name anymore, but he knows he was from Bogue Chitto, Mississippi. And I thought Gloversville was a weird name for a town. Donald must be in this picture somewhere. He has a clipping from a letter he received when he was about to leave for home written in a very feminine hand. Mushy, mushy stuff, but he won't tell me who she was. Taking that one to the grave with him I guess.
One man's best friend
1970s | Gloversville, NY
My Dad loved few things more than his very loyal German Shephard, Prince. I awoke many mornings to my father asleep on the floor with Prince by his side. My sister Sandy once told me that when the new leash law was enacted, my father's response was to attach a leash to the dog, hook it up tight on the dog's back so it wouldn't get caught on anything and let the dog go. Technically he was on a leash.