Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Dad - Part II

Part I

More stories from the family history book:
"During the winter Gordie's job was to haul water and manure while Buzz hauled straw - each wishing he had the others job!

As twins, Gordon and Buzz had an advantage in that they always had a playmate. They loved to play pranks on each other and anyone else who came along. For instance, they both remembered that one winter:
"...a Mr. Salter came to the house selling stuff. He had cases of dried prunes, peaches and other fruit which he left in his sleigh out in front of the old log stable. We got into the dried fruit, taking out the goodies and replacing them with dry horse turds".
They claimed it was Jeff Vidal's idea.....poor Mr. Salter never came back.
Buzz joined the R.C.M.P. in 1931 and Kenelm (an older brother) married in 1935 making Gordon the only single man on the farm. In 1936, their 30th birthday, he wrote in Buzz's autograph book:
"Thirty years upon the plains,
Thirty years a twin,
Thirty snows and thirty rains,
And thirty years of sin.
And may we have many more."
Truer words were never written.

A few years later my dad, was on the front lines, slogging through The Netherlands, helping to liberate the Dutch from German occupation.

In one of his letters home, he wrote:
"As I write there are jerry shells whizzing around and landing quite close. About five minutes ago, just as I was finished writing to Punch (another brother) one the few remaining doors was knocked off by shrapnel. The windows are, of course, all blown in and there are several holes in the roof. Before we came in the old man and old lady (between 70 and 80 years old) were both killed in the house, they chose not to evacuate and that was the result. All of the civies have evacuated, quite a few dead jerries lying around.
We have a grandstand view of the battle up ahead. We have wonderful artillery barrage and swell support from the typhoons and Spits of the R.A.F and R.C.A.F. They sure make a grand sight with their rockets, bombs and cannon."
"Had a lively time in Belgium a while ago: between street fighting, constant shelling and the odd four hour pass into Antwerp, there was never a dull moment. Antwerp is some joint. Lots if American movies, cabarets, street cars, wine and women. Ice cream joints and brothels for those who want them....back in N.E.France we got a lot of eggs off the farmers for a can or two of bully or a package of cigarettes. One could get anything there but not so here, we have to stay pretty close to our digs and anyway the farms, and the chickens, are all looted and smashed up."
No wonder he had nightmares for years afterward. Mom told us about his kicking and yelling in his sleep. This was long before there was such a diagnosis as PTSD, but I'm pretty sure he must have suffered from it. I am amazed he could remain so up-beat in his letters home. But I guess that's why they were known as the "Greatest Generation".

In the next post, stories from my Dad's civilian life, prior to the war, highlights from those "thirty years of sin".

Part III

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