September 3, 2020
Tuesday was the 75th anniversary of the signing of the treaty which officially ended our war with Japan. A war that began with the bombing of our ships in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Elsewhere in this issue, we have published stories told by area residents about the jubilation Americans felt when the war was finally over. The Japanese had surrendered earlier but the signing of the truce treaty meant the war was officially over.
I’ve heard my parents tell their story about Sept. 3, 1945, so many times, I almost think I was there that day.
For me, the story begins much earlier.
When compared to my parents, my father’s parents met and married almost the same day.
My mother and father began dating in high school but marriage didn’t come until three years after graduation.
Like the men of the Bible, my father wanted to prepare a place for his bride. To do so, Dad and my grandmother returned to the Abdal community northwest of Superior where he was born and tore down a house. The material from the old house was to be used for the house he planned to build on what is now known as Blauvelt’s Hill. They wasted little. Even the lathe was reused. I didn’t ask about the nails but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn some may have been reused. The bricks were salvaged from what had been the Cadams bank vault. The asbestos siding was retrieved from a lumber yard that had been destroyed by fire. That siding was brittle and darkened by the fire but the price was right and money was short. Cement used to construct the foundation and basement was obtained by sweeping out cars being returned to the Ideal Cement Plant for reloading. Sand was dug out of the pasture west of the new house. A young neighbor man helped to dig the basement with a shovel and mix the cement in a mortar box.
While Dad was building what was to be their house, my mother lived with her parents and used her salary from an office job to buy the furniture needed for the planned home.
On the first day of Spring, 1941, they went to the Methodist parsonage to be married. The house wasn’t ready yet but Mom’s younger sister was eager to be married and thought it would not be right to get married before her older sister. The wedding day didn’t go as planned. The minister who was to perform the service forgot about the wedding and scheduled a funeral for the same time. The wedding was rescheduled but the problems weren’t over. Grandfather Blauvelt didn’t have anyone lined up to keep his gasoline station open and Grandfather Wrench had to stay at the depot to process a train coming through at that time. For them their work was more important than the wedding. Mom’s younger sister and her boyfriend were able to attend and serve as the wedding witnesses. But remember, they had an incentive to do so because if my mother was married, they could be married.
The house was finished and my parents moved in that fall, only a few weeks before the United States entered WW II and my father was drafted into the army.
Dad had some good assignments and my mother was able to be with him much of the time, first in Florida and then in Arizona.
By the time the truce treaty was signed, Dad was serving as an instructor on the Army Air Corps base at Yuma, Ariz., and considered part of the permanent base party. Mother was working on the base in a colonel’s office. They were living off the base in an apartment.
With the war winding down, they were nervous. There were fewer guys being sent for training and Dad expected to be sent overseas.
They were at their apartment when word of the treaty signing reached Yuma. When the people of Yuma learned the war was officially over, the party began.
My parents said it was a noisy time. The jubilant residents used whatever they had to make noise. Some people were blowing their automobile horns. others were beating on pans. There were instances of people throwing things out of apartment windows. It was a happy, crazy time and the Americans rightfully concluded life was about to return to normal.
Because of the uncertainty brought by the war, my parents had waited to start a family. I arrived the following May.
While stationed at Yuma, my parents became friends of a young farm couple from nearby Smith County. Both Bill and my father were serving as instructors. And that friendship continued throughout their lives.
As a youngster I didn’t realize why the two families often got together on Labor Day. I looked forward to those days because I enjoyed playing with their son and never asked why the date was selected.
Now I wondered if it wasn’t their way of celebrating V-J Day and their return to civilian life. While Phillip I were busy outside building imaginary roads, our parents were remembering their time in the service of the United States and rejoicing the war had ended and they had normal lives.
My parents and my father’s army buddy have gone on to their reward, But at 102 I suspect Bill’s wife, Lucille, may be this newspaper’s oldest subscriber.
For decades now she has been a faithful reader of this column. Today I want to thank her and all the others of what we now call the Grandest Generation for their willingness to put their lives on hold and fight for the preservation of this country.
And one last story before I close the notebook for this week.
By February, 1946, my mother had returned to Superior to await my birth. Dad’s instructor days were over and he had been assigned to other duty stateside while awaiting discharge.
Mother was asleep in an upstairs room of her parents’ home at 609 Bloom when in the predawn hours she heard what she described as a herd of elephants running up the stairs.
It was my father, still wearing his combat boots running up those stairs to tell his bride he was home and they could soon move into the house he had built for her 5 years earlier.
I’m not sure how he got home but I suspect he may have ridden a Santa Fe train to Newton and then hitchhiked to Superior, thus the uncertainty of when he was to arrive home. Had mother known he was coming that night, I’m sure she would have waited up for him.
He would have to serve a few more years in the Army Reserve but his active duty was over and they could begin to build a life. Three months later I joined them.