They called my parents the Greatest Generation I guess because they grew up during the Great Depression and were steeled by World War II. This post is going to tell you some stories about my dad.
My dad was born in 1923. I’m sure he never traveled further than Indianapolis, which was forty miles away, during his first eighteen years. As mentioned in a previous post his father was a pig farmer and that was probably dad’s total life experiences through his high school years. Belle Union where he grew up is almost non-existent today and was not much even in dad’s day. Being a rural Indiana town there was a general store, gas station, and a couple of farm implement repair places and that was about it beside the school which housed 1st grade through high school in one building.
One characteristic that seems all too common of his generation, especially the men, is that they didn’t have much to say about themselves or much else for that matter. I seldom heard any stories from my father about his early years. The one he told most often was about having goats and making a wagon to hitch them to. Another story in that line was how he won so many bets from the neighbor farmers who visited his dad. He bet them they could not put his goat’s nose to the ground and he said he never lost that bet and always laughed watching them try. I remember visiting grandma, his mother, one time when she told the story about how he was such a reckless driver in his youth. Dad would get embarrassed and tried to shush her but grandma was not about to be shushed especially from her youngest son!
Dad was a teenager during the depression and given that people had to eat he probably didn’t feel the effects of those dreadful year as much as many others. Grandpa didn’t have much to start with so couldn’t lose much during the depression. I remember a few stories about some of the kids in his school being very poor and his dad helped them out with some meat but that was about it.
Dad often said about all he ever got to eat as a kid was pork. He said he ate so many pork chops as a kid that he swore he would never eat another one after he left the farm. But years later when it was just him, my brother, and me pork chops proved to be the staple of many of our meals. But maybe that was because they were the cheapest cut of meat back then and about all we could afford.
Dad graduated from high school in 1941 which was about six months before Pearl Harbor and our entry into the war. Dad was drafted into the army in February of 1943. I’m not sure if he continued to live on the farm after high school or not. After he died in 2000 I inherited much of his personal belonging and one very important document to understanding him was his “Enlisted Record and Report of Separation” from the army. It showed his dad’s address as his so I suspect that he was still on the farm. Never being far away from home would soon radically change!. More on that in a near future story post…