Whistle while you garden

Jamestown ND 1954

Guy gardening

What a garden that was. The Pink House, as we called it, was on a lot along the river, on a short side street, along the alley. When I look at the city plat it’s clear that they had some trouble figuring out how to do that lot, ending up with about the same space that over a half dozen houses occupied across the alley. That left us room for a huge garden, just beyond the rabbit house.

Mom, Dad, and Grandma grew several kinds of vegetables in the garden, and I did love to help. The photo shows me pulling weeds, which I still enjoy doing today. My favorite vegetable in the garden was the kohlrabi. I’d pick one from the garden, pull off the leaves, and eat it right there in the back yard. Nobody I know likes them, so I haven’t tasted one in years.

Louie writes:

When we lived at 455 3rd street in Jamestown, we had a garden in which we raised some good vegetables.

Guy could take you through the garden after it started to come up and tell you the name of every vegie there. He was only about 3 years old then – but – if he was missing – the first place you looked for him was in the cucumber patch – he would eat them things right off the stem.

What I wanted to tell you about was one year the potatoes had some real big vines and that was a fair indication that under them there should be some big spuds. Continue reading

Juarez, Mexico

New Mexico License Plate

New Mexico License Plate

Louie opens this letter with a quote from the New Mexico license plate. I was in the fourth grade when we moved back to North Dakota. Most of the kids in my class had never been out of the state, but I had lived in New Mexico. For several years my doodles included the sun symbol that dominates the state flag and license plates. My time in the Land of Enchantment had been exciting. Apparently not as exciting as it was for Louie.

Louie  writes:

Back in 1961 I was stationed in New Mexico and Grace came down to see what it was like in “The Land of Enchantment.”

While there she wanted to go down into Mexico, and the closest port of entry was Juarez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

A friend of mine said he would furnish the transportation there and give us a guided tour of Juarez – seems he knew all the off beat places … Continue reading

More on the Police Action in Korea

Louie in Korea, c. 1952

Louie in Korea, c. 1952

Louie continues the theme of confounding letters, mixing the fun and excitement with the fear and dread. His description of jets flying overhead brings to mind the times WW II bombers have flown over Rochester on demonstration flights. Even the noise from one of those bombers raises the specter of a hundred of them ready to rain tons of explosives on us unsuspecting civilians.

After talking about the sight of a napalm strike, Louie describes two friendly fire incidents. Sobering thing, war.

Louie writes:

During the “Police Action” in 1952 I was with a group of fellas that enjoyed watching the Navy and the Air Force conduct strikes on the North Koreans.

The Air Force had this straight winged Jet that sure made a lot of noise going away from you, letting you know that it had been there to see you.

One of the sights that were unforgettable was the Napalm strikes that were, in a gruesome word, beautiful. They would fly in low and drop the napalm bombs and let go just before the target.

Louie continues … Continue reading

Police Action in Korea

Louie (r) and friend in Korea

Louie (r) and friend in Korea

For twenty-some years, and even beyond, one of my favorite television shows was M*A*S*H. I still enjoy watching reruns. Some episodes moved me to tears, others have me giggling still. My favorite line is Col. Potter saying “Not enough O’s in ‘smooth’ to describe this” as he describes some Scotch whisky in episode Z-419. The series takes place in the Police Action in Korea that Louie describes in this letter.

One truth of war and the television series is the mixture of pathos and humor. Louie’s story reads like a M*A*S*H script. I laughed at the conclusion, until I realized what had really happened.

Louie writes:

Back in 1952 I had the honor of being with, or should I say, a member of the United Nations who were engaged in a “Police Action” against the Communist of North Korea. Continue reading

I Volunteered for the Infantry!

This was the army job Louie really wanted.

This was the army job Louie really wanted.

Louie was proud of his military service, he was in the Army for several stints, including two in Korea, one in Europe, and a couple more state side.

Louie writes:

I remember the day my big brother Bob came home from the war in late 1944. We met him at the train depot in Jamestown. He hugged everyone he seen except me. I finally walked up to him and asked him if he remembered me. He said that he didn’t seem to know me. When he left I was a 97 lb. weakling and on this day I stood about two inches taller than him and outweighed him about 40 pounds. Kind of surprised him who I was. While in the South Pacific fighting the Japs …  Continue reading

Going to Camp Rucker

Louie and Alan K in January 1951, ready to travel to Alabama.

Alan K and Louie in January 1951, ready to travel to Alabama.

One of my earliest memories, certainly a planted memory, is of being in the ocean as a baby. As I read this letter, it’s clear that I couldn’t possibly remember something that happened to me at age one. Maybe it’s the pictures from the old photo album, or the stories that Mom and Dad told me as I grew up. The time in Alabama was probably a highlight for the little girl from the Dakota prairie.

Louie remembers the tragi-comedy, not the nostalgic part, of the trip to Alabama.

Louie writes:

Back in 1950, when Guy was just one week old, the National Guard outfit I belonged to was activated because of the Korean War or Police action whatever you wanted to call it.

The unit was to go to Camp Rucker, Alabama on the 16th of January by troop train. On this train we had, sleepers, a dining car, a place for cooking the meals and also KP duty (Kitchen Police). I being just a private did my share of the KP duties.

On the first night going through Minnesota you could see out the train window that it was a beautiful moon lit night and very – very cold.
Continue reading

Maybe I’ll just walk home

Louie in 1946. High School Graduation.

Louie in 1946. High School Graduation.

Memory is a devious companion. Louie talks about how his letters are out of order. They do bounce around through time as different events pop into his mind. The same thing happens to me. While I’m writing about one topic, another jumps into mind and I have to quick run off to write another story about something years earlier or later.

The other confounding idea that keeps me thinking is exactly what do we remember? Louie remembers so many stories about getting into trouble, or, to be more precise, just avoiding getting into trouble. I remember the good times, Jim writes about his vivid memories of friends and family. Louie had good times, and a big family. He should remember the good times, but what sticks out are the escapades with his buddies.

There’s something about that personality that gets me thinking. Hmmm.

Louie writes:

These little stories are not in sequence with my age, so bear with me if I skip around a little. That’s the way the mind works after too many years of thinking back, years ago.

I use to hang around with a couple roughnecks. Sonny and Glen McCurdy. These guys were noted for being rough in the art of fisticuff. They liked me cause I was also noted to be fairly good in the rough and tumble.

One night, a Saturday, night time, fight time, the three of us were down town looking for some action. Glen got into it with some guy and the next thing you know, the cops show up.

Continue reading