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May 08, 2020


I don’t specifically recall that day or announcement either. I kept up with war news as did my mother. My brother was in the Navy overseas somewhere and a cousin in the Waves. I can only speculate I would have been ecstatic with the news wondering when my much loved only brother, a decade older, would be coming home and where was he? My mother knew he was in the Pacific arena but that was privileged information she didn’t reveal — “Loose lips sink ships!”

Joared--I'm surprised that your mother knew any more about your brother's whereabouts than that he was assigned to the Pacific Fleet. Your family must have been so worried for him - until VJ day.

Although I had relatives in the Civil War and in the Spanish-American war (and, at a later time, Hunky Husband served in the Air Guard and I served in the Naval Reserves), all of the men in my family were too young or too old to be drafted into the army in WWII and the ones who could have enlisted had young families to support. At a later date, one aunt married a veteran of WWII. However, I do recall when a friend was shot down over China and that he had a terrible time communicating to the people who picked him up that his back was broken. My mother "adopted" a few servicemen over the years, sending them packages (including her wonderful cakes) whenever she knew an address for them.

Other than rationing and doing without "things", there was a POW camp (at the Army's Camp Clark) about five miles from where we lived. Many of the German POWs who were interned there worked on farms in our area - a welcome taste of freedom for a POW and much-needed, inexpensive labor for a farmer - to keep us aware that there was a war on. The POWs, who also performed work on base, were paid at the rate of 10 cents per hour - the same as a US Army private.

My father helped build Camp Crowder that also housed POWs - about 60 miles south of our home. Mom and we kids stayed in a little shack at the edge of that town (Neosho, Missouri) while Dad worked at crowder. I recall that our next-door neighbor (small farm) had a goat whose milk we were supposed to drink. (It was awful to my taste; but, I didn't really like milk of any kind.)

We didn't do anything for VE day. It hadn't really sunk in to my brain otherwise I might have tried. But we tend to be quite anti-social at the best of times! It seems from the news that lots of communities forgot about social distancing in order to celebrate.

Liz--I'm thinking that there would be little reason for those who were born after the war to celebrate VE Day, so you get a pass. Sometimes our enthusiasm gets in the way of our brains when it comes to keeping our distances.

I was too young to remember anything then.
Now I'm too old to remember much either.
Sailor Vee.

Bad pun, Stu, bad pun. *groaning* But...I do understand both statements about your age even if I don't quite believe the second one.

There were pre-arranged ways (secret code) that my mother knew (which I didn't learn about until long after the war ended after my brother came home). He was in submarines communications he never talked much about until a few years before he died -- a carry-over of the secretiveness practiced in that service, possibly. He didn't know where he was going either when they shipped out from the U.S. and he ended up in Perth, Australia. A dangerous time at one point when the Japanese fleet appeared to be headed in that direction. Fortunately, an assignment he wanted on one of the subs was retracted by his commanding officer at the last minute. That sub went out, never came back and was only located in recent years. His final years were devoted to reading about and tracking subs and other Navy ships they were locating. I sent him former blogger's book about getting to know her father, a Pacific commander lost at sea that she never met.

You are scratching at my memory cells, Joared. I recall that one of my blog friends from 10-15 years ago wrote me about her niece's having been/being an officer in the navy. Does that sound like something you would have written about? (I get confused about who does/says what.) I know that you and Harold used to trade comments about the Navy, too.

Yes, the movement of our subs was/is carefully guarded. Your brother's re-assignment was fortunate for your family. It is so terrible how many people are killed in our wars. Reading is one pleasure that many of us can pursue regardless of our ages.

Then blogger Mary Lee Coe Fowler published "Full Fathom Five" I wrote about a couple times beginning mid-May 2008. I don't recall exchanging comments with someone named Harold about the Navy that you mentioned but who knows what I may have forgotten..

Joared--I don't recall "Full Fathom Five"; but, as you wrote, who knows what I may have forgotten. Harold retired from the US Navy, in which he served as a Corpsman (medic). Harold (AKA Hal) wrote me a few weeks ago, "I'm back to blogging at Always Question since I haven't figured out how to get back into the one at hmbabb.net. Blogger is a second choice, but it works so..."

I just re-read your comment about your elder brother's not having talked about what he did in the war, until toward the end of his life. Since all of my security clearances had to do with my professional work, not the US Navy, I don't know what strictures may have been placed on people when they were mustered out after WWII. I can tell you that some of the classified stuff on which I worked remains classified to this day. I was sworn to keep information secure for the rest of my life and I've never cared to test enforcement of the stricture.

Oh, I remember Always Question now. When I started visiting his blog he was living nearby in So Calif., then moved out of state later as I recall, posted infrequently so I eventually stopped following his blog as thought he stopped writing. Don’t think I knew his name was Harold, but do recall he had been in the Navy.

Mary Lee taught writing at Univ in Maine as I recall. She and husband liked to sail. She welcomed RB to Portland, Maine when she moved there from NYC gifting her with some plants as I recall. She ceased writing for her blog not long after her book was published as think I recall her saying may have been some health issues for husband and/or they wanted to sail down the coast maybe, too. Her book commentary about learning of her father’s administrative efforts relative to submarine safety were of interest and some other data about the Pacific fleet my brother found of interest. He said data pretty accurate from what he knew also. Know she made contact with numerous military men who knew her father. Book is still available for purchase on net though several others with same title.

My niece told me shortly before my brother died, the daughter of a girl he had known when stationed in Australia had surprisingly written him to share how her mother had often spoken of him with high regard and warm memories of their youthful friendship during those wartime years. I don’t know if he had ever been able to respond to her but think my niece may eventually have.

FWIW Looks like Pharma commercial entities have taken over Harold’s blog site currently.

Joared--Your info about Mary Lee doesn't ring a bell. I don't know what you see when you access Harold's blog; but, I see nothing from Big Pharma on it. Am I misinterpreting your comment?

Perhaps I don't have a current URL for Harold's blog as I just get lists of pharma sites.

Interesting, Joared. I use the URL of the link that I embedded in my comment of May 14. I also tried www.hmbabb.net which is different, but still no pharma. Oh, well.

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