Of Mooncursers and other Spun Yarns

Of Mooncursers and other Spun Yarns
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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

After the War

The war ended with two explosions of Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From time to time some people talk about what a terrible thing it was. Well back then we were all some kind of glad of it. Our brothers, older teenage friends and some of our playmates fathers came home from Europe instead of having to go to the Pacific to fight. We all thought they would fight on Japanese soil. All of us were glade it was over no matter who had to die to get it behind us.

While I'm at it here is what I think about Irac. If we don't win there and the middle east builds an arsenal of A- bombs we will have to, God forbid, use our weapons on them to save ourselves. As one who has lived through four wars I can guarantee we will do it if we have to. If we don't we will all be carrying our prayer rugs with us and facing Mecca every day. It is either win now or win later the question is how many are we going to have kill to win? A few now or many later.

Every family had money at the end of the war. People had worked long hours all through the war and there was nothing to spend the money on. You couldn't but appliances, cars or hardly anything else. Butter was rationed , gasoline , coal, chocolate and nylon hose.

When the boys got home they married the girls they had been writing to for four years. Their parents had money in the bank to help them build a house. The GI bill loaned them cheap money so Dundalk kept growing at the same war time pace. There was no feared depression at the end of the war.

A lot of those fellows went to college on the GI bill a thing they never dreamed they would be able to do.

Not long after the war I was canoing. I had bought and old canoe and was using it. All us boys were in the boy scouts. We could buy army surplus gear for almost nothing it was everywhere. We had all the first class camping gear anyone could want. I paid $2.00 for a one man inflatable life raft. We all had one and we all rafted down the Potapsico in Patapsico state forest. We were kids that grew up with tools, house building and fathers that worked on their own cars. We knew how to fix things, build our own bikes and rebuild a canoe. My best friend and I recked in a cable car we built to run between two trees. We built boats, duck boats as we called them and we built canvas covered kayaks. Girls had begun to come into our lives at about age twelve in a minor way. At age thirteen we were going to dances at the school and YMCA. We who had older sisters were lucky, they taught us to dance. At age thirteen there is nothing better than being one of the few boys that could dance.

While in the seventh grade a young lady that I was sweet on said Doug, ( and I can't remember the girls name) will you take my friend to the senior prom. Her boy friend has come down with measles and she already has her prom dress and she won't be able to go. I first said no. But on going home my sisters talked me into going. I didn't have a suit but my older brother loaned me one of his. My father instructed me on how to treat a lady at a dance. My job was entirely to show her a good time. A task that I took to heart. I was about four inches shorter than her but we were both good sports. We danced and both had a good time. It turned out that I danced with many of the senior girls and they all got a kick out of dancing with me. The whole affair was one of the highlights of my life. But the real high light was the goodnight kiss she gave me.

In the late 1940's there were a few characters around Dundalk that stick in my mind. One was named Roy. He was a captain on an old yacht that never left the dock. It was kept in Turners Station at the old ferry dock there. Roy was a big fellow that looked a little like the cartoon charecter Wimpy. Roy wore a full captains uniform in dark blue with all the appropriate gold braid and his world war two metals. He also wore a captains hat. I never saw him dressed different. He drove a 1941 Crossly Automobile. It looked a little like a small version of a VW beetle. It was tiny. It was also a bright green convertible. It had a little two cylinder air cooled engine that sounded like a lawn mower. He always had his girlfriend with him who was drop dead gorgeous. Roy never had a battery that was any good and her being the good sport she was would get out and push. Roy would set in the car and wave her on. Roy always had an old boat to play with and some times went with him at my own peril. He had a lot to do with my messing with boats all my life. Every body in Dundalk knew Roy and he knew them. Roy I think liked me because I could fix anything.

Another older friend of mine was about forty years old when I was still in my early teens. Sam I think was Native American. He was tall and robust in figure with some belly. He had an old Navy boat that he was rebuilding and he lived aboard it at Corinthian Yacht club next to Owens Yacht company. Sam was the most strinking looking fellow I ever saw. He had jet black hair with a jar head haircut. His handlebar mustache was three inches long on each side and coal black. Sam's skin was dark but colored strongly with red. I don't know were he got his cloths but I suspect he had them made. He often wore a blue and white striped Jersey type shirt with stripes three inches wide going around him and around his arms. He wore a red bandanna on his head and a red sash about six inches wide around his waste. Dark blue pants torn off below the knee. Sam wore canvas strapped sandals. In the winter the shirt was covered by a blue P coat. Sam walked everywhere around Dundalk but road the street car into Baltimore every night. Every one recognized him though he was to odd to have but a few friends. At the age of about twenty I saw him on Baltimore street with two really good looking gals one on each arm.

The name of his boat was the Three Wise Men, and he carved the three figures and mounted them under the bow sprit.. They were blue, red and gold leaf.

Then there was Blimp. Seems like most I new were over weight. Blimp as we called him was named Norman. He always had a truck that he delivered groceries to the mostly elderly ladies around town with. Norman though older hung around with us teenagers when we in our mid teens. The first I remember of him was that he had a car that had been wrecked. He took all four of the doors off and all the seats and upholstery out. Then he sat on a milk crate to drive it. You might see him anywhere in Baltimore. It's a wonder the police didn't stop him. I guess they figured it was his business and he wasn't hurting any one. We kids pitched in and bailed him out of jail in Glenburnie Md. where they arrested for driving that car. He was charged with driving without a windshield I guess it was alright that there were no doors.

I guess back then to be known all over Dundalk you needed to be big and over weight and wear funny cloths?

Growing up in Dundalk During the War

In 1940 I started to school and hated it. I went to School at Dundalk Elementary School on Playfield Street. George Schlutaburg was Principal and my first Grade teacher was Mrs Merritt I'm not sure But I would think she was one of the Merritt Family that farmed the land along Merritt Boulevard. Mrs. Tinley taught me in the second and third grade. I had a Mrs Riley in the fourth and again a second time in the fourth. Mrs Tinley taught her class and the second grade with the help of a substitute teacher. She sent me home in the fourth grade for breaking wind and blaming it on the girl setting across the isle from me. Actually I think I must have been sweet on the girl. She was so cute I can't imagine I wasn't. When the class looked around to see who did it I pointed to that girl and all eyes fell on her. She was embarrassed and she cried. Big tears that streamed down her cheeks and I felt sorry for her. God only knows why but I did it again and this time the teacher was standing behind me. She said I was naughty and I said don't call me that I'm bad. Why in the world would a boy say that.

Mrs Couch taught me the fifth and sixth grades and she was my favorite, She was tough and fair and she liked boys and especially if they were a little honery. The boys all liked her as well..

There was a Mr. Bozley that had lost a leg in WWI he used a cane and everyone was afraid of him but his students . None of the rest of us could figure it out. If you ran in the hall he would hook you around the neck with the cane. Oddly it didn't hurt I guess he let the cane slide through his hand so that it didn't jerk you up short.

Old Mr Foust was the Janitor and what a job that was The building was heated with steam heat and the furnaces were hand fired with coal. He had to shovel the coal in and the ashes out. He collected the trash and burned what he could and carried out the rest. He kept the whole building clean and I think there was 32 class rooms. I think there was an older lady that cleaned the windows and there was a jillion of them. When th war started we had air raid drills where we all sat on the floor. The principal who was German and spoke broken English would tell us stories about WW!. He spared us the gory details so it was pretty interesting for us boys and girls alike.

In the winter of early1942 they fenced off the now flat top of Kemmels mountain and stored Army trucks and tanks there. The place was fascinating as a flat sandy plateau where they flew model airplanes and we boys hated to see that go, but the adults did to. Many people in town walked up there on Sundays to watch the models fly.

For us boys the place was even more exciting filled up with tanks, jeeps and trucks. We would go up there and talk to the army guards that patrolled the place. And later we talked to the German prisoners that were repairing fences and doing other jobs around the motor pool. Many were in there mid teens and were very likable. It was hard to remember they had been trying to kill our older brothers and fathers.

We knew the Germans were locking up the Jewish people in Europe. We thought that was a terrible thing for the Jews but we just assumed that was what was done when you had enemies in your country during a war. Nobody was surprised. I don't think anyone new they were gassing the people. We kids played Army. We had wooden guns and odds and ends of military uniforms. Metal toys were hard to come by but kids could get metal BB rifles all through the war. I guess the Government thought it was a good thing for kids to learn how to shoot.