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Posts from the ‘Family Tales’ Category

Jar of Coins

Frank Szabo was big and ugly, “a huge monstrosity of a man,” as my grandfather described him.  They first met during World War II.  Frank was a little older than the others in the outfit and seen as serious and mature.  My grandfather soon discovered he was also kind and humble, and Frank’s gentleness and consideration impressed him in one particular incident involving a vulnerable young woman at a party:

After this incident, my grandfather and Frank became good friends.  And then, in early 1943, their outfit was taking a troop train from Cherry Point, North Carolina, to San Diego.  The train was scheduled to pass through New Bern, where Frank’s wife was to be waiting. Read more

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The No. 1 Designated Pig Feeder

My grandfather performed a lot of chores on the farm as a child.  He was the “water boy” and had to run through the woods to the stream to fetch water whenever it was needed.  With his younger sister Virginia, he would also watch cows when they were transferred from one field to another for grazing.  And he was usually responsible for feeding the chickens, hogs, and other animals.

To house the pigs, my grandfather’s father had built a large, fenced-in lot in the woods, where oak trees shed acorns, which the pigs loved to eat.  The acorns were not sufficient food, though, so they also had to be fed corn that had been grown on the farm.

The pig lot was about a mile from the house.  My grandfather had to carry a bushel of corn in a sack from the barn to the pigs.  Normally, this was not a problem, but as winter progressed and the snow got really deep, he began to realize that this was becoming a really arduous chore.  As he was dragging that bag in snow up to 2 and 3 feet deep, he decided on an alternative plan. Read more

Cows and Horses

Back when my grandfather was growing up, June was wheat harvesting time and every year, after school let out, all neighboring farms within a certain radius took turns helping each other harvest, with the host family preparing dinner at the end of the day for the workers.

A thrasher was towed into the center of the barn so that the farmers on the combine crew could throw the wheat bundles into it.  The combine separated the grain from the stalks and then blew the straw out the back door into the barnyard.  As the day wore on, the discarded straw continued to grow into a huge pile.

The cows came from the fields to rub themselves on the straw.  All my grandfather’s friends had learned that they could grab the cows’ tails and be pulled on their stomachs around and around the straw pile. Read more

Hotel Queen Anne

My grandparents met in 1943 in North Carolina.

Some 70 years later, my mother, sister, and I were driving around New Bern looking for the location of the hotel where the wedding ceremony took place.  We knew that the building no longer existed, but I wondered if anything, some remnant, remained.  And if not, maybe whatever took its place would be worthwhile.

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My grandmother had enlisted in early 1943 and was sent through basic training with many other women enlistees at Hunter College in New York, then through technical training as an aircraft mechanic in Memphis, and finally to Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, for duty.

This was where she met my grandfather, who was already stationed at Cherry Point in the Aircraft Overhaul and Repair Facility as an Aircraft Programs noncommissioned officer.  My grandmother was assigned in the same organization, as a timekeeper and payroll clerk for the civilian personnel who worked in the department.

My grandfather soon was transferred to a Fleet Marine Force unit scheduled for overseas assignment. Read more

Sugar Hill: A Partial History and Contemporary Adventure

On the way to Oriental the last trip, my mother and I stopped in Kinston, North Carolina.  I had been wanting to visit the part of the town known as Sugar Hill because its seamy history was an interesting part of my grandfather’s life. Read more