“I’d Rather Be Married”

Mary Welch Steinhoff telegramTucked away in an envelope in a nondescript Bible buried in a metal cabinet that hadn’t been opened in decades was this telegram to Mother that validates a story that she told for years. (Click on the photo to make it large enough to read.)

Washington would never have been the same

Mary Welch Steinhoff - Cape Rock c 1941Had this young college girl from Advance jumped at the War Department’s offer to become to junior clerk or typist in Washington, D.C., for the munificent salary of $1,440 per annum, D.C. would never had been the same.

“I’d rather be married than type”

Mary Welch Steinhoff wedding announcementWhen Mother told the story, she always said, “I’d rather be married than type.”

Dad and Mother were in a movie theater when the word about the attack on Pearl Harbor broke. When they came out, my grandfather said, “If you kids are going to get married, you’d better do it right away.”

And, they did, exactly one month later, on January 7, 1942.

The telegram has a time of day stamp – 3:23 p.m. – but it doesn’t have a date, so I don’t know when it was sent.

One of those things

We’ve had a long-standing family tradition of giving the car horn two short beep beeps when we pull out of the driveway. When I left Cape on Friday, I backed out onto Kingsway Drive, then, out of habit, went “BeepBeep.”

That’s when it hit me: there was nobody there to hear my good-bye beeps. Dammit, it’s those little things that sneak up on you.

Brookside War Memorial

Brookside War Memorial 10-11-2014On one of my trips to Wib’s BBQ, I finally stopped to visit the Brookside Park Memorial to Veterans of All Wars, sponsored by the Jackson Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10495 and the American Legion and their auxiliaries.

If I had been thinking, I’d have queued this up to run on December 7 to remember Pearl Harbor.

In a way, though, it is fitting that it didn’t run on that date. Since we have men and women in harms way all over the world every day, it’s appropriate not to pick a “special” day to recognize them and their families. We should remember them EVERY day.

I’ll break the photos into galleries by conflict. Click on the photos to make them larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the images.

I have to admit I’m a little confused at how the names were selected. I tried to cross reference some with The Missourian’s book, Heartland Heroes – A Tribute to Korean and Vietnam Veterans, and found names on the memorial wall that weren’t in the book and vice versa.

Approach to memorial

Revolutionary through Civil War

World War I

Brookside War Memorial 10-11-2014

World War II

Korean War

Vietnam War

Desert Storm

Brookside War Memorial 10-11-2014

Active Service

 Panorama of Memorial Wall

Brookside War Memorial 10-11-2014This is a panorama created from six individual frames merged into one image by Photoshop. A couple of frames didn’t match up exactly, but it will give you a feeling for the overall scope of the memorial.

Let’s hope it doesn’t need to be expanded any time soon.

Seeing the Elephant

West Palm Beach National Guard unit at Camp Blanding summer campIt was the summer of 1975. Saigon had fallen and the Vietnam War was over. My draft lottery was high enough that I wasn’t called, even though my draft status was 1A for a brief time in 1969.

I talked The Post into sending me to Camp Blanding with a local National Guard unit for a week of summer camp. I wrote about the experience in 2012. On this Memorial Day weekend, my thoughts turn back to that era.

National Guard was a safe haven

West Palm Beach National Guard unit at Camp Blanding summer campThe unit was a mixture of young guys with long hair who wore wigs over their tresses serving alongside men with gray in their hair. One guardsman wore jump wings on his cap and sported tattoos on his arms listing almost every major battle in the Pacific during World War II.

Seeing the elephant

West Palm Beach National Guard unit at Camp Blanding summer campThe phrase “seeing the elephant” popped up in many Civil War letters and diaries, but Curator Jessica said it’s been around longer than that. G.W. Kendall, in Narrative of the Texan Santa Fe Expedition in 1844, wrote, “When a man is disappointed in any thing he undertakes, when he has seen enough, when he gets sick and tired of any job he may have set himself about, he has ‘seen the elephant.'”

I didn’t know much about the background men in the unit, but I could see in the eyes of some of the guardsmen they were looking way beyond the pines and palmettos of north central Florida. What was a war game to most was very real to some.

2000-Yard Stare

West Palm Beach National Guard unit at Camp Blanding summer campLife Magazine published a painting by World War II artist and correspondent Tom Lea in 1945. The 1944 panting of a Marine at the Battle of Peleliu – the site of the highest casualty rate of any battle in the Pacfic –¬† became known as the 2,000-Yard Stare.

Lea said of his subject, “He left the States 31 months ago. He was wounded in his first campaign. He has had tropical diseases. He half-sleeps at night and gouges Japs out of holes all day. Two-thirds of his company has been killed or wounded. He will return to attack this morning. How much can a human being endure?”

Memorial Day is more than picnics and a day off from work.

 

 

 

 

71 Years ago

LV and Mary Welch Steinhoff on Florida honeymoon 1942I make it a point to call Mother every Sunday night at 7:30. Now that I’m retired, I have a hard time keeping track of the days of the week, let alone the time, so I have an alarm set in my cellphone to remind me that it’s Sunday. When I made the call this week, Mother casually mentioned that Monday would mark 71 years since she and Dad got married in Advance.

I remember her saying that she and Dad had gone to a movie. When they got out, my grandfather, Roy Welch, told them that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. “If you kids are planning to get married, you’d better do it right away.”

Florida honeymoon

Mary Welch Steinhoff Florida honeymoonA month later, they were married and on their way to Florida for a honeymoon.

Dad was luckier than many men his age. He was working for a contractor who won defense contracts to build airfields and other essential projects, so he was deferred from the draft.

One of my favorite photos

Mary and LV Steinhoff June 1970This photo was part of a series I didn’t remember shooting. It’s one of my favorite shots of the two of them in our back yard in 1970. It’s obvious that they weathered well as a couple. I wrote about discovering the series just about this time last year.

You expect your parents to be there forever. When I shot this, none of us dreamed that Dad would be with us only another seven years. I guess that’s only partially true. He’ll live on forever in our memories.

Photo gallery of honeymoon

Here are some additional shots of the honeymoon from 71 years ago. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.