Foster child to G.I.

Bella Vista, AR


The draft was still on when I was a senior in Racine, Wis., at Horlick High School in 1946. I was 18 while in school and was drafted into the Army, but the service let me finish high school. During my last two years in high school I was on my own, paying $15 per month room and board. During this time I worked at the Massey-Harriss tractor company four hours a night building tanks. My war effort had already started prior to my enlistment. The service was security, as I had been in foster care since the seventh grade.

I enlisted right after graduation in 1946 for three years in the Air Force. After basic training and schooling (about 1 1/2 years), the service was one of the most enjoyable times of my life. Let me explain!!

After engine and mechanic schooling in Biloxi, Miss., I was transferred to Chanute Field, Illinois, for more training. Here's where it got interesting!

I enjoyed my off time (weekends) by hitching a ride to nearby Chicago. Here I enjoyed live shows in downtown Chicago or baseball games at the White Sox or Cubs. In the evenings, I attended the Aragon Ballroom on Chicago's North Side. I learned to dance here and enjoyed the big band music of many wonderful bands. There were plenty of ladies to enjoy dancing and socializing. I was always in uniform on these trips.

After my tour in Illinois, I was transferred to Kansas for my last 1 1/2 years of service. I served as an instrument instructor on a B-29 mobile training unit in Salina and Topeka. I enjoyed my work and rose to the rank of S/Sgt. We were a small unit on TDY at these airbases and did not have to be involved with extra duty such as parades and drills. My weekends were free. Here, I did more dancing at the base NCO clubs and again met some fine ladies from nearby communities. I got to enjoy big band music and dancing.

After my three years in the service I was tempted to re-enlist, but I wanted to take advantage of the schooling the G.I. Bill offered.

I then attended the University of Wisconsin for four years and obtained a position with Texaco, Inc. as a sales representative, which I enjoyed for 30 years.

I met my wife, LaVerne, dancing at the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee, Wis., in 1954. We were married for 64 years and had two fine children. LaVerne died in 2019 and left me with many, many wonderful memories.

The service gave me schooling, education, dancing and my wonderful wife of 64 years!

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