Saturday, March 25, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 7

This week's question again involves education.
Describe your family legacy regarding education. Do you come from a long line of scholars? Were you the first to earn a degree? Are your forging a new legacy with your own children?

The first question made me chuckle. I definitely do not come from a long line of scholars. My mom dropped out of high school following her junior year to go to work to help support her family, which consisted of her mom and dad as well as seven siblings. She sewed basketballs for a sporting goods company. My father took several college classes somewhere along the line (I believe after his service in WWII), but he was far from ever completing a college degree.

My older sister never went to college, and my oldest brother attended for a couple of years before entering the Navy during the Vietnam War. The brother closest in age to me did attend a university, getting a bachelor's degree and earning credits for most of a master's degree. I followed him to the same university, and completed my bachelor's degree in four years.

college graduation
My husband and I met in college, and married shortly after graduation. Finding no jobs in my field and tiring of working in a bank, I went back for my master's degree. I achieved it in one year by going to school full-time, 12 months straight, and graduated magna cum laude. I was the first in my family to obtain a master's degree, and my husband later got an MBA.

Both of our children have four year degrees, and our daughter-in-law has a master's degree as well. Our daughter is studying for the GMAT right now as she is interested in getting an MBA. So perhaps we have forged a new legacy with the next generation.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 6

This week's question is:
In childhood, did you share a bedroom with siblings or have a room to yourself? What kinds of things did you collect and display in your own little corner of the world?

From the time that I was born I shared sleeping quarters with my older sister, with my two older brothers also rooming together. When I was first born I slept in a dresser drawer as my brother Joe, who was only 16 months old at the time, occupied the baby bed. We moved to Chicago when I was only a few months old, and I shared a couch with my sister until my dad was able to refinish the upstairs of our new house into two bedrooms. By then, Joe was old enough for a bed and I got the crib.

Des Moines house
At the age of 5 we moved to Des Moines, and my sister and I had a double bed in the middle bedroom of the three bedroom ranch-style home. There was little room to have a collection of any kind. I loved books, but weekly trips to the library satisfied my need to read, and there wasn't extra money to spend purchasing books at any rate.

My sister got married and moved to Florida when I was 13, so I finally had a room to myself. At that point, I built myself a desk out of a sheet of plywood and two peach crates. I painted the wood, covered the crates with contact paper, and then made some curtains to hang on the front of the crates. It was in the peach crates that I began to store my growing record collection.

My first job at 12 or so was baby-sitting in my neighborhood, and with the money I earned I would buy 45's or albums if most of the songs appealed to me. My parents gave me a record player one year for Christmas, and I was able to listen to music in my room without my dad complaining about what I was playing. I used to tease him in later years that the music he complained about - the Carpenters, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, the Bee Gees - were now the artists he was listening to in elevators. Ha!

In retrospect, I really didn't mind sharing a room with my sister, and I missed her desperately when she moved away. I'm positive that I had a better college experience with roommates because I had been used to sharing space most of my life. It helps in marriage, too!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 5

As I mentioned earlier, I skipped the 52 Stories project in February as I was writing every day for the Family History Writing Challenge. As that extended a bit into March, I am just now getting back to 52 Stories.  Maybe I should rename mine the 47 Stories - ha!

This story concerns vacations:
What was the biggest, most exotic vacation you took with your family when you were a child? What memories stand out?

First of all, our family was not wealthy. I'm not even sure if we would have been considered lower middle class. My dad and mom struggled for years to pay off the expenses incurred when their first-born child, Roy, was born prematurely in 1942. Dad told me that before my mom was even released from the Catholic hospital, the nuns were already hounding him about how he was going to pay the bills. They arranged a monthly payment plan that took him years to pay off. The bills escalated when Roy was diagnosed at the age of 3 with aplastic anemia. While that took his life at the age of 7, dad continued to make payments on all the medical bills long after Roy was gone.

Vacations were a luxury our family could ill afford. We made trips from our home in Chicago and later Des Moines back to Cincinnati to visit relatives, and once in a while visited a nearby lake for a week's relaxation. So it was a complete surprise when my dad announced that we were taking a vacation to the Smoky Mountains in the fall of 1965, made even more surreal by the fact that they were pulling my brother Joe and me out of elementary school for a week. That was simply not done, and yet we did it.

Dad's Dairy Queen
Looking back on it, the trip was made possible because my dad had purchased a Dairy Queen in late 1964 or early 1965. This was during the time period that Dairy Queen pretty much only served ice cream treats. They did not have grills and fryers like they do today, but my dad offered loose meat sandwiches for sale. The whole family was put to work, with the older siblings working out front and Joe and me chopping onions and folding boxes in the back. Unfortunately that spring and summer were unusually cool and rainy in Des Moines, and people did not buy ice cream as expected. If it were not for the local business workers coming over to buy sandwiches, the Dairy Queen would not have survived the summer. By the fall, dad had enough and sold the business, thus the reason he had the time and resources to take his family on a trip.

View Master
We were not on the road very long before we came to the realization that all the fishing equipment had been left behind, as well as dad's camera! How were we going to document this trip? The thought of being on vacation and not having a camera nearly brings me to tears when I think of it. My camera is such a part of who I am, and my pictures help me to chronicle my journeys. Our fall back position was purchasing post cards and a View Master, which I still have packed away somewhere. While I would love to be able to open up one of mom's photo albums and see our trip outlined in chronological order, at least these other souvenirs help jog my memory about where we traveled. But how sad not to have any family photos from the trip.

My brother remembers traveling as far as Indiana and spending the night in a motel. He said the next day we stopped in Cincinnati for a quick visit before continuing on our way. The drive would have taken us through Kentucky, Tennessee and perhaps North Carolina. All of my recollections involve the area near Chattanooga, Tennessee. I remember walking the Swing-A-Long Bridge and being frightened when my dad made it swing as this suspension bridge spans 180 feet. At Lookout Mountain we walked to Lover's Leap and could see 7 states. And I vividly remember the Fairyland Caverns, where scenes from different fairy tales that were created by Atlanta sculptor Jessie Sanders could be viewed.

As I don't have the best recall in the world, I think the reason that this trip stands out so much for me, besides the fact that I got to miss a week of school, is that it was the first time just the four of us traveled, leaving my two older siblings at home as they were out of high school by then. Add on the fact that we actually went somewhere besides seeing family, and it made a lasting impression on me.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Küblers to America

Büsserach, Switzerland
Thus ends the chronicle of my branch of the Kübler family from Büsserach, Switzerland to America. I've traveled to Büsserach and walked the villages, inhaled the mountain air and seen the beautiful  countryside through my own eyes. I've met some of the descendants of Vinzenz Joseph Kübler's siblings and other extended family. I even slept in the building where Vinzenz made the exchange of money for his land so that he could come to America with his family. Despite all that, I cannot conceive of what it must have felt like to take a last look at everyone and everything you have ever known and loved and say a final good-bye. How tough was his life that he would risk everything to take an arduous one way trip on a sailing vessel with his young family to an unknown country and an unknown future?

I never had the opportunity to know him, of course, as this was long before I was born. I barely knew my grandfather, Joseph Kubler. Although I was 13 when he died, traveling from Des Moines to Cincinnati in the 1960s was not an easy trip due to the lack of interstates. Busy, two-lane highways meant the drive was long and often slow, so visits back "home" were limited to once a year at best. Our family always stayed with my mom's parents, never at the Kubler house. We would go over to see Grandma and Grandpa Kubler when we were in town, however. They were nice to me, but I could sense the closer relationship that the cousins who lived in Cincinnati had with them. I always felt a bit like an outsider.

My memories of Grandma Kubler are much clearer, as I was 23 when she passed. She was kind and friendly, and a great cook. It was always a treat to be able to have a meal with her. It seemed like she was always in the kitchen when we visited. I'm grateful for her cooking skills as she passed them along to my dad. Though my mom was always the cook in our family during the week, on the weekends my dad nearly always helped out in the kitchen. Once he retired, cooking and cleaning were activities he shared with my mom.

Like most young people, I never sat down with my grandparents to get their stories. By the time I got interested in genealogy, following the death of my mother, all my grandparents were gone. I have tried to make up for that by talking with my older relatives each time I go to Cincinnati for a visit, and by participating in the Family History Writing Challenge so that I get the information placed somewhere besides my genealogy software. I have a long way to go, but at least I am taking steps to get there.

Dad and me circa 1958
I forgot to include in the last post the poem I wrote for my dad when he died, so it appears below. This is a scan of the original I placed beside his casket in the funeral home, somewhat wavy from the tears and snowstorm it was carried through. I have written poetry since early childhood, but I don't share it very often. I wrote a poem for Aunt Marie (my mother's sister) for her funeral, and another for my sister-in-law Lynn to express my feelings and hopefully console my brother, Joseph. So it seemed fitting to put my thoughts on paper for my dad. He was not always an easy man to be around, but I never doubted his love for me. It's an odd feeling when your second parent dies, as if you are now an orphan. The two people who were responsible for your very existence, and the anchor for your entire family are no longer a phone call or relatively short drive away. Pieces of my heart were buried with each one of them, but I am extremely happy that I have the photographs and memories to tuck away in those empty spaces.

Dad's Poem

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Family History Writing Challenge Day 29

Note: Technically the writing challenge was for 28 days, but I haven't finished the story yet so I will be continuing. It seemed simplest to keep the same name for this blog post.

After three weeks in the hospital following his car accident, Roy was ready to be released. Numerous options were discussed for how to transport him, and where he should be taken to recuperate. In the end, Kimberly and James rented an RV in St. Louis and drove it to Hays. That way Roy would be able to lie flat on the bed to protect his broken bones. When they arrived to pick Roy up, they found his room filled with a dozen people who wanted to tell their patient good-bye and wish him well. Some homemade cookies and other treats were sent along with him as well.

Roy spent a month at the Wolterman's home, with Kimberly coming home every day at noon to make him lunch. Her boss, Dr. Richard Bradley, stopped by the house to check on Roy and made a referral for an orthopedist for follow-up X-rays. Roy's strength eventually came back, and he began to put back on some of the 40 pounds he had lost in the hospital. He was soon doing laps inside the house in an effort to get stronger, and worked up to walking 2 miles per day. In good weather Kimberly would take him to the high school track to walk for longer periods on a level surface.

He received over 100 get well and sympathy cards while he was in St. Louis. He talked a lot about the accident, and as expected blamed himself for Catherine's death. He carried a lot of guilt with him the rest of his life. His grandson Andrew was a source of joy and distraction for him. Every day when Andrew came home from preschool he would ask his grandpa how he was feeling. They spent a lot of time watching t.v. together.

When Roy was finally able to travel, Kimberly, Andrew and Chris Lane drove him back to Cincinnati, and they stayed with him for the first week. Kathleen then came to Cincinnati for the second week, and Joseph for the third week. By then, Roy felt he was well enough to be on his own.

Ultimately he returned to his volunteer activities and directing the senior chorale group. He joined a fitness center, and every Monday-Friday he and his life-long friend Max Schoener would work out for an hour. He lived a full and active life, with his children coming to town to visit when they could, particularly when he planned family reunions. The children surprised him with a party on his 80th birthday, and he was thrilled!
Roy with his children; with his grandchildren; and his great-grandchildren

During a routing eye exam in 2000, Roy's ophthalmologist noticed something in his eyes that didn't seem right. He told Roy that the whites of his eyes were somewhat yellow, and that he should go to his primary care doctor and have it checked out. Roy did, and before he knew it he was having a bone marrow biopsy done. The results were not good. Roy had multiple myeloma, a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells. Plasma cells are mostly found in the bone marrow. Virtually incurable, the prognosis is 3-5 years life expectancy. Roy, in typical form, told the doctor, "At my age if I get 3-5 more years I'll be doing good."

Side effects of the disease are low blood counts, anemia, fatigue and the inability to fight infection. It is interesting that all of these things also affected his son LeRoy once he contracted aplastic anemia. Roy was told that most likely it would not be the myeloma that would kills him but rather an infection. He was warned to keep away from crowds where the likelihood of contracting germs would be greater. Unfortunately, that meant he had to stop doing all the things he loved outside the home. His life became a series of doctors' visits, trips to receive transfusions, and short jaunts to the grocery store.

For the first year of his disease he lived on his own, and then his daughter Kathleen moved in with him for a couple of years. He spent the last 10 months alone by his choice, with hospice coming to the house in December of 2003. Kimberly had driven over to meet with the hospice coordinator, and also a real estate agent so that Roy could discuss putting his house on the market. It was decided to list the house once Roy passed.

Roy Kubler
By the end of that month he entered an in-patient hospice floor at a local hospital. That is where he remained until he died on 21 January 2004. He was 86 years old, and had lived 4 years with the multiple myeloma. The day of his funeral, January 25th, began with rain which turned to sleet and finally snow. Many friends and family were not able to attend the funeral due to the weather. Catherine's sister Margie arrived via snowplow! The snow did not, however, prevent the Air Force from honoring their commitment to provide Roy with the Military Funeral Honors to which he was entitled as a veteran. The honor guard had to drive 50 miles from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton to Cincinnati in the dreadful weather. It was a moving ceremony, and fitting for a man who was proud of his service to his country.

And when it was all over, Roy was once again able to lie beside his beloved Catherine.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Family History Writing Challenge Day 28

Kubler's Dairy Queen
Roy continued to work for the trucking company in Des Moines for about a decade, but his constant travel and entertainment commitments took their toll on the family. Eventually he quit and tried other pursuits, including selling record-a-phones (early answering machines for businesses), Airstream Motorhomes (until his business partner took off with the model they had purchased and left Roy with the payments on it), and owning a Dairy Queen for a brief period. He then settled into selling commercial real estate for a few years, and his last position of employment was as the manager of a store selling parts and supplies for motorhomes and campers.

Oldest daughter Kathleen married Joseph Lane in 1968. They have three children: Julie, Joseph and Christopher. Julie married Ralph Maness in 1991, and they have two daughters: Molly and Cordelia. Joseph married Susan Sheets, and Christopher is unmarried.

Kenneth married Virginia Staley in 1969, and their children are Todd and Sara. Virginia died of complications from an aneurysm in 2015. Sara married Jonathan Wendt in 2006, and their children are Leo, Owen and Hazel.

Kimberly married James Wolterman in 1978. They have two children: Andrew and Kathryn. Andrew married Megan Englert in 2008.

Joseph married Lynn Graber in 1990 and their children are David, Stephanie and Rebecca. Lynn died of pancreatic cancer in 2002. Joseph remarried in 2010. David passed in 2013. Stephanie has two children: Arabella and Killian.

Kubler home in Cincinnati
Roy retired in 1984, and he and Catherine sold their house in Des Moines and moved back to their hometown of Cincinnati. They immediately began reconnecting with relatives and friends, and became extremely active in the local senior citizens center. They both enjoyed the card games and dances, Catherine loved the crafts room, and Roy became the director of the chorale group, which Catherine also participated in.

In the summer of 1989, they traveled out to Colorado to visit their son, Joseph. They stopped in St. Louis and stayed a couple of days with Kimberly and James, and also got to see Kathleen and her family as they lived in the area as well. They spent a couple of weeks enjoying the scenery in Colorado and were on their way home on July 18th. In the middle of Kansas on Interstate 70, Roy fell asleep at the wheel of the car. They had stopped for a potty break in the afternoon, and neither one of them put their seat belt back on when they reentered the car. Driving off onto the shoulder of the road, Roy awoke and over-corrected his steering. The car went off the road, flipping a couple of times. Catherine was killed instantly, and Roy was severely injured. The car behind them happened to contain a couple of off-duty paramedics, who immediately stopped to offer assistance and dialed 9-1-1. Roy was able to give them Joseph's phone number from memory, and he is the one who received the first call about the accident.

Roy was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Hays, Kansas. He suffered from a broken collar bone, all the ribs on one side were fractured, and he had internal bleeding. Joseph, in the meantime, faced the unpleasant task of notifying his siblings. He left a message on the answering machine at Kenneth's house and called Kathleen at work. She told him that she would call Kimberly at home that night after she knew her sister was done with work and had picked up her son Andrew at his baby-sitter's home. Kathleen was so distraught that someone drove her home from the office.

Joseph then had a friend drive with him from Colorado Springs to Hays, and Kathleen and Kimberly drove there together from St. Louis the next morning. Once they assessed their dad's situation and realized he would be in the hospital for quite a while, it was determined that Kathleen would fly to Cincinnati to begin making funeral arrangements for Catherine. In the meantime Kathleen's husband Joe would drive to Kansas and stay with Roy while everyone else made their way to Cincinnati for the funeral.

Catherine's obituary
Catherine's body was shipped by train to Cincinnati. It was very difficult for the children to plan their mother's funeral, especially knowing that their dad would not be able to attend it. They also did not know all of his wishes for the funeral, though he and Catherine had purchased a burial plan so that helped with some of the decision-making. The funeral was well attended by family and friends as Catherine was well-loved in the community. Men from the senior chorale group, dressed in their performance best, escorted the casket into the church while singing, "When Irish Eyes are Smiling." There was not a dry eye in St. Dominic's Church.

One thing that Roy made clear from his hospital bed was that he did not want anything personal of Catherine's to be in the house when he returned home to Cincinnati. He told Kathleen and Kimberly to pack everything up and have a yard sale in St. Louis. It was a very difficult thing to ask of two grieving daughters, but they reluctantly complied with his wishes, bringing Catherine's personal belongings back home with them after the funeral.

The beloved matriarch was dead at the age of 69. The foundation of the family shifted, and the children were numb.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Family History Writing Challenge Day 27

Catherine with Joseph
and Kimberly
Following Kenneth's birth, Catherine experienced a couple of miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy, resulting in the removal of one ovary and all but a piece of her second ovary. The doctor told her that she had a chance in a million of ever conceiving again, and a chance in 10,000 that a baby would be carried full term. When she started feeling ill in 1953, the doctor ran a pregnancy test even though he was sure she could not be expecting. At the time, the test involved injecting the urine of a woman into a female rabbit. If the woman was pregnant, the chorionic gonadotrophin in the urine would cause the rabbit's ovaries to enlarge and develop characteristic surface changes. Unfortunately, the only way to read the test results was to cut open the bunny. This is where the expression, "The rabbit died" comes from. Son Joseph joined the family in 1954. In 1955, she advised the doctor not to kill the bunny because she knew she was pregnant. Kimberly (that's me) was born later that year. Catherine definitely defied the odds, not once but twice!

Roy's household was expanding during a time period when the Railway Express Agency was contracting. Following the war a flurry of construction on highways and the widespread purchase of automobiles resulted in a downturn of passengers traveling by the rails. The railroads began sharp reductions in the number of passenger trains, which cut back on the reach of Railway Express Agency. It was perhaps this turn of events that caused Roy to seek employment elsewhere. He ultimately took a job with a trucking company in Chicago, Illinois at about the time Kimberly was born. He went ahead to find a house for the family and get established. A few months later, Catherine boarded a train in Cincinnati and took the four children to Chicago. How hard it must have been for her to leave her friends and family - her whole support group - behind.

Catherine's mother Mayme
Crusham comes to visit in
Chicago for Easter 
The house purchased was in a new subdivision by O'Hare Airport. The airport had just officially opened to commercial air travel in 1955, and their new next-door neighbor worked in the control tower at O'Hare. The second story of the home was unfinished, so all 6 members of the family slept on the main floor until Roy could add two bedrooms upstairs. Chicago was close enough to Cincinnati that both Roy and Catherine's parents could come over for a visit.

By 1960 Roy took a position with a different trucking company in Des Moines, Iowa. The family was on the move again. This time Roy and Catherine purchased a 3 bedroom, 1 bath home located on the north side of Des Moines. The walkout basement afforded extra living space for the family, and the dead end street was a safe haven for growing children. Cornfields surrounded the area, giving a feel of country living in the city. Nearby Woodlawn Park was easy walking distance, and offered play equipment, a baseball field that converted to an ice skating rink in the winter, a wading pool and a park shelter with games and activities throughout the summer.
Des Moines house with neighbor
girl and Kubler dog, Duke
Holy Trinity Church and School
The three older children were enrolled in various Catholic schools, and Kimberly attended kindergarten in the Johnston School District as Holy Trinity did not offer this grade. Roy and Catherine found a bowling league to join, and resumed their golf games. The family members settled nicely into their new lives in Des Moines.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Family History Writing Challenge Day 26

Catherine with her arm around LeRoy,
her nephew Danny Wambaugh
and Kathleen in the chair
While Roy was away serving his country, Catherine did the best she could at their home in Cincinnati. Unable to work due to the presence of two small children, she survived on the small allowance Roy was able to send her from his military pay. Perhaps she had some assistance from her family next door as well. She kept her spirits up by writing to Roy and letting him know how she and the children were doing. She eagerly awaited his replies, and kept those letters until the day she died.

Cincinnati, like all of America, had done its part to aid in the war effort, buying war bonds, accepting rationing, and creating jobs to help build or make the supplies needed for the soldiers. So it was no surprise that when President Harry S. Truman announced the end of the war on 14 August 1945, a crowd of 15,000 gathered at Fountain Square downtown, blowing horns, singing and shouting under a shower of paper graffiti tossed from office windows above. Thousands attended services at churches and synagogues.

But under all the relief and gaiety was a nagging concern about the economy. Many of the jobs created during the war were as a result of government contracts, which were cancelled when the war ended. Industrial employment in Hamilton County had nearly doubled during the war years, including women who entered the job force as well as men who had relocated to the area because of defense-related job opportunities. What would happen to all these employees? Would the returning 12,000-15,000 local veterans be able to find employment?

Many of the manufacturing plants went back to their original pre-war product lines once their government contracts ended. Returning servicemen were offered their old jobs, and many women were displaced from the job force. A new automobile plant built by General Motors in Hamilton County following the end of the war also offered employment opportunities to veterans and other men in the community.

Roy was lucky to be able to return to his job at the Railway Express Agency, a company that had boomed during WWII. He was happy to go back to a more normal life with work, his family and worshiping at Resurrection of Our Lord Catholic Church in Price Hill. The original church was built in  1919, and a school was added in 1920. By 1952, the growth in attendance by parishioners necessitated that a new church be constructed. The new building was completed in 1954.

Shortly after Roy's return from the war, the family was dealt an incredible blow. LeRoy was diagnosed at the age of 3 with aplastic anemia, a rare, serious blood disorder caused by failure of the bone marrow to produce blood cells. Symptoms of the disease are anemia, bleeding and infection. Some cases have been linked to exposure to toxic environmental chemicals such as benzene, a colorless and highly flammable liquid. It is used as a starter material for other products, including rubber. Because Catherine worked in a factory sewing rubber basketballs before and during her pregnancy with LeRoy, it begs the question - did exposure to benzene cause him to be born prematurely, and then later contract aplastic anemia? While there were studies done to examine the impact of benzene in the workplace, there were none conducted at that time to examine the impact on a fetus. Maybe it's just as well, as Catherine would have been devastated to find that something she had done caused her little boy to be sick. She was most likely pregnant with her third child, Kenneth, when they found out about LeRoy's illness.

There was no cure for aplastic anemia in the 1940s. Patients were being injected with horse serum - antithymic globulin. Side affects included fatigue and serum sickness, with fever and edema. The cost of the injections was exorbitant, and the family could not afford the treatment. The drug manufacturer agreed to cover the expense if the Kubler's would allow LeRoy to participate in a study. Roy and Catherine willingly agreed, eager to do anything to save their boy.

Ken in arms of Catherine's
brother Charlie, LeRoy and
Kathleen circa 1949
LeRoy was able to go to school off and on when he felt up to it, but he hated the fact that the nuns at Resurrection School always made him sit by the radiator in the classroom. He was extremely susceptible to infection with the disease. In his 7th year he developed pneumonia. On the morning of 31 January 1950, Roy went into his son's bedroom to check on him before going to work. LeRoy asked for a drink of water, and by the time Roy came back with the glass, LeRoy had died.

Because of the rareness of his disease, the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote a story about his death. From that story, many people wrote letters to Roy and Catherine. Most of them were expressing condolences, but some were filled with hate, claiming that they must be really bad people of God had chosen to take their first-born son away from them. There were some letters that Roy never let Catherine see because they were so terrible. As if the loss of their son wasn't enough, the couple had to deal with the judgmental words of others. Kathleen was barely 6 and Kenneth 4 when their brother died. It must have been horrific for the family to endure.
newspaper article
about LeRoy's death

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Family History Writing Challenge Day 25

Camp Kilmer
The Army’s New York Port of Embarkation could process up to 250,000 troops per month. The returning soldiers were greeted with signs of welcome, bands, and refreshments. Upon docking, Roy’s group was ferried to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. Camp Kilmer had a relatively new history, having been completed in just six months in 1942. The facility covered more than 1,500 acres and contained 1,120 buildings. During WWII the camp processed over 1.3 million service men and women for duties overseas. Following the end of the war, it became the main center for receiving soldiers returning home from Europe and the Pacific, with more than 5,000 coming through the camp each day.

Fort Knox
Roy spent only a couple of days at Camp Kilmer. He remarked that they had good food there, as they were served by Italian prisoners of war. When released, he traveled by train to Fort Knox, Kentucky. His separation was processed there and occurred on 13 November 1945.

Roy spent two years, three months, and seventeen days in continental service, and one year, four months, and eleven days in foreign service, for a total service of three years, seven months, and twenty-eight days of active duty. His decorations and citations included a World War II Victory Medal, the American Theater Ribbon, an Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon with two Bronze Stars, a Good Conduct Medal, and a Distinguished Unit Badge. Roy was honorably discharged as a Buck Sergeant on 13 November 1945. He enlisted with the Reserve Corps on 14 November 1945 at Fort Knox.

Roy decided to immediately reenlist because it meant a four year commitment instead of a ten year commitment to the Army Air Forces. Also, it assured him that if hostilities broke out again, he would not be sent overseas. He was never required to do any reserve work, and he was again honorably discharged, this time as a tech sergeant on November 13, 1948. A tech sergeant is right underneath a master sergeant, and is the second highest rank that could be achieved as a noncommissioned officer.

Roy in front of house
Roy returned home to Cincinnati on a train, compliments of his employer, Railway Express Agency, in November of 1945. He came back to a new house, a now three-year-old son and a seventeen-month-old daughter he had yet to meet. But he never expressed regret over what he had missed, instead feeling grateful for what he had experienced and the fact that he was able to come home at all. The greatest generation, indeed!