While I was out digging in the garden this morning, I got to thinking about Memorial Day and that got me to thinking about my dad. Glenn. As a girl I knew about all the countries he had visited during the war. But he never spoke about the events during those war years until I was grown.
Dad was in the 2nd Armored Division in WWII. His division was known as "Hell on Wheels." Dad worked intelligence and most of his time was spent between the artillary, between the lines, with the fire passing overhead. He said that the artillary sounds didn't bother him so much ... it was when things went silent. Then they needed to hustle.
He saw many fronts, the first being North Africa. Casablanca. Sicily. He talked about the Mediterranean. Gibralter. England. That's where this picture was taken. In England. He sent this picture to my mom with a letter about how they would have a little girl one day and they would call her Penny. (Only I ended up being the first robin of spring instead.)
After England, the Normandy invasion. Dad's division made an amphibious landing a few days after the initial landing. They were hung up on a sandbar at low tide and he told me how he was in a tank in the landing craft and how loud it was and how confined they were. Then the beach. All he remembered of that was the smell. Those days were erased from his memory.
He walked across France. It was a hard, hard winter. Onto Belgium. The Rhine. The Elbe. Into Berlin.
My dad didn't come home right after the war. He had to stay in Holland for awhile. Paperwork, he said. He met some wonderful people in Holland who were very hospitable (and excellent bridge players.) My mom had thought they would have a spring wedding, but it turned out to be the end of October.
Mom worked as a secretary at Bell Aircraft those years and met many interesting people who would come and look around the plant. Mom and Dad never once complained or grumbled. They never indicated it was any sort of sacrifice. It was a responsibility. A duty. Something to be done and to be done well.
Here's Dad putting together a pogo stick for our younger son.
And here's the house Dad and Mom built after the war. Mom said it was the way Dad "worked it all through." He'd come home in the evenings and they'd go over to build the house. He did it all. From digging the basement to finishing the knotty pine panelled walls in the livingroom. It took a very long time. Mom and Dad lived there until they couldn't live there any longer.
What did my Dad enjoy the most? The water. Our home was on the Erie Barge Canal. I learned to swim in the Niagara River. My grandparents' cottage was on the St. Lawrence River.
The Niagara River, 1995