Friday, November 25, 2011

Sepia Saturday 102 809th Tank Destroyer and Uncle Carl (Click Here to Sepia Site)

Uncle Carl center with rifle and pipe and some men of the
809th Battalion, US Army, 1942 Ft Hood TX
Continuing from last week, with more about Uncle Carl and his World War  II 809th Tank Destroyer Battalion.  This week  the focus is Fort. Hood Texas, which is still a massive  US Army station today.  You likely heard about it in the tragedy of November 2008 when the Muslim Army Major killed 13 soldiers and wounded 31 in his jihadist act of terrorism.  But to Uncle Carl and the men of the  809th it was one of their first stops in training in 1942.   In the photo above, sent to his parents, he wrote to his father, "here I am with some men training as snipers.  I look like I just got back from hunting, Pap, so I have a pipe for you."  Carl looks like such the old man here, all of 23 years of age; but he grew up hunting with his father and was an excellent shot which served him well through the war.   When I scanned that  photo I noticed "ELKO" around the corners,  wonder what's that?

Flash forward to 1990 when the 809th  had their annual reunion at Ft. Hood Texas.  I believe that was the last reunion Carl attended, for there are no more reunion photos among his  collection.  Below is  the postcard he'd saved from the trip, a very different looking Ft. Hood from today and  very different from what they saw in 1942. 

1990 Postcard of Ft. Hood,  Killeen Texas
Because we are international on Sepia,  the back of the postcard is worth sharing, along with the description, notice the card was printed in Ireland! 

Well the reunion in 1990 shows the men gathered in front of their memorial which I understand remains on the base.  I do wish Uncle Carl had named these men.  He is the  man  standing, 2nd from the left wearing the yellow cap.  I wonder if any of these men were in the 1942 photo.  

1990 Ft Hood TX  809th reunion

Today the website about this Army post is   As I researched , I learned  a lot about it's history;  the following is taken from Wikipedia:.... Fort Hood, a United States military post located outside of Killeen, Texas was named after Confederate General John Bell Hood who was the commander of Hood”s Texas Brigade. It is located halfway between Austin and Waco, about 60 miles (97 km) from each. Its origin was the need for wide-open space to test and train with World War II tank destroyers. The War Department announced the location in January 1942, and the initial completion was set for that August. As originally constructed, Fort Hood had an area of 158,706 acres, with billeting for 6,007 officers and 82,610 enlisted personnel.

World War II, tank destroyers were developed to counter German mobile armored units. These were mobile anti-tank guns on armored halftracks or specially developed tanks. Wide-open space was needed for the tank destroyer testing and training, which Texas had in abundance. Andrew Davis (A.D.) Bruce was assigned to organize a new Tank Destroyer Tactical and Firing Center, and he chose Killeen, Texas for the new camp. About 300 families had to move from their homes to make room for the camp area. Whole communities were uprooted. To lessen the pain of moving, the Army agreed to allow land to be used for grazing for a nominal grazing fee. This grazing arrangement still continues today.

In January 1943, an additional 16,000 acres (65 km²) in Bell County and 34,943 acres (141 km²) in Coryell County near Gatesville, Texas were purchased. The site near Gatesville was known as the sub-camp and later as North Fort Hood. During the war years, North Fort Hood housed nearly 40,000 troops and 4,000 prisoners of war, and was the site for the southern branch of the United States Disciplinary Barracks.

At the end of 1942 there were about 45,000 troops living and training at Camp Hood which reached its peak population of almost 95,000 troops in late June 1943. In 1944 the number of tank destroyer battalions in training at Camp Hood declined rapidly replaced by field artillery battalions and the Infantry Replacement Training Center in March 1944. The total camp population on the last day of 1944 was 50,228.

The last year of World War II saw a major shift of emphasis in Camp Hood's mission and a drastic reduction in population. As the war came to an end, the training of troops slowed and equipment reclamation and demobilization planning became the priorities. A separation center was established in September 1945, and as the year ended, post strength had fallen to 1,807 prisoners and about 11,000 troops.

This is my Sepia Post for this week.  Click on the title to this to go to the host site and check what others are sharing this week.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

This year we will celebrate our truly  American Holiday, in a different again way.  Jerry and I will go to the nursing home to eat Thanksgiving meal there with his mother, easier than trying to bring her here to the house.  This is something new the SNF is trying for families of residents this year so we thought it worth our support; limited to two family members per resident, and you can understand why as they are preparing the full turkey day feast and only charging $4 per person.  We will dine early as they serve the  big meal at  noon.  That will give us a very leisurely day, Jerry will likely watch football on TV and I have myriad projects to entertain myself. Besides if the weather really is 60 degrees as predicted I will get a long walk in to burn off calories.

We have had a slight turmoil here now all OK  as Jerry underwent medical tests.  The cold Jerry had on our trip became near pneumonia and so he reluctantly agreed to go to the doctor in North Carolina.  While he got antibiotics and recovered  readily, they detected a spot on his lung when they took xrays.  After we returned home, he finally took the CD to our primary care physician and a very quick short ride on Mr. Toads wild wagon ensued over the past week, culminating with a PET Scan to satisfy our MD and the pulmonary specialist at Mayo Clinic and to rule out malignancy.  It  turns out to be just a spot but they will monitor it for two years to be sure it does not change, now that they have a baseline.  While I was feeling positive, Jerry who enjoys excellent health was quite concerned, one can say scared as to what  might be.  So we will continue to give big  heeping Thanks  tomorrow.  Relief came Monday with the results of the PET and a  short meeting with the Pulmonary MD.  We are blessed to live here and have Mayo Clinic for our health care, they do not mess around and proceed full speed ahead...despite Medicare and Insurance restrictions.   We well know no one is promised tomorrow, so we try to live in the present moment by moment. 
 As we are at Thanksgiving Eve, I share thoughts from one of my favorite girlhood authors; long before Little House on the Prarie went to TV,  generations of us girls read and enjoyed Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Here she writes about 1922.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my bloggy pals in this country and abroad!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sepia Saturday 101 809th Tank Destroyer (Click Here to Sepia Site)

Patch with 809th Emblem
I have been busy  reviewing Uncle Carl's WWII and reunion records to help  a nephew of a man who was in the 809th; the nephew contacted me by facebook.  Since I relate absolutely to the frustrations of folks who are researching family members I was eager to help the man, but so far  nothing in particular about his uncle has shown up.  Uncle Carl was active in  setting up annual reunions of the 809th until his later years when he could no longer travel and today very few of these WWII vets remain amongst us.  This has had my wheels spinning and when I saw the theme for the week, I knew I had something in orange and  a reference to Oldsmobile (no longer exists)  of General Motors. 

 I have written before about Uncle Carl who passed at 93 in May.  As a reminder, here is Carl,  January 1944, a young soldier training on desert techniques in California prior to departure for Europe.  They were uncertain where they would be sent so the tank destroyers were prepared for all terrains and climates.  

Once I asked him how he ended up in the tank destroyers unit and he would not tell me much, but said he was training men to shoot.  He was a sniper and a great shot, a skill developed from boyhood hunting with his father.  His skills landed him in the headquarters unit.  He never talked to me too much about his war years.  There is a story that when he returned he had something from the 809th with the emblem and when I saw it, I started to cry and  fuss, the image upset me, well it does look vicious, but it was a bad time on earth.  My grandmother would have none of that upsetting me so that emblem was removed from my sight and to be truthful I never remember seeing it, but I remember the story.  Later when I was a teenager, Uncle Carl told me he had a necklace set aside for me someday.  I forgot all about it but  found it stashed with his WWII memorabilia after he passed, a small gold medallion  with that 809th logo, marked, "for Patty when she gets older."  But, this is about the tank destroyers.  I shuffled through the suitcase of documents and photos and memorabilia I have yet to sort, looking for the information. 

Wikipedia says that ..  "The 809th Tank Destroyer Battalion was a  battalion of the United States Army active during the Second World War. The battalion was activated on 18 March 1942, and remained in the United States until November 1944, when it was moved to the United Kingdom. It arrived in France on 20 January 1945, equipped with M18 Hellcat tank destroyers. It was attached to the 8th Armored Division on 9 February, and fought in the crossing of the Roer. On 20 March, it was attached to the 79th Infantry Division, crossing the Rhine on the 27th, and was then attached to the 95th Infantry Division for the fighting around the Ruhr Pocket in April before being returned to the 8th Armoured on 13 April. During this month, it converted to M36 Jackson tank destroyers. In late April it saw action in the Harz Mountains, finishing the war in central Germany."  This coincides with many photos from Carl and with  a card he once sent his mother from  the "Thundering Herd" which was the 8th Armored Division. 

Below is a poster that measures 9 inches by 14 inches about the tank destroyers.  It is not readable in the photo so I scanned the  poster in two parts to share here. 

The top part of this poster is:

The bottom of the poster, notice the reference to Oldsmobile, General Motors:

Again  courtesy of Wikipedia..."Oldsmobile was a brand of American automobile produced for most of its existence by General Motors. It was founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897. In its 107-year history, it produced 35.2 million cars, including at least 14 million built at its Lansing, Michigan factory. When it was phased out in 2004, Oldsmobile was the oldest surviving American automobile marque, and one of the oldest in the world, after Daimler and Peugeot. The closing of the Oldsmobile division presaged a larger consolidation of GM brands and discontinuation of models during the company's 2009 bankruptcy reorganization."

1934 Oldsmobile from  GM Archives

It was interesting to be reminded how industry catered to the war effort as did  the entire country.  But this post is about the tank destroyer battalion.  I have a large narrow , 11 inch by 24 inch framed photo from 1942 of the men in the 809th headquarters battalion but I cannot figure how to get it posted other than photographing it in parts.  Perhaps the man's uncle is in this photo.  The glass is cracked and so this is something I will be having reframed at sometime to hang in the patriotic room.  Meantime, my Sepia blog pals may be able to provide some advice, guidance as to how I can  capture the photograph to share with the nephew searching  for his uncle's story. Evidently his uncle died in 1956 in an accident and was not in touch with the men of the 809th who had their first reunion in 1960 in Chicago; I was not able to find his name on any of the rosters in Carl's files. 
809th Headquarters Battalion, March 1944, Camp Robinson, Arkansas
 The 809th traveled all through Europe.  I remember Uncle Carl telling me that they were everywhere which is why he had no desire to ever return.  The last item identifies the places where my Uncle went with his battalion; I have his canteen onto which he meticulously and carefully engraved the name of each place beginning with his initial training.  

Stations of the 809th Headquarters Battalion
 More about this next week or so...... as usual visit the Sepia Saturday Host Site by clicking on the title to this post above.   See what others in the international community are sharing this week to coincide or not with Alan's suggested theme. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

100 Sepia Saturdays and a mystery woman (Click here to the Sepia host site)

The centennial post of Sepias is here!  And I return to the celebration with some mystery photos.   The woman  of today is in many photos in family collections from my aunt, grandmother, mother and uncle, the exact same photos but the trouble is none of them wrote who she is/was nor where the photos were taken.  I suppose they all knew her quite well, but now I sit looking and pondering.  Couldn't someone have just written her name once on any photo!  Was she a cousin?  A neighbor, some one who married into the family?  I have absolutely no clues nor anyone to ask.  

So to celebrate,  I offer a few photos featuring this lady, the first  standing under what must be a drugstore sign of some kind.  I suspect from their album placements these photos were taken in the  later 1945 era, post WWII.   Whoever she was, they all had the very same photos so it is odd to see her and ponder, scratching my head as I search the names in the genealogy.

Mystery woman of  family albums
Too bad the poles block the drugstore name as that might give me  a clue.  She is an attractive one, with those waves and curls to her hairdo and dressed nicely, even in the following photos which appear to have been taken the same day at an amusement park of sorts.  Neither location nor the men are identified, adding to the mystery. Because the men are there and she with them all I feel it post war time.

Here she stands  at the railing by a small pond with the rowboats.
She has jacket and purse in arm, ready for a day of it, dressed to the nines.

If she had been only in my aunt's albums I might have thought her to be a girlfriend, someone from the factory who worked with Aunt Jinx. The odd thing is none of my family appear in a photo with her, only more unknown people, same photos in all albums.  Where was she, did she mail  these photos to all of them?

3 Mystery men at  the same amusement park
Three unidentified men stroll here in what I believe is the same amusement park.  None of them are familiar to me but she knows them.  Could the one to the far left be her brother, their hair looks similar?  Maybe she was an amusement park stalker?

Here she is with someone who looks like he will take a turn at the
"U Bust Em" in the booth behind them.
This man resembles some of the Janosky clan, my great aunt Mary's sons.  Notice the  attire of the folks in the background,  the ladies in heels and dresses and one wears a hat. But our mystery girl sports slacks.

Here she is back at that pond railing with one
of the three men in the other photo
I do recall one photo I shared many Sepias ago which several of you identified as likely some sort of pageant.  I wonder if it is the same woman, what do you think?  Hair looks similar, but I am unsure of the facial features.  She too is a mystery in the family albums. 

Clueless I remain and other than offering these photos to our centennial celebration, I really don't know what else to do with them.  They were enjoying themselves and so we host them in our celebration!

As usual click on the title to this post to go to the Sepia Host site and  enjoy all that others share. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Eating in Retirement

I have always been known as a great cook.  I think it is genetic, coming from both grandmothers but mostly from Rose, my mother's mother with whom I spent most of my developmental days.  In my  career days, there was not so much time to cook nightly feasts, but we always had good solid meals at home and we always ate dinner together.  Steve's friends sometimes joined us.  

I have more time now being retired to plan and prepare in the kitchen and I admit to going in spurts.  But now that our last of autumnal days approach and the wet rainy almost snow appears, it is time for kitchen creativity.  I have posted some things on facebook, when I remember to take a quick photo but tonight's dinner was so good, I feel like bragging. I am sorry that I am away from friends in CA who are scattered all across the country, because we would have enjoyed a nice meal together this evening.

This evenings menu was first class:  Stuffed beef tenderloin--from Festival Market in La Crosse, WI, so I cannot take credit for the stuffing this time of blue cheese, mushrooms and bacon.  The flavors were excellent and beef so tender it  was cut with our butter knives.  We have some left over for tomorrow night. 

With the cold MN weather we do not grill outside as we used to do year round in CA so it has been a challenge to roast meats in the oven and or toaster oven or occasionally the George Foreman or Panini Grill.

To accompany the grand meat, sauteed mushrooms, great green salads with blue cheese crumbles and pecans and sliced red grapes  and a repeat of roasted asparagus.  We both love sauteed mushrooms and enjoy them frequently, sliced  right into the skillet into  hot olive oil and butter, sprinkled with minced garlic and pepper, ummmmm. It was only a few years ago that I learned not to wash the mushrooms.  Previously I had rinsed them very heavily and sometimes soaked them floating in water to get the dirt out.  I had heard that they did not need to be washed but I have a phobia about washing everything and recent news of salmonella and  e coli seem to validate my technique.    However watching Paula Deen and hearing her admonish a guest to "Nevah wash a mushroom it makes them watery" I decided to try her technique, wipe them clean with a damp cloth.  I have found they saute so much better instead of being drowned as I had done.  It does take longer, to individually scrub them, but again, I have more time in retirement.

I am very  fond of salads, maybe it was a California habit.  To me a meal is not complete without a  fresh green salad.  I was shocked when we moved to the Midwest and found the salad bars a poor excuse for greenery.  Cole slaw was as close as it got and a salad locals relished which absolutely turned my nose--a  combination of elbow macaroni and peas and bits of yellow cheese (ala Velveeta)  bound together with heavy mayo or salad dressing.  I still cannot imagine eating that as a salad, but they do around here.  I have since found restaurants where they serve good salads, in fact the Mayo Franciscan hospital cafeteria in La Crosse has one of the best salad bars in what is a great cafeteria.  We have taken visiting friends to the hospital cafeteria to eat, they cannot believe it but have to agree once they experience the food.

 I enjoy my green salads and this evening when I had no greens had to dash to Quillins up in town to pick up a bag of Romaine chopped at $2.69.  A bit pricey but then if I want a salad so be it.  There is  plenty there for about 3 meals for the two of us.  Jerry does not like all the adventuresome additions that I do as he is almost a purist, to him a salad is lettuce of some sort and maybe onions; he even prefers his tomatoes sliced  alongside, not mixed in.  But tonight he was at my mercy and had mixed romaine with pecans, sliced red grapes, sliced red onion and blue cheese crumbles; bell pepper on mine only he does not eat that.  While I enjoy a vinaigrette dressing or a balsamic he likes creamy blue cheese.

So tonight was excellent dining again here.  We seem to have hit it big this week with the stuffed pork chops the other evening.  As I said I go in spurts.  Sometimes I just can't think of what to cook and then the meal can be dreary.  What about you?  What's your favorite?  Oh, I love casseroles and he not so much but when it's what's for dinner he is captive.

After our southern sojourn I was taken in with the delicious biscuits.  I did now how to make excellent biscuits once, years and years ago.  But as with other skills, the technique was lost from not being used.  I am now back to brushing up.  The other evening I produced a semblance of biscuits, but I was not satisfied.  I will keep trying  because I have vowed to no longer buy the zip open cans from the grocery store.  There is no comparison between those and real home made southern biscuit.  Tomorrow I will try the recipe from Rena, my 94 year old friend in CA who whipped them up in a heart beat.      Ummmmmm.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Catching up and falling back on time

Red bush off back deck.
I have just been  far too entertained with domestic chores and laundry for days to write, even having to skip my favorite Sepia Saturday again this past weekend.  Time sure can roll along quickly most days.  Right now I am taking a quick refresh break from many outdoor chores as we are enjoying a sunny lovely fall day.  I am especially thrilled that the bush off our back deck has restored itself to brilliant reds after an absence of a few dismal years.  When we moved here that first fall it was a brilliant red, but not so much since, a splash of a red leaf here and there only.  But this year, it is back to its red.  I don't know what kind it is but many folks around here have these although no one identifies them.  The local nursery was no help.  This is the bush  where I have sprouted blooms of wine bottles the last couple years amongst it's foilage on  barren limbs that did not leaf out.   I am curious if it only does a red show every so many years. 

This weekend was the autumnal  time change when we gain the hour of sleep, daylight savings, I like that.  But I do not like that it will now be dark about 4:30 PM and surely by 5:00PM this far north.  And another think, I dislike  resetting all the clocks and watches and electronics in the house.  Well, I am fortunate that time changers are Jerry's tasks and fortunately all the computers, cell, and cable TV monitors and the bedroom alarm clock reset themselves.  That still leaves the  clocks on the stove, microwave, under the kitchen counter radio, watches and other  old clocks for manual adjustments and of course, the vehicles.

I think of Aunt Jinx who got tired of all the  resetting of her various clocks and so she left the stove clock alone to be "right half the year or so" as she said when I would visit and tell her the clock was wrong and would offer to change it. The right time half the year was good enough for her and she said she did not look at that clock anyway. 

Today I made my first time change mistake, because while the mechanical apparatuses (apparati?) are reset, my body is not and we had not changed the clock in my SUV.  So on my way to Curves this morning and the post office, I decided to first swing into the library to visit LaVonne, our librarian and a friend whom I've not seen since we returned home.  But when I arrived the doors were locked, I  checked the sign posted and thought, well it is 10:30 and they open at 10:00 so why are the doors locked?

Because it was not 10:30 as my vehicle clock displayed but only 9:30.  Oh well, I had other errands and a work out awaiting and everything is convenient in our town so I could return later.  I had saved a front page article from the  Durham, NC newspaper about the necessity of libraries for real research in this time of Googling.  The article pointed out that not all reference material in libraries and research centers has been digitized nor made available on the internet. The analysis by Duke University students and the librarians concluded that the need for libraries is still vital for accurate in depth research.  Hooray for Duke! 

There the students bring their laptops to the library to compose on while using the massive reference materials.  It reminded me of my days as a college student at the Allegheny Library and home trips to Carnegie in Pittsburgh.  Somehow, I think it a disservice if college students do not have to avail themselves of a library but merely Google for information.  Knowing how to conduct research using reference materials is becoming a dying art, so LaVonne told me as she looked at the photos of the  volumes of materials on the shelves.  We commiserated on how we would thrill at the hunt for information in the our old college days among the massive tomes. For me it was not only college days, I used the reference materials at the California State Library numerous times during my career as an analyst when preparing legislation and testimony; how does it work today, a quick Google and there are the facts as we found them? 
Shallow analysis at best, I suppose.

The same newspaper had an extensive article about why books would not become obsolete nor replaced by  electronic readers for many reasons including that printed volumes abound, are cheaper than the ereads and   one can share a book.  Most interesting was the amazing new data showing that the aging eyes are not meant for extensive online reading.  I can verify that newest  study finding.  I spend lots of time at my computer.  However I do not like to read pages and pages of narrative material on line, I find it tires my eyes.  No surprise in this study that revealed lack of blinking and lubrication to the eyes is a common malady with ereaders and computers and that for people beyond a certain age, this is not a good thing.  Hah another reason to stick with the books.

Piles of leaves that Jerry has blown from the yard
Awaiting grinding in the mulcher and shredder and then
transport up the hill to the rose garden in the front.
Well, More to do outside to enjoy this sunshine.  Tomorrow later a wet front is  moving in.  We intend  to spread  leaf mulch over the rose garden to winterize them,  but may not finish this today.  It  is a glorious day to take in sunshine and great fresh air and blue sky.  Later....

Our smallest maple tree, still has many leaves
to come down.  Our motor home awaits movement
 to its winter house