Showing posts with label Ball family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ball family. Show all posts

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Father Lewis S Ball Sepia Saturday 19 (Click here to visit others' on Sepia Saturday)

For this week I show a photo which I treasure, my father and my hero, Lt. Lewis S Ball and Combat Crew 193, First Air Force, First command 113th Army Air Force Base (Wing), D squadron, Unit Combat Crew 193, Charleston, South Carolina  

My father is standing, back row far left, hand in pocket, pilot, 2 Lt. Lewis S Ball, standing at the far right, Eugene de Palma, bombadier and Flight Officer; and Raymond Pachucki, front row 2nd on the left, radio operator. The other men are F/O Allyn A Pierce Harris Co., TX; F/O Allen Cantor Wayne Co, MI; Sgt. David R. Hackney Milwaukee Co. WI; Sgt. John P. Flynn NewYork Co, NY; Cpl. Calvin J. Arent Berrien Co, MI; Sgt. Charles V. Brewer ; Sgt. Theodore Hirsch Berrien Co., MI. Believe me I have searched and searched to find any trace of remaining families, etc.

This fatal flight would have been nearly the last flight before this crew would have shipped to England for the war effort. Although I have all the names of the men on this flight, from the accident reports and records I have obtained in my search for information over the years. I can match only three to the men in the photo. Just months ago I was contacted by the nephew of Eugene de Palma, bombardier and matched that name and face. Three years ago I was contacted by the niece of Raymond Pahucki and identified him in the photo.

I have written about my father other places on this blog, explaining how I never knew him. (See my sidebar for the blog posts in the heading "Somethings about my Father".)  He was a pilot in the US Army Air Corp and he and his entire crew disappeared on a flight that should have but never returned from Nassau, Bahamas to Charleston, SC. June 20, 1944, never a trace found of the plane or crew. I came to earth in November and he left that June, although he knew of my (or someone’s imminence).

I am one of what were 185,000appx. USA war orphans, so designated as "orphans"  by our government, those of us who lost our fathers in World War II. I belong to an organization known as the American World War II Orphans Network (AWON) and I have a tribute to my father on their website. If you want to read more you can access that at     It  was not until after 2004 and my increased activity in searching for and finding information that I began to really talk abou my dad. All my years growing up there was no discussion; I thought my family was wierd but I learned that was the way of that generation, silence, all too frequently.  One of my AWON colleagues has written a poem, "The Wall of Silence" which describes those feelings.   I hold deep gratitude to AWON for uniting me with others who clearly understood how different we were and for removing that reluctance to mention.  Even today sometimes people's eyes glaze over, they don't want to hear nor to listen, but I think Sepia Readers might be interested in just a sliver of this history.   

Louie, as he was called, was born April 3, 1922 to Frank Ball and Anna Kudzia Ball in Harwick, PA, the middle of three sons. They were a stalwart Polish family and devout Roman Catholics. Louie was a Boy Scout and a member of the championship first aid team of PA. Louie worked at Duquesne Light Company, Harwick mine before enlisting in the Army, against the wishes of his mother. I was told by Uncle Henry  and others that my father was exceptionally smart and that he was the favorite son.  They say Louie had the best sense of humor and was full of fun. The  3 brothers are in this photo Eddie, Henry and Louie.  I remember very little of Frank Ball, my father's father who died when I was maybe  7 years old.  I had infrequent contact with my grandmother Anna Ball. 
Lewis (Lou)  and my mother, Helen Pauline Konesky married at Maxwell Field, AL June 12, 1943; this is their wedding picture.  This was to the consternation of his mother, my Grandmother Anna Ball who was adamant that the eldest son, (Louie’s brother Edward who was also off in the Army) should have married first.  Perhaps if Louie had lived Anna would have accepted Helen and Helen would have  gotten along with Anna.  I like to think that.  There are many reasons for the bad blood between my mother, the surviving widow who remarried, and my Grandmother Ball, grieving mother who went to her grave at 80 still believing that someday Louie would be found and come home. For these and other reasons I hardly knew my father’s family even though we lived close in PA. I was blessed though to have contact with Uncle Henry and his family( my father’s baby brother) who lived in CA as we did; we lost Uncle Henry in 2008. Today again thanks to the internet and my AWON tribute, I am in contact with my cousins, daughters of Uncle Eddie after years of silence. It is interesting to hear what they know of Grandma Ball.   The photo below was taken sometime in early 1944 with my Dad home for a short leave:Left to right, Henry,Mother Anna, Lou, and Frank Ball.  My grandmother Anna gave me this old photo when I left for California so long ago.

But for this Sepia Saturday the photos will suffice. I have assembled a huge scrapbook about my father and am working on a memoir about my life growing up and surviving without a father, never knowing anyone else like me until I joined AWON in 1990’s, always wondering what if, and yet not having many answers until my mom died in 2004 and we found a suitcase full of letters and paperwork. But as I said this is not my story this Sepia, this is only to share some photos of my dad.

Dad was stationed for a time at Ft. McCoy, WI, not far from where we live today. I am amazed when I trace his steps and see the same places today that he saw so may years ago.  He loved to take photographs and in that suitcase in Mom’s closet I found this one taken in February 1943 outside their barracks at Ft. McCoy. It was developed across the river here in La Crosse, WI.  These are 4 of  dad's friends in his writing left to right, Tony, Jackson, Joe, Jerry,  Looks like they are all enjoying a smoke!  And here outside the barracks  also at Ft. McCoy, prior to the time he  left for pilot training, Lou (my dad) and Jobe.  No last names and no way to identify these men. 
I close this post with a quote from one of my father's pilot training books.  It was a dedication to the brave men who were pilots during that siege of a time, warning them that they were not immortal and what might be ahead.  I use this line every time I post something about my dad---... their memory becomes a treasure...he holds the sky...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Anna Ball's Granddaughters

In October in PA I finally got to be with my cousin, Carol  after maybe 47 years and just no contact.   She's  is the cousin  I  remember most from my father's brother, Eddie's family.  We had  little contact because my mother did not  get along with my father's mother, my grandmother Ball, photo here from 1958.  I remember Carol.  Her son found me through the AWON website and the tribute I'd written on my father.

Carol and her hubby Les are Floridians but spend time through the  summer in PA where they also have a condo.  It was all too short of a visit.  But when she and I talked this trip to PA I had already made up my mind that whatever date she picked would work!  We'd missed getting together  in  July and they were not in PA in May when we met with Chrissie, another cousin and Carol's sister and her hubby Larry.  Well, the day Carol suggested for us to visit them for hors d'oeuvres and drinks happened to be our 42nd anniversary.  We had other dinner plans that evening, but I said, "yes."   That shortened the  time we had to spend with them.  But then as Chrissie and I discussed after we met, this is all so new and we don't really know what to expect.  So maybe a short visit was the best for the first time anyway.  What if we did not like each other?  I was nervous again. 

On our short drive to their condo, we decided to ignore the turnpike directions she'd  given me and take the shorter roads back through the hills of PA from Mt. Top in Tarentum , where we park our  motor home.  Gertrude Pauline Spaghillicuddy (GPS) could take us there if we got lost.  It was not so  far but wouldn't you know it we ran into back road construction and detours.  How we got just where we needed to be, only My People & Angels  know!  But we made it despite my fretting that "Jerry, now we are going to be late!  We should have gone the other way!"  Should haves are  something I try not to  say, but it creeps back in frustration.  Should'a, could'a, would'a....are all worthless concepts.  Late, no.  In fact we were a little early and that generated further comments from me, "Now we are early and that might just be rude."   I had worked my mind through a frenzy about this visit.

From the minute I saw her I felt like I had regained another part of myself.  I don't know how skeptical Carol felt about our visit, but all my frenzies vanished.  I felt like I was  looking into a mirror too.  We have such a close  resemblance.  Well both of us color our hair, mine lightened as it has gotten way darker over the years and Carol's a redish tone.  Larry, Chrissie's husband had said in May, "You and Carol look alike especially the eyes."  Carol says everyone tells her she looks like Grandma Ball, and I agreed.  That means I must resemble my grandma Ball too. 

All my life I have been told I look just like my father.  I never thought any further back in the Ball family.  I remember when Carol's father saw me the last time in CA at  my uncle Henry's ( his & dad's baby brother.)  Uncle Eddie  started to  cry, tears flowed, "Patty, you look so much like your dad."  I was not very comfortable with him because I did not have pleasant memories from childhood and my mother's tales.  I  recall  thinking, "well who would I look like!"

 But if I look like my Dad and Carol and I share resemblances, and she looks like Grandma Anna Ball, then I must too and my dad must have favored his mother.  I can see looking at  photos  now how that is so.  When I first saw Chrissie in May I marveled at how much she looked  just like her dad, Uncle Eddie.  And I can see in some old photos how Eddie looked more like Granpap Frank  Ball, his father. 

This brings us back to Anna.  It has taken me a little bit of time to  actually get this onto the blog. It remains another of those puzzles about what do we inherit and what do we develop from our environment.  This is a lifelong puzzle to me and something I read about whenever I can.

Not only do Carol and I have a strong resemblance but we share similar interests--many  the same that Anna had sewing and gardening.  I  prefer roses while Carol grows magnificent orchids.  I have been into  dumping coffee grounds,  peelings, and all  else into the garden.  Carol reminded me that Anna did the same thing.  Carol called said Anna was the undiscovered, Alice Waters of her generation.  But the biggest interest Carol and I share is reading.  We email back and forth about what books we are reading.  Les, her hubby is an avid reader too so that must make it interesting at their home.  What to read?.  I mentioned that I tend to keep and collect books to which Les replied, "well they become friends."  I believe he said they have  about 5000 books.  Wow, I have not counted mine and I have downsized and donated, but I would be surprised if I have  that many.  Our shelves are full in the study though .  I could no more have a home without a place for books than I don't know what.

Carol and I both remember Grandma Ball's kitchen and the cookie jar.  How one time on one of my visits there she and I ate all the cookies inthe jar.  I don' think we got into any trouble for that trick.

Below is another  photo of our grandmother Anna.  I don't have a color photo of Anna  but the  facial similarities are certainly there.  What do you think?

And let's not forget Chrissy, Carol's sister, also my cousin.  We met in May.  When I saw her except for her blond hair, she looks just like her dad.  So perhaps Uncle Eddie looked like his father and my dad looked like his mother?   But there is a  resemblance between me & Chrissy also.  Who knows, guess we all just look like ourselves! 

I think Anna Ball's smiling somewhere that her grand daughters got together finally. 

Doggone it!  This blog will not allow me to put these photos adjacent to each other.  Some things have changed on Blogger and I'm not  pleased with those changes!!