Last spring, I started reviewing some of my dad’s personal military items of record and some of the other documents that I have from the reunions his service group held for several years. My original intention was to compile a full outline of their reunions to publish in a blog at the end of May. Due to various circumstances at the time, I was not able to complete the project as intended.
So, this being Veterans Day, I wanted to give a bit of recognition to my dad and this group who served during the second world war. However, I have curbed my original plan. Instead of this blog showing a complete outline of the reunions, it will be more of a review of their service and include just a little information about their reunions. Mostly, because I have been considering putting together a more complete information into a book of some kind that will serve as a historical and memorable documentation. Whether I actually see that to fruition remains to be seen.
In a previous blog posting, I did highlight some of my dad’s service experience which you could connect to via the following link: My Dad: A Soldier of World War II. This current post may contain some repeat of his service highlights. Please note, that all of my source information listed here is being taken from papers or records that I hold in my personal possession. In addition to having my dad’s records and items he saved from the war, I have all the group correspondence and reunion meeting agenda’s that my parents had saved.
My Dad reported for duty on October 13, 1942, at 21 years of age. After serving overseas in the European Theatre, he returned back to the US on October 12, 1945. His military separation was official on October 20, 1945.
First, my dad was sent to Ft. Devens, in Massachusetts, for ten days, then on to Atlantic City for Technical Training School and boot camp. He stayed at one of the big hotels on the boardwalk. He spent twenty days at that location.
While my dad was in Atlantic City, he sent the postcard that I have shown as my featured image. I chose to highlight the handwritten message, back side of the card, but will show the front side image toward the end of this blog.
My dad sent the card on October 29, 1942, from Atlantic City to Mr. Paul A. Kenworthy; however, I am unclear if the card ever reached Paul or whether it was sent back to my dad when he was at mechanic school in Goldsboro, NC, which was the last entry on the address side. I do not know Paul’s story, but I am assuming perhaps my dad had met him at Camp Devens–I do know that Paul did not serve in the same service group with my dad.
Looking at my dad’s handwritten message you can see his location was Atlantic City for Technical School. His message to Paul reads: “Please excuse the time from the time you left until you receive this card. I have been very busy. I will write you more as soon as I get your address. Earl.”
My dad changed posts on November 11, 1942 to Seymour Johnson Field, in North Carolina. It had actually been an error because they had been put on the wrong train heading in the wrong direction. They were supposed to be sent to New York–maybe a blessing in disguise.
He started Airplane Mechanics school and served ten months in the US as an Airplane and Engine Mechanic prior to being sent overseas. He achieved the rank of Corporal.
My dad was assigned to the 461st Service Squadron.
SERVICE GROUP TIMELINE
The 461st Service Squadron was part of the 326th Service Group assigned to the 354th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force. They were activated from Hunter Field, in Savannah, Georgia, on March 6, 1943 and later the group was renamed the 461st Air Service Squadron.
The group remained at Hunter Field until May 22, 1943 and then followed the timeline, as listed below:
Venice, Florida – May 24 to August 2 Waycross, Georgia – August 3 to October 19 Camp Kilmer, New Jersey; October 21 to November 2 Queen Elizabeth, November 2 to November 9 Station 469 – Ramsbury, England – November 10 to November 19 Station 150 – Boxted, Essex, England – November 19 to ?
As you see in the timeline, they had sailed to Ramsbury, Wilshire, England on the Queen Elizabeth arriving on Nov. 10, 1943. They served in four areas of Europe (Central Europe, Normandy, Northern France, Germany) over the course of 23 months (in my dad’s case).
My dad inspected, maintained and repaired wooden aircraft parts on assemblies of the fighter planes, primarily the Fighting Mustang P-51.
Soon after my dad’s 461st Air Service Squadron arrived in England, they became the nucleus of Team “B” of the 326th Service Group. They were assigned for service to the 354th Fighter Group of the 9th Air Force.
At the time of the Normandy Beach Invasion (France), also known as D-Day, the group was stationed in Kent, England. The Invasion covered five sections of the beach, taking place from June 6 to 25, in 1944 (not just one day). By the end of that month, my dad’s group had been moved to an air station in Cricqueville, France. During a speech made on the 50th anniversary of this Invasion (June 1994) it was said that the Normandy Invasion was the “Price of Freedom”. In this place, thousands of Allies gave their lives as represented by the lines of white crosses that remain there along the coastline.
By late August of 1944, celebration parades and 15 miles of Paris streets were lined with cheering people, marking their Liberation from German occupation, as can be seen from the postcard pictured above.
The regime would fall in Germany on May 7, 1945 which followed the advancement of Allied forces into that area.
On October 12th, 1945, my dad arrived back on US soil to Fort Monmouth, in New Jersey and headed for home on October 20th.
He went on to graduate from the New England Aircraft School where he obtained knowledge of engine construction, inspection, maintenance and repair. He graduated on September 12, 1947.
My dad received the following service medals: the European Theatre of Operations Service Medal, four bronze battle Stars, the Good Conduct Medal and the Medal of the Jubilee of Liberty, which was received posthumously.
The first Reunion of the 461st Air Service Squadron, 9th Air Force was held in 1980. The group’s members were scattered across the country. Each reunion that was held by the group included a business meeting, a memorials recognition, group visits to local sites, a banquet, and breakfast on the final morning.
My parents were not able to attend until the 4th Reunion which was held in 1984, from October 4-7, in Philadelphia, PA. The mailing list that was handed out at that 1984 meeting listed 82 members living and 18 known deceased.
The 5th Reunion was held in North Hollywood, Calif., in 1985; from October 17-20. The picture shown above is my dad in the dark shirt with his buddy Warren Morey. They went on a tour of the Queen Mary which you can see in the background. They went to a lot of places like Disneyland and Universal backlots, etc. After this reunion my mom wrote a letter to other wives with words of encouragement to attend the reunions. She spoke of how she never expected to see the state of California and that my parents had saved all year to be able to go. They came home with great memories, that no one can take away.
My parents continued to attend many of the annually held reunions of this service group, but I am not going to list them all at this time. So, I will continue with the 15th Reunion, with details below.
The 15th Reunion was held in Savannah, Georgia, back to where the group had been activated in 1943. The picture above shows the waterfront area in Savannah and the picture below shows the group going on a carriage ride. It was the last reunion my dad was able to attend and was held in 1995, from October 11-14 with 21 men present. They toured Fort Stewart and Hunter Field. My dad was having a lot of physical struggles at that time but was determined to go. My parents had gone down by train and they extended their visit from October 10 to 17. A few weeks after returning home my dad took a fall and was never quite able to walk more than a step or two again.
My dad died in March of 1997.
My parents were not able to attend the 16th Reunion due to my dad’s health. However, my mom continued to attend the next two gatherings held at New York and Florida.
The 17th Reunion was held at Bayside, New York from September 17-20, 1997 with 9 men and 16 women present. They determined this year that eligibility for membership be expanded beyond the original 461st members to immediate family, widows and friends of originals.
My mom’s last attendance was to the 18th Reunion held in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1998. It was hosted by one of the original members and his daughters.
I am uncertain if there were any other Reunions held after 1998, my mom’s health was failing at that point and no longer able to attend.
Cambridge American Cemetery & Memorial
My parents took a trip to England in 1987 and during their visit they went to the Cambridge American Military Cemetery & Memorial, located in Coton, Cambridgeshire, England.
The following information was taken from a handout from the American Battle Monuments Commission.
The site was first established on December 7th, 1943 as a permanent American Military Cemetery and covers 30.5 acres and was donated by the University of Cambridge. The cemetery and memorial were completed in 1956.
In the cemetery are buried 3,811 Americans arranged in fan-shaped graves in quarter circles and the headstones are aligned like the spokes of a wheel.
There is a Wall of the Missing which is 472 feet long, built of Portland stone, a limestone quarried from the south coast of England. On the wall is recorded the names of 5,125 of our Missing. Along the wall are four statues: a Soldier, a Sailor, an Airman, and a Coast Guardsman.
There is also a memorial building, built of Portland stone, that is 85 feet long, 30 feet wide and 28 feet high. On the North side of the memorial are five pylons, each are inscribed with a date representing the five years from 1941 through 1945 in which the United States participated in the war.
The beautiful main doors of the memorial building are made of teakwood, and have bronze models of the military equipment and naval vessels.
Front Side of Dad’s Postcard
The pictured image on the front side of the postcard that my dad had mailed is of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, West Atlantic City. I believe it is a linen card and includes images of a St. Thomas More statue and the Wayside Shrine.
The postcard was published by the E. C. Kropp Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In my last blog post, I focused on my mom’s background in recognition of 100 years since her birth. Today, I continue her story presented mostly from my own memories.
While preparing these memories, I have found the one thing that really stands out to me is just how much EFFORT my mom put into everything she did. Hopefully, we did not take this effort too much for granted; however, I am sure there could have been greater appreciation shown along the way.
In that piece, I mentioned that it now seems that she was adopted–something I learned about only two years ago. My research still has a long way to go and there have been no easy answers, to this point, even with studying my DNA matches. My featured postcard may provide just a little clue about that adoption. So, I am starting this writing with a focus on the postcard followed by a few details “before my time”. My own early memories will follow and will be separated into two segments: School Months (and General Memories) and then Summer Months.
Beacon Oyster Co. Postcard
My featured postcard was sent by Gra Gra (Bertha James Watts) to her brother Howard James, in Riverpoint (West Warwick), Rhode Island. The “clue” with this card is the postmark (shown below), it is dated Aug. 9, 1920 from Wickford, (North Kingstown), RI. Well, my mom was born Aug. 28, 1920 which would have been just a couple of weeks later. Gra Gra was not very adventurous, she was away from home very rarely. Even though Wickford is not far from where she lived, her written message indicates that she had been staying down that way. It does not appear to be just a day trip. I cannot imagine that she would have been staying there, over the course of multiple days, if she was that close to giving birth.
The message on the card reads: “I am having a wonderful time. I won’t want to settle down to housework when I get home. No more meals. Sister Bert”.
The image on the postcard is of the Beacon Oyster Co., Wickford, RI, which was located at the end of Pleasant Street. In the current day, there is still a boat yard and marina located there. In the past, there was Oyster farming in Wickford, between 1886 and 1939. At that point, Narragansett Bay was dredged for the installation of the Quonset Naval Base.
This postcard was published by Blanchard, Young & Co., Providence, RI; Made in Germany; there is a number on the front, C 1510.
As noted in my previous writing, my parents, Earl F. Lindall (1921-1997) and Marian L. Watts (1920-1999) were married on June 24, 1948.
They lived for a short time on Clyde Street, in West Warwick, then moved to an apartment in Warwick.
My oldest brother, Mark is shown in the pictures above. He was born on Nov. 28, 1949–many years his birthday actually fell on the Thanksgiving holiday. He passed away in 2000, much too early in life–from cancer.
Mark was the only child for five years until my brother Keith was born.
I Come Along
I would follow Keith, three years later–the baby of the family.
In 1953, my parents bought their first parcel of land in Charlestown, RI–two 25’x100′ lots. This parcel was about a mile from the beach, as they were hoping to keep it safe from any hurricane damage. Soon after purchasing the land, they began to hand-build the front section of the cottage, with help from my paternal grandparents. They purchased two more lots in 1959, making the site a total of 100’x100′.
One side of that original one-room cottage was used for sleeping and the other side was used as the kitchen and dining area. The interior walls were unfinished and had no insulation at that time. The cottage was supported by handmade cement piers, built the old-fashioned way with sifting of sand and gravel, etc.
As you will see, this cottage was the centerpiece of our lives. We spent every single summer there and my memories are really separated between the summer memories, in Charlestown, and the school year memories, in Warwick.
School Months and General Memories
During the school months, we resided in a two-family home, in the Greenwood section of Warwick, on Route 5. My paternal grandparents lived in the apartment above us. My parents resided there almost 25 years, until the owner sold the property in 1974. My grandparents had lived there a bit longer than that but they had moved into elderly housing a couple of years prior to the owner selling.
My parents never owned a brand-new car. For many years, we were a one-car family. Unlike some families, however, my mom was able to drive. The farthest back I can remember, we had a 1950s Oldsmobile 88 (not sure of the exact year)–it was gray. My oldest “life” memory really is when I used to ride in my car seat in that car. My little seat was the vintage variety that had metal pieces that looped over the seat and I had a little steering wheel with the little round beep horn in the middle. This car was replaced in 1968 with a blue station wagon; it was a 1964 Olds Dynamic 88, with the extra seat that opened up in the back section.
The picture below is of the first Oldsmobile that I remember, with my mom and I standing beside it.
When I was real young I can remember we had an old wringer washer. We had a very small and narrow kitchen in the apartment and I can still envision my mom having to pull the washer over to the sink to hook it up to the water. I can remember seeing the clothes running through the wringer as it pressed the water out of the clothes. We did not have a dryer–my mom never had one. She used to hang the clothes outside on the line, even in the real cold weather–it was funny when they froze, but I am not sure my mom was laughing. Sometimes she used wooden racks for some things to dry.
Until I was about five years old, my dad worked as a mechanic at the garage next door. He did not make much money in those days. Once he began working at Leesona he was earning better and he was able to help make my mom’s life a bit easier by buying her a newer style washing machine and dishwasher. I believe he bought them on installment payments.
My mom was a dog fan. From looking at old pictures, she seemed to have a dog during most of her younger years. She used to mention different ones from time to time.
During our family years, I remember three different dogs. During my youngest years we had Domino, I think she was a border collie mix of some kind. She is in the picture below with my parents and brothers. I guess Domino had one set of puppies, as shown below, and my grandparents upstairs took one of the puppies, they named her Lindy. I can still remember Lindy, she is shown in the puppy photo, as well as, one by herself. She was mostly all white with a couple of black patches. I was about 5 or 6 when Domino died, which I can still remember. We had a little funeral for her.
Some time later, we got another dog, named Shadow–shown in the picture below. My mom brought her home from the Providence Animal Rescue. I still remember that day. Shadow was all black with long fur, thought to be an English Setter mix. She was a good watch dog, was very protective and did not like seeing people in any kind of uniform.
My parents last dog was Dixie, I think that I was in high school by the time we got her. My middle brother and I brought her home after calling my mom for permission. There was a man outside of the Grant’s Dept. store in Westerly that was giving away free puppies. That was back in the day when it was a common thing to do. Dixie was the greatest dog, she was a border collie/springer spaniel mix–so she was medium sized.
My mom and Dixie are in the picture above in at Perry’s cabins, in New Hampshire, taken about 1979 or so. After Dixie passed away at a very old age, my dad said no more dogs. I think it was too hard for him to see them go.
In my family, food was a big deal. My mom was a very good homestyle cook making sure to prepare well-balanced meals. How I miss so many of things she made, they just don’t seem to taste the same when I make them. We were expected to eat what was prepared and put in front of us, all of it. I was usually the last one left at the table–a real slow poke. There was usually some kind of dessert for a bit later, but not if you did not finish your meal.
We mainly ate seafood during the summer but the rest of the year my mom prepared a wide range of meat items. My parents were very particular about the quality of meat we ate and they purchased from small local markets.
When I was very young, there was a small market in Riverpoint (West Warwick) where we purchased meat. It was on the corner of the side street in back of the now Horgan Elementary School. Further down that side street was a grain feed place where we used to buy cracked corn for our ducks and the green pellets for the rabbits–we had several. In the current time, that grain store building serves as the public works garage for the town. The small building where the market was is still there and last I knew it was a real estate office.
I can remember going to that corner market on Friday mornings when I was about five; my dad was working second shift by about that time at Leesona. The nice man that worked at the market used to give me treats sometimes from the penny candy section and one time he gave me some Starburst candy. I started choking on one of those candies. I never forgot that experience and to this day I prefer to go out of my way not to have any Starbursts.
After the Riverpoint market closed, I remember there was a place in the Crompton section of town (West Warwick) where my parents would buy meat from, it was on the eastern side of the road. Eventually, that market also closed, the building remains standing and has been occupied off and on over the years. Just recently, it re-opened as a seafood market.
My mom was fairly well known, at church (Riverpoint Cong’l), for cooking the johnnycakes at the May Breakfast and for serving as “head chef” and planner for the annual roast pork dinners. Both of my parents served at these events for many years and did most of the food ordering, which was primarily done via the local original Jerry’s Market operation.
When I was a little older, my mom was also the church secretary for many years, earning just a small monthly stipend. I can remember helping with the monthly newsletter getting them ready for the mail, sorting them by zip code and putting elastic bands around the bundles.
Another talent my mom had was sewing. Up until about junior high, she made all my school clothes–many dresses and one pair of slacks that I can remember. One dress my mom made had a large square bib-type piece, she had taken the time to embroider on that piece. Although not totally certain, my memory thinks it was bluebirds that she embroidered.
Back in my early school years, we had a dress code and girls were required to wear dresses or skirts to school. In the winter we were allowed to wear knit leggings underneath to help keep warm. I was in 7th grade by the time they relaxed the dress code and I was able to wear pants to school for the first time–my mom had made those, too.
My mom’s good cooking extended into making great dessert items. When I was a little older but I think before junior high, my mom would give me baking lessons after school. She picked a certain day per week and for quite a while on that day every week we would work on a baking project. She taught me how to follow recipes and how to measure, etc.
As I mentioned in my previous piece, my mom was not one to sit idle. She often had some type of creative project going. Sometimes it would be something she would work on alone, like a paint-by-number set and other times it was she and I making something together. One of the projects we worked on several times was making firestarters to give as gifts. We would save scallop shells and use them as molds, melt down broken up crayons and put the wax in the shell until it set. After the wax piece set, they were removed from the shell and wrapped inside wax paper with ends twisted. When used as a firestarter it burns slowly and in colors.
Another project we would make was pincushions. We would use scallop shells secured with plaster of paris and have some some kind of cloth (maybe felt?) holding something inside that would allow for the pins–I think maybe sand. I cannot remember the exact details but I can still picture them.
My mom taught me things like crocheting, knitting, embroidery, etc. It seems we always had projects of some kind going on. I have not kept up those talents but I know if I put my mind to it that I could regain that ability with some tutorials.
In later years, she enjoyed painting on fabric and making sequin ornaments that pinned to Styrofoam shapes.
A memory came back to me recently about when my mom used to take orders for Christmas cards for several years. I guess since we are in that season it made me think about it. This was during my early years, I can remember she had these big sample books each year from whatever the company was she was representing. People would give her orders for their personalized cards as they would come with their names pre-printed. I would assume this was my mom’s way of making some money to use toward Christmas gifts.
Speaking of Christmas, my mom had a special “clock” ornament that she held very dear. I really don’t know the story behind it or at least I do not remember it. I have kept that ornament all these years and still make sure it gets on the tree each year even though it is rather fragile.
Most years, my mom just could not wait for the summer close of school. If we had an extra school day that fell on a Monday, we never went that last day. The only year it really made me feel bad was the year I missed my 6th grade last-day-of-school party. My mom would pack us up and pack the ducks and rabbits in a trailer and drive us down to the cottage, reversing the process the day after Labor Day; which was the day before school would start again.
During the summer months, my mom and us three kids would spend the entire summer at the cottage, in Charlestown. She just loved it there, it was her place of solace. My dad would stay up at our apartment in Warwick during the week so he could be closer to work and then he would come down to the cottage on weekends. In addition, he always had the last week of July and the first week in August off for vacation time. I think his plant was shut-down during that time every year. So, we only had access to the vehicle on weekends.
Once we made that summer change-over, during the weekdays we had to walk everywhere not having a car. Someone would typically walk the mile, or so, to the post office in the morning. The mail was usually sorted by 10am. We had our mail sent via General Delivery in the old days which meant we had to ask at the window if we had any mail and we had to make it before 12noon or the window would close for lunch. At some point, we finally got a post office box instead of using General Delivery. The old post office building was originally located in the building where Kingston Pizza is now. I cannot remember the year that the new post office was built, further down the road, but I want to say it was the early 1980s.
As kids, most summer afternoons we walked to the beach with mom pulling along a wagon with our gear. At times, someone would give us a ride along the way. Until we were a bit older, my mom would commonly take us swimming in the pond area located just before the bridge going over toward the ocean. There is a newer bridge there now. This pond section was known as the “Shack” to many locals, because of the red shack that served snacks. That building is still there serving food in the summer but it is no longer painted red. I also remember some of us calling that swimming area “Danger Deep” because it had a very sharp drop-off–one step too far and it went over your head. As far as I know, no one actually swims in that pond area anymore. There used to be a small beach section there. However, in the current day the water level is much much higher and has pretty well swallowed up that sandy beach==perhaps from Global Warming. There is still a marina section with many boats and docks.
When I was a kid, I can remember walking home from those afternoons at the beach and falling asleep as I walked. And, I kept walking–not sure how I could do that but I still remember it–happened every time. I assume, my mom must have guided me along the way so I did not drift out into the road.
At bedtime, after all the walking and taking in all that salt air, I used to fall asleep within seconds of my head hitting the pillow. I can remember when mom would turn out the gas light, its mantle would glow for a bit. I can remember she had a set of plastic drinking cups that used to glow in the dark, I could always see them up on the kitchen shelf from my pillow.
At that pond area by the Shack is where my dad kept his boat in the early days. At first we only had a “skiff”–a row boat. Then we had an old wooden boat with a motor for many years, named the “Mar-Dot”. On the weekends, our family spent alot of time out on the pond. We caught lots of fish–mostly flat fish. We went out to the sandbar areas and my parents raked quahogs. Us kids would mostly play about the sandbar area. I always had an old pair of sneakers to wear for these trips, so if there was a razor clam or horseshoe crab I would have some protection on my feet. In the fall, when the water was cooler my parents would go after scallops and oysters. We used to be able to catch blue crabs down at the old bridge, near the Shack. Throughout those summer months, we ate almost exclusively from the sea.
The one thing I really struggled to eat was my mom’s homemade oyster stew. I am sure it was wonderful to those that actually like oysters. For many years, I was expected to stay at the table until it was gone–I dreaded every spoonful. It seemed to be very well-liked by everyone but me. Finally, at some point in my early teens, my mom gave in and let me have something like peanut butter and jelly, or similar, whenever she made the oyster stew. It was such a relief–not a moment too soon.
Often, my mom would make a huge kettle of “clam” chowder, especially if family visitors were coming down to the cottage. She usually used either large sea clams (from Rathbone’s Fish Market) or the larger quahogs my parents dug for themselves (the smaller, more tender quahogs were steamed and dipped in melted butter). We used to have an old enamel-topped table out in the side yard at the cottage, under the old choke-cherry tree. She would clamp the grinder to the edge of the table and grind up the clams (after having shucked them all by hand, prying them all open with the special knife needed). This grinding process would also create plenty of clam juice to use in the broth of the chowder. You can imagine things got a bit messy which is why mom developed this outdoor system. In addition to the clams, there were plenty of potatoes that needed to be pared and cut for adding to the chowder. If my dad was around at the time the chowder (or dinner) was being made, he would help with prepping the veggies.
My mom would sometimes paint the sea clam shells for gifts or to sell. They were handy to hold rings or a watch while washing dishes, etc. One of the shells she painted is pictured below.
At times, my mom would get creative with a new variety of seafood. My dad and Uncle Richard used to go night fishing on the beach and often caught sandsharks, also known as dogfish. For a while they used to release them back into the water, but at some point they discovered they were okay eating fish. Unlike many other species, the sandsharks don’t have a ton of tiny bones to worry about, they just have that spine down the back so they were easy to clean and my mom figured out ways to best cook them.
One of my mom’s unique specialties was “seaweed pudding”. How I wish that I had written down the recipe and kept it in a safe place. It may be among some of her old recipes that I still have but having the time to comb through them is something else again. Sometimes the day after a storm, my mom would have us go beachcombing for her special seaweed. We would go down early, before people would arrive for the beach. This seaweed needs to be gathered while still nice and fluffy before it dries out in the sun. This particular seaweed is the one that is shaped into little fluffy white clumps. When we brought it home for her, it would be placed in a paper bag, lunch sized, and put in the frig to keep it moist. I remember when she made the pudding, she would boil up the seaweed then strain it out, so the flavor is developed but you don’t actually eat the pieces of seaweed. I think she used the unflavored gelatin packets so it would form into the pudding consistency. It really was delicious, tasted just like vanilla pudding but it was a little more special. I have no idea how she even discovered about making this pudding nor have I ever heard of anyone else making it. Again, I do not know the actual recipe which is a real shame.
I mentioned earlier about the choke-cherry tree, those small cherries had pits inside but my mom managed to make jam from those cherries. There were other choke-cherry trees nearby that she picked from, as well. She would cook the cherries down and run them thru a sieve to get the pulp out and discard the pits.
She would also make jams from beach plums and currents that would be picked locally, as well. She also made great tasting watermelon rind pickles.
Speaking of berries, my mom picked tons of blueberries in the summer. We used to sell them up at the top of the street to the people driving home from the beach. We had signs that were painted on old boards saying blueberries (or blackberries at times) and we would stand holding the signs so the people could see us. We always sold out. We would save the money raised toward family activities such as the fair or toward activities on my dad’s vacation time.
Another way we raised a little bit of money, in the summer, was to bring the wagon down to the beach and collect soda bottles that people left behind. Back in those days, the bottles were returnable for money. There was a downside, the only store that would cash in the bottles was Main’s General Store in Cross Mills which was a longer hike than usual for us.
Back in those early days, there were potato fields along the top end of Charlestown Beach Road, right near where the cottage was located. Each year, about the end of August, the big potato picker machines would run across the fields picking the potatoes. Once the pickers had gone through we were allowed to access the fields and collect the “leftovers”. My mom had us collecting loads of them. I think we had enough to last for a long time with her keeping them in cool storage.
During those summer months, when I was young, there was a local store in the Charlestown area called Brownings, run by Perry Browning. I remember walking there often, they had the largest selection of penny candy. After the store closed, that old building remained for many years but has since been demolished. It was located next to the present-day Mini-Super market.
After Brownings closed, there was a former marine boat place just down the road from it that was converted into a store called The Superette. It was run by Joe Tougas.
The Superette became my parents choice of meat market for many years, on a year-round basis, as we would spend most weekends at the cottage into my teen years. Joe would even save us produce scrap items for the ducks and rabbits, like the outer lettuce leaves. The ducks provided us with eggs that were generally twice the size of chicken eggs and sometimes we would get double yoker’s which were really big. My mom had kept a couple of the really big shells as keepsakes.
The Superette has been gone for many years now, we were very sorry to see it close. A local bank built on that particular site location and is still in operation.
In the backyard of the cottage, in the early days, we always had a very large garden. My mom would set up barrels at the outdoor corners of the house to catch rain water. We would fill-up old milk bottles with the water and place them upside down in the dirt next to the plants. The water slowly seeped through to the roots of the plants, helping to irrigate the garden.
Our summer cottage was very simple and for many years it was just the one large room, divided by a row of lumber studs–like an unfinished wall. In the early days, there was a very small bathroom with a chemical-type toilet. Around 1968, or so, there was an addition begun along the back side. The door that went to the old bathroom became the entry point to the hall of the addition. Around this timeframe, electricity was added. Prior to that time, there had been no electric service at the cottage. Instead there was a propane light affixed to the ceiling truss over the dining area and the cooking stove was also propane.
When I was very young the frig at the cottage was an actual “ice box”. My mom would have a milkman deliver the huge block of ice, along with our dairy products. I can still remember that, seeing those large tongs they used to haul the block of ice. A bit later, prior to the electricity installation, the ice box was replaced with a propane frig.
So, for many years, during the summer we had no television. My friends would ask how we could get through the summer without it, but we really did not miss it. My mom had a transistor radio and we used to listen to the stations from New York City and Long Island. We would also play board games or cards, especially if there was a rainy day.
The addition to the cottage that was started about 1968 was not the typical building addition. There was a place in Warwick Neck near Rocky Point, in Warwick, that had several old cottages that used to be rented out. They were selling off the cottages “to be moved”. My parents bought one, probably got it for a real good price. I can remember that “moving” process quite clearly even though I was only about 10 years old at the time. We had rented a big U-haul truck. The Warwick cottage was dismantled, literally piece by piece and each board was labeled. Then the pieces were shipped down to Charlestown with the U-Haul truck and offloaded.
The addition was “reconstructed” piece by piece. The flooring was new construction as was the roof joists, etc. The addition was three small bedrooms, the bathroom, closet and porch. The additional support piers were hand-constructed, just like the ones under the front room, and the cesspool was hand constructed.
As I mentioned above, it was at this time that we had electric installed for the first time. It started slowly though, with only lights in the kitchen at first and the rest was added over time (very slowly I might add) and then insulation was added to the house.
Beginning in 1974, after the apartment house in Warwick was sold, my parents made the cottage their year-round home from that point onward.
For many years, we had no typical running water at the cottage. In the kitchen was a hand pump to retrieve our well water. The hand pump remained actively used until about 1986, or so. Often, it was necessary to “prime” the pump to bring the flow of water. It was the best tasting water around. For any hot water needed for bathing and dishwashing, it was boiled in the kettle on the stove.
Prior to the “running” water, we had to use buckets of water to flush the toilet. Referring back to the rain barrels used for watering the gardens…after the bathroom was added, the water collection barrels came in handy for filling the flushing buckets, helping to conserve on the well water. Otherwise, we had to fill them using the hand pump.
It was kind of a sad day when that hand pump in the kitchen was replaced with “running water” and the modern-style fixtures and plumbing. A hot water tank was added, as well.
Over time, the walls were finished and part of the wall was opened up, removing a bedroom but expanding the living room area.
After my dad retired, my parents enjoyed a little bit of traveling. They attended many annual reunions of my dad’s military service unit, some of which I have written in my previous blog story about his service. You may read that piece via this link: My Dad: A Soldier of World War II.
In 1986 or 1987, my parents were able to take a trip to England for the first time. My mom was so happy to finally see the area where her “father” was from and get together with family members there. They had a wonderful time. The picture below was taken of my parents on their England trip.
My dad passed away in 1997, my mom had quite the time to care for him during has last couple of years. He had taken a fall about a year and a half earlier and never really walked after that. We do not know if he had suffered a slight stroke or what. He was very stubborn when it came to medical care, refusing to go to the doctor which made it tough on all of us.
In Oct. of 1998, my mom was diagnosed with cancer and had emergency surgery followed by another surgery two months later. During her final year, I was her primary caregiver. The above picture was taken of the both of us during that final year.
My mom had visiting nurses and CNA’s that would come to assist in her care and they all enjoyed their time spent with her. They would indicate how kind my mom was and how much it was appreciated since many of their patients treated them otherwise. Even during her time of illness, she put forth that extra effort. She passed away in Sept. of 1999.
When I think about the current day times, I usually find that people want things done quick and easy–wanting to put in little to no effort. When I think about all the effort my mom put into things it really puts a new perspective in my thoughts. Sometimes that effort is a choice and sometimes it is a necessity. Don’t be afraid to put in that extra effort, it may be time well spent.
Much to my surprise (and shock), just about two years ago, it became clear that it appears my mom was actually adopted. To be honest, I had no clue prior to that point and I really do not think she knew either. There is still much research to do in order to “prove it” but hopefully soon I will get a break in the case.
According to an inquiry I made a while back at the RI State Archives office they will receive the 100-year-old birth records for 1920 in the month of January 2021. Whether there will be a delay due to the current health crisis is unknown–hopefully not.
In my blog today, I begin to tell my mom’s story, highlighting some of her background before my time–up until the time she married my dad. My next blog will include some of my personal memories of her. In the future, I hope to share some concrete research findings leading to a true biological maternal genealogy.
“Maid Marian” was born the 28th of August, one hundred years ago, in Cranston (at least that’s what shows on the birth certificate I have). She resided in Rhode Island for all of her days, living in West Warwick prior to marriage (1948), then in Warwick with summers spent in Charlestown Beach. In 1974, she and my dad became full-time Charlestown residents.
My mom, as a baby, is shown in the pictures below with her only known “parents”: Bertha (James) and Thomas William Watts. My page contains previous blogs about Gra Gra and Pop Pop, including: Intro to Gra Gra & Volunteering at Kent Hospital.
Many stories were shared to me, over the years, of my mom’s younger days. She was very intelligent and according to what I was told was allowed to skip ahead during her elementary school years–not once but twice. She was a child (and adult) who could not sit still, always on the move or finding ways to keep busy.
My mom grew up in West Warwick, Rhode Island, living mostly in the Fairview Avenue Historic District, known as Phenix, in the northwest corner of the town. There were multiple mill villages in West Warwick and we still refer to the various sections of town by these village names. Phenix was the third smallest of these mill villages.
Specifically, my mom lived in the Carr-LeValley homestead (c. 1722) on Fairview Avenue, from the time she was five years old. She absolutely loved that house, a 1-1/2 story Colonial farmhouse with a gambrel roof. It had a one-story ell at the left side that has since been removed. The house appears in two pictures shown above, one just above this paragraph of my mom on a sled and one further up the page of her riding a tricycle. She spoke of this house often. It is still standing to this day, although the rear attached sections have been removed and the interior is currently gutted. Please see my previous blog for more on this home: LeValley Homestead & Moore’s Motor Service.
There was a portrait painting done of my mom when she was five or six years old, it is shown below. It was painted by a professional artist. From what I was told, it was agony for her to sit still while it was completed. Gra Gra always had the portrait hanging on her dining room wall above an artificial fireplace (there was a real fireplace in the living room).
Since Gra Gra was a 4-H Leader for so many years it would come to pass that my Mom would become involved in 4-H Club activities, as well. She also became a leader at some point and I think she told me the name of her club was the “Sew-and-Sew” Club or should it be “So-and-So”–I am not sure. To the best of my knowledge, it was through 4-H that she met my dad, I think during one of the annual camps they held down at the URI campus. My mom told me often about how she was staying up at the Springfield Fair with the 4-H Club when the 1938 Hurricane hit.
My mom was also a member of the Rainbow Girls during her younger years and she spoke of that experience from time to time.
Both of my parents were members of the 4-H All-Stars and continued to attend some of their events even later in their years. After my dad was retired, they volunteered at the Washington County Fair in the 4-H food booth for many years.
Recently, I came across two of my Mom’s 4-H pins, (shown below). There is also a picture (shown below) of a parade she attended as a youth 4-H member, she is leading the group holding a sign.
She attended the “old” West Warwick High School, in the Westcott “village” section of town, graduating in 1938. Below is shown the cover of her yearbook, which I found to contain many newspaper clippings. She clipped and saved pieces from the paper, over the years, whenever a schoolmate was listed. Tucked inside the yearbook I also found her original Commencement Exercises and Senior Banquet booklets.
According to the yearbook, my mom had a nickname at school, looks like they called her “Wattsie”. Her ambition was listed as Commercial Advertising which was surprising to me but maybe that ties into her artistic abilities then it makes more sense.
For each student, the yearbook listed a “gift”. The class gift to my mom is listed as follows: “We give you these curlers, Marian, to help you preserve your curly hair”.
She participated in the following school activities in the year(s):
Volleyball: 36, 37, 38.
Intramural Basketball: 36, 38.
Glee Club: 36, 37, 38.
Minstrel: 36, 38.
Student Council: 38.
Tennis: 36, 37, 38.
Junior Varsity Basketball: 37, 38.
The original “old” high school was built in 1904-05, located in the Westcott section of town. There was a fire on the third floor several years ago. Below is a newspaper photo from the fire that I found within my mom’s clippings, I am not sure of the exact date (I remember when it happened but not the year). After that time there was an expansion and it was transformed into elderly apartment housing.
My mom was very artistic and during the 1940s she drew the picture, shown below, that I use as my gravatar image, it was drawn on a handmade card she gave to Pop Pop at the time.
My mom used her wonderful artistic talent working in a jewelry factory for a while, hand-painting jewelry pieces, like pins. She was able to keep some of them, I still have a few.
After high school, she worked as a bookkeeper for Universal Winding for six years, prior to marrying my dad.
In the group of four pictures, shown above, the one on the top left was the picture they used for my mom’s yearbook picture. The picture on the top right is her working at Universal Winding. The bottom left was taken during the early 1940s, I think while my dad was in the service. The picture on the bottom right is my mom wearing her high school sweater standing with my dad’s brother Richard.
My mom and dad are shown in the picture above, I think prior to their marriage but not sure of the year. My dad served in Europe during World War II and they had made the decision to wait until he returned before getting married. Previously, I wrote a blog about my dad’s service, please see: My Dad: A Soldier of World War II.
After my dad had returned from his service in the second world war, my parents were married on June 24, 1948. One of their many wedding pictures is shown below.
My mom gave birth to two sons, my older brothers, prior to my arrival.
Next time, I will share some of my own memories of my mom and her unique qualities. The rest of this blog will highlight my featured postcard.
This postcard was published by Arthur Kinsley, Riverpoint, R.I. Made in Germany, about 1915. There is a number on the front of card: A53955
Riverpoint is another mill village area of West Warwick. In this postcard picture, up the hill in back of where it shows the trolley is where a Junior High School was built in 1928. The school is still there but is now John F. Horgan Elementary School.
The mill shown on the right side of the postcard, with the tower, was Royal Mills and was extensively renovated several years ago into apartment units.
The building shown straight back has also been renovated and is used as a medical facility.
As mentioned earlier in this piece, my mom went to the “old” high school in Westcott. The newer high school was built up on Arctic Hill in 1965 from which I graduated in 1975. The middle school is connected next to the high school and was built in 1970.
Below is the back view of the postcard. It was sent or given to Miss Bertha James (Gra Gra), in Riverpoint, RI, from Bertha Berard. Since Gra Gra was married in June of 1915 this card would be dated prior to that, since there is no postmark the exact date is unknown.
Until next time…
Website: westwarwickpublicschools.com; WWPS History; Accessed: 12 Aug 2020.
Normally, my focus is on my maternal James family and their connections via postal history by exploring the postcard collections that have been passed down to me from this line. My intro posting outlines the normal focus of this blog and can be viewed at Intro to my blog.
Today, being Veteran’s Day, my focus turns to my paternal side as I honor my dad’s memory and his service during World War II.
My featured postcard is a print made of an original painting by V. Mundorff, Chemnitz, No. 102 Nachrichten, published Berlin-Charlottenburg.
My dad was a very humble guy. Growing up, I was well-aware of his service in the great war but never heard many details. In later years, my parents were fortunate enough to attend several reunions held by his service unit from which I would hear various stories upon their return. Sadly, it was not until he was gone that I would really learn the details of his service. Furthermore, I learned he was a great track star in high school, having earned several awards and ribbons for longer distance and hurdles–these I stumbled upon while sorting through old things.
My dad, Earl Francis Lindall (1921-1997) was a son of James (1898-1972) and Alice (Holden) Lindall (1901-1985). My grandfather’s family first came to this country in the early 1600’s and were early settlers in the areas of Salem and Boston, Massachusetts.
My grandfather was the son of William and Elnora (Bennett) Lindall. He grew up in the town of Coventry, Rhode Island. After he married my grandmother, they lived in various areas of Warwick, including Oakland Beach, Pontiac and Greenwood. In the photos below, the one on the left is of Elnora and the picture on the right is Jim with his sister Claudia and their father William.
Elnora (Bennett) Lindall
Jim, his sister Claude and father William
My grandmother, Alice, was a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Wilde) Holden. My great-grandfather, John, was born in England 1866 and died on November 17, 1942 while a resident of 159 Knight Street, in the Pontiac section of Warwick, RI. In earlier years, he resided in Providence and was employed as a loomfixer and watchman at various times in the Atlantic Mills and Riverside Mills, in the Olneyville section of Providence. In later years, he worked as watchman at the B.B. & R. Knight Bleachery, in Pontiac. My great-grandmother, Elizabeth, was born in England 1865 and died prior to 1942. She married John, in England, on July 26, 1885.
The picture shown below is of John and Elizabeth Holden taken in 1924.
Reporting for Duty
The date of October 13, 1942 was the day my father became an active-duty soldier reporting for duty to Fort Devens.
Grammy had always kept a journal, and her first service related entry was dated September 1942:
Earl’s Army Life in World War II…Earl Francis Lindall started on his way to become a soldier in Uncle Sam’s Army…We went with him to Union Station. He didn’t seem to mind going and away he went to Fort Devens to report for duty…after 10 days he left for a new post…That being Atlantic City to attend Technical Training School and taking boot training. He resided in one of the big hotels on the boardwalk.
This postcard (shown below) of the Atlantic City Auditorium and Convention Hall is one my dad wrote to his grandfather (John Holden), while he was attending the service technical school.
This postcard was published by the Jersey Supply Company, Atlantic City, N.J. and is a genuine Curteich-Chicago “C.T. Art-Colortone” post card.
It seems John died soon after my dad had written this postcard, and it was likely the last contact he had with him.
Grammy’s journal went on to say:
He spoke of the good time they had walking or marching along by the water singing songs. He spent much of his spare time on the boardwalk by the water. Of course there are not many hours off duty in the Army…He spent 20 days here of his basic training.
He changed posts again on Nov. 11. He spent the night on the train which landed him in North Carolina now to be stationed at Seymour Johnson Field. He found out sometime later, they were put on the wrong train headed in the wrong direction and their destination should have been New York. But they had to find a place for them there.
He started in school to learn Airplane Mechanics…He had a large picture taken and sent home three, one for Marian (my mom), one for Rosie’s store and one for his mother.
He spent his first Christmas away from home but if he had known beforehand he might not have been able to get home.
According to military records, my dad achieved the rank of Corporal. He spent 10 months in the U.S. as an airplane and engine mechanic. He was assigned to the 461st Service Squadron (later renamed to the 461st Air Service Squadron) of the 9th Air Force, activated from Hunter Field, in Savannah, Ga.
“I have gotten as far as the Psalms in my Bible now,” said one of my dad’s journal entries. At the time I first read this, it gave me greater understanding of his Faith, which must have served as a source of strength in order to endure the face of battle.
My dad sailed across the Atlantic on the Queen Elizabeth to the shores of Britain, arriving in Ramsbury, Wilshire, England on Nov. 10, 1943. He served in the European Theatre for 23 months, seeing battle in four locations: Central Europe, Normandy, Northern France and Rhineland (Germany).
His title was Woodworker and according to military papers, he inspected, maintained and repaired wooden aircraft parts on fighter planes and worked long hours under “adverse conditions”.
A detailed account written by my dad’s unit commander, said they spent the first nine days in England getting used to the money, the customs and the blackout. The unit soon became the nucleus of Team “B” of the 326th Service Group and were assigned for service to the 354th Fighter Group of the 9th Air Force.
During the Invasion of Normandy on D-Day, they were stationed in Kent, England. Allied soldiers invaded five sections of the beach at Normandy, France from June 6 to 25, 1944. After numerous battles, my dad’s group had been reassigned to an air station, Strip A-2, in Cricqueville, France.
A great celebration erupted in the Parisian streets in late August, 1944, marking their liberation from four years of German occupation. There were great parades in the streets including American military marching to the German border. Cheering people lined the Paris streets for 15 miles. Allied forces drove into Germany, leading to the fall of the Nazi regime on May 7, 1945.
My dad arrived back in the U.S. on Oct. 12, 1945, with his separation from the military taking place at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, on Oct. 20. According to his enlisted record, the U.S. Army decorated my dad with the European Theatre of Operations Service Medal, with four bronze battle stars, and the Good Conduct Medal.
Soon before my dad died, there was a letter and information received about the Regional Council of Lower Normandy offering the Medal of the Jubilee of Liberty. This was a Commemorative Medal, issued by the government of France in June of 1994, upon the 50th anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy. In an effort to get this medal awarded to my dad, a gentleman in his Senior Citizen bowling league wrote a personal letter to Senator Jack Reed, of Rhode Island. Senator Reed, in turn, wrote a personal letter to the French representative in Boston at the time, and he forwarded my dad’s medal application and documents to the necessary officials in France.
As a result, French officials posthumously awarded my dad this medal, received in December of 1997. When officials sent the medal to my mom, she also received a copy of the speech that was delivered on site, in Normandy, June 1994. The unknown speaker represented President Rene Garrec, of France. He spoke of Normandy as being “The Price of Freedom”. He also spoke about the lines of white crosses on their coastlines, “they show the terrible fights in which thousands of Allies gave their lives”.
“Normandy wants to take advantage of the Jubilee of 1944 to pay tribute to the Sacrifices of men who died so that their children live in a free country,” the spokesperson said, “…and at the same time transform this event in a Message of Peace…a place where the memory of future generations is cultivated so that freedom is not in danger anymore.”
Below is a slide show of several of the postcards that my dad brought back with him from Europe. Those cards in color are published Les Editions d’ Art “Yvon” Paris and the black and white “Escaliers” stairs published Editions Mireille, Ets G. Gandini, Marseille, are all images from Marseille, a port city in southern France. A couple of the other black and white postcards are from LIGNY-en-Barrois, a town in the northeast of France, published by Gourzon, Librairie. Also, there are a few real photo postcards from the Liberation of France, in Paris, including pictures of General de Gaulle and General Bradley. The last postcard is similar to the featured postcard and is a print of an original painting by V. Mundorff, Chemnitz, No. 109 Artillerie published by Berlin-Charlottenburg.
On this Veteran’s Day, we are reminded of those who have served for our freedom. Thank you, to those who currently serve and to those who have served in the past, such as my dad. Take time to listen to their stories. If they are no longer with us, take some time to learn about the details of their service.