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Personal History for Bernard Riley

Dedication Chapter

Title of Your Autobiography


About the Author:

This is authored by myself with the assistance of family and good friends.

Date of completion.

I released my biography to the remembering site on May 5, 2006 however there will be additions and corrections in the future.

Words of wisdom, favorite quote, or words to live by:

Five miles up and NO FLAPS !!! (From cadet training)

I'll give you the first Yankee dime I see rolling up the hill. (from the Civil War)

I'm going to take a nap and get that out of the way first. (my mother's neighbor would say this)

Saints preserve us. (from my mother)

I'll dance at your next wedding in a pig trough. (unknown)

I'm Irish, and the Irish never need a passport except for "hell" and that isn't where I want to go!

He who knows how to suffer, knows how to "love"!

We see without seeing!

Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.

The body dies when the soul departs, but the soul dies when "God" departs!

O "God" help us not to despise or oppose what we do not understand!

If you would like to be contacted by someone who reads your biography, please include a current e-mail address. Remember, it is entirely up to you if you would like to make your biography public and it is entirely up to you if you would like to include your e-mail address for others to contact you.

Today is May 24, 2006 and I am releasing my biography at this time. Do not be too hard on this old duffer as you read it.

Just The Facts

Please enter the date you began answering these questions.

June 14, 2005

What is your name (first, middle, maiden name, last)? Do you like your name? If you could, would you choose another? What name would you choose? Who were you named for?

Bernard Eugene Riley - I think my doctor suggested that I be named after one of his sons (Bernard).

Are you male or female?


In what country, state, and city were you born? What hospital?

USA, Kansas, Salina - St. John's in Salina

What is your birth order?

First of 5

How old are you today? How old do you feel?


Do you speak any foreign languages?


What is your birth date?

August 4, 1924

Are you right-handed or left-handed?


Are you near-sighted or far-sighted?


What is your height, your weight, your eye color? Do you wear corrective lenses?

Height is 5' 8", weight is 165 pounds, eye color is blue and I wear glasses.

What is your mate's name?

Edna Ann was my wife and married for 52 years.

What is your anniversary date? How many years have you been married or were you married?

May 7, 1949 was our anniversary date and we were married for 52 years.

Are you overweight or underweight?

No, I'm not overweight and I weigh 165 pounds and the most I ever weighed was 170 pounds. When I went into the military I weighed 128 pounds and then after basic I weighed 149 pounds.

How many children do you have? What are their names? How old are they?

Edna and I had two boys and their names are Randall Ray and Rodney Reed. Randy was born Oct. 16, 1951 and Rodney was born Oct. 27, 1952 and was killed Nov. 6, 1999 in an accident. We lost two children through miscarriages. We also had several children off and on staying in our home due to various circumstances but always felt that we had a spot for those children that needed some temporary assistance.

How many grandchildren do you have? What are their full names (first, middle, last)? How old are they?

I have three grandchildren at this date and their names are Susan Riley Brown was born July 30, 1975, Christopher Riley was born June 30, 1979, and Zachary Riley was born September 12, 1985.

What is, or was, your occupation?

Several occupations including J.C.Penney, Army and Air Force, bailiff, sales for shopper. More details of these are described in later chapters.

What is your race? What is your religion? What is your political affiliation?

Caucasian, Roman Catholic and republican.

Do you live in the suburbs, a city, a town, or in a rural area? What is the population? Do you live in an apartment, a house, a condominium, or a retirement home?

I live in a two room apartment in a retirement facility called "The Landing" in Lincoln, NE. and I have lived here since April 20, 2001.

Are you allergic to anything? What is your blood type?

I am allergic to latex and my blood type is "B".

How would you describe yourself?

Friendly and kind.

Your Family and Ancestry

List the names and birthdates of your mother, father, maternal grandmother, paternal grandmother, maternal grandfather, paternal grandfather and other great grandfathers and grandmothers. What did you call them?

Father - Edward Francis Riley born March 11, 1884 at Savanna, Georgia and died September 27, 1957 in Delphos, Kansas.
Mother - Fanny Hunter Cummings Riley born October 27, 1902 in a dug out at Barnard, Kansas and died March 18, 1999 in Minneapolis, Kansas.
Maternal grandmother - Rhoda Ann Russell born May 20, 1860 in Bentonville, Arkansas and died November 29, 1931 in Barnard, Kansas.
Maternal grandfather - Thomas Wedon Cummings born October 16, 1853 in Upshur County, West Virginia and married on August 17, 1884 and died March 19, 1939 in Barnard, Kansas.
Paternal grandmother - Honora Hogan Reilly born in Tipperary, Ireland in 1857 and died in 1931 on the home place in Vine Creek, Kansas.
Paternal grandfather - Edward Patrick Reilly was born in Mayo county, Ireland in 1859 near the town of Cartownacross and was killed in 1912 near Longford, Kansas.

My grandfather's family had a plantation and during the civil war the union army of the north came to their plantation and burned the home. Someone in the family had taken the horses up to the woods so they did not steal the horses. They took the barrels of molasses and poured it unto the feather beds before they set the house on fire. My grandfather told me this story and this happened when he was approximately 12 years of age. Later in life my grandfather's family left West Virginia and moved to Missouri. My grandfather went to Texas and broke horses and also was on two cattle drives with one to Dodge City, KS and one to Abilene, KS. Grandfather told that one time he was in Dodge City and he saw piles of buffalo skulls and bones that were so high he could not have thrown another on top. These were to be sent out east for processing. On another cattle drive they would advise the city folks to tie their dogs but in Abilene a woman had not tied her dog and when they got to town the cattle were startled by the loose dog barking and chasing and subsequently it caused a stampede and took a lot of time to get the cattle back into a herd. This ended his days of being a single cowboy and he went back to his parents and married and raised eight children. My mother was the eighth child.

I remember her making big biscuits the size of a hamburger bun and they were hot with homemade butter and jelly and they were really good. She died from TB and I remember her standing over the old cook stove and coughing into the stove.

PATERNAL GRANDFATHER was Edward Patrick Reilly and was born in Mayo county, Ireland in 1859 near the town Cartownacross. He was killed in an accident with a team and a lumber wagon when a car spooked the horses in 1912 near Longford, Kansas.

PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER Honora Hogan Reilly born Tipperary Ireland in 1857 and died in 1931. The first child born was my father Edward Frances, then Patrick Joseph that we called PJ, the first Mickael who died as a baby, James Joseph that we called JJ, John Joseph that we called John, Cecilia, the second Mickael Joseph. By this time the name was spelled Riley and I do not know why it changed from Reilly?

Do you have brothers and sisters? What are their names? When were they born? Do you remember the first time you saw them?

Half sister and brother:

Nora Riley Shaffer born March 16, 1912 husband's name Lee Shaffer, children Donna, Laura, Don, and Denise.

Orville James Riley born Sept. 29, 1913 wife's name Katherine, children Dennis, Richard.

History of the half brother and sister:
Nora was 18 months old when Orville was born and his mother died at the time of his birth so Dad was planning to put them in the Abilene, KS orphanage. A family by the name of Morrison Meade was hired by Dad to take care of them and they were with them until they were ten and 11 years old. However in the summer months they would stay with some of the relatives. They came to our farm when Dad remarried and went to the same schools Mulberry and Berry Schools that I did and later went to high school in Longford, KS. Dad did not allow them to have any contact with the Meade family after they came to live with us and this was difficult for them and even my mother. Orville went into the military at Ft. Riley, KS after high school and Nora after high school was going to teach at Mulberry and a friend was going into the health field and they ended taking each other's job and Nora ended with a nursing job in Dodge City, KS. Nora is now residing in an assisted living facility in Salina, KS and Orville and his wife Katherine lives in a senior facility in Seattle, WA.


Patricia Ann Pointer born Sept. 6, 1926 husband's name Bill with no children second marriage, first marriage husband's name Miles Parks children Kerry Lyne Parks, Larry Parks.

Mary Lou Grimm born April 28, 1928 husband's name Dale children Kevin, Stacey, Shawn, and Kele.

Sheryl Beth Rauch born October 15, 1935 husband's name Robert children Amy and Price.

Tonya Ruth Shea born December 11, 1942 husband's name Larry children Lisa, Marc, Lora, Mitchell, Leslie, and twins Linda and Londa.

Where was your mother born? Where was your father born? What circumstances brought your parents to the place where you were born? Were there people already there whom they knew, or did they come into the community alone? Was the community welcoming to them?

Mother born in a earth dugout in Barnard, Kansas in Oct. 27, 1902.

Father born in Savanna, Georgia in March 11, 1883. First wife was Laura and died giving birth to Orville. Second wife was Fanny, my mother.

Mother came into the community as a teacher at Mulberry Country School. Father was a member of the Mulberry School Board which is how they met. Married December 27, 1922.

Tell about your aunts and uncles. Did they play an important part in your growing up? Do you remember any special aunts and uncles?

A special aunt was Cecilia Riley Alyward and was very religious, compassionate, kind and a great cook and was a model for us all.
Another aunt was Mable Neaderhiser Riley was a fun person as she was always friendly and welcoming and also a model for us all.

Did you play with your cousins? Who are some of the cousins you know best?

Very seldom due to distance and road conditions.
The cousins I knew best are Edward, brother Bob and sister Madeline Alyward.

Was there someone your family was particularly proud of?

Mother called Mike Riley (dad's bachelor brother)several times when dad was gone and she needed help.

Once when I was in the house mother noticed that we had a cow out in the Cain field and told me to go out and get the cow back in the pasture and watch her in the barnyard for any problems as if she were to eat this Cain when it was green she could swell up and die. I herded the cow to the barnyard and noticed the cow was sick as the cow's stomach was swelling up and the cow went down. Mother called Uncle Mike and when he came he immediately counted 3 or 4 ribs up from the bottom on her side and inserted a kitchen knife into her side and it released the gas from her stomach and she fully recovered. He however was in world war one for a short time before the war ended. He died of cancer in the spring of 1942 so that left his bachelor Jim alone on the home place. Jim did marry some time later and lived in Salina until he passed away in his mid nineties.

If you could do anything differently about your family, what would it be?

I would have enjoyed a brother and maybe it would have been nice if dad wasn't traveling as much as he did but overall I love my sisters and wouldn't change anything.

Did the family get together much casually, or did you have to travel and dress up to spend time together?

Dress up was only Sunday for Sunday mass at St. Patrick's church in Vine Creek, Kansas. We would stop once while at my uncle John home it was at the back of a hardware store that was Mr Emmett Kelley's. He was my aunt Katherine's father and he would give us kids peppermint candy. It was always dark in the store and I thought it would fun to explore and see what I could fine.

The family went shopping on Saturday evenings at Longford, Kansas and also went to Salina, Kansas twice per year for Easter and to buy back to school clothes.

Was yours a religious family? Did you attend services together? Were these dress-up affairs?

Yes, we were a religious family and attended services regularity at St. Patrick Church and we went to summer catholic school at Minneapolis, Kansas which was 20 miles from the farm so it was a long drive and a sacrifice for my parents to drive this far daily.

Did your family say grace? Did you sit down at the table together for every meal?

We said grace most of the time and had meals together except when dad was on the road due to sales job.

Did your family take vacations? Did you go to the same place every year; a summer house or resort?

My folks were not able to take vacations since the time period was during the depression (1930's).

Do you remember any special stories your grandmother or grandfather told you? Do you tell any of the same stories to your grandkids?

My Grandpa Cummings would tell of his cattle drives and some stories of the civil war. He had a barn that had barn owls that lived in the barn and I remember going into the barn and being careful while I would look at them as they would stare at you while you were in the barn. One morning when Grandpa went to the pasture to get cows he found one of the cows had a new calf. He always kept the new calves in the barn for a few days and let the mother in to nurse the calf. Each time she was let out of the barn she went to the pasture as fast as she could go. He did not understand why she was doing this so he followed her and found a second calf she had hidden. Grandpa did not tell me this but my mother did. One time he got some bootleg whiskey and had it hid in a hay stack. Grandmother found where it was hidden and got the axe and proceeded to brake each bottle while he was saying "please do not do that mother". He always called her mother.

What was your relationship with your parents like? Would you describe it as warm? Formal? Loving? Stern? Demonstrative?


Did your grandparents live nearby? How often did you visit their homes? Did their homes have a special cooking smell? Onions? Cookies? What did their couch feel like? How big was the kitchen? Describe their home as you remember it.

Grandma Riley had a radio and during the 1930 presidential election the family went to her house and followed the elections all into the night as the ballots came in. The kids sleep on the floor while the adults followed the election. President Franklin Roosevelt was elected and this was a family gathering.

Did your family ever have a reunion? What were some of the best reunions and why?

No, we never had reunions.

Can you remember any stories you heard about your grandparents when they were children? Do you feel as if you knew much about their lives?

I do not know a lot of the family history and we may never know. That is a good reason to use this remembering site.

As a teenager, did you get along well with your parents, or was there trouble?

I had a normal childhood.

How about your brothers and sisters? Did you get along with them? Do you remember ever playing a trick on your brother or sister? What pictures come to mind when you think about playing together?

We got along fine and one time we were playing a game where you would give the first letter of word of the pretend hiding place and I gave the letter "c" but the sisters could not guess the word and I finally told them the word was calt (I had misspelled the word as it should have been salt)!

Did someone in your family cause your folks more trouble than the rest?

Not really!

Have your pets been like family members, or just like animals? Did you ever have a dog that ran away? Try to list all the pets you've had through the years and their personalities.

We had both ponies and dogs and one pony (captain) was a trouble maker as he liked to bite me and also sometimes would run away uncontrolled with me riding him.

Did anyone in your family do handiwork? Needlework? Wood work? Was anyone particularly mechanical or artistic?

My mother did tacking, embroidering and made quilts. She also made the girls school dresses and my shirts.

What did your dad do for a living? Your mom? Your grandparents?

My dad farmed until the late 1920's and decided that things weren't going that good so he went to work selling machinery to supplement the farm income. He also worked for State Farm Insurance, sold Baldwin combines, and he worked for Albert Henry in Salina, KS selling road machinery and culverts.

Were you considered rich, poor, or middle class? Were times ever tough for all of you, or was it always smooth sailing? Did you have to go without things that your friends had?

I think we would be considered middle class as dad would keep enough jobs to keep us going.

Were your parents fancy dressers? When you think of them, what do you remember them wearing? Did your mother wear a special perfume you remember? Did your father wear cologne or after-shave?

Mother wear dresses and hats but they weren't fancy.

My Dad always wore a suit as he was always on the road and Mother would clean his suits with white gasoline and hang outside to air out on the clothes line. This also helped to eliminate the cigar smell left from his cigar smoking.

What was it like when you took your mate to meet your family? Were they welcoming or standoffish?

My folks welcomed Edna as I assume they were glad that I was getting married since I was 25 years old and they were happy that I would not end up a bachelor.

Was there one moment when you felt that your parents and siblings accepted your mate as a family member?

My Dad told my Mother that Edna reminded him of his first wife Laura. They accepted Edna from the start as they were glad to see myself get married.

What are the treasured pieces of furniture or family heirlooms that belonged to your parents or grandparents?

My son has my Dad's gold watch and his Grandmother Karlin's round dining room table.

How did the Great Depression affect your family?

The depression did not affect our family as much as probably others as we had the farm although since I did not get out much we did not know how others were doing.

When you think back on your mother and father now, what do you realize about their lives that you didn't understand when you were growing up?

They got smarter as I grow older!

Looking back, do you think your parents were happy with the circumstances of their lives?

I'm sure that they were, even though they had their ups and downs as those years had tough times!

Did your father have a favorite saying you can remember him repeating? Did your mother have a favorite saying you can remember her repeating?

Mother would say "Saints preserve us" a lot and was said when something would happen.

Dad would say " Good night nurse"

What memories would you like to share with your children or grandchildren that you never have before?

I'm sharing now these thoughts with this autobiography.

Can you describe your paternal and maternal family history in a page or less?

Answered previously in the first question in this chapter.

Is there anything else that you would like to share about your family?

I think its important that I tell about the disease I have, which is called Inclusion Body Myositis. I was diagnosed with this disease in 1998. It was given its name in 1973. My first thought was that old age was catching up with me. I played golf and swam most everyday. I started to notice I was getting weaker and could no longer play and swim with the strength I had before. To enter our family room there is a step down. One day going into the room I found myself on the floor. The second time I fell was when I was on my way out to the car. This time I ended up in the emergency room. I knew then that I had to find out what was causing this, and I knew it was not my hip. By examining a piece of muscle from my leg, I was diagnosed with Inclusion Body Myositis(IBM). I decided to have a second opinion and went to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. The conclusion was the same. They also told me that I probably had this disease for 10-12 years before being diagnosed with IBM. IBM is a slow progressing muscle disease and as of today (2006), I am confined to an electric chair, must be bathed, and the use of my hands are about 90% gone. As of today, there is no cure for this disease, but research is being conducted to find answers.

The House of Your Growing Up

Do you have warm feelings about the childhood home that you remember the most?

Mother would plan picnics to get us out and enjoy the outdoors and we went to the same place under the big pear tree and on the buffalo grass which was on the farm. This was always fun to do.

Mother would on occasion send homemade soup for a change and the teacher would heat the soup up for us three (oldest ones).

What did your home look like? Apartment, walk-up, condominium, or house? What was the color? Was it stone, wood - other? One story or two?

One story white wood farmhouse with three bedrooms and a total of five rooms. The home also had a rock cellar under half of the house for storing vegetables, can goods and an ice box.

What did you look out onto?

West and south was a field, east looked to the barnyard, and looking north was a four section pasture owned by the Fred Bowen Cattle Ranch.

The house did not face the road as the back did.

What was your bedroom like?

It was warm in the summer and cold in the winter with two windows looking north and west with no closets.

Did you share it with your siblings, or was it cozy by yourself?

I was fortunate to have my own bedroom.

Can you remember the pictures that hung, wallpaper, carpeting, etc.? Can you remember your telephone number and address?

Just remember an oval picture of Grandma Cummings which was important to the family and we always had a calendar in the kitchen and remember mother wallpapered all the rooms and made the curtains and the phone was on a party line and our house was five rings. The Crucifix was on a lot of walls in the house.

We had no carpeting and most of the floors were wood floors except the living room and the kitchen which were linoleum.

What did you do to make your room your own? Did you sleep with a stuffed animal or doll? What was your animal or doll's name?

Yes, I had a brown teddy bear but I did not sleep with it although I played with it a lot as it had to be repaired several times as I had wore it out at various times!

In the winter I would take a hot brick or iron and place them at my feet in the bed. One morning I awakened with snow in my bed as it blew in from the north window. For an example of how cold it could be, I would grab my overall and shirt and put them into my bed next to myself whereby they could warm up before I put the clothes on otherwise they would be so cold. Once a year my folks would butcher and subsequently put the carcass which was wrapped in a white sheet on top of old newspapers and store on the table in my bedroom. The meat would stay slightly frozen since the room stayed so cold.

My sister Mary Lou was crawling in my bedroom and found a staple nail that dad had lost from fixing fence and put it in her mouth. Mother took her outside and put her upside down and shook her while I went out to get Dad as he was planting wheat. When he came in from the field we immediately took Mary Lou to Salina and had a x-ray and none was found. On returning home the staple was found next to the porch steps.

My dog's name was Penny as Dad gave him this name since he had stopped to get gas and the dog jumped into the car by mistake. Dad drove off and this dog appeared so we called him Penny and was with us for many years. He stayed outside and got into a fight with a coyote and had a crippled leg after that but he never was allowed in the house.

Can you remember what you daydreamed about in those days?

I occasionally thought about going out to the pasture and dig a cave to live in and furnish to live in.

What time did your mail come? Was it exciting anticipating the mail? Can you remember anything in particular that you received that was special?

Everyday except Saturday and Sunday and came in the afternoon and we looked forward to getting the mail including the Sears and Wards catalogs. Mother would call the mailman the day before and ask him to deliver the groceries or whatever she wanted.
In bad weather when the roads would be closed he would drive the pasture and everything would be left in a bucket on a fence post. This was due to the fact that Dad was gone for days at a time working in Wichita.

Was security an issue? Did your parents keep the door locked or did family and friends come and go with the door unlocked?

We never locked the house except when we left as we had a dog outside.

Dad would be gone for weeks and people knew this whereby a car one time drove back and forth on the road honking their horn until mother took a 38 mm revolver and went to the lilac bushes next to the back of the house and when the car went by she shot up into the air and it was at night so gun flashes and the sound scared the people in the car and that was the last we saw them.

On two different occasions we had men strangers that came to the house for either food or a place to sleep. Mother always had the 38 mm revolver and provided a meal to the one person but the other man whom wanted a place to sleep was told to go to the Bowen Ranch as they had a bunk house.
I was very young and stood my ground at the screen door with anxiety to the outcome. I watched the man that received food and a made a curved markings with his foot in the dirt along the side of the road that later mother and I assumed was a mark for future people to know he had received food at this house. This was back in the 30's.

We also had a family of gypsies in a dirty covered wagon pulled with two horses early in the morning and we gave them fresh milk and a pup and it was usually hard to get them to leave. You for sure didn't want them to get into your house as they would steal anything they could grab. If you had chickens they sometimes would take them and leave.

How old were you when you were first trusted with a key?

We did not lock the house and when we were in high school and lived in town I would always have to wait for my sister before I could enter the house. My Dad would require that if we left together we must come home together.

Did your family eat at the kitchen table or in the dining room? What food conjures up the best childhood memories for you?

On the farm we eat in the dining/family room and in town we eat in the kitchen.

What do you remember having in the refrigerator growing up? Could you graze freely or eat only at meal times?

What's a refrigerator as we had ice boxes on the farm. We didn't graze as we left the cows did that!

What was your parents' room like (beds, bedspreads, easy chairs, etc.)? Did you spend much time in their room with them? Were you allowed to rest in their bed when you were sick?

The bedspread was cotton chenille on the children's beds and homemade quilts on the parents bed. The beds were metal with feather tick bedding.

Was there much music in your house or was it relatively quiet? What type of music, if so? Did you play a Victrola, radio, record player, boom box, CDs?

We had an Kent Atwood radio which was car battery operated and we would use an extra car battery that we keep in the house. We had no electricity at that time on the farm so we would have to take the battery to town to a filling station to get the battery charged when needed. My Mother would sing "how great thou art" and "the old rugged cross" and
"amazing grace". My Grandfather Cummings would also sing "amazing grace".

Was there a lot of talking going on? Did you feel part of the adult conversation?

When my Dad was home and listening to the news we were not allowed to talk.

Was there any place in your house that scared you (the basement, attic)?

No there wasn't.

Was there any place you felt was really "your spot," felt comfy alone or maybe a hiding spot in Hide'N Seek?

I would go to the chicken house in the winter when I couldn't get outdoors to play and would watch the chickens.

Did you have a lawn? Have to mow it? Did you have gardens of flowers, vegetables or herbs? Did you help care for them?

We had buffalo grass that was there when I was born and it never had to be mowed and yes, we had a garden and I would pick potato bugs off the plants.

What kind of chores were you required to do for the family?

Milk cows, feed the pigs, gather the eggs and bring in the wood for both the cook stove and the heating stove. Also I would heat the water for washing clothes outside with a fire.

A Saturday each fall Dad and I would take a tractor and wagon to the pasture and would cut down an old cottonwood tree and some hedge tree. This was sawed up by hand with a two man 4-5 foot long cross-cut saw and cut into 24 inch lengths to fit into the wood stove. These were further split into firewood and stored on the porch and in the wood shed. We had no gas nor electricity so this wood would be our only source of heat in the winter. Sometimes we would add coal to the fire to make it last longer at night.

What was your favorite season at your house? Do you remember summer as too hot or exhilarating and perfect? Did you swim a lot in the summer? Did you ski or do winter sports in the cold weather?

I knew how to water ski before I knew how to swim and this was after I had grown up.

The summers were hot as we had no air conditioning and we would sleep outside sometimes where we had four empty 50 gallon gas barrels with a wood platform on top as much cooler than in the house.

In the winter I would use a scoop shovel as a sled as we didn't have any sleds. The handle was in the front and was used to steer the shovel.

Were there books in evidence around your house? Was there a special room in the house considered the "library"? Which of your parents' books and magazines do you remember reading?

We subscribed to Colliers, Saturday Evening Post and the newspaper was the Kansas City Star which came only on Sunday.

Were you or your parents interested in the news? Which news stories made the greatest impression on you?

Dad would always listen to the news and we would have to be quiet while he listened to the news! On Sundays he would listen to Father Charles E. Coughlin and he would always talk about Russia and the Bolsheviks.

Where were the telephones in your home? Were you allowed to stay on the phone as long as you wanted or was there a time limit?

We were on a telephone party line.

Which door did you use mostly? Front door, back door, kitchen door, side door? Was there usually someone there to greet you when you came home?

Always the front door and normally no one was there to great you.

What time did you usually eat dinner? Was the family all together?

Generally we ate supper at about six pm while we were on the farm and sometimes Dad was gone as he traveled a lot for his business.

Were you proud of your house or shy about having friends over?

Since we lived in the country and we didn't have extra rooms it was difficult to have friends stay overnight.

Did your parents have friends over often? Can you remember them having parties? Where did everyone gather? Did company come often for meals?

Mother had club members over to our house normally as a social gathering and one time she made place markers out of the old style clothes pins and dressed them up as the Duke of Windsor and Wally Simpson. I think this was the year the Windsor's were married and they were from London, England.

What time of the night do you remember your house getting quiet and preparing for sleep?

We usually went to bed around nine pm on the farm which meant things were quiet.

Did relatives or boarders live with your family? What were their quarters like? Were you allowed in there?

We didn't have except when we had a hired hand and then they would sleep in the granary and that wasn't very often.

Do you remember your house having a particular scent (cooking smells, aroma of flowers, laundry scents)?

I could always smell when Mother was cooking and what was being made and I even could tell what the neighbors were cooking by the scent as I was walking by their house coming home from school.

What was the street like where you lived? Did you have a front stoop or porch? Informal or formal?

When on the farm there was no street just a dirt road and when we moved to Minneapolis, KS our house was right on old highway #81 in town and our front porch in both places was informal.

Can you remember excitement about a certain purchase (washing machine, phone, addition to the house) or repairs to the house?

I remember when the Maytag washing machine was delivered it came in a Ford coup with the machine riding in the rumble seat. The machine had a gasoline engine.

If you could now move back into the house you grew up in, just the way it was then, would you? Why or why not?

Why would you and the house no longer exists(farm).


Who were your best friends in your neighborhood? Do you still know them or know what happened to them?

We lived on a farm consisting of milk cows, horses, hogs, and chickens. This farm was 160 acres and in the northeast corner of the section located in Durham Township, Ottawa County, Kansas and was about five miles west of Longford, Kansas.

Since I lived on the farm it was difficult to develop friends and the closest friend was the Dave Smith's family.

One time at the Smith's farm my horse Ruben, while getting on his back and barefooted, he stepped on my toe and he would not get off until Mary Smith heard me and came out and got the horse off my foot. Later that night at home Mother had to release the pressure on my toe by inserting a needle under my toe nail.

Another time involved our pony Spot and while Pat, Mary Lou and I were riding and on our way home with a paper sack of tomatoes from the Smith garden. Spot headed for the barn which was 3/4 of a mile away from Smith's in full speed and on the way home we met the cows and the bull and he ran around them and did not stop until he got to the barn door. This is when we noticed that the bag of tomatoes was empty from the rough ride. I was riding Spot at another time and had to ride two miles to get inform Dad who was at Jim Fadley that we had a cow down and Spot ran down a steep hill while I tried to keep him from falling but once we got to Dave Smith's farm he headed straight into their garage without stopping instead of going to our home. The neighbors were afraid I had been hurt while Spot entered the garage and stopped quickly but I was able to hang on.

When I was seven years old I rode Ruben five miles to Longford to the dentist and also rode back home at this young age. Another time after mother had sent chickens to town I went to get the check and they refused to buy one of the chickens so I proceeded to bring the chicken back home which was five miles away and the man did not volunteer to put the chicken in a sack so I carried it by it's feet and I do not know who was happier to get home safely the chicken or myself.

While riding Spot driving cattle home from Miltonvale, KS I forgot I had new bib overalls on and lost the hide off the insides of my legs as the distance was close to 15 miles and even though I shortened up the stirrups to ride higher in the saddle this was not much relieve from the pain.

Did you play at your home, theirs or mostly in playgrounds, the streets, fields?

Played at home except on occasion we would play ball with others at some neighbor's pasture and we played softball.

What do you remember about your friends' houses and families?

The Dave Smith's house was a two room house with 2 boys and a girl and survived the 30's on 80 acres of land.

Did you play house? Were you the mother, father, doctor, etc? Did you play stickball, ice skate, play basketball or baseball (what position did you play)? Did you go to the library?

We played house in the grain bin if it was empty and I would play as the father. I also would slide down the hen house roof until I received slivers in the back side and had to have mother remove them which wasn't good for me in many ways. I also would slide down the tin roof on the barn but never fell off the roof but after the slivers I decided to stop sliding down roofs.

Was there a neighborhood bully? Did that bully ever hurt you?

No, but we always had a lot of live bulls around that made us afraid of them but since on the farm we didn't have any bullies like they had in town.

Did you have a nickname? How did you get it? Has it stuck with you?

In high school they called me "Irish" because I'm Irish and later in life while I was in the military I was called "Riley" by the guys and also I'm called "Uncle Riley" by the nephews and nieces still today. My wife also called me "Riley" because we met while I was in the service.

What sidewalk games did you play? Did you collect anything (bugs, baseball cards, marbles, etc.)?

I had to cut sunflowers and Mexican sand burrs and didn't have time to do those city games although we did have some jacks to play with occasionally. I also would flip my pocket knife into the ground.

Did you have pets? What were their names? Were they usually strays? How did you acquire them?

Yes, we had a dog named Penny that my Dad brought home when he stopped at a service station and this dog jumped into the car and Dad couldn't find the owner so he brought him home. Penny got into a fight with a coyote and had a bum leg after that fight.

My second dog was Lucky and was a bigger dog and one night Lucky was mad and growling and mother woke me but we never could see anything outside but the next morning we saw cattle foot prints but never knew for sure if it was cattle or a bum that slept in the barn that night.

Do you remember having the chicken pox, mumps or other childhood diseases? Were you ever seriously ill as a child? Who took care of you?

I discovered the chicken pox one day after getting home from school and mother looked and confirmed that I had it. I had the whooping cough in the summertime while in grade school. Someone had stopped in a car and I caught it just by talking to them in their car. I had the mumps after getting out of the Army and when I had half interest in the grocery store in Intervale, Nebraska.

How did you go downtown and get back home? Trolley, bus, car, horseback, walk? Can you remember your first trip? Why did you usually go?

While on the farm it was by horse and we didn't go to town that often and when we lived in town we walked 4-5 blocks to the downtown area but only when we were allowed which wasn't very often.

Did you ever have a natural disaster in your town like a tornado, flood, or immobilizing snow storm?

While in Gordon, NE we had a tornado come through but didn't damage our house.

My brother-in-law, sister and myself spent the night in the car in a blizzard south of Red Cloud, NE on the state line. We were on our way home for Christmas in 1945.

Describe your neighborhood - rural or suburban? Lots of grass or concrete? Did anyone have fancy gardens, a horse, or something "different" from the norm?

While on the farm the closest neighbor west was 1/2 mile west and another neighbor was 1/2 mile east and 1/2 mile south.

Do you remember a new family moving into your neighborhood? Did your family welcome them by sending food; were they hard to get to know; did they join your circle of friends?

There was few new neighbors and once I stayed overnight with a new neighbor's son. We slept on a hay rack with just a bare mattress with four of us sleeping on it. Their mother had an old spinning wheel and would made yarn and subsequently would make sweaters and socks using dyes to get different colors.

What were your favorite board games?

Our Church had card parties for a fund raiser. They played pitch and pinochle. A lady by the name Anna Foy showed me how to play pinochle. I have always enjoyed this game of cards.

Did you ever go door-to-door selling anything to your neighbors? Did you have a lemonade stand?

Once a year on May Day we would go the our teacher's house and placed a lilac bouquet at the door and then ran.

Would you like to have raised your children in a neighborhood like the one you grew up in? Why or why not?

No, as it was lonely on the farm.

Did you have any imaginary friends growing up? Did your parents play along?

I don't remember any.

Were you afraid of the boogeyman or the monster under the bed?

One time while I was working for J. C. Penney at Salina, KS a gentleman came into the store. He asked if my last name was Riley and I said yes. Then he asked if my dad was Ed Riley, and I said he was. The gentleman said, I would like to tell you a story of something that happened with your Dad and myself. I was working at a filling station in the north side of Minneapolis, KS and your dad came into to buy gas. While he was there a large, black Packard drove in with two men and two women. The ladies got out of the car and your Dad started talking to them. He realized that he shouldn't be asking to many questions. This turned out to be Pretty Boy Floyd! He was a bank robber and it turned out he was going down Highway 81. We later learned that he turned and went into Missouri and this is were the FBI caught up with him, and he was shot. At the time we saw him, he was on the run. The gentleman's last name who told me this story was Comfort.

What were your favorite books, poems or bedtime stories as a child?

The amount of books at our school was very limited. There were a few Zane Gray books I remember reading. This helped me start to love reading books. I am still reading.

Did you go to camp? Did anyone from your neighborhood go with you? Do you remember any of the counselors or groups of kids? What did you do at camp?

I never went to camp but did stay at a neighbors overnight when they moved in and they were 2 1/2 miles from home.

What did you ever do that got you into trouble with your parents? At school? What were the punishments?

One time the dog chased a skunk into the stone shed wall and I went and got the 22 rifle and proceeded to shot the skunk in the wall and mother never forgot this as the smell was forever in that wall.

Did you attend a religious school? Did you bring those values with you into adulthood?

We did go to church summer school that was about 20 miles from home. This class would last two weeks and this was a big sacrifice for the family. The summer school was held at the Catholic church in Minneapolis, Kansas. I was an altar boy at the Vine Creek church. The mass was said in Latin in those days so I had to learn the Latin responses.

Was your neighborhood a good, safe place in which to take walks? Do you remember any incidences?

Once while at Annie Smith's house with my sisters and while mother and her family went to pick red cherries a storm cloud came and we all went to the cellar. While we were down there we got hungry and we ate canned peaches right out of the jar with our hands which I still remember.

Did you ever want to run away? Why?

No, but when I was approximately 18 months old I followed the dog and was sleeping under the shade of a stack of wheat bundles that had been shocked and was waiting to be thrashed and my half sister and Mother were very concerned where I was but I was found.

What was a perfect day when you were a child?

When we would make up our own games and play them. Once I made stilts and they worked as I would get on them at the chicken house and away I would go.

What is your first memory?

The first memory was when Mary Lou was born on April 28, 1928 and the lady was giving Mary Lou her the first bath on her lap by the heating stove in the dining room.

What were the names of neighborhood landmarks? The ice cream store? Drugstore? Barber shop? Grocery store? Flower shop? Shoe repair shop? What do you remember most vividly about them?

The memory of a store was the J. C. Penney store and I was fascinated by change carrier system.

I remember going into the drug store and it had a good smell probably from the soda fountain.

Now that you are an adult, what advice would you give to a child about childhood?

Enjoy your time and listen to your parents.

Is there anything else you would like to write about your childhood?

No, not at this time.

Elementary School Years

What was the name of your school? How big was it? What did it look like? Was it a private or public school?

Mulberry was a public country school and it was a small rectangular white building with an outside water pump and two outside privies one for boys and one for girls. The desks were two seaters including the ink well on each side. It was in Ottawa County, Kansas near Longford, Kansas.

Did you ride a bus to school? If so, did you like riding the bus? Do you remember anything that happened on that bus?

No bus as we would walk or rode a pony unless Dad took us in the car. It was three miles via the road and if you went across the fields and pastures it would be a little shorter. I got frostbite one time walking to school and they had to wrap me up in a warm blanket in the back of a lumber wagon. Mother also wrapped us kids on the horse with a warm blanket as there would be three of us including my two sisters with me in the front. One time going home the horse took off running for home so we never knew how things would end, but we made it? If we had to walk on the real cold days I had extra mittens as Mary Lou would shake her hands and loose her mittens.

What did you learn in school that you still use to this day?

Probably more than I realize.

Do you remember being afraid to enter first grade? What did you think when you first saw the classroom?

No, I was not afraid. My first teacher (Mr.Rofuss) only had the one hand as his brother had chopped it off when they were chopping wood. He was right out of high school and would let me and another first grade student go outside and play.

Do remember "getting" a concept? Cursive writing, maybe? Do you remember the moment when you realized you could read? Was school work hard or easy for you?

I only had the one time at school that I had some difficulty with an assignment that caused a difference of opinion between myself and the teacher which required me to stay after school but the teacher (Fern Miller) turned out to be one of my best teachers. She brought in a switch that she had in the coal shed behind the school to whip me but I stayed away from her long enough that she ended crying and could not catch me but did send me home finally!

Did you like physical education / gym class? Did you feel you were good at sports? Were you picked first or last for the teams?

We did not have the physical education at our country school. One time at a school track meet during a race I ran on a road that was full of sand burrs whereby on completion of the race I realized I had all these sand burrs in my stocking feet and Dad helped me to remove them as I was in a lot of pain! I did finish the race in first place so I received a blue ribbon.

Do you remember shopping for school clothes? Getting excited at what you would wear the first few weeks? Did you ever go to school where you wore a uniform?

We would go to town twice a year to Salina, Kansas and once at the beginning of school and then again at Easter. I wore bib overalls at school. Mother would buy fabric piece goods at J. C. Penney and make school dresses for the girls.
We never had uniforms at the country school. I do remember one girl wore the same home made dress every day all year. It was always starched and pressed for each day.

Did you eat lunch at school or go home? Did you bring your own lunch? Did you have a lunchbox? If so, what did it look like?

Yes, my first lunch box was a wooden grape basket with a top on it and everyone brought a lunch box since this was a country school. A lot of the kids would use the Karo syrup metal can for the lunch box. Sometimes Mother would fix a variety of home made soup in the Karo syrup can and then the teacher would warm the soup up for me and my sisters.

How did you get to school...walk alone, with friends, bus, parent, neighbor?

Walk or rode a pony unless Dad would take us in the car and then we would walk home. Once in the mid thirties after Dad took us to school he came back and advised the teacher to dismiss us as a dust storm was coming and Dad took all the kids home. When we got home we drove out to the four section pasture north side of our farm to get the cattle home but the dust storm was so bad we thought we were going to get lost and finally found the fence line and got back home but never found the cattle and the next day realized they were just over the hill from the farm.

What did you do in the summertime when there was no school?

Cut sunflowers, dig sand burrs, raise chickens, milked cows, feed hogs, and other farm chores. Once Dad had bought about three dozen pigs that had the cholera and they stayed in hog shed in the side of a cliff and they all died whereby I had to remove them by dragging them by hand with a rope and burned them using kerosene. The process involved a terrible smell and was very hard to do as it was hot and took a long time and lasted for days!!

What was your first grade teacher's name? Were you in awe of her? How about your second grade teacher or third grade teacher...or others?

Archie Roffus was my first teacher and he had the one hand. He had a teacher's certificate from high school as he had just graduated from high school the year before. Our county superintendent had no hands and he had the two hooks which he would use to eat his sandwiches when he visited our school. He lost his hands in a farm accident while operating a mowing sickle but he also drove his own car.

Do you remember any visitors that came to your classroom like the mayor, an actor, a cowboy star?

The county superintendent as described in the previous question.

Do you remember any field trips your class took? If you lived in the city, did you go to a farm, factory, big museum?

We took a field trip to Swift and Company in Clay Center, Kansas and we watched them pick and dress chickens. They also made butter at this plant.

Did you say the "Pledge of Allegiance" to start the day? Did you say a prayer? How did you feel about those topics as a child?

Yes we said the "Pledge Of Allegiance" and also said a prayer.

Were you ever the new kid in school?

I never was except in high school and then I wasn't the only one.

Did you win awards at school? Were you ever a star in music?

In grade school I was in a rhythm band and the band consisted of triangles, symbols, and other instruments. I directed this band.

Who was your best friend in elementary school?

There wasn't any in elementary school as only 9 children attended.

Did you have a hobby during those years? Did you ice skate, build things or perform magic, etc.? Did your school mates know about it or did you keep it to yourself?

I built stilts while living on the farm and just the family knew about them.

Were you in a scout troop or any other organization? Do you remember the leader? Any projects? Any impressions?

I was in 4H one summer.

Who was the principal at your elementary school? Were you ever called to the principal's office? If so, why?

I was sent to the superintendent's office once for chewing gum. This was when I was a junior in high school in Delphos, KS. Would you be sent to the superintendent's office today for chewing gum?

What did you think of the older kids? Did they seem sophisticated to you? Were they doing some activity that you just could hardly wait to do?

Doesn't apply as we lived on the farm and subsequently a small school.

What was your attitude about school? Were you excited about it, bored or just tolerated it?

Tolerated it.

Do you remember kindergarten? What do you remember?

Didn't have kindergarten.

Did you have a favorite teacher?

Yes, I had several teachers that I enjoyed and the teacher we would take flowers to was Irene Lyles.

Do you ever remember your mother coming to your school for any reason? What was the usual punishment at your school for wrongdoing?

I do not remember Mother coming for any of us kids and the only punishment was when a teacher wanted to give me a strapping but I would not let her get that close so she did not finish the punishment. She wanted to give me a strapping because I stomped my feet and said "NO!" to one of her requests.

Do you remember having to stand up in front of the class to read a paper or a story?

I would stand in front of the room to give my written story but on one occasion I had not done the assignment and she wanted me to read someone else's story and I would not do it so she got mad.

Can you remember a historic event that happened when you were in school?

I remember Pearl Harbor when I was in high school.

Is there anything else you would like to write about the school years before high school?

Dad took us for shots at the country school and left us but we never went in to get the shots and Dad never knew as he never inquired. We still had to get the shots at a later time.

Life in a Small Town

What was the name, state and population of your town?

In high school we moved to Minneapolis, Kansas which has a population of about 2000. We moved there in 1940 and then moved again to Delphos, Kansas (population 650)in the spring of March, 1942 as Dad purchased a grocery store. Dad and mother went to the store to get a loaf of bread and when they came out they had bought the store.

This was a family run store as my Dad and mother plus us three older ones did the work. For myself I learn how to serve our costumers. Part of that was learning to be meat cutter. Since the war was making it more difficult to get some items as must as needed for the store, fresh carcass of beef was one of those items. Dad knew a man in Miltonvale, Kansas that did butchering for farmers. He would have him buy a beef on foot and then kill and dress it for us. I would have to go pick it up and haul it home in the trunk of the car. A Sunday job again but our store had the meat to sell. One of my jobs was to candle the eggs the farmers would bring into the store to trade for there weekly grocers. A good week was over 20 cases of 24 dozen each.

What was the main source of the town's income?

The farmers were the main source as this was in a rural area along with in addition to the town's income was the court house as this was the biggest employer in the county.

What types of food were generally considered for dinner time? Have you raised your family with the same types of foods?

The fried chicken was common as we raised chickens to eat along with eggs and pancakes for breakfast as Dad liked his pancakes. In the winter we had home made ice cream as we had the cream and other ingredients to make the ice cream.
When we butchered the hogs we would have the fresh bacon and homemade sausage. We also butchered beef and we had round steak mostly as Mother liked this but we would also have T-bone steaks and she would can the beef along with other canned items.

My Grandma Cummings would make fresh biscuits every morning along with making homemade butter and jelly on occasion.

If you lived on a farm, what was the week like? What was Sunday like?

The days were the same every day as life was quite isolated from the outside world and on Sunday's we went to St. Patrick church in Vine Creek, Kansas.

How did friendships differ from rural life vs large city life (if you have experienced both)?

More friends and things to do with the town life and the movies and drug store would provide entertainment and fountains.

Did you ever dream of leaving your small town?

I had a little help as Uncle Sam decided to draft me into World War ll.

What invention came last to rural areas from the cities?


What did you raise on your farm? How large was it? How many acres? How many buildings? How did things change seasonally?

Cattle, hogs, chickens, ponies, work horses and the crops were wheat, alfalfa hay, potatoes and other garden items. The farm was 160 acres and had six buildings including the house. Things were very much the same each season.

Who helped your family on your farm? Hired hands or neighbors?

Dad hired for harvest outside help and some of the neighbors boys were also hired when needed.

Did you ever raise an animal and show it at a fair? Did you have to sell it? How did you feel about that?

We never went to a fair.

What time did you get up in the morning? What were the sounds of the farm, fields, farmhouse, and barns?

I was up around five am as I would have to do my chores before I went to school.
The rooster would be crowing and the cattle bawling as they wanted to be feed and the pigs were squealing. Occasionally in the morning and during the night you could hear the coyotes howling.

What were your working conditions during the different seasons?

The winters were cold with a lot of snow as sometimes the road was blocked and we would have to drive thru the pasture to get to the portion of the road that was open. We would put a bucket on a fence post and that is where we would get our mail until the road was open. The summers were hot and dry.

What animals did you witness giving birth? Were they vet-assisted, or did the family hold the vigil? What do you remember about your veterinarian?

We did not have vets to assist for animal birthing but witnessed most of the farm animals giving birth. That is norm for a farm boy I would say. Yes I remember the vet when he came to castrate the pigs, I hated that job.

This may be a good time to tell about my mother, sister and the bull snake. They had a few guineas and one had nested along the road in some tall grass. My aunt heard the guinea making a fuss so she went out to see why. The bull snake was swallowing the eggs. She got a hoe and chopped the snake's head off and squeezed out the eggs it had swallowed and returned them to the nest and they did hatch.

The first time Edna and I went to meet her parents was at their farm at Catherine, Kansas. While there a hen got up on the window sill and wanted in. Mr. Karlin opened the window and the black and white hen got into the wood box by cook stove and laid her egg. When she was a little chick and the only black chick the other chicks would pick on her so Mr. Karlin brought her into the house for her safety.

You likely saw some death, too. How did you learn to handle that?

We had a cow that was down in the pasture about 1/8 th of a mile from the house and I am not sure if maybe lightning had struck it and I carried water to her until she died.

Did you take your crops to market? Tell about the good and lean years.

We grew wheat and would take to the local elevator in Longford, KS at harvest time in the fall. We would shock (make bundles)the wheat and the neighbors would come with the separator and it had a steam engine with a bell on it and you could hear it coming. The hay rack was horse drawn and would bring the shocks to the separator. In later years we used combines and tractors as things were modernized. One time I felt a piece of hail hit me and I ran back to the house as the hail storm came hard and flattened the wheat crop and killed the young chickens and broke windows on the house and barn. This was the only time I saw mother cry as these were tough times as it was during the dirty thirties.

Who were your neighbors? Did the neighbors form a tight community? Did you ever have to help out in an emergency?

Dave and Mary Smith and family were neighbors that lived 1/2 mile east and 1/2 mile south from us and lived in a two room house which had never been painted. They had the two boys and one girl named Annie who was 5 years older than myself and we went to school together. I helped them do the milking one time when there was an illness. Their barn didn't have a timber roof but instead had straw and grass roof. When it rained the barn would be wet due to this roof.
The Fred Bowen ranch was 1/2 mile west of us and he was a big cattle rancher. Every spring he would bring a couple thousand steers by the railroad from Texas to Vine Creek, KS. They would drive the cattle 6 miles from the railroad stockyards to the ranch where they would separate the steers into different pastures based on how many could be supported by that pasture. We would loan them a cow in the winter for milk, cream and butter.

Do you think weather is the most important component in a farmer's life?

The weather controlled how the crops turned out but other things were also a factor.

Did you ever win the "largest" category with your produce or show a prize steer? Did you win ribbons, or stuffed animals, at the fair?

I was involved with a fair as I had made cookies but I did not attend as the 4-H leader took the cookies but I did get a ribbon. My first fair I attended was as a freshman in high school and I also went to the America Royal in Kansas City.

What are some of the biggest differences between living in a small town and a big city? Pros and cons?

On the farm you went to the bathroom outside in the cold and in town we went to the bathroom in the house. On the farm you took a bath in a wash tub or stock tank and in town you took a bath in a bathtub or a shower. The outhouse on the farm was identified by the number of holes (seats) and we had a two holes. Another words the outhouse could be a shared facility if you could stand the smell.

Holidays and Celebrations

Do you like your birthday or dread it? What birthday do you remember the most?

Don't even remember celebrating my birthday as I've never had a birthday party in my life as a child.

Did you get to choose the meal on your birthday? Were birthdays considered a "big deal" when you were young? Did you raise your children to think they were a big deal?

Since living on the farm the birthdays were not as big an event as if we had lived in town. Mother always remembered our birthdays and we had something at the farm for our family. I do not remember Dad being there as he was always busy working to hold on to the farm.

Did your family make birthday cakes or did you buy them? What were the favorite flavors? What kind of birthday parties did you give for your children?

I do not ever remember having a birthday cake but if we did Mother would have made them at the farm. Any flavor was favorable.

My wife Edna would make the birthday cakes and decorate it for our kids.

What were the most important religious holidays you celebrated throughout the year? What was the significance of the holiday (i.e., why were you celebrating it)?

Christmas and Thanksgiving as an opportunity to get together with families and go hunting with cousins and other activities.

How did you celebrate each major holiday?

At the farm or we would go to another relative's farm as every holiday was spent at someone's farm and usually at Thanksgiving and Christmas,

What holiday did you especially like? Which holiday was really not much fun for you?

Thanksgiving and Christmas were normally the only ones we celebrated.

What were some of the best memories from any of the holidays you celebrated?

One Christmas the three of us kids received one red wagon to share from the folks as was a special gift as normally I would get socks, overalls, long handle underwear and maybe a jacket when needed.

What was served at your holiday dinners? What do you remember about these dinners?

Many times it was baked chicken but occasionally it was a turkey. These dinners included plenty of food with homemade bread and mince meat pies along with normal items.

What are some of your memorable birthdays from your life? Were any birthdays particularly difficult because you reached a certain numerical age?

On my 80th birthday my son asked me if I would like to go to York, Nebraska for my birhtday and I was surprised when we got there as it was a surprise birthday with a room full of friends and relatives. Best birthday I ever had.

I never had any concern about a certain numerical age.

Is there a holiday present or birthday present that especially sticks out in your mind?

My surprise 80th birthday party that my son arranged was the best birthday gift I ever received.

Did you have a shower for a wedding or baby? Do you have special memories of these events? Who was there?

I had a bachelor party in my apartment in Salina, KS which I held and had friends from the military and Edna's brothers. I was in the military but had housing off base and this was the apartment that Edna and I lived in after we were married. The landlady complained about the noise we made at the party.

How did you celebrate New Year's Day?

One year Edna and I attended a New Year's dance in Topeka, KS and I had a few drinks and before the night was over I was dancing without shoes on.

How did you celebrate Valentine's Day? Did you and your schoolmates exchange Valentine's in elementary school? What was the best Valentine's Day for you and why?

We made Valentines out of leftover wall paper at home and I don't remember making any Valentines at school.

Did you ever get flowers or candy for Valentine's Day? Any other unique present on that day? Do you still send and receive Valentine's card to this day?

I always gave Edna flowers or candy.

How did you celebrate Easter or Passover?

Easter was celebrated with spiritual services and would involve Holy Week.

Did anyone ever dress up like the Easter Bunny to surprise your children? Was church in your schedule at Easter? Did you color Easter eggs?

Mother always boiled eggs and the girls colored them and then mother would hide them out in the yard for us to find. I don't ever remember any Easter candy nor Easter Bunny.

Was Mother's Day an important day? How did you typically celebrate it?

I don't remember celebrating Mother's Day.

How about Memorial Day? What did Memorial Day mean to you and your family?

We occasionally would visit the graves but not necessary on Memory Day. Dad's parents had a large monument with a cross on it marking their graves in Vine Creek, KS cemetery.

Was Father's Day an important day? How did you typically celebrate it?

No, don't remember that it was.

As a child, what did you do on the Fourth of July? What do you do now?

Dad would bring us roman candles and small firecrackers to celebrate the Fourth of July while we lived on the farm. One time I was in the basement of Dad's new store and being snoopy and found a bos of firecrackers that were leftover from the previous owner. My friends and I took the box as Dad didn't know about them and we went to the country cemetary and shot them off at night and had fun doing it.

Labor Day signified the end of summer. What were some of the best Labor Day weekends you experienced?

Usually Labor Day was the first day of school and we never spent Labor Day weekend as a holiday.

Do you like Halloween? What have you gone dressed up as? Did your parents make your costume or did they buy them? What was Halloween like growing up? Do you remember the pals you Trick-Or-Treated with?

I don't remember doing Halloween either.

What Halloween candy do you pass out?

We didn't participate in Halloween.

What did you usually do on Thanksgiving in your youth? What do you do now?

We always celebrated Thanksgiving with Edna preparing a turkey with all the trimmings and we would invite family and/or friends to celebrate with us.
We were in Topeka after being married a couple of years and one time when I got home Edna announced that she had made a pumpkin pie. I had a piece of pie and noticed the taste was unusual and asked Edna if she had put any eggs and other ingredients in the pie? Edna said she had taken the can and emptied into the pie shell thinking this was all that was needed to make a pumpkin pie.

What do you do on New Year's Eve normally? What was the fanciest New Year's Eve party you ever attended?

In the later years in York, NE we would meet with neighbors for New Year's Eve in someone's home in lieu of going to a club. We would take turns each year and would play cards and visit.

Do you remember a holiday you had to spend alone? Which was the best holiday of your life? The worst?

The most difficult Christmas was my first year overseas in 1943 while in the military and stationed in England. I was lonely and homesick as we couldn't call or email home or have anyone call me as correspondence was only by letter and it could take a month to receive a letter. I would get letters and occasionally a package and this was very much appreciated.

Any advice to a new parent about celebrating the holidays? Any regrets?

New parents should establish traditions like Christmas in their homes with family.

What did Christmas morning feel like when you were a child? Was it hard getting to sleep the night before? What are some of your holiday religious rites and traditions?

We would hang up our stockings before Christmas and we would get oranges, hard candy, and peanuts in the shell mixed in with the candy.

High School

Where did you go to high school? What was your mascot? What were your school colors? Do you remember any of the cheers? What was your favorite song during high school? What type of music was popular?

Minneapolis, Kansas High School started in the fall of 1940 on moving from the farm to town. Our mascot was a Minneapolis Lions and colors were blue and gold. Jitterbug was the music of the time. I liked to dance to San Antonio Rose. I attended Minneapolis my first two years and then we moved to Delphos, Kansas for my junior year. I was given a deferment in my junior year from the draft board to finish my junior year and then was drafted before my senior year.

Who were your friends? What did you like about them? Who were your favorite teachers?

I had a lot of friends and my favorite teacher was in Minneapolis and her name was Lara Bikeley and she was the literature teacher. I liked her due to the way she conducted the class and made it easy for me to understand and excel. She was a teacher's teacher.

What kind of extra-curricular activities did you do in high school? Were you on the school paper? A sports team? Were you a class officer? A cheerleader? A nerd? Were your friends involved in the same activities as you were?

I started in a boy's glee club and started with the base horn and this did not work and pursued other activities. I took vocational agriculture for my freshman year and realized that I was not going to be a farmer so just involved the freshman year. I was picked as one of three boys to go to the American Royal in Kansas City for a fair and gave me my first opportunity to see the big city along with take a tour of the Union Railway Station which a few years later helped me to find the right train when I was drafted to Leavenworth, Kansas.
I played football in multiple positions as blocking back and safety where I would return kickoffs. My friends were involved in the same activities.

Were you ever honored at school? Varsity letter? Homecoming court? Valedictorian? Do you remember the students who were?

I was drafted into World War 11 after my junior year but later in life I was honored at our 50st class reunion (2004)in Delphos, Kansas and they surprised me by providing me with my high school diploma. I was very pleased to be given this diploma. The class size increased from 13 to 14 so Mr. Pilcher (classmate) was glad that was got off the number 13.
In 1948 I took a test whereby I passed the high school equivalent and obtained a certificate of learning from the State of Kansas. I was in the military (Air Corp)at the time and felt this was need to further my career.

Do you remember any students you felt sorry for because other students made fun of them or took advantage of them?

They was a bully on another team that we played and was going in for a touchdown but I was determined to stop him from getting a touchdown and tackled him on the 20 yard line and we both laid on the field from the impact of the hit. This affirmed my football skills.

Were you a diligent student or did you have a more casual approach?

I studied a lot especially with math and algebra.

Did you study a foreign language? Did those lessons stick with you? Were you ever able to use that language on vacation or in your community?

No foreign classes were taken and probably to my memory not offered.

Did science or math come hard to you? Did art or English come easily? Do you remember any long papers you wrote or any special projects?

Yes it did and thereby I studied hard in math and algebra. I took a class in shop and built and end table with a magazine rack and double shelves. No long papers let alone short papers were down.

Who did you go to your prom with? What did you wear? Did you dance much?

I did go to the prom for the senior class as a junior. As the juniors sponsorship the prom each year. The girl's name was Delma Dean Pounds and we danced and had a great meal. I was not able to go to the senior prom as I had already been drafted after my junior year.

Were you a beatnik, hippie or rebel?

No, just a good old farm boy with hard up bringing and a hard worker.

Did you have hobbies, read a lot, enjoy political debates, bands, or just hanging out with your friends? Did you have a part time job? Did you babysit? Did you do volunteer your time?

When we lived in Minneapolis, KS my part time job was working at a gas filling station and the owner also had the job of delivering the freight that came in by the railroad and that was my job to deliver this freight to merchants and fill in for him at the gas filling station while he had lunch.
At times on the farm we would babysat with our younger sister while Mother was in the hospital with measles which she caught from Mary Lou and she did not brake out and was given Last Rights but did recover.
I volunteered by serving Mass at the Missions Church in our area.

Were you popular? If not, did it bother you? Did you buy a class ring? Was it a big expense for you?

I did not graduate so I did not have a class ring.

Where did your crowd hang out? Did you go to a diner, drugstore, library, friends' houses, etc.?

In Minneapolis, KS several friends would have a recreation room in their homes and we would meet occasionally in these homes for dance and fun.
In Delphos, KS Mr. Mullnax owned the mercantile store and had a upstairs with a large room with an outside stairs and I borrowed a record player and he would let me have dances up there. I was a junior in high school and kids were free to come.

What were the clothing trends when you were in high school? Did you follow the trends?

The girls wore broomstick skirts and boys just jeans. I got a red flannel shirt for Christmas and eventually more red flannel shirts were seen at school.

Who was your principal? Who was your gym teacher? Coaches? Did you spend much time at the library? Was homework easy for you?

I do not remember the library as I never went to the public library. The homework was not easy as I had to study a lot.

Did your parents like your friends? Were you happy in high school?

As far as I know my parents liked my friends and I did enjoy high school.

Were you in a clique or sorority? Was it a good decision?

No, I sure there were cliques but I was not a part them. Was that good decision, yes it was.

Did you ever skip school? Where did you usually go after school? Did you do homework after school? Did you work in high school? Did you ever get disciplined in high school?

In my junior year of high school in Delphos, KS the whole junior class skipped a day of school. The senior class was on their sneak day in Kansas City and the junior class decided to have a sneak day too. After school I had to head for the store and work

How did you usually spend your weekends? Did you do chores around the house? Did you spend more time at one friend's house than anybody else's? At whose house did people gather? How did their parents like having all the kids around?

Sometimes on weekends my friend and we would go to the Bohemian Hall that was west of Delphos, KS for the Friday night dances. My sisters and I would have to go to work next morning at seven am at our family grocery store in Delphos.

I always had chores on the farm and when we lived in town we did not have many chores.

What did you discover about yourself in high school? Did you learn a skill that you could take out in the world with you? Were you sad when it ended, or were you ready to leave it all behind?

My Dad taught me how to work and I kept that skill with me for my future years.
The sad part of high school was that I was drafted after my third year in high school for World War 11.

Were you philosophical - a deep thinker?

Yes, I think a lot and I am not sure it is deep enough.

Have you ever attended a high school reunion? What truths did you learn about your classmates, if you attended? What truths about your community that you might not have thought about before?

Yes, I attended in 2004 which was my 50th. I was pleased that the class from Delphos invited me, as I did not graduate with them. I was drafted in between my Junior and Senior year. One classmate that was at the reunion was glad that they gave me my diploma because that increased the class from 13 to 14. He wanted to get off the number 13.

How important were your high school years in your life? Do you ever dream about those years? If you could have one conversation now with yourself when you were a high school student, what would you say?

My high school years set the stage for me to come from a small country school to a must bigger school with more opportunity. Also being put in with must larger group of people then I had ever experienced. Form good study habits and learn to listen to your instructors.

How would the young adult you were view the person you've become?

We see, but we do not see - I want to say a little about this big little remark and what it means to me. All my life I have been able to see. But as I grow older and reflect on the crosses I have been ask to carry for him, did I see or did I fall? I must say yes I have fallen. He gave a way for me to ask for his forgiveness. The sacrament of penance. I pray that I used it wisely. What a great experience it is. I also know there are scares left on my soul that must be removed. My prayers are that I may be given the opportunity to have them removed now or in the next life. I must not despair or the game is lost forever and ever. The Bible does say the gate is narrow. Yes, he shows mercy if I follow his rules he has given. That is the only way to get through the gate. He made me to be a great saint and I do not want to miss the opportunity.

Is there anything you would like to add about your high school years? Perhaps the best day of your high school years?

One experience I remember in high school was when my friend almost got me into trouble. On a Saturday night my friend came into my folks grocery store and he said he knew were there was some gasoline we could "borrow". This was during WWII so gasoline was rationed. We wanted to go meet some girls in Minneapolis, KS on Sunday and we needed gas to get there. The gasoline was in a tractor in a 4H building that was down by the football field in Delphos, KS. I followed him into the building. There happened to be some 4H hogs in there at the time. Before we got to the tractor I said "No" and turned around and started walking out. My friend followed me out. That was the closest I have ever gotten to stealing gasoline.
Another high school adventure was when I was squirrel hunting with two other friends. We came up on a watermelon patch, which we knew was there. We used our rifle to split the watermelons. While eating our fill, we noticed a car heading towards us. It was the owner of the patch, so we took off across the creek, and ran the fastest we had ever ran.

Military Career

Name, rank, and serial number? Were you drafted or did you enlist? What was the first you saw of the service - the enlistment center? What did you see there that made you want to sign up? What was it like at the draft board?

Bernard Eugene Riley, sergeant,and I was drafted at Ft. Leavenworth, KS on June 22, 1943 and returned for active duty on July 6, 1943. I then reported back to Ft. Leavenworth for processing on a troop train to Camp Barkley, TX which was right outside Abilene, TX. I took basic at Camp Barkley, TX and then was trained at the cook and baker school and also had a little medical training. The total training at Camp Barkley was ten weeks. I never saw the draft board but was provided a deferment to my junior year in high school. A person I remember from those days was Showby and he helped me to obtain transportation home but always had a wild streak in him although he also had a big heart. We had to acquire our own transportation and we hired a car from California and unknown to myself Showby and the driver had spent time together in the Oklahoma pen and provided an unusual ride home.

How quickly did you move up through the ranks? Who was the first officer you admired?

I started as a private and then corporal and was promoted sergeant in December,1944.

The first officer I admired was my company commander Lt. Bower in Germany as he was a soldier's soldier and at one point he lead us into staying on leave a few extra days and took all the blame.

What was the name of your company? Did it have a nickname? Where were you stationed? Describe what it was like.

After a five day furlough at home I returned to Camp Bartley, Texas and then took a troop train to Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania for processing and then unto Camp Shanks, New Jersey which was outside New York city. There I boarded Queen Elizabeth which was the largest passenger ship and was noted as very prestigious and first class ship. The ship zigzag its route to minimize submarine torpedoing by the Germans. It only took five days and we landed at Glasgow, Scotland Dec. 20, 1943 and disembarked early in the morning.

We took a British troop train from Glasgow to Litchfield, England where I was assigned to 482 Replacement Company, 92d Replacement Battalion and attached to the 7th Corp, First Army and formed at Litchfield, England which was a suburb of Birmingham, England. Then we were transferred to Banger, Northern Ireland where we feed and clothed part of the 82nd airborne while they were still in training. This base in Northern Ireland was a World War 1 base and very old and since I was a cook I remember the old cook stoves that were still there from World War 1 and in terrible shape and very hard to prepare and clean for use.
We were in Ireland for 90 days and then sent to southern England to the staging area for the upcoming invasion into Normandy, France. We stayed here for approximately 30 days at which time we went to Falmouth where we boarded a liberty ship. The bunks were stacked four high but were never sleep in due to all the equipment was stored on the beds and weighed at least 80 pounds. This took five days to cross the English channel even though this was scheduled for three days. The Utah beach was cleared for us so we had to wait two more days. The invasion landed in a different location than planned but turned out to be better. I was in the 92d Replacement Battalion and the camp we set up was called Boutteville which was several miles from the beach. We dug fox holes adjacent to hedge rolls and set up our kitchen under an abandoned glider using tarps for the roof. I was on guard duty the first night and the captain told me to go out as the outer guard and march back and forth observing for any enemy activities. I decided this was unsafe and decided to lay in the grass and observe from one location as better to see any enemy activity. I was on duty from 9pm until midnight and was very concerned for my safety and finally got relieved at midnight. I had learned this experience while I was on the farm and had to get emergency help for my sick sister and was required to walk across open pastures at night and knew how easy one could be seen walking verses hiding in the grass and observing. At one time four cooks including myself feed 2200 men homemade pancakes in approximately eight hours. This camp was used for replacement troops coming on shore.

We followed the invasion forces across France for approximately two months and then we crossed the German border on Sept. 17, 1944. While on an overnight stop at Liege, Belgium some of us decided to go to the local pub after completing our duties and before refreshments I felt a strange feeling of danger and told everyone we should immediately leave which we did. This area still had Germans and Belgium sympathizers and presented a constant danger to the American soldiers. We went into the Argonne Forest and set up camp where we stayed for approximately 60 days. After Aachen surrendered we moved in for approximately two weeks and then had to move back to Belgium because the Battle of the Bulge had started. After the Germans were pushed back in Jan.,1945 we returned to Germany and one of the stops at Colonge where I went into a large cathedral which had everything removed from it and everything else around it had been demolished. We went on to Bonn where the Americans captured the bridge so we could cross the Rhine River into central Germany. At Nordhausen, Germany we saw work camps of various nationalities and rows of dead people that were piled up with a terrible smell. We assumed there death was the result of the lack of food, care and terrible work conditions. The furthest east we went was at Halle, Germany and this was approximately 60 kilometers from Berlin. We were told the war had ended in Germany which was in April, 1945 and I was also there when President Roosevelt died during the same month. The battalion was dissolved and I was shipped back to a base at Metz, France where we awaited boarding a ship based on the points we had and eventually boarded a victory ship which was bigger than the liberty ship. Then headed across the Atlantic Ocean in the month of November,1945 and arrived in USA on Nov. 28, 1945 in New York City. The conditions on this ship were terrible as no bunks and sleep on the floor in the bottom hole in the ship. The smell and stench from vomit was terrible and at this time of year the ocean was rough. We landed in New York City and reported to Camp Shanks in New Jersey and the people working in this camp were German prisoners. I went by train to Ft.Smith, Arkansas and received my discharge on Dec. 5, 1945.


I was a civilian for a little over one year and due to different reasons I elected to go back into the military on Jan., 1947 and decided to go into the Air Corps which today is called the Air Force. I enlisted in Fort Riley, KS and was transferred to Loury Field, CO and then later assigned to Mathers Air Force base in California near Sacramental, California. I was a sergeant and assigned as head cook for the mess hall till July, 1947 at which time I was sent to mess sergeant school to learn more in cooking and possible promotion. They sent me back in August, 1947 for advanced cooking and then in October, 1947 I went to hotel and restaurant school in San Antonio, Texas. I was transferred back home to Smokey Hill Air Base at Salina, Kansas. I met my wife Edna in July, 1948 at the officer's mess hall where I was working and she also was working as a waitress. I had taken the test for the officer's pilot candidate school and passed both the physical and aptitude tests. I was sent to Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas and was part of a large group that got washed out after six months. This was an enjoyable experience as I was in the class of 1948 and my classmates consisted of West Point Officers and ROTC personnel. I was sent back to my home base Smokey Hill, Kansas and married Edna on May 7, 1949. In Jan., 1950 I completed my three year obligation and was discharged with an honorable discharge. I was called back into the military in April, 1951 and was in Cheyenne, Wyoming when General McArthur was fired by President Truman and we guys were very displeased that this had occurred. I reported to Lockland Air Base in San Antonio, Texas and waiting for an assignment. I received my final military honorable discharge on Nov., 1951 and was pleased as I wanted to be home with wife Edna and my first born Randy.

Did you win any medals or citations? What for? Where do you keep that medal now - is it prominently displayed in your house, or is it stashed away in a drawer?

Decorations and citations:

EAME Theater Ribbon
One Silver Service Star
World War 11 Victory Ribbon
Good Conduct Medal

Battles and Campaigns:

Normandy GO 33 WD 45
Ardennes GO 40 WD 45
Northern France GO 46 WD 45
Central Europe GO 48 WD 45

What entertainers did you see perform? Which of your buddies did you sit with when you saw the program? What songs do you remember hearing during the war? Which song most says "war years" to you?

I remember "Sentimental Journey" which made me sad due to the nature of the song and being away from home.

What did your uniform look like? Did wearing it change your attitude?

Olive drab which was always the same color for everything including the underwear. The uniform did not change my attitude.

What supplies and weaponry were you issued? How long did it take you to learn to use your weapon? What was the situation on the practice range? Were you a pretty good shot?

I was issued the carbine rifle due to my unit I was in which was a service unit. I spent one day on the firing range.

Where did you go through basic training? Were you with any of your hometown buddies? How tough was it? Which part did you excel in, in which part did you lag behind? Who was the officer in charge?

Basic training was in 1943 at Camp Bartley near Abilene, Texas and the most difficult part was the all day force marches with all the equipment. This march was around 30 miles and dusty from vehicles driving the same road. It took all morning to get out to the destination and since it was in September the temperatures were very hot. The officer in charge rode in a jeep. The sergeants would march with us and the marching was intended to get us in physical condition, which it did. I guess I excelled by not lagging behind or falling out. We were upset when we had to stand retreat that evening.

Describe your barracks - from basic training on up. Who were your bunk mates? Were you close with any of them?

In Northern Ireland during World War II the housing was metal Quonset huts with cement floors. The beds had a two short saw horses only six inches off the floor with three bed length 1 inch boards. The mattress was a mattress tick and filled with straw. These beds were very cold and damp as little heat from one pot belly stove.

Was military food as bad as it's rumored to be, or was it okay? What were some of your typical meals?

My first meal I had in the military was at the induction center in Fort Leavenworth, KS and I almost gagged on the meal but later I adopted to the military meals.
I worked on a troop train that went through Kansas City Station for feeding the troops and while the train was in route I thought how easy it would be to jump off the train as we were close to home.
In the field where I spent most of my time we had field rations and these were OK. Typical meals were corn beef hash, spam, powdered eggs, powdered milk, canned sausage, and lot of pancakes. We always had a maple flavored syrup as one paratrooper had borrowed a box of food while on the ship going to Ireland that turned out to be maple syrup flavored tablets.

What were your duties and assignments, in camp and on the field?

My duties were a cook in the field kitchen during the invasion of Europe.
In Fort Leavenworth, KS I did k.p. (kitchen patrol) once and I washed the dishes by hand in a sink and the other person dried them and was to check them to make sure they were clean and spotless but they found a plate with a grease spot on it and we had to peel a 100 lb sack of potatoes. This was the only time I pulled kp as I was the cook later on.

Who were your best buddies? Are you still in touch with any of them?

Frank Tofani and John J. Jospak and not in touch any longer.

Who did you write letters to? Who did you get letters from? What time did the mail come every day? What was that like?

I wrote letters to my folks and sisters and also received letters from them although while in Europe the letter was the only communications and would take at least a month to receive. My letters were censured by the military before being sent but incoming letters were not censored. Sometimes we would not receive mail for a week whiles in the field.

What commander did you get along the worst with? Was there one you were friendly with?

I never had any problems with any of the commanders but I did not care for our officer in charge of our kitchens because he was so lazy. He would get someone to make him powered coffee (Nescafe) and was a second lieutenant and he would say "can't make it too strong" and we would have to bring it to his tent. I told myself I would only do this one time and I dumped the whole can of powered coffee in his coffee cup and brought it to his tent and left. This was the last and only time he asked me to bring him coffee.

When did you first see combat? Did it take you by surprise, or did you know it was coming?

I actually did not see combat but I saw the results of the conflict as I was in a service battalion. Our service battalion was responsible for the replacement troops which meant we feed, clothed, etc., the incoming troops.

When did you first see death? Did you lose any of your good friends?

I first saw death while on the Normandy Beach and it was a German soldier that was severely burnt and he had his helmet still on which identified him as a German soldier. One other location was I went to the water depot at a creek nearby and there were several dead German soldiers still on the ground and there was some French women doing their laundry in the same creek along with a group of American soldiers skinny dipping and probably this was their first chance to bathe.
I did not lose any of my good friends in Europe but did later in the Korean conflict.

Where did you go for rest and relaxation? Was it a debauched time, or was it fairly good, clean fun? What did you see on one of these trips that you had never seen before?

I went to rest camps in Belgium and Holland three or four times and we enjoyed the country and time away from the conflict. I really enjoyed the rest camp in Haarlem, Holland as it was beautiful accommodations, food and entertainment. I saw the Dutch windmills, dikes and people wearing there wooden shoes.

Who took you to the train when you were to report for duty? Was it a teary farewell? What was the date of your swearing in? What was the date of your discharge?

I went by Santa Fe bus from home and my mother and sisters took me to the bus station.
I was sworn into the military (drafted) on June 22, 1943 and discharged the first time on December 5, 1945 and the second time I re-enlisted in January 5, 1948 and discharged in January ?, 1951.

What was your theater of operation? What did you learn about the culture of that country? How did the citizenry differ from the citizenry of your country?

This was the Europe theater and due to the war they was not any site seeing of the countries tell after the had ended, but I decided to return to the states.

Where did you go on maneuvers? Were they a reasonable facsimile of real warfare?

The forced march I was on was during basic training and we marched out 15 miles to a field area and we had a field lunch and we returned to the base. This was a dirt road as I remember tanks running on the road and creating dust. I did not think I would make it as it was dry and hot and some did not make it and were picked up by an ambulance. We had a canteen of water going and coming but you had to ration your water. The first thing we did when we got back to base was to stand in retreat before dismissal.

When you get together with buddies to tell war stories, what stories do you tell?

On three different occasions I met former military men from WW 11. I met with Frank Tofani in 1948 at Ft. Riley, KS at the Army base as he was starting officer's candidate school. Frank and I drove to Omaha, NE and met Joseph E. Ancona for the weekend and Joseph's mother prepared us a Italian spaghetti meal which was delicious. I met Frank's wife at the airport in Topeka, KS and drove her to Ft. Riley, KS for Frank's graduation from officers's candidate school in September, 1948. Frank went on to Ft. Benning, for officer infantry training and was assigned to the conflict in Korea and that was the last time I had any contact with him. I spent a weekend with Peter Notebloom and his family in Bellflower, CA including going to church with them while I was stationed at Mather Field Air Force Base at Sacramental, CA. where Peter worked for General Motors. I looked up my old mess Sergeant from WW ll in San Antonio, TX and found him at Sears where he worked while I was in the Air Force cadet school at Randolph Air Force Base about 18 miles from San Antonio, TX. He and his wife took me out for supper and we spent the evening visiting.

What was the biggest act of courage you saw? By an ally? By an enemy? What did it add to your life?

I remember Edward Gutzeit as he was in the Battle of the Budge with only one of three survivors left out of a platoon of 39 soldiers. After his time in the hospital he returned to my unit for a reassignment and we requested that he work with my unit. He would always jump if a truck backfired and would go ape with various noise. He received an injured while we were loading equipment on the trucks to move foreword and we found a German civilian where they made wood products and he made Edward a pair of crutches.

When you think of your years in the service, what landscape describes it? Mountains? Sand? Jungle?

Normandy Beach would be sand and the rest of Europe was mostly open terrain with rivers and trees. In Normandy there were hedge roads built up on mounds of dirt and when the tanks went over it exposed the bottom of the tank to enemy fire. A American soldier devised a special blade installed on the front of the tank to solve this problem. In France most of the main the roads had trees on both sides of the roads.

What route did you take in your homecoming? Who was waiting to meet you?

When I left Camp Shanks, New Jersey after WW ll it was by train to Ft. Smith, Arkansas. On receiving my discharge I returned to Delphos, KS by bus. I was met by my parents and my two younger sisters. This was the one and only time I saw my Father cry and put his arms around me.

Can you remember what your parents first said to you?

Thank God your home safe and sound!

Was there a love waiting for you when you came back home, or were you unattached? Did the war make you ready to settle down, or did you come home in a more crazy, celebratory mood? Did you have dark days?

I came home unattached and I thought I was ready to settle down but I really was not My home town of Delphos Kansas population was around 600 and I had no car so I felt traped.

Did you ever consider re-upping? What were your thoughts about enlisting again?

I did reenlist in the Air Force for three years as I was in a small town and my options were very limited and I felt trapped.

Who were the pinup girls of the day?

Betty Grable was the most common pinup girl but I did not have any pinup girls.

Did you believe in what you were fighting for? When you look back on your own years in the service, are your personal memories predominantly good or bad ones?

Yes, I believed in what we were fighting for was right and look back on it with pride that I was able to serve and most of my memories are predominantly good relevant to the military.

What did you think about people who protested against the war?

The military had the draft so most had no choice and after Pearl Harbor many young people volunteered but in the Viet Nam War is where they had a lot of protests against the war.

How difficult was the transition from the military back to civilian life?

It was very difficult to transition back to civilian life. I felt like a fish out of water. Being in a small town, with no transportation, my options were limited. I ended going back and enlisting in the air force for three years.

Are you a member of a veterans' organization? Are you active in it? What does it add to your life?

Yes, I am a member of the American Legion and a life member of the veterans of foreign wars.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your military career? Any advice you would like to give to someone considering a career in the military?

I enjoyed the fellow men that worked under me and they had very different backgrounds which also made it interesting to work with them.
The advise I would give to someone considering the military would be to keep yours eyes and ears open and your mouth shut.


Were your brothers or sisters in the service? Was your father a military man?

My father was never in the military but my half brother Jim went into the Army in 1930 and was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. He retired as a Lt. Colonel after 20 years in 1953. He spent the war years in Greenland at a new base. He went to O C S at Miami Florida early in World War ll. He was in army air corps later air force. A few of the bases he was stationed at, if my remember is correct was Casel Air Base in California ,Topeka Kansas, and air base in Montana.

Were your children born at the time? Were they old enough to miss their daddy or mommy?

I was not married while I was in World War II but did marry while still in the Air Force and our oldest son Randy was born before I was discharged. My five day leave started at four pm from Kelly Field in San Antonio,Texas. I was disappointed they would not let me leave earlier as it was on a Sunday and they knew my wife was to give birth but I drove all night and arrived home at Salina, Kansas on Monday afternoon about three pm and took my wife to St. John's hospital at nine pm and Randy was born at ten pm. I was absolutely exhausted but very happy with our first born son.

How often did you write or did you e-mail? Can you remember what those messages said?

I wrote my folks about twice per month and remember not liking others reading them (everything was censored by the military) and when I got home and looked at these old letters some portions of the letters were blacked out (censored). One letter that I wrote I mentioned that "buzz bombs were going overhead" which were missiles and this did not get blacked out as I did not mention any locations. I did not write my girl friend because I did not have any at the time.

When did you usually listen to the news? On the radio? On television? Which network did you watch for news? Which site on the Internet?

While in the military I never had access to any news except for the Stars and Stripes newspaper which was a military newspaper.

What changes were there in everyday life during wartime? Was gas rationing difficult for you? Did you save aluminum foil? Did you shop differently? Was there a certain sadness and fear that you felt in the streets?

My folks were involved with the rationing as they ran their own grocery store. Sugar, coffee and other items were part of the ration program and people had ration books to use. Things that you saved were toothpaste tubes, tires, aluminum foil, paper products, leftover grease drippings, scrap metal, etc. Gas was rationed along with several other items including some food products.

Did you know men who stayed in town because they couldn't join the military for one reason or another? What was the reason?

My football coach in Delphos, KS was not in the military as he only had the one eye.

Was anyone you ever knew missing in action?

My wife's sister's husband [Jerry Alley] was shot down during the Vietnam war as he was a navigator on a B 47 just before Christmas and was listed as missing in action. He was found several years later in Vietnam and brought home to rest. It was a great honor to do one reading at his funeral.


What was your favorite radio or television show growing up?

We had no television but my favorite radio program was Major Bowel. The program was run by Major Bowel and was an amateur talent show. The other radio shows I liked was Fibber and Molly Magee which was a comedy program and Hopalong Cassidy and Tonto which was a cowboy program. Sometimes I would do the chores late due to listening to these radio programs.

Did you ever go to see your favorite performers in concert when you were young? Who were they?

Not were I lived on the farm. Who were they? Why The Rooster that was telling us time to get up and the squalling pigs to be feed while milk cow mowing to have their udders emptied. Now that is a concert to be hold.

What radio stations do you listen to now? What talk radio shows do you like? Have you ever called a talk-radio host and had your voice go on the air?

I now listen to Russ Limbaugh occasionally and enjoy as he is educational and sometimes humorous. Yes at the York radio station and the sound of my voice was a surprise to me.

What television programs do you watch now? What are the shows that you really enjoyed through the years?

I watch the EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) and enjoy due to very educational and a lot of variety. I do watch C-Span and Fox channels. I watch the O'Reilly Show on Fox since his show is a no spin zone a looking out for you program.

Have your tastes in entertainment been fairly mainstream, or have you gone for more unusual music or cinema? Do you like jazz or foreign films? Do you go to poetry readings?

The music I like is Bach, Mozart, etc. When I was freshman in high school I and a buddy would stay at the church rectory overnight to go to the missions early in the morning. The Priest would play this type of music and I did learn to like it.

What kinds of artistic outlets have your undertaken in your life? Poetry writing? Photography? Painting? Piano playing? Ballet?

I did take a few piano lessons and played a piece at a recital in Longford, Kansas. My father traded a Shetland pony for the piano we had at the farm. The Shetland pony was bought for us and was delivered in the back seat of a touring car but we never liked the pony as he was too mean.

If you could be anything having to do with the cultural arts or entertainment, what would you have done? Have you ever appeared in theater or in a civic organization's show?

Was in 4H and at one time, I actually baked cookies to enter the county fair and I was awarded the Red ribbon which meant, I had done a good job. But was never at the fair to see the displays. In grade school was pick to play the father which was the lead part in our grade school play.

What is your preference in music? Do you follow current music or do you prefer the old? Do you like music on in the house or silence? What are your most favorite songs? Make the list as long or as short as you would like!

My favorite Irish songs are like "Danny Boy" and "My Wild Irish Rose". Also listen to a lot of spiritual music and like to have it playing while I say my prayers.

When did you get your first television? Was it bought so your family could view a special show or event? What room did you put it in? How much did it cost? Was your family one of the first in your neighborhood to have a TV?

I remember in about 1955 we bought our first television which was a small black and white "Gambles" portable. We keep it in the living room and the boys would watch mostly in the evening watching westerns and the news. Seldom watched the television as was working or studying.

Have you bought any new home entertainment gadgets lately? Do you own a VCR? A CD and / or DVD player? iPod? Tivo?

No new gadgets but I have a VCR and a CD/cassette player along with a color television and a radio. Must add this as I received a DVD player for Christmas from Susan and Mike. Am enjoying it already even while I learn to use it.

Are you a theatergoer? Do you go in your hometown or only when you visit a big city? What are your favorite plays?

Edna and I used to go to Omaha and Lincoln for the theater and we enjoyed the local theater group in York, NE

What movie affected you most in your life? Do you remember the way the movie looked mostly, or was it the story line? Who were the stars? Was there music in the movie that you remember? What movies have you wanted to see more than once? What was the last movie you saw? What was the first movie you saw?

My favorite movie was "Gone with the Wind" with actor Clark Gable and actress Vivian Lee. The one that affected me the most was The Passion of Christ. Directed by Mel Gibson. Westerns are a favorite to see over again.

How many hours of TV do you watch a day? Do you watch more now that you used to? What show have you continued to enjoy through the years? Are any of your favorites in reruns now? Which TV shows do you wish they'd bring back? Which TV shows are really dumb, but you like anyway?

Yes, since living at the Landing TV is the biggest entertainment that I have and the TV programs I watch mostly are EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), Fox and C-Span one and two.

Which comedian makes you laugh the hardest? Do you like them squeaky-clean or do you go in for the racier type? Did you ever buy comedy albums? Did you listen in a family group?

Jack Benny-George Burn and Gracie Allen and Red Shelton

Did your parents read to you? Did you read to your children? Are you a big reader? How important is reading to you? Do you have an author whom you follow? What are your favorite books? Make your list as long or as short as you'd like!

Yes, my favorite book is the HOLY BIBLE. The rest of my books that I have read and would recommend to read are listed below by title and comments as follow:


THE RIGHT MAN (Document about President George Bush)

TWO SOULS INDIVISIBLE (True story about two prisoner's of war during the Vietnam War)


1776 (Document on Washington and the Revolutionary War)

THE CONFESSIONS OF AN ECONOMIC HIT MAN (True story about the USA and the developing countries)

THE SHADOW OF HIS WINGS (True story about a German soldier in the German Army during WW ll)

ONE BULLET AWAY (True story about a Marine officer that served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars)

THE PACK (True story about two colored boys that go on to be doctors)

NOT BY THE SWORD (How a Canter and his family transformed a Klansman in Lincoln, NE)

THE STATE BOYS REBELLION (True story about a boys home back east and all the problems)

NOTE: This is just some of the books I have read since coming to the Landing.

Who are your favorite artists in your time or in the world? Have you sought out gallery-going in your life? What are some of the best galleries you've visited in the world?

Have visited galleries in Washington D C like the Smithsonian and others also the Louvre in Paris, France. On August 11 2006 Was invited to Gov Mansion with a group of retried Penneys people for lunch and a tour of the mansion. I really enjoyed the day.

What are your most treasured "artifacts" or pieces of art that you have picked up along your path?

I found the statute of St. Joseph and the Christ child which is about 12 inches tall which I found by a church destroyed during WW II and the head was busted off and I sent it home to my family and it was fixed at home. It now resides in my apartment at the Landing in Lincoln, NE.


What was your first real job? Did you start out in an after-school job that had any relation to what you ended up doing?

First job was mowing grass for the neighborhood in Minneapolis, Kansas after we moved to town.

I raised chickens and dressed them and sold them as fryers while in town. One day I had finished cleaning the chicken coop and proceeded to lie down on the divan about the same time mother had a woman guest who was the wife of one man on the township board that my dad sold equipment to at times. I had the chicken lice crawling off myself while I laid on the divan and later while the guest was sitting on the divan she began itching herself due to the chicken lice crawling on her and mother knew what was wrong so when the guest left I was in deep do-do! This was the first and last time I ever laid on the divan before taking a show after cleaning the chicken coop.

While I worked at a gas filling station I was in charge of delivering freight from the train depot to businesses.

After moving to Delphos, Kansas I worked for George Krone hauling grain to town and working on his farm. The first time I drove I did not tell him I had not previously driven the old Chevy truck which was a manual transmission. I knew I had to have the vehicle under control before I got to the highway and did safely get the load to the elevator in town. We would take baths in the horse tank at night after dark as this was next to the highway. I worked for him two summers. I was about 16 years old and still going to high school.

I worked with my dad off and on at his grocery store in Delphos, Kansas without pay.

The next paying job was after I was drafted in the US Army.

Describe your career.

Upon a honorable discharge from the military on December 1, 1951 I applied for Christmas help at J. C. Penney in Salina, Kansas and started working on Dec. 5, 1951. I filled out the application but also went back and personally discussed the position with the manager John Harper which I felt helped me get the temporary position. By Christmas I was the top sales person in the store and Mr. Harper asked me after Christmas if I wanted a full time position. I accepted the full time position in the work clothes department although I would sell to anyone - anything at anytime!

In February, 1952 Mr. Penney came to Salina while dedicating Sam's Hall at Kansas Wesleyan College in Salina. While visiting our Penney's store he noticed the gum droppings on the floor and made a comment about the bad appearance. While he was gone for lunch four of us men used putty knifes to clean these up and Mr. Penney finished his visit at our store.

In October, 1956 I was promoted to basement manager at 31st and Truce in Kansas City, MO. I started with a salary of $385 per month and we bought a house for $14,950 and nearly starved to death because of this salary. I also received year end bonus based on our sales and profit. We won the national sales contest in 1958 with 113% exceeding last years sales.

In October, 1958 I was promoted to assistant manager at Arkansas, Kansas which is close to the Oklahoma border. We rented a house as the town had a lot of houses for rent.

In April, 1962 I was promoted to manager at LaCrosse, Kansas and this was also the year that Mr.Penney passed away. We rented a house at this location. This was an old store which I always said would burn someday and it did after I had left and it had seized to be a Penney store. The condition of the store was poor and I first noticed that the old wood sign was missing part of the letter "y" and was broken. The interior walls had different colors and the paint was very old, the floor was old wood which had to be oiled, the ceiling fans would need to be started by turning the fan with a stick before they could start, the wiring had a cloth covering on but had sections of the cloth missing as had deteriorated off over the years, the carpet in the shoe department was so old you could not see a pattern if there was one? The district manager one day asked me to go down to the basement with him and proceeded to ask me if I would move to Red Cloud, NE as my store would be closing the end of the month. I accepted this request as I needed the job.

In January, 1966 I accepted the manager position at Red Cloud, NE and this was a nice town. We bought a house eventually and enjoyed the community. Was in Red Cloud for seven years when the I was told by the district manager that the numbers(sales)should be greater and I finally told him to put on paper what he thought those numbers should be and within a month I was offered a different store. I was chosen president of the chamber of commerce for two years. I helped arrange a barbecue for the State's centennial in 1967 and had a person lined up but he said he could not do it at the last day but a friend helped me get another person that dug a pit and we barbecued the beef all night and he made homemade beans in a big crock. This was a big success for the City.

In August, 1973 was transferred to Gordon, NE as store manger. This store had more volume and profits than the Red Cloud store and I was pleased with the new opportunity. Was able to stay near the top for profits almost every year I was there in our district. I was chosen president of the chamber of commerce for two years. I helped arrange for the "Oakridge Boys" to come to perform for a chamber promotion.

In October, 1978 I went to York, NE and this was a nice store with three floors including a balcony and a basement. This made it hard to control the selling cost verses one floor. I was at this store until I retired on August 31, 1984 due to mandatory age retirement at age 60.

My temporary Christmas help job lasted 33 years.

Has anyone helped you up the ladder, even with the first job? Was it easy for you to ask for or accept this help?

Mr. Harper was my first manager at Penney's in Salina, Kansas and provided the assistance needed and the incentive to be a good employee. Mr. Harper provided my family financial assistance two times when really needed and was not only a good manager but also a good friend to my family. He had no family but always told us we were his family.

Are you union or management?

We had no union at J. C. Penney but we had a management system as I worked myself up to a manager.

What career would you have chosen If you didn't have to think about money or education (just assuming both were taken care of)?

This career was the best for me in my way of thinking as it turn out.

What got you the most upset at work?

When sales did not make my expectations. Also when service did not meet a high standard.

Did you get along with your co-workers and bosses? Did you sense anger and frustration at your work place? Was there a feeling of teamwork?

No, do not think so as I tried to control my anger.

Were you ever the boss? Would you have wanted to be? Did you ever run your own business? How did it start?

As previously told I was the boss in various stores and never did run my own business.

What was a "power lunch" in your day? What kind of meal was it - three martinis or the blue-plate special?

We did not have either.

Were you friendly with your coworkers? Is there one you particularly remember?

Normally I worked well with the employees except on extreme situations when I had to release two people at different stores. I had many outstanding employees (associates as we called them at Penney). I once had a Japanese lady (her husband was in occupation forces in Japan where they meet) and her family disowned her but she was an excellent associate that could work in any position.

Did you have a secretary? Were you very dependent on the secretary or administrative assistant?

My first secretary was Hedy at LaCroose, KS at my first J. C. Penney store. While I was at Arkansas City, KS I would ask the manager to give me some time with our cashier so I would be familiar with the cashing up and he would always say " you do not need that, you can handle that"!. I went to my first store without this needed training and Hedy soon learned that this was my problem and she gave me an ultimatum which was "you better give me a raise or I will resign"! I told her she had just given me her resignation and I gave her a two weeks notice. I was in a mess now as I still needed to get the necessary training and no one was left at the store to do this function. One morning I walked to work and came around the corner and there was a car parked in front of the store. It was the auditor from J.C.Penney and I proceeded to tell him how happy I was to see him and I told him what had happened. He said " do you have someone to replace her"? and I said "yes" and he said that we would take care of this problem today and he sure did!

What was your boss like? Was he or she a frightening person or a benevolent person?

Once while I was the assistant manager in Arkansas City, KS I was over hearing a conversation between the manager and the associate in the men's department about ordering winter jackets and they were arguing about this order for a hour and I finally said "why do not you two quite arguing and just buy those jackets"! The manager came over to me and said "I do not need you to tell me what to do"! Later I apologized and we had several laughs about this in the years to come!

What lessons did you learn about your career and thoughts about work? Looking back at your career, what is it that it meant to you?

How am I am going to answer this question. Well quitting was not an option I felt I had or wanted. I was completing with men that had better back ground then I had. However I was able to reach retirement. A few of them did not make it.

How did you feel on Mondays? How did you feel on Fridays? Were you dead tired at the end of the day? Mentally or physically? Or spiritually? Or did you often not want the day to end?

I was ready to challenge the week on Mondays and as far as Fridays go it did not matter as I still had to work on Saturdays. I was usually tired at the end of the day and week and this is not the best for your family! I did have a district manager that would call on Saturdays at any time during the day to make sure his people were working.

Did you have a mentor? Were you a mentor? When did you realize that there was someone looking up to you as a professional person in your chosen career?

I learned a lot from Bill Wilken who was my boss in Arkansas City, KS. He was the manager of the J. C. Penney store and I was the assistance. Bill would be a gambler and find items that he thought would be a good selling item. One time he bought a bunch of push lawn mowers with Briggs and Stratton motors and we sold them for $39 and we would sell out and re-order and sell more so he always would know what to sell? He had a sense of what would sell at that particular time and saw the potential. The trick is to saturate the market and then get out of it and let your competitor hang himself! I bought approximately 120 men's suites one time at Red Cloud, NE and sold them for $33 and I sold 71 of them in two weeks and sold more suites in two weeks then the men's clothing store sold in a year. In Gordon, NE I sold doughnut makers and to promote them I set up a demonstration and made and handed out doughnuts inside the front door and sold them out! This was a case of a one time buy and it was both eye appeal and also taste appeal that sold them. I purchased an assortment of women's ring of various types and sold them for $1 and this was a good sell and after the first offering I took them off the table and later sold them again and I sold a lot of them. If I knew the sales were a little weak I would introduce a special item to attract traffic into the store! You had to have something to get the people interested enough to come into the store.

Did you look forward to retirement? Did they throw a party for you at work? Did they give you a gift? What was it? Is there anyone still there whom you miss?

Yes, I sure did look forward to retirement after 33 years with J. C. Penney and they had a very nice retirement party for me as we had a J. C. Penney manager's meeting along with my retirement party in Alda, NE. The wife's also attended along with my children and they called it "The Life Of Riley". The manager's gave me a very nice gas grill and the employee's had a separate retirement party at the Legion Club in York, NE and gave me a chair to go fishing with along with gag gifts.

Did you feel that you had a career, or just a job?

Yes, I was hired as holiday help, was a short time job. It turns out to be an occupation for over thirty years

What is your greatest accomplishment at work?

I finally made it to retirement and have no regrets about my retirement.

Did you ride mass transit to work? Did you see the same people every day?

I did not ride mass transit but one time in April, 1962 I was driving from Arkansas City, KS to LaCroose, KS to my first assignment as manager for J. C. Penney. I left early in the morning and I drove into a road block south of Wichita, KS and had to wait for a military convey to pass which was moving a minute man rocket that was to be installed in a silo in the ground as a weapon during the cold war years.

Was there a place you went to lunch a lot at work? Was it close by? Was there one person you went to lunch with more than others? Did you often go alone?

I always went home for lunch and usually I was able to walk. Edna and I would have lunch together and I would take an hour lunch break and also took a 15 minute nap in my chair and then be ready to go back to the store.

Was your profession a respected one in your community?

I guess it was, as the store was usually one of the biggest clothing merchants in town.

Were you ever fired or laid off? How did you cope with that?

While I was manager at the store in Red Cloud, NE the regional personnel director from the Denver Region came to my store and I was in doubt why he had come? I asked him about his folk's grocery store in Oak Hill, KS and if he was related to them, and it turned out to be his parents. Eventually we realized that he had gone to the same high school as my brother and sister. His attitude completely changed after this conversation and he became more friendly and relaxed. He then asked to look at the basement and while we were down there he saw an old wire shoe seat that he really wanted as this would be nice in his office as he had started in the shoe department. I was very happy to let him have it as I was not sure why he had come to my store and concerned about maybe losing my job!

Were you promoted? Did it come unexpectedly, or did you let it be known you wanted the job? Who told you? How did you feel and react when you heard the news?

I was promoted twice before I got my own store based on my performance. I reacted to it positively and sometimes my wife did not like it as we would have to move and she did not like to do this.

Romance and Relationships

Did you know when you very first met your mate that this would be your life's partner? Did he/she know it?

We met at the Officer's Club at Shilling Air Force Base in Salina, KS and we both worked at the club. Edna had been in a car accident and had just came back to work and decided she wanted to date me so she said she had left her watch at the club and asked me to look for the watch. I did not find it but when I called her back I asked her for a date which was her way of getting my attention. This was in July, 1948 and I gave her an engagement ring sometime in late August, 1948 and we were married on May 7, 1949.

Describe your wedding, your outfit, your spouse's, your Mom's, your Dad's, the bridal party, the church or hall, the reception, the food. If more than one wedding - tell all!

Our wedding was held at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina, KS and the Pastor was Monsignor Dusky. It poured down rain that day and the City of Salina was celebrating the 100 year celebration of the gold rush. The wedding reception was at the Casa Bonita in Salina.

Everybody has bad habits -- what drives you craziest about your mate?

Edna would squeeze the toothpaste tube at the top instead of the bottom and since we shared the toothpaste I squeezed the toothpaste from the bottom. Edna did not like the large sizes that I would buy at the grocery store.

What anniversary gift do you remembering giving? What anniversary gift do you remember getting?

The one I remember was our 40th anniversary as we did not get to celebrate out 25th so I promised Edna that we would really celebrate our 40th and we really did.

How was it when you first met your spouse's parents? Did you get along with your in-laws? What did your own parents say about your mate?

My future mother-in-law told my wife that I did not smile very much and ironically this comes so easy for me to do! She always would kid me about this when she got to know me better. I think my folks were happy to know that I was getting married.

Where did you go on your honeymoon? Did you ever take a second honeymoon?

We went on our honeymoon to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and followed by stopping at Colorado Springs, Co. on the way home.

Talk about your first place together...was it a place you loved or were you making due?

We moved into a two bedroom apartment and we had to share a bathroom and the refrigerator that was in the hallway with another couple. The thing I remember about the bathroom was that the other couple's wife would dump the dish pan dirty water into the bathroom tub verses the toilet as we had no kitchen. We lived there 30 days and then moved out for more privacy.


As a woman, do you remember telling your mate that you were pregnant? As a man, what did you think when she told you she was pregnant? Was it a surprise, or a long-planned for event? Do you remember telling your parents?

When Edna Told me see pregnant I was really happy. I do not remember when we told our parents however we lost this baby.

Which hospital did you deliver in? Do you remember the ride there?

We were on our way to Saint Johns Hospital in Salina Kansas in the mid 50's. My wife was miscarrying and I was stopped by the police as I was driving very slow because the streets were rough. The police very kindly escorted us the rest of the way to the hospital and helped remove her from the car into the hospital. This was our fourth pregnancy.

Whom did you call first to say "It's a boy!" or "It's a girl!"? Can you remember what you said or thought when the doctor or nurse first handed you your baby? Can you remember what your mate said?

In those days the father could not be in the room whiles delivery of the baby and the sex of the baby was not known until the baby was born. I called Edna's parent first and then I called my parents.

Did you send birth announcements when your babies were born? Did you have help in the house? A nurse or nanny? Did you have a separate nursery all fixed up? How was it papered and painted? What did the crib look like?

Yes, we sent out announcements for both Randy and Rod. When Randy three months old we moved into a two room apartment in a big old house. The heat was a coal furnace with a stoker. One night in January it stopped working and did get cold in the apartment. This awoke us and we found a very cold baby in his crib. I put Randy in bed with Edna and went to see if I could get some heat from the old furnace. This caused enough concern that we decided to move. We moved into a small three room house with a bath. It was close to down town as I could walk to work. We lived in this place when Rod was born. Rod had to stay in the hospital till sometime in December. When we were able to bring him home we did not have a crib for him as Randy was in the baby bed we had. So we fixed his bed on the divan.
Had to be at work by eight and the J. C. Penney store was open from nine am till nine pm for the Christmas season. We both was very tired one night as we sleep right thru the night. When I awoke I went check the baby. I thought I found him dead as he had a convulsion some time during night. Off to the hospital we went.

What were some of the greatest joys of being a new parent? What were some of the greatest difficulties?

It's a great joy to be a parent as they capture you right from the start. This is a big responsibility to raise children.

Could you share some free-flowing memories of those eighteen years? Just let it flow, perhaps starting this section with I remember ...

I remember that after Randy learned to walk at ten months I would take him out to walk after I would get home and he knew the route and had those little fat legs. We were always afraid of him going across the street to visit the grandparents so I finally installed a fence. Randy also would sit and hit his head against the back of the divan as he was reacting to Rod's health issues when the Doctor had to came to the house. His uncle came back from Korea and when he entered the house he scared Randy with his sudden appearance and the way he said Randy's name. I helped this issue by going out the back door and went around to the front door, knocked, entered the house and would smile and say "hi Randy" and repeated this until Randy smiled at which time I knew he was over this fear of people coming to the house.

When we lived in Kansas City, MO I built a new fence in the backyard for $618 to keep the kids from going out of the yard. One day Edna had Rodney in the backyard and within a couple of hours he had taken his wagon and learned how to open the gate and was in the front yard. He wanted to be with the other kids and so much for the $618 worth of fencing!

How did you decide which school to send your children to? Public, private or parochial school? Why?

They went to both parochial and public schools. If there was no parochial school then they would go the public school.

Did you send your kids to camp? Where? Far away or close to home? Did you sew name tags on their clothes? Was it difficult to have them gone, or a relief?

Randy joined the Red Cloud Indian Dancers and learned how to dress and perform Indian dances. He was able to travel to different states while doing this.

Who was your children's pediatrician? Did you ever have to take them to the E.R.? Why? Are there any childhood diseases or surgeries important to note for any of your children?

While we lived in Salina, KS Rodney's doctor was Dr. Fred Gans and he made many trips to the house. Edna's brother Linus had made arrangements for us to take Rodney to the Denver Children's Hospital and Dr. Gans came to the home and advised us not to take Rodney to the Children's Hospital in Denver, CO, which I believe was the best thing we could have done.

What were some of the best vacations you took with your kids? Why were they so good? Any funny moments to share?

One summer we went to Denver where Edna's brother Linus and his wife Dorothy took us up to Silver Dollar City for the day and we went to a swinging door place for drinks and when the waitress asked Randy what he wanted he said "roast beef" which she really thought was funny as they only served drinks as it was a bar.

How did you cope with taking them to college? What were the first months like when your children no longer lived with you?

I was surprised when Randy picked Chadron State College as it was so far from home at Red Cloud, NE. When he went to college he was ahead of us in his car and we were following in our car. At one point we noticed that he had someone riding with him unannounced to us and Edna was concerned as we had no idea he was picking someone up in route. He had stopped for gas and another family had a daughter which had decided to ride with Randy that he knew. We missed Randy but Rodney was still at home.

What was the best part of being a parent? What was the worst part of being a parent?

The best part was watching our kids grow up and develop. The worst part was when they were sick.

The House You Raised Your Family In

Did you ever move? Was that particularly hard on anyone?

Yes, while working for Penny's I started in Salina, KS. From there I was transferred to Kansas City Missouri. This were we bought our first home. We were here a little of two years and then I was transferred to Arkansas City, KS. Our next move was to LaCroose, KS. After this I was transferred to Red Cloud, NE. From Red Cloud we went to Gordon, NE. Our final move was York, NE. This is were we retired.

This was particularly hard on my son Randy who was in the 8th grade. He had to leave his class and friends. The most difficult move was on my wife when we moved from Salina to Kansas City. It was a new area and she knew nobody. We moved there in October. She wanted to go home and I could not go with her. I took her and the boys to the train and she went home. Her mother was upset with her that she left me by myself at Christmas time.

What was your address? What was your phone number? What color was the house? Was your house a one-story or two-story, stone, wood or brick? Did you have a garage? What was the floor plan? Can you envision each room and certain things that went on there? What was the view out your front window?

Edna and I moved at least 17 times in our 50 two years of married live. We lived in big and small apartment as well big and small houses. Our last home we moved in Oct 1978 also the day Edna mother died. Was the first phone call we received. Left our home in April 20 2002.Started off in two rooms and now am back to two rooms but just me.

Did anyone, other than family members, live with you? Where did you all go to relax?

Yes, we did have a six year old girl Lori when we lived in LaCrosse, KS and she was still with us when we moved to Red Cloud, NE. She was Edna's niece from Cleveland, OH and her mother had a mental breakdown. She eventually was able to move back home. We had the two others later which was a niece and a nephew for just one summer.


What is your favorite candy bar? Where do you usually buy it? Grocery? Drug store? Gas station? Airport?

My favorite candy bar is snickers. Wherever it's available.

What's your favorite dessert? Can you prepare it yourself?

My favorite dessert is blueberry pie and my first piece of pecan pie was my Mother's pie when I came home from WW ll.

Where is your favorite beach? How far did you have to drive or bicycle to get there?

There is not many beaches on the prairies of Kansas but did use the beaches at Ottawa County State Lake in KS.

What is your favorite cartoon character or comic strip? Which comics do you remember reading when you were growing up?

My favorite comic strips are popeye, kats and jammer kids.

Name your favorite books.

My favorite religious books are the following:

The Catechism of Catholic Church

This is the Faith

The Practical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures

The Salvation is from the Jews

In the Shadow of His Wings

What are your all-time favorite movies?

The "Passion Play" by Mel Gibson.

What's your favorite beverage?

My favorite beverage is Canadian Club.

What foods do you look forward to eating in the summer? Autumn?

My favorite food in the summer is watermelon and good southern fried chicken. In the fall I like the garden produces like the squashes and pumpkins, corn on the cob and sweet potatoes.

What is your favorite sports team? Did you ever have a sports figure that was particularly important to you? Do you attend games or watch on T.V.?

My favorite sports team would be the Nebraska Huskers Football Team. Go Big Red!

What is your favorite holiday? Where do you celebrate it? Where did you celebrate it when growing up

My favorite holidays would be the Easter and Christmas seasons.

Where is the special place you go that gives you calm? Who is your favorite person to give you calm? To make you laugh? To listen?

I spend an hour before the "Blessed Sacrament" at church that gives me calm.

Is there a toast you use time and time again?

May you be dead 30 minutes before the devil finds out!

Is there a prayer you use time and time again?

Yes, the "Rosery" which I say every day.

What is your favorite saying and what does it mean to you?

My favorite saying today in my old age is "I'm going to take a nap and get that out of the way first"!

What is your favorite time of day? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I was an early person and would get up early from the way I was raised and my jobs I had earlier in life and now I am more a night person.


What do you prefer for breakfast on a weekend as opposed to during the week?

A stack of pancakes with good crisp bacon along with two eggs on the side easy over on the weekend. During the week I would have some type of cereal.

What are your favorite restaurants?

When I was working at the J. C. Penney store in Salina, KS we would have our Christmas store parties at the Brookville Hotel in Brookville, KS and we just continued to eat there as the food was so good. They served the food family style and their specialty was home fried chicken, mashed potatoes, coleslaw as well as home made ice cream.

The Cozy Inn in Salina, KS served from a window and had hamburgers 10 for $1.00 in 1948 and they had homemade pie and cold pop and beer. They are still in business today in Salina, KS.

What recipe are you famous for? Did anyone ever insult you regarding your cooking skills? What dish you usually bring to a pot luck or picnic?

Always made different types of home made jelly. I made pumpkin bread and I would always use fresh pumpkins. My wife sometimes would say that I left messes in the kitchen. Would bring five dozen of Nebraska sweet corn to the Karlin family reunion.

When were you first introduced to coffee? How do you take your coffee? Do you have a favorite mug?

My first coffee was made with a peculator as a teenager and I took my coffee black.

What is your favorite Campbell's soup?

I do not like Campbell soup as I think it is too salty.

Describe some of the picnics you've been on. Family? Romantic? Do you eat seafood? Have you ever eaten it at the shore?

The best seafood I like is abalone which is a shell fish that grows along the rocks on the west coast which is the only place you can get it. When I was fishing I always enjoyed a fresh fish fry of walleye right on the lake.

Are you allergic to any food? Anything you cannot stand and will not eat?

I do not like any type of liver and had to cut a lot of it while working in the butcher shop.

What is your weakness? Sweets?

Yes, my weakness is fudge and peanut brittle.

What do you consider the best pizza? What's your favorite Chinese dish? What other ethnic foods do you like?

I like all ethnic foods except India due to the type of seasoning they use.

What do you remember as either of your parent's specialty item? Your grandparents?

My Grandmother Cummings made fresh soda biscuits every morning which was delicious.

What tastes do you still crave from your youth? Good 'n Plenty? Necco wafers?

Home made ice cream that is made with cream right from the farm and also eggs. Getting the ice from the stock tank also the farm salt for the crank freezer. In the summer time fried chicken from the raised there on the place

Did you ever have a memorable meal on a train? When you are by yourself in a hotel would you rather eat alone in your room or by yourself in the restaurant?

While I was at Lowry Air Force Base near Denver I had to ride a train to Chandler Air Force Base in Arizona and while on the train the waiter suggested we have the lamb stew for dinner which we hesitated on but it was very good.

What was your favorite lunch in school?

We brought our lunch which was plain jelly or fried egg sandwich or sometimes homemade soup in the winter time.

What's the most delicious meal you've ever had?

I can remember during the war poor people in Europe coming and asking me for my left-overs in my mess kit, even the left-over coffee in my cup so this question is not that important to me after experiencing that situation.

Moments From Your Adult Life

Did you and your mate often go dancing? Where? What music did you dance to? Did you and your mate have "our song"? Which dances were popular?

Edna and I did not dance much but I did dance in high school and I really enjoyed dancing to the song San Antonio Rose.

When you and your friends got together, what did you do? Whose home did you go to most often? Did your children become friends with your friends' children? How did you meet the friends you are most comfortable with now?

In Red Cloud, NE when we got together with friends we would play cards.

What kind of movies do you find yourself drawn to....adventure, epic, violent, comedy? Do you go to movies now as much as you used to? Why or why not?

No, I do not go to movies very much and the last movie I watched in a theater was "The Passion Of Christ".

What books do you like to read? Novels, biographies, romance, science fiction? Do you have a specific part of the house for books? What is the last book you read? Why did you choose that one? Where were you sitting when you read it?

I like history, biographies, and novels and the last book I read was "Triumph" and I picked this book as it was the history the Catholic Church.

Are you friendly with your neighbors? Do you sit down for an evening together on the porch or patio or are you merely cordial with them, nodding acquaintances? Have you ever had a neighbor whom you've loved and lost? Were you close to a family that later moved away?

I meet all my neighbors at each meal since I live in an assisted living facility.

Are you a member of any club or social group? Have you ever spent time doing charitable work? If so, why was the charity important to you?

I have been a member of the Elks, York Country Club, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, York Chamber of Commerce and York Knights of Columbus both third and fourth degree.

Is there anything you need that you don't have?

I may need a hearing aid but this is only at certain times so I haven't pursued the purchase.

Do you take a little respite for yourself everyday? For example, a drink before dinner, a walk before dark, or a quiet moment in a spot where you're all alone to collect your thoughts?

Yes, I take naps and I try to get them out of the way first!

How do / did you exercise?

I played golf, swam, walked and fishing.

What do / did you do for fun?

I read and listen to good music now for fun and in the past I golfed, fished, swam and gardened for fun.

What are your hobbies?

In my earlier years it was gardening and canning. Now it is reading and during the past year I have been working on the remembering site for my biography.

What has been the worst time in your life?

This would be when I found out that Rodney had been killed by a drunk driver and pinned between two cars and killed.

I decided to visit the person that was driving the car and he did not trust me or know why I was there but I finally asked him if he would like to see a priest and I fulfilled his request.

Have you had to take legal action against anyone? Has anyone ever taken legal action against you?

The legal action I was involved with was the young man that killed my son. No one has taken legal action against myself.

If you're retired, has it been a positive or negative experience? If you are not yet retired, what are you looking forward to? At what age would you love to retire?

It has been a very busy retirement with a lot of nice trips.

Did you ever have to help a family member, mate or friend through a difficult medical time?

Yes, Edna and I were involved with several people with difficult problems.

One person in particular (Anna Soos) became a friend and cleaned our house on occasions after another friend of mine and myself had helped her with several projects at her house.
When I first asked her about a cleaning job at our home, as Edna was sick and not able to do the cleaning anymore she declined. Later she asked me to look at a water leak in her basement which developed into several projects and we became friends whereby she brought food to our house and helped in the cleaning after Edna became sick.

Have you ever had surgery?

I had my nose operated on for polyps several times. I also had my tonsils removed when I was young.

Do you think you're using all the brain power you've been given?

No, I don't think anyone does neither.

What item have you saved through the years that means the most to you?

My Dad's gold watch and I have given it to Randy.

Politics and History

Who was the best president of any country ever? Who was the worst president? Which president of the United States did you admire most? Did you ever meet a famous politician? What happened?

I admired President Reagan the most because of the way he talked and handled himself. Another great president was Lincoln due to the times he was president with the civil war and he was a great statesman. I met Dan Quayle at Columbus, NE when he was the Vice-president.

Do you have a strong political party alliance? Have you ever worked on a campaign? Have you ever worked at a polling place?

I am registered in the republican party and Edna was registered in the democratic party and we still got along
over the years!

Which domestic problems are most important in your town today? In your country? In the world?

Drugs, pornography and abortion in all forms.

What have been your causes over the years? What did you do about issues that bother you?

I have marched against abortion here in Lincoln, NE in past years.

Which campaign slogans stick in your mind? Why?

"I like Ike" because he was my commander in chief during WW ll and was from Abilene, Kansas.

Is there a government policy that you strongly disagree with? Did you ever demonstrate about it?

I strongly disagree with the Roe Wade bill concerning abortion.

How do you feel about the United Nations?

It needs to be greatly improved and/or updated.

Do you think the welfare system is run correctly?

I do not think anything run by the government is efficient but the system was improved around 1994/1995.

Have you ever run for office? Did you win? Have you ever been on jury duty? What was the case? Did you decide the defendant guilty or innocent? Was it a hard judgment call?

I was the bailiff in the York district and county court for several years.

What are your feelings about the space program? Where were you when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon? Do you believe we actually landed on the moon?

I think it is fantastic and I was at J. C. Penney store in Red Cloud, NE when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and I do believe he walked on the moon.

Do you own a flag? Do you display it?

I did when I had a home and did display it often.

Did you build a bomb shelter and, if so, how did you supply it?

No, I did not build a bomb shelter.

Where were you when you heard about Pearl Harbor?

I heard it at school in Minneapolis, KS while I was in high school and we had a special assembly and we heard President Roosevelt talk to the nation and proclaim the declaration of war with Japan.

Did you have loved ones who went to war?

I had a brother-in-law that was shot down over Hanoi, Vietnam right before Christmas and his body was eventually returned to the family.

I have a cousin that was a marine in the escape march after the Chinese invaded North Korea and he survived.

Where were you when Franklin Roosevelt died? Where were you when John F. Kennedy was shot? Where were you when Robert Kennedy was shot? Where were you when Martin L. King was shot? Where were you when you heard about September 11th?

When I was in Halle, Germany which is about 60 kilometers from Berlin, Franklin Roosevelt died.

When John K. Kennedy was shot I was in my first J.C. Penney store in LaCrosse, KS.

I was in York, NE when September 11th took place.

Name a LIFE magazine cover you especially remember....a TIME magazine cover....a LOOK magazine cover.

The covers I enjoyed were the Saturday Evening Post magazine with the drawings of different scenes of people by the painter Rockwell.

What do you think was your country's grandest moment during your lifetime? What do you think was your country's lowest national moment?

Grandest moment would be victory during WW ll and the lowest were the effects of the Vietnam war and also the depression during the thirties.

Do you believe in gun control?

No, I don't!

Is there a time in history you think it would have been fascinating to live in? Why?

The time of Christ, because of the affect he has had on the world.

What direction do you think the country is going in today?

I think our country is in moral decline as this has happened several times in the past.

Have you always been proud to be an American? How does being American feel differently than being an American 40 years ago?

Yes, I always have and when the national anthem is played I enjoy hearing it and am proud of having served my country.

What does your nationality mean to you?

Yes, I am Irish and a Irishman doesn't need a passport from anywhere except hell and I do not want to go there.

Your Community

What were the big businesses? Did you know any of the community leaders? Did you become one?

I am taking this opportunity to name some well known people that have come from the small communities that I have been fortunate to live in while living in Nebraska and Kansas.

The first being Minneapolis, KS where George Washington Carver went to school.

The second is Milburn Stone who was from Delphos, KS and was "Doc" in the TV western series "Gunsmoke".

The third is Virgil Dechant who left LaCroose, KS about the same time I did and was chosen eventually as the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus. Under his leadership the knights had very good growth.

The fourth is Willa Cather from Red Cloud, NE where she was a young child. She is a Pulitzer prize winner from the several books that she has wrote.

The fifth is Marie Sandoz from Gordon, NE who is the author of the book "Old Jules". Her artifacts are now found at the Chadron State College at Chadron, NE.

Which public buildings do you use? The library? The municipal swimming pool? Town tennis courts? What is your local newspaper? Has you name ever been mentioned in one? Has your picture ever appeared?

The community center in York, Ne is where I took swimming lessons. I became a daily swimmer for serval years. I did use the city library frequently.The local newspaper name was The York News Times. My name or picture has been in each local paper when moving into or leaving each community.

Everyday Life

How did you spend your time outdoors? How do you spend time outdoors now?

In my retirement years I spent my time outdoors by playing golf almost everyday. I also took swimming lessons when I was 57 at the community center in York and I then started swimming daily. I also went fishing whenever the opportunity came up. I also had a vegetable garden every year. This put me in my wife's (Edna) kitchen to do the canning from the produce I received from the garden. I also did some pheasant hunting. As a child we would follow the coyote hunters as they would pass through the portion of the farm we lived on. We would follow the hunters into the big pasture on the north side of our farm for the final round up of the coyotes. The most unusual hunting experience I had was when I was in northern Ireland during WWII. I made friends with a native and he invited me to go hunting with him. We went hunting for rabbits. Rabbits in northern Ireland hide in burrows. Our weapon was a ferret. We put snares over the burrow openings and released the ferret into the burrows. The ferret would then chase the rabbit out and the rabbit would be caught in the snare. The other time I had outdoors was spent doing chores that came from living on a farm.


Are you usually late or early?

I never like being late.

Are you more comfortable speaking or writing? Do you enjoy talking on the phone more than writing letters?

I will take the phone any time to writing letters.

Do you have a habit you'd like to break?

Listening to people names when being introduced and remembering there names.

Have you ever smoked cigarettes?

Very short time.

What is your bedtime ritual? Do you read before going to sleep or watch a late-night talk show?

The last ritual I have is saying my night prays

Do you read the Bible or a daily devotion / meditation book?

The meditation book I use each day is "My Daily Bread". Was a gift from a friend serval years ago. The pray book I still use is "Saint Joseph Sunday Missal" And have had it for along time and looks like it. I know what I paid for as the price is the first page 3.50


Describe what you look like now. Have you been happy with the way you look? What did you look like as a teenager? As a young child? If you had to name a famous person whom you looked like, who would it be? Who would you most like to look like?

Someone else I am sure could do a better job then me in describing what I look like now.
I will say I still have a full head of hair. It has changed in color as it is lighter now days. Also have let the hairs grow on my chin.


Where were you when your child told you that you were going to be a grandparent? What were your first words?

Edna and I was living in Gorgon, NE when we were told that we were going to be grandparents. I am not sure when we were told but seems like it was at Christmas time. We both were very happy with the news.

Who called you from the hospital to tell you your first grandchild was born? What time was it? Who was the first person you called?

Randy called us from the hospital from Crawford, NE and told us the good news that they had a baby girl. My wife made some calls after but I do not remember who they were to.

What did you think the first time you held your grandchild?

Boy, she is going to be a spoiled brat! Just kidding!

Were you able to go over to the house much and help out with the new baby? Did you cook dinner for the new family for awhile or bathe the baby? Did you stay over or come and go in the mornings and evenings? When did your grandchild first say your name? Were you at your house or at the child's house? What do you grandchildren call you?

Marsha's mother Mildred came and helped with the new baby Susan. I remember she was able to walk and talk and called me pas and one time when she was at our house while I was in the family room Edna called me for supper and she said "dinner is ready Riley" and Susan repeated this but when she saw me she said "that's not Riley - that is pas". She had a little tea set and would play outside the front door of the landing and the neighbor dog Jake came over and laid done and every time she came in to get water she would tell Jake "I'll be right back Jake". At our house as she got older Edna would let her cook with flour, sugar etc. to cook this and what a mess this would make but she loved doing it. At night she would get a stomach ache and we decided she was probably getting homesick. Eventually both Susan and her little brother Christopher would come to stay with us.

Did you buy things for the baby often? Did you baby-sit often? What toys do/did you keep for the grandchild in your own home? Do you enjoy taking your grandchildren out for dinner? Were they monsters or angels?

Yes, we would take them to the Pancake House for breakfast after church and Christopher was still in the high chair and every time the waitress would walk by he would say "I want my breakfast". At night he would say "I want my breakfast" and we finally decided that he just wanted something to eat. They were easy to take out as they were good children.

Have you ever taken your grandchild on a trip with you? Were you satisfied with the way this trip turned out? Do you bring souvenirs to your grandchildren when you travel without them?

Yes, I took Christopher on a fishing trip with a couple of friends to Minnesota. One of my pictures has Christopher holding a fish. The souvenirs that I gave them was the foriegn coins from the different countries that I visited.

Do your grandchildren ever come to spend the night with you? How do you spend those evenings?

Yes, the two older ones would come over several times to spend the night but Zachary only spent one night with us but all he did was to call his Dad and say "Dad, come and get me". He stayed the first night but we decided not to try this again as he was for sure a Daddy's boy!

Travels and Leisure Time

What did you always like best about the weekends? Did you have a usual routine?

I worked Saturdays and later on even on Sundays so going to church was an usual routine on the weekends. We also usually went out to eat with friends on weekends.

To what cities in the United States have you traveled? Do you have a favorite vacation spot?

I've been to several cities but the ones that I remember best are Kansas City, MO; Washington, DC; Dublin, Ireland; Jerusalem, Israel; and Paris, France. I enjoyed Washington, DC and Ireland the most as Edna was able to go on these two trips and the Washington, DC trip was my retirement trip from J.C.Penney.

To what foreign countries have you traveled? What cities? What were some of your favorite cities and why?

While serving during WW ll I was in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Luxembourg. While in France waiting to be shipped home another soldier and I went to a party in Luxembourg where I met some of my buddies from my outfit but the other soldier caused us to miss the bus to our home base and subsequently we slept the night in a doorway in the street. Eventually we were able to get back with the help of the MP's (military police) and the mail truck and we arrived back to our base in time to go on duty.

Ireland would be my favorite because I am Irish and the trip was like going home.

Do you vacation with certain people or is every vacation different?

Every vacation has usually been different.

When your children were growing up was there a favorite spot? Tell about a typical family vacation or two.

Our favorite family vacation spot was Colorado because of the mountains. Once I took Edna and the boys to Table Rock Lake in Missouri and we camped out for a week in a tent. Both of the boys got wood ticks on them and no more camping in tents.

Some of the best vacations we had was through J.C.Penney when they would send me to national meetings which would usually be 4-5 days. Our first trip was to Colorado Springs and we stayed at the Broadmore Hotel which was very elegant. Another time we went to San Francisco, CA and we stayed at the Hewitt Regency and I took Edna down to fishermen's wharf and the Golden Bridge. Once while I was the delegate for the Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus we went as the State delegate to New Orleans, LA and we stayed at the Hilton Hotel.

Have you ever camped?

Yes, we camped once and never again in tents. The boys came home with ticks!

Is sitting around a fire one of your favorite things?

We would cook the fish on the open fire when we went fishing and it seemed to make the food taste better. One time while on a fishing trip we did not bring with the skillet so we improvised with a metal hub cap from the car to use as the skillet and it worked good except it ruined the hub cap!

Have you always been glad to get home?

Oh, it's always good to be back home !!

Have you ever taken a trip alone? Did you like that?

The only trip I took along was when I went to see my half-brother in Seattle and I flow from Omaha to Dallas to Seattle. Yes, I liked it as it was very pleasant and I had not seen him for years so I met his sons and we had a good weekend. We went to the Fisherman's wharf and other sites.

Have you met someone on vacation with whom you correspond to this day?

Once while traveling to Sacramento, CA on the train I met a sailor and we subsequently met two young ladies (secretaries) who were going to San Francisco so we visited together until the train was stopped in Sparks, NV due to a railroad strike. We had to be back in continue by bus and the two young ladies also went with us on the bus so we enjoyed playing cards and visiting.

Do you remember going on trips with your parents? Where?

We only took two trips that I can remember and one was to Ft Riley, KS to see my step brother who was in the service which was about 1933. The other trip was to Dodge City, KS to my step sister's wedding about the same time. In those days there were very few paved roads nor air conditioning in the car so we just had to open the windows and the trips were long since we had a model "A" Ford and the speed was not very fast!

Did you ever take a train trip?

When mother went home to visit her folks we would travel from Vine Creek, KS to Barnard, KS which was about 50 miles. Mother and us kids would go as Dad would be working and I remember this was the Santa Fe Railroad and the seats were red velvet and it had spittoons. The train back then had rest room facilities but it was not as it is today on Amtrak as the toilet had no water and the deposits went right down on the track through a stovepipe. The bathrooms would be locked by the conductor while you were stopped at a station.

Did you ever sleep in a train's sleeper car?

Yes, while I was on the troop train traveling from TX to the east coast to Camp Shanks in New Jersey. I had an upper bunk in an open railroad car and not a private sleeper. We traveled a short distance to the shipping yards near New York City and boarded the Queen Elizabeth which was converted into a troop ship to take us to Glasgow, Scotland. It was at that time the largest passenger ship made in England. The only time I was in a private sleeper car was when I was going after a prisoner that was at Chandler, AZ as I was taking the train from Delhart, TX to Chandler. I enjoyed the trip and we stayed in this unit the whole time except for meals as it had accommodations for four people. The prisoner was an AWOL american soldier. I remember one meal was lamb stew which was recommended by the porter and it was very good.

When was the first time you flew in an airplane?

My first plane ride was when I was in the Air Force Cadet training at Randolph Field outside San Antonio, TX. The plane was two seat trainer plane. The instructor took me up for my first ride and the engine stopped as we were out of gas as he did not do the pre-flight and checked things before we left. He switched to the auxiliary gas tank so the engine started again before we hit the ground. I still have the pre-flight instructions that I was given in my personal belongings.

Do you enjoy flying?

Not like I thought I would as it did not give me the thrill I expected and I washed out of the academy. If I would have graduated I would have been a pilot or bombardier and ended up in the Korean war and possibly killed during the conflicts including WW ll. However, I did not mind the square meals where you pick up your eating tools and bring it straight up and militarily have to do the process in a military manner verses normal eating process! Also, I was not allowed to move your eyeballs outside of your room as you always had to look straight ahead. The only three words you could say were yes sir, no sir, and no excuse sir!

Do you have other thoughts or memories you would like to share about travel or leisure time?

While traveling on the train to Belfast, Ireland several of the men had the diarrhea from the food we were fed at Litchfield, England as the food was cold leftovers. This train had no bathrooms and when one man had to go we tried to have him use the door but the power line poles were too close to the traveling train so the helmet was used and discarded.

Where are places in the world you would still like to see / which you had been able to see?

I would like to go the Vatican in Rome as I was there at night but unable to see anything.


What are you driving now? How many years have you had this vehicle?

I am driving an electric wheel chair and have been for the last three years.

When did you get your first car? Did you buy it yourself or did your parents help you?

My first car was a 1941 Champion Studebaker and it had belonged to my parents and my Dad was unable to drive any longer as he had lost most of his eyesight and the folks gave me the car in 1948. Edna and myself used this vehicle on our honeymoon and used this vehicle until in the 50's. I traded this car for an used President Studebaker and I was kidded by my brother-in-law that I was oiling the road as it was leaking oil.

What was your absolute most favorite vehicle purchase?

It was a green 1978 Chevrolet Caprice as it was comfortable riding and not too bad on mileage and it had a vinyl top and was pleasant for family trips.

How much did gas cost when you got your first car?

The gas price was less then 20 cents per gallon and the gas stations were hand pump gas stations. The stations were full service and it was common for the attendant to wash your windshield and check the oil and if needed the tires, etc.

What color was your first bike? When did you get it? Who taught you to ride a bike?

I never had a bike but I had a pony that was named Spot!

Did you ever have a motorcycle?

I never had a motorcycle.

Who taught you to drive? Did you learn on a stick shift?

I learned to drive by myself while driving the Studebaker which was an automatic. One time I had to drive a straight stick grain truck and did not tell the boss I did not know how to drive it and learned to drive it while driving the vehicle to the elevator!

How old were you when you got your first license?

I think I was age 16 and in the state of Kansas at that time we did not have to take a test or anything but just pay them.

What do you listen to when in your car? Radio, tapes, CDs....want quiet?

I listen to the radio and tapes and like to listen to the weather forecast when traveling. I also used a CB (citizen band) which I used to listen and talk to people and at times could talk to truck drivers as they also used them. If we were going to a new location I could get information from people in the area. I had a code name that was the "Irishman" and was used to communicate with others.

Do you feel you're a good driver? Are you an aggressive or a defensive driver?

I always drove too fast but never had an accident and I was a defensive driver. Once when I was transferred to MO I was stopped for speeding and received a speeding ticket and later I had to attend a court hearing at the court house in Independent, MO. I was concerned about this as I still had a KS license and it was passed the 30 days grace and I was relieved to hear the judge when he said pay $15.

Do you have problems driving in the winter? Have you ever been in an accident? What is the fastest you have ever driven?

No, if I had the proper preparations for the existing conditions which means at times I drove with tire chains on a few times and I also had snow tires including studs.

The fastest ride I ever had in a vehicle was a 1940 Hudson and the speed was 115 miles per hour going down old highway #81 between Delphos and Minneapolis, KS and the road was rolling hills and you felt this and it was unsafe. I strongly advise against this to everyone that reads this as this was very unsafe!

Do you eat while driving? Talk on the phone? What other tasks do you perform while driving?

I occasionally would eat while driving and those was not any phones in those days. I would take a nap once in awhile - just kidding, just-kidding!

Do you enjoy road trips? If so, tell about some good times!

I remember after Randy was born and I was returning to San Antonio, TX, as this was where I was stationed in the Air Force, I was driving and back then the cars didn't have any air conditioning and I was very warm and thirsty. I spotted an A&W root beer drive-in in northern Texas and I ordered a frosty mug of root beer and it was soooooooo good I have always remembered this special treat.

Do you remember when interstates were built? How did that change things?

Yes, I remember when they were built and it has really improved the traveling conditions and time. The Eisenhower administration was responsible for passing this highway legislation in the 1950's.

How could motorists be more courteous today?

Once when Edna was driving and while driving in Denver we were rear ended in an accident and eventually had to go back to the site and get the local police involved as we had left the scene as no one was around at the time. It turned out that it was good as the local authority found the other vehicle and eventually our vehicle was repaired and the other party's insurance paid for our damage.

Moods, Attitudes and Philosophies

Do you like rainy days? What do you do on them?

Yes, I do like rainy days. Some of the best days catching fish has been in the rain. Also since I like to read this has been a good time for me to do some reading.

As an old dog, have you learned new tricks?

Oh, so I am an old dog. Yes I have learned life is very short, and what I do in this life will determine how and where I will be spending my time in the next life. That one is for ever. So I must make every effort to do what he has asked me to do. The trick is to use our free will in the right way. With St John the Baptist, I want my motto to be,[Jesus must increase, while I decrease]

Would you say you're a doer or a procrastinator?

Not as must as I would like, a doer that is. There is a lot that needs to be done and I did not always see it.

Would you say you're blessed? How so?

I think I should say something about how I have lived my spiritual life. I was raised in a catholic family however my mother was Baptist as a child. Join the catholic church at the time my parents married. I remember her singing Amazing Grace, The Old Rugged Cross and How Great Thou Art. I was an altar boy and also was in the chorus. I have done a lot of reading. So I have went back and read some history such as the early church fathers. Also the Bible has assured me I am in the right tent. The big one . After all . God made us all to be great saints. I am trying not to miss the opportunity. Yes I am blessed. Father O Lord my God, the giver of all good gifts, I give you thanks and praise for all your great and many blessings to me, but most especially do I thank you this day and every day for the gift of life and all that you have given me to sustain life, through Jesus Christ my Lord.

Did you ever follow instinct instead of logic or judgment?

Some time back when I was in a room with several people and I was told to "leave now" and it was not anyone in the room speaking. Did we leave , we sure did.

Have you been able to trust your instincts? What do your instincts tell you?

My instincts tell me I must pray more and not be afraid.

Are you afraid to cry?


What makes you angry? How do you handle being deeply upset? What behavior can you simply not tolerate?

Many lives have been lost in World War II to stop a holocaust in Europe. Now we have our own holocaust "Abortion".

What are you like when you're sick? Do you like being taken care of or left alone? Have you ever had a bad diagnosis?

I like to be left along when I am sick and to my knowledge I have never had a bad diagnosis.

Do you consider yourself hard working or lazy? Are you patient or impatient? Do you consider yourself a Type A or more kicked back personality? How has your personality and temperament changed through the years? Any special circumstances where you changed because something dawned on you?

I do not consider myself lazy and I probably am not patient enough. I probably was more Type A and as I got older and have been losing my muscles with my disease I have less patience with things and people.

Are you a jealous person?

I do not know anyone that I am jealous of.

Are you easy or difficult to get along with?

Are not all Irishman easy to get along with?????

Would you say you've lived in the moment or dwelled too much on the future or the past?

I certainly have been living in the past this last year performing this biography!

Would you rather live near the mountains or lakes? Are you a city mouse or country mouse? Do you like to be alone?

I would just as soon live in the mountains with a lake! Why just chose one?

Do your friends call before they stop by? Should they?

They do not have to, just stop by! I guess this means I have an open door policy.

Do you believe in God or another higher power? Do you pray? Where do you do your worshipping?

I sure do and I pray everyday and worship at home and at church.

Do you read your horoscope in the paper? Have you ever gone to a psychic?

I do not believe in that!

Is there something that you believed for a long time that you don't believe any more? What changed your mind?

If anything my spiritual believes have grown stronger!

Whom do you confide in, or do you keep your troubles to yourself? Whom do you call for comfort?

The "Good Lord" and I talk to him regularly.

Looking Back or 20/20 Hindsight

What were your favorite years? What were your favorite ages?

The favorite years I spent with J.C.Penney.

The favorite age was after 60 when I retired.

What are the important dates in your personal history?

The date that changed my life was December the seventh 1941. I did not know at the time how much. The next date I remember When I was Drafted June 22 1943 in service. The date my unit landed on Utah beach in France June the 12th. Edna and my wedding date May 8, 1949.

What do you think other people think of you? Do you think they see you the way you really are?

I don't know ask them.

What was the hardest thing that you ever had to do?

The hardest thing that I had to do was the night that they called and informed us that Rodney had been killed. It was very difficult for my wife as she answered the phone at 2:00 a.m. She was not able to go to the hospital with me, due to her physical condition. I called a friend, and he came and took me.

Also the day that Rodney was born, for some reason when I first saw him, a cold chill went over me. He looked normal to my eyes at the time. The next day, the Dr. came and met with Edna and me, and informed us that Rodney was not a normal boy. They did not know if he would be able to make it at that time. They informed us he had hydrophilic, and was a dwarf. This also was very difficult for his mother.

I had been home on leave from basic training and knew that I was being shipped overseas when I left home. The day I left, my dad did not come to say goodbye. It took me several years to realize that he just could not do it.

This happened when I was ten years old and Mary Lou was very ill with strep throat. Dad was not home and this was around 10:00 p.m. and mother asked me to walk to the neighbors which are three quarters of a mile and get the neighbor to come to help. They took Mary Lou to the Doctor. Her throat was lanced which saved her life. I can close my eyes today and still walk that walk, hear the sounds and see myself walking across that pasture.

What has been the angriest that you've ever been? What did you do about it?

This happened at L'Amour, Belgium during the battle of the bulge. We had been invited to come to these people's house to write our letters. One of the men had been drinking. This man kept making rude remarks to the young lady who lived in the house. I asked him to stop, and he pulled a knife on me. After a struggle, I ended up getting the knife away from him, and kicking him out of the house. I was very angry with him. The couple that lived there were really nice people, and I did not want anything to happen to them.

What was the first funeral you attended? How did it affect you? What was the last one you went to? Are they getting easier or harder?

The first funeral I believe was Grandmother Riley. What I remember was the wake at her home and being their all night. At that time the body was viewed at the home. The next funeral was my Grandma Cummings and the funeral was at Barnard, KS at the Baptist Church and this was my first time at a protestant church and I remember it was in the fall and rainy and the roads were terrible due to the mud and I thought we would get stuck. The next funeral was my cousin Francis Riley and he was only seven years old and I was one of the ball bearers with my cousins.

Do you have definite goals? Did you achieve them? Are you still working on them? Any new ones?

Why yes, I had a goal. Successfully completing my time with J. C. Penney to retirement. The goal now to be able to cut the mustard and be invited to enter thru them pearly gates!

Were you the same person you are now when you were a child, or were you very much different?

No, I pray not!

What was your biggest mistake?

I made a few mistakes in some of the items I picked to invest in.

Hard Questions

Who did you trust and / or respect most in your life?

John Harper my boss at J. C. Penney's in Salina, Kansas. He hired me and was like a father to me. When he saw me doing something wrong he would say, I am going to chew your churn, then he would give a sales pitch. He got me interested in reading business and finance books Also papers and many things to make me grow as a person. May he rest in peace

Did you have any real vices / bad habits?

Lack of patience

Would you prefer a burial, cremation, mausoleum, Viking funeral, or something else?

Burial beside by wife Edna and son Rodney.

What do you want said about you at your eulogy?

You know I said that I did not feel good. He fought the fight best as he knew how.

Write your obituary.

When the time comes to meet my maker I pray when he reads the accounting of my life . He can say well done faithful servant.

Do you feel that you put enough energy into parenting as you should have? Did you have energy left to take care of your parents in their later years?


Is there anyone you envied in life? Why?

I do not think so.

What has held your emotional stability together through the years?


If you started an organization or business what would it be?

One time I came home and told Edna that I wanted to purchase a daylight doughnut shop that was for sale in York, NE and Edna just looked at me and said "are you crazy?" I just was kidding her but she thought I was crazy!

If you hold a fundamental truth or believe in a universal principle, what is it?

The Beatitudes which are in the Gospel of Matthew.

Heavy Questions

What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?

Happiest moment of my life:
Meeting Edna Karlin in July, 1948 at the Shilling Air Force Base in Salina, Kansas at the officer's club where I was working.

Saddest moment of my life:
Losing my wife Edna on July 1, 2001 and also when I lost
my son Rodney on November 6, 1999.

What are the most important lessons you've learned?

Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut! This I learned while in basic training and has kept me out of a lot of trouble!

Are there any words of wisdom you'd like to pass along to particular family members or friends?

A "Irishman" does not need a password from anywhere except hell and I don not intend to go there!


How has your life been different than what you'd imagined?

God has had his hand on me in my whole life and I've had such a good life especially with my job at J. C. Penney where I knew nothing about the clothing business but God guided me through that and all through the rest of my life!

How would you like to be remembered?

I would like to have Masses for both of us at our anniversaries.

What does your future hold?

This is in the hands of the good Lord!

Is there anything that you've never told someone but want to tell this person now?


Is there something about someone that you've always wanted to know but have never asked?

I would have liked to known more about my father's life!

Any secrets that you don't mind sharing now?

My Uncle Pat told me this story.

When my Dad and his brothers, Pat, Jim and John were playing with an old rifle at their home and they wanted to breach the rifle but it was rusty and frozen shut. Pat said "I'll do it" and he hit the rifle against the cistern platform that was next to the house and it accidently went off and the bullet went through Dad's jacket and through the kitchen window and into the house. Needless to say this was a deep do-do!

What do you like about yourself? What don't you like so much?

I am left-handed but in the right mind! In York, NE a group of us that were left-handed would met once a year for dinner and discuss the problems for left-handed people.

Lack of formal education as it would have been very helpful!

What memories would you like to remain with your children or grandchildren? What memories dwell in you?

I think I will answer this Question by repeating what I have heard my father say several times. During the depression the diocese of Concordia in Kansas was heavy in debt. So they took up special collections from the people twice. I have heard him say several times that not one of those that gave to those collections lost their farm. Yes, they had debts of their own but they gave and it was returned.

Please write about the importance of your religion or spirituality. What role does religion play in your life?

Some time in the early eighties Father Kelley at our parish Saint Joseph in York started 24 hour perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I signed up for a hour starting at ten pm. As time passed this hour become a very important hour for me. Sometime later changed to six in the morning so I could be at the seven am mass. Went to daily mass till early this year. Was going in my electric chair and the traffic became a problem. Sometime in the late eighties I was asked if I would become an Acolyte. After a few classes I was installed by Bishop Bruskewitz in the Lincoln diocese. What a great privilege it was to be able to serve at the altar with the priests. The opportunity to distribute the body and soul and divinity of your Lord to the people. A few months after my mother passed away I had just finished my morning prayers and was reaching for the morning paper when my name was called out. It was my Mother and I knew at once what she asking me for, the Rosery.

What did you think of writing your life story with The Remembering Site?

My intention is to know him and serve him and be happy with him in the next.

And, finally, what is the meaning of your life? What is the most important thing you've learned in life?

The great miracle of prayer. Through prayer I find the strength to endure suffering and still love. Prayer is the weapon in the battle of spiritual and physical need for me.

Add Questions and Family Documents

Please include the questions we didn't ask, or add some family documents. Letters from your grandmother, perhaps, or a family history written by another family member.


August 31, 1984 was the date I retired from J.C.Penney.

The first thing I did after retirement was to go on a salmon fishing trip with my brother-in-law and his brother and my nephew. We drove to the Green Bay, WS area and fished a cove coming out of Lake Michigan where the salmon came in to spawn. We spent three days and actually snagged the fish as then it was legal to catch the salmon in that manner. We all had a lot of fun and caught a lot of fish.

The first retirement job was selling advertisement for the weekly shopper Trade & Transactions in York and my territory was Geneva, NE. This involved about one and a half days per week and lasted for five or six years.

I also work with A. L. Williams selling term insurance and investing the difference. This job lasted three or four years. This job was whenever I wanted to do it but was mostly at night.

The Wrangler Company called me and asked if I would be interested in doing stock inventory at different stores which I did for about six years. This job was about two days per month and I really enjoyed this work as I had done this when working for J. C. Penney in years past.

A friend was a custodian and got me involved in cleaning the Country Club at York. Was able to play golf after I finished cleaning the Country Club so really enjoyed this job and lasted for about five years.

Was asked by the County Clerk of York County if I would like to be the bailiff for the district and county court in York and also enjoyed working this job which was when the trials went to jury trial. This lasted for about six years.

I enjoyed and had a big vegetable garden including the canning. I would also go out and pick wild fruit and made jelly. In the fall I would can pints of beef and would be one of my gifts for Christmas for friends and family.

My wife and I took our first long trip to Ireland in 1993 and we really enjoyed the country and was able to kiss the Blarney stone and went to Knock, Ireland and seen the shrine of the Lady of Knock. My grandfather grew up very close to this so enjoyed seeing the area. The area was called Cartownacross.

I went with friends to northern Saskatchewan and fished on Lake La Ronge in September, 1994 and caught large brown trout and northern pike. This was a fly-in in a 1949 Havolawn bush plane.

Edna and I went to Niagara Falls in 1995 and she had a sister living in Cleveland, Ohio and we visited them and they joined us on the trip. This was a enjoyable time with family.

Then in 1996 I went to Israel and the Holy Land by myself as Edna was not up to the trip due to health reasons but my sister also went on the trip. This was very enjoyable and my sister and Edna insisted that I go on this trip. This was very spiritual and enjoyable to walk where Christ had walked.

In 1997 I went to Ironsdale, Alabama and went to Mother Angelica EWTN (television program) and we meet Mother Angelica and enjoyed this for about five days.

In 1999 my sister and her friend and I went to France and we went to Lourdes, France where a little girl Bernadette from a very poor family and no education in 1858 was told to dig a hole in the ground which turned into a stream of water where peoples can go to in hopes of having the water cure themselves of any health issues. This little girl was declared Saint Bernadette. Was using a wheel chair a good part of the time by this time. Wanted to go to take advantage of the baths. Sheryl wheeled me to were they were at. Was early so while I was waiting for them to open I started to say a Rosary. No one else was there but I saw a young man coming and when arrived he asks if I spoke France. We used sign language. He wanted me to continue saying the Rosery. I had a Cane with a seat on it and I gave it to him to sit on. He put himself right in front of me while I finished. They were starting to open so he wheeled me to the head of the line for the handicap. Was taken in by two men and they undressed me all the way. They had a towel to put around me and then lowered me into the water. What a great feeling it gave me.

What about people saying about your biography project?

How long will it be before you finish your project?

Add a question and answer or family text here.


Blizzard of 1945:
On Dec. 24, 1945 while I and Dale Grimm and his wife Mary Lou (my sister)were operating a grocery store in Inavale, NE we decided to close the store and go home for Christmas as Dale and I had just been discharged from the military and had not been home for Christmas for several years. I called home and Dad told us to stay where we were as bad weather was predicted. We decided to go instead and the snow was heavy with high winds and subsequently we drove the car into a low area on the road that was full with snow at the Kansas/Nebraska border. When we hit the snow bank the engine quit and eventually the starter would not work so we were stuck in the snow bank for the night. I recited book reviews to my sister Mary Lou that I had read previously as she was afraid we would freeze if we went to sleep. Dale still had the army blankets and other items in his car as we were taking clothes back to the cleaners and this helped us stay warm and at nine am the next morning the Kansas Highway plow was opening the Kansas road and saw us and preceded to plow us out even though the car was in Nebraska. We then went to a farm house nearby and had the farmer help us get the car operable and give us coffee and food. We did get home but by then we only spent approximately three hours and then headed back to Inavale wiser due to this experience.

Blizzard of 1975
In Oct.,1975 I was moving my family from Red Cloud to Gordon, NE as I had been previously transferred to another store in Gordon and when we left Red Cloud the weather was a beautiful fall day. We had to stop at Kearney for a district meeting I had and that evening we drove to North Platte and spent the night. When we got up the next morning it started to snow with strong winds but we decided to continue to drive to Gordon as the moving van was also arriving and we needed to be there to met and get the van unloaded. I got stuck in a curve in the highway going up a hill that was drifted in with snow. We just had warm weather clothes and live plants so I used a windshield scraper as a shovel as I had no shovel in the car nor gloves. Fortunately a Nebraska Highway plow came and got us out of the drift and on our way. We drove to Ellsworth for shelter and until the highway was cleared. Later that day we drove to Gordon and with the help of my secretary's family and friends we removed the snow from the driveway of the house and were able to get the van unloaded. This took until ten pm and we were exhausted from the events.

Blizzard of 1997
In late Oct.,1997 I was with a group traveling from the Columbus Hall at Fremont back to York. This was an installation banquet for new members in the fourth degree for the Knights of Columbus. On the trip back it was snowing in Fremont along with strong wind and we stayed longer than we should have but we were interested in the speaker who was the chaplain for the Air Force Cadets in Colorado Springs, CO. We left Fremont at approximately 6:30 pm and the weather continued to get worse all the time and while driving the highway my friend who was driving missed a curve in the highway due to the limited visibility and went into the ditch. Several cars also went into the ditch and we all spent the night in the ditch. One of our group called the National Guard in Seward on his cell phone and they sent out help six am and returned us to the fire department in Seward where there was a lot of people that were stranded. They fed us and later helped us get our vehicles out of the ditch so we could continue our journey home.

Add a question and answer or family text here.

I am going to take the opportunity at this time to provide ancestry information about my wife Edna.

Her grandfather came from Volga, Russia with his younger sister and he was 16 or 17 years old and came to western Kansas which was Victoria. His name was John Drieling and he married Windholts and they had a variety store in Victoria. This was Edna's grandparents. They spoke German and Edna did not speak any English until she went to school. The reason they spoke German was because Catherine the Great had invited these Germans to Volga, Russia.

Special Chapter on Personal or Family Medical History

The following questions about your medical history are not intended to pry or embarrass but rather to share what could prove to be important to family members who may seek a genetic or familial connection to a health issue or disease. Do not answer the questions if you feel uncomfortable but answers to these questions could be important to know for your family. Are you allergic to anything, especially medications?

My disease is one of the Myositis diseases. Mind is Inclusion Body Myositis [IBM] the weakness usually affects those muscles farthest away from the body or distal muscles As of today there is no cure for IBM.

What surgeries have you had? Were there any complications with the anesthetic?

The first surgery was taking out my tonsils. I did have four surgeries on my nose for polyps. No fun.

What are the medications you are currently taking?

High blood pressure medicine

What type of reactions did you have with medications?

When I have to pay the bill!

Have you ever had pneumonia, rheumatic fever, heart disease, heart murmur, polio, meningitis, kidney infection or disease, bladder disease, anemia, jaundice, hepatitis or live disease, gallbladder disease, epilepsy, seizures, migraine headaches, tuberculosis, cancer, high or low blood pressure, nervousness, diabetes, mitral valve protapse, thyroid dysfunction, asthma, lung disease, Rh sensitization, infertility, DES exposure, eye disease, impaired eyesight, ear disease, impaired hearing, any trouble with nose, sinuses, mouth or throat, any head injury, fainting spells, convulsions, frequent or severe headaches, skin disease, chronic or frequent cough, chest pain, spitting up blood, night sweats, shortness of breath, swelling of hands, feet or ankles, varicose vain (phlebitis), indigestion, stomach trouble, ulcer, rectal bleeding, loss or urine with cough or sneeze, recreational drug use (what kind?), alcoholism, used cigarettes (for how long and how many per day?), or transfusions?

Just kid's diseases including measles, chicken pox and whooping cough and mumps. Have had a cataract removed from my right eye, along with a little hearing problem that not bad to have sometimes.

Has any relative had cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes, heart trouble, high blood pressure, stroke, epilepsy, mental illness or kidney trouble - or any other medical issue listed below?

I think its important that I tell about the disease I have, which is called Inclusion Body Myositis. I was diagnosed with this disease in 1998. It was given its name in 1973. My first thought was that old age was catching up with me. I played golf most everyday and also swam almost everyday. I started to notice I was getting weaker and could no longer play and swim with the strength I had before. Going into our family room there was one step down. One day going into the room I found myself on the floor. The second time I fell was when I was on my way out to the car. This time I ended up in the emergency room. I knew then that I had to find out what was causing this, and I knew it was not my hip. By examining a piece of muscle from my leg, I was diagnosed with Inclusion Body Myositis(IBM). I decided to have a second opinion and went to Mayo in Minnesota. The conclusion was the same. They also told me I had probably had this disease for 10-12 years before being diagnosed with IBM. IBM is a slow progressing muscle disease and as of today (2006), I am confined to an electric chair, must be bathed, and the use of my hands are about 90% gone. As of today, there is no cure for this disease, but research is being conducted to find answers.

Did you ever have any house quarantines during your childhood?


Are you allergic to food items, i.e., peanuts, chocolate, or non-food items such as talc or synthetic fibers?

I am allergic to latex.

List your hospitalizations.

I was six years old when they took me to Abilene Kansas. My doctor was Dr. Didder and he removed my tonsils. This is the first time I had ever had an ice cream cone. The charge was $25. This was a bill that was hard to get paid during the depression of the 1930's.

Have you ever had organ replacements or artificial medical parts replacement (e.g., dialysis, stents, pacemakers, joints, etc.)?


Special Chapter on Religion and Spirituality

What religion, if any, were you taught as a child? What religion/s did your parents follow? Which parent influenced you the most?

I think I have stated this before. I am a cradle catholic so was my father. Our mother was the one that taught us our catechism as children however.

Name some people who helped shape your religious or spiritual beliefs and/or practices such as family members, religious leaders, writers, or friends. Who were some influential religous leaders in your time?

I remember one of our catechism teachers was Willa Krone. One of the first persons to have a lot to due in shaping my spiritual beliefs and practices outside my family was Father Jackson when I was in High School. When he would see us he would ask to see our rosary. Yes, I still carry one. One of influential religious leader in my time was Bishop Fulton Sheen in the USA. For the world it was "Our Great Pope John Paul 11".

When did you “come of age” in accepting religious beliefs or practices for yourself? How has your faith or spirituality changed over the years? What caused you to change? Are there things you once believed or practiced that you have since rejected?

I do not know just when I came of age. But I do know the more I read of history the early church fathers and others I came to know that I was in the big tent not the little tents. My faith has grown stronger with understanding what is expected of me. I believe it has been through the devil's envy death, [sin] has entered the world, and those belong who that party will experience it. I see now were I did not see as well before and I not only must wash the outside body but also inside with the great Sacrament of penance that has been given to us. If I have been sincere, I have been made clean. What a great joy, be not afraid. As in the Indian's pray it does say I want to come to you with clean hands. I want to come to you with a clean soul.

What are some special memories you have regarding your religion?

My visit to the shrine of Saint Catherine Laboure of The Miraculous Medal. Also my visit To shine of Saint Therese of the little flower. Both are in France.

Were there times when your faith or spirituality was particularly important? Did you find strength, hope, or healing during trying times, or comfort in times of grief or loneliness?

Yes, when I was given crosses to carry. He will not give a cross heavier then you can carry but it sure can bend your back. Faith was strength I needed during trying times.

How has your faith or spirituality influenced how you live your life or relate to other people? Have you tried to share your faith with others or serve God by serving others?

Only when I have been asked about my church and I think my faith has always been an influence on how I have tried to live my life. I pray that God does not kept track of the times I have fallen but the times I get up and try again.
The Kansas farm boy and picture of the old wooden wind mill on the cover of this book is like we had on the farm. I say, yes I am going to bring this biography to an end and Randy thank you for the suggestion for the ending.


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