He was born on Flower Island, on the upper Missouri River, a ‘no-man’s’ land between South Dakota and Iowa. As the eldest of four boys, he bore the burden of labor and accountability as the family were ‘croppers’ and marketed their vegetables by boating them downriver to Sioux City.
He killed his first man at the age of fourteen during the land wars. His father was severely wounded. This left him with the responsibility of supporting the family during those hard times. He first ran traps along the Missouri River but this was not enough to care for the family. He hired onto a riverboat and traveled from the upper Missouri river to New Orleans in all weathers.
His talent was the guitar and folk songs; and, made extra money entertaining on the river boats and towns along the way. World War 2 ended that, as he enlisted in the army and was among those who made many landings in the Pacific campaign. The shore landing on Leyte Island in the Philippines was his last engagement as he lost his right arm and was bayoneted twice.
He did survive. One day later, they attached his arm and it took. They asked him if there was any particular arrangement he would like for the arm as it would be pinned and stationary in position. He wanted his thumb and forefinger so he could turn a reel on this fishing gear. It was his favorite pastime for the rest of his days.
One could see he wished he did not have that arm. It ached and hurt constantly. At night one could hear his wife popping the finger joints to relieve the pain. But, he never complained and worked every day of his life as a farmer, woodsman, and poultry farmer. He received $80 a month disability which he always gave to his wife for groceries.
For those of us who spent our youth among these men and women of that generation, we can now reflect upon the inner character and fortitude our people seemed to have lost. But, it is worthwhile to recall these most excellent ones of a generation that should inspire us all.
This is a comment dedicated to my father.
Clay (The Universal Infidel)
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