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The John N. Goodsman Family

The John N. Goodsman Family image The John N. Goodsman Family image The John N. Goodsman Family image The John N. Goodsman Family image The John N. Goodsman Family image The John N. Goodsman Family image The John N. Goodsman Family image The John N. Goodsman Family image The John N. Goodsman Family image The John N. Goodsman Family image
John Harold Goodsman
Rights Held By
Ypsilanti Historical Society
OCR Text

John N. Goodsman was born January 5, 1883 in Exarhos, Macedonia, Greece, the son of Nicholas and Katherine Goutziamanis. Mabel Lottie Wiles Goodsman was born September 30, 1895, on a farm on Lilley Road, Sheldon, Canton Township, Michigan, the daughter of George E. and Millie Corwin Wiles. She was the fourth of five children. Other siblings were Corwin Wiles, Emma Wiles Brown Snow, Bertha Wiles Alban, Ray E. Wiles and Roy G. Wiles.

John N. Goodsman emigrated from Greece to the United States April 20, 1907 through Ellis Island. After his arrival, he worked as a construction laborer and witnessed the death of a brother, Tony, by a falling crane in an industrial accident. John settled in Ypsilanti, Michigan where he joined a brother, George N. Goutziaman, in the Goutziaman Brothers Ice Cream Parlor and Candy Store at 106 W. Congress (now Michigan Avenue). His brother, George returned to Greece and John took over the business and renamed it Candyland. As a child, Mabel L. Wiles attended Sheldon School on Michigan Avenue. She and her brothers and sisters walked the two miles to and from school each day. Mabel was a good student and in 1910 received honors in a Wayne County Sunday School countywide essay contest. At home she was expected to take care of her younger brother, Roy, who was the spoiled child of the family. Mabel L. Wiles, having graduated from Wayne High School, was accepted as a student at Michigan Agricultural College (Michigan State University), came to Ypsilanti looking for work and found a job at Candyland as a waitress working for John N. Goodsman, who had Americanized his name. She commuted by interurban from the Lilley Road farm and later she roomed with her Aunt Lottie Wiles Welch on Sheridan Street.

Mabel and John married on May 1, 1916 in Detroit, Michigan. Mabel lost her citizenship because of her marriage to John who was not yet a citizen. They were both granted citizenship on July 13, 1927. The marriage bore two sons, both born in the flat above Candyland at 106 W. Congress (now Michigan Avenue). I, John Harold Goodsman was born December 4, 1917 and my red hair was said to be similar to Mabel Goodsman's Aunt Lottie's auburn locks. Clarence J. Goodsman was born on July 20, 1919 and his hair and features seemed to resemble those of his father. My brother and I were the apples of our parents' eyes and were proudly pushed in their perambulators up and down Congress Street. On nice summer days, Mabel Goodsman often pushed them up Congress Street Hill to Recreation Park. Martha Richter, a high school student, was hired as a baby sitter. Martha's sister, Rieka, was a good friend of Mabel. Rieka married Nicholas Gotos and the families remained good friends throughout their lives.

In the early 1920's, John sold Candyland and bought a small lunch room in the 600 block of W. Cross Street, near Pease Auditorium. Our family rented a house at 211 Perrin from Mr. Waidner. The house was heated by a potbellied stove situated in the living room.

We had no washing machine so Mom used a washboard and washtub to do the laundry. At Christmas, we would awaken to find our stockings filled with apples, oranges, walnuts and a candy cane. A memorable Christmas morning found a yellow auto next to the little tree in the parlor. Countless hours were spent by Clarence and me pedaling our pride and joy up and down the Perrin Street sidewalk. One summer Dad brought home a toy cannon which made a wonderful loud noise when fired on the Fourth of July. James R. Goodsman now has the cannon. We played with neighbors Fred Burrell, Neal Webb and Rose Wilson. Besides the usual fun and games of youngsters growing up, especially memorable was the climbing in and out of Fred's father's Flint touring car as we imagined ourselves driving it. Milk was delivered to homes' doorsteps by horse drawn wagons. On cold days, the cream would expand popping up the bottle tops. Snow was removed from the sidewalks by horse drawn V-shaped plows.

Aunt Bertha and Uncle Will Alban lived around the corner at 514 Ellis Street (now Washtenaw Avenue). They had a player piano and a radio. It was fun to sit at the piano and pump the pedals to make music. Our earliest recollection of radio was the Little Orphan Annie and Jack Armstrong programs sponsored by Ovaltine and Ralston in the afternoon. On wintry, slippery days, we would sit in the parlor's bay window and watch for cars coming down the Ellis Street (now Washtenaw) hill. As they came around the curve, they frequently went out of control and crashed against the curb breaking their (then in vogue) spoke wheels. It was great fun!

Our first car was a 1924 dodge bought from Joe H. Thompson whose dealership was on East Cross Street at River Street, which is presently Jack Miller's Hudson showroom. Dad drove us in the car to Dayton, Ohio where he visited his cousin, John Koromilas. We stayed in a park by the river with other tourists. Families hung blankets or sheets between their cars for privacy as they slept on cots or the ground. On the way home, we stopped by Lincoln Consolidated School which had just been dedicated as a new concept in education organization, the consolidated school.

In 1929, having his Cross Street lunch room taken over by Michigan State Normal College, John Goodsman built a restaurant adjacent to the home at 309 Brower Street. It was an exciting experience watching the horses pull the huge scoops as they dug the basement for the building which was built by Harvey Woodbury. The horses were supplied by our uncle, Ray Wiles, who had a farm on Cherry Hill Road.

The restaurant was an immediate success serving students from the Normal College and Roosevelt High School. However, when the college built McKenny Hall and the King and Goodison dormitories, which served meals, business began to fall off. Mabel Goodsman began to rent room to students. John Parindas, a good family friend, became a roomer who stayed with us for some 60 years.

Betty Fenker worked at our restaurant while a high school student. She took Clarence and me to witness our first basketball game after which Clarence reported to Mom and Dad that Betty got so excited that she lost her gum. Betty, her family and our family remained close friends until their deaths. Betty's father, Hugo Fenker, pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, annually arranged for Dad to make candy for the church's Christmas celebration. Dad would cook the ingredients in giant copper kettles and pour the molten mass onto a marble slab to cool. The taffy was repeatedly thrown over a hook and pulled. The red, white and green batches were rolled together and formed into candy canes. Peanuts were freshly roasted and used in making peanut brittle. The sight and smells of the candy making still linger in my memory.

How our parents kept their patience and still could manage the restaurant with two active boys underfoot and demanding attention is difficult to imagine. We were constantly behind the counter mixing a “coke” or making ice cream sundaes. On an evening when no customers were in the restaurant, Clarence and I were chasing each other when Clarence hid under the back booth. At that instant, four people came in and sat in the booth. For the next half hour, Clarence had to remain curled up motionless while our parents and I hoped against hope that he would not be detected by the customers. After what seemed to be an eternity, the customers left without noticing him, much to the relief of all of us. Needless to say, Clarence and I were on our good behavior after that incident.

Growing up at 309 Brower Street was an exciting experience for us. Living across the street from Michigan State Normal College provided us with the opportunity to observe college life, participate in its activities and accumulate heroes. Some of the students who worked as wait persons and dish washers became almost big brothers and sisters to us. The Chi Delts and Arm of Honor fraternities were our favorites and what greater thrill could there be than to have that great All American lineman, Andy Vanyo, greet you with his familiar “Hi Peanuts”. The College Circus, Inter fraternity/sorority Comedy, Homecoming activities, intramural boxing and wrestling tournaments, and all of the athletic events provided a continuing parade of exciting learning experiences.

Our mother drove us to the Scars Roebuck store on Oakman Boulevard and Grand River in Detroit to buy us each a used Elgin bicycle. We constantly rode our bicycles in Recreation Park, downtown, and around the neighborhood. We also roller skated around the neighborhood and the sidewalk of the college, which provided an excellent place to play skate tag. On Saturday afternoons we would go to the 10 cent matinees at the Martha Washington or Wuerth theaters to view our heroes, such as, Tom Mix, Harold Lloyd and “Hoot” Gibson.

“The taffy was repeatedly thrown over a hook and pulled. The red, white and green batches were rolled together and formed into candy canes. Peanuts were freshly roasted and used in making peanut brittle. The sight and smells of the candy making still linger in my memory.”

During the winter, the city would block traffic on Pearl Street from Normal Street to Ballard Street so the kids could sled down the hill. We would spend hours sledding down the hill and pulling our sled behind us up the three blocks for another run down the hill. We were envious of “Wordy” Geer who had an expensive Flexible Flyer. Ashes and clinkers from coal furnaces would be scattered at the end of the run to stop the sleds from entering Ballard Street. At the end of a fun-filled day of sledding, we would come home with rosy cheeks, runny noses and wet clothes. Our socks, pants and long johns would be hung on the backs of chairs over the heat registers to dry.

The beginning of each college term brought an influx of students. Most of women arrived on the Interurban across the street from our house. As enterprising entrepreneurs, we, along with Frank and Bob Baker and John and Rob LaRue, would gather at the corner as the coeds stepped off the street cars and offer to transport their suitcases to their rooming houses in our wagons. We were usually rewarded with a tip. A tip of twenty-five cents was considered a bonanza. Time between the arrivals of street cars was spent by playing games, such as, spelling the names of cars. We didn't know it was educational.

Each fall, we eagerly anticipated the evening when the University of Michigan boys would arrive from Ann Arbor on the Ypsi-Ann Interurban to court the Normal College coeds, who were considered more attractive than the U of M coeds. As they alighted from the interurban at the stop at Cross and Summit Streets, a group of Normal College boys would greet them. A battle royal would ensue with most of the participants eventually being dunked in the fountain just east of Welch Hall. Fatigue and the four or five man Ypsilanti Police Department, including motorcycle patrolman, “Joe” Sackman, usually brought a cessation to the activity. What fun it was while it lasted!

We were a constant thorn in the sides of custodians as we would attempt to get into the college gym to play basketball and along with “Bunny” Ross, sneak into the Roosevelt High School gym and swimming pool. Playing duck on the rock in the alley, attending John LaRue's magic shows on the LaRue porch and playing touch football in the Baker yard were all part of our neighborhood fun. On a fall evening, we would fill two soup cans with water and place them on opposite sides of the sidewalk connected by a string. As unsuspecting coeds tripped the string, the cans would splash their silk stocking with water much to their exasperation and our delight.

On days when the weather discouraged outside activity, Clarence and I would find ways of amusing ourselves indoors. We tacked a one pound coffee can above the door in our bedroom and spent hours playing one on one using a tennis ball as a basketball. Tiring of that, we would wrestle on the bed until fatigue, hunger or Mom halted our heated competition. It is miraculous that the mattress did not split apart and that the ceiling plaster in the dining room below did not come crashing down.

The Normal College constructed a toboggan slide in the area know as the “Pines,” north of the science building. From the elevated launching platform, the runway ran for at least a quarter of a mile. We would hitch rides from college students and tucked snugly between them would be hurtled down the icy runway at breathtaking speeds. The toboggan run is long gone, replaced by The Rackham School and Olds Recreation Center, but the memories of the thrilling rides still remain.

Walking along Cross Street to old Central School with other neighborhood children was an enjoyable part of the school day. On inclement days our mother would take us to and from the school in our 1924 Dodge and later in our beautiful blue 1932 Dodge resplendent with its yellow wire wheels. A car bought in the depths of the Great Depression, which I feel Clarence and I talked our father into buying against his better judgment. Payments were $7.00 per week and sometimes difficult to meet.

We would often spend a Sunday driving in our beautiful car to Belle Isle, along with John Parindas, where we would have a picnic lunch prepared by Mom and enjoy the sights on the island. It was fun wading in the Detroit River, watching the freighters on the river and viewing the animals in the zoo. The Ray Wiles family occasionally accompanied us on these delightful trips. When the family went for a drive, Clarence and I, always competitive, would excitedly shout “Front seat, outside, start the car,” in vying for those privileges.

Our family was very close to the Ray Wiles family, our mother's brother. We visited each other frequently. Clarence and I had fond memories of spending a few days each summer at their Cherry Hill Road farm. We often would be at the farm during threshing time. Mom would help Aunt Nora and the neighborhood women prepare the delicious and ample meals for the threshers. Donald and “Johnny” Wiles and Clarence and I would watch the men pitching bales of wheat from the horse drawn wagons onto the belt carrying the wheat to the thresher, which was powered by a huge steam engine. In the evening after a long, hot, dusty day, we and some of the neighbors would pile into the bed of Uncle Ray's Model T truck and he would drive us to a creek just off Canton Center Toad where we would go “skinny dipping.” It felt good to get rid of the day's sweat and grime. What a way to end a perfect day!

Clarence and I would also spend a few days each summer at the farm of Carl and Emma Wiles Brown, our mother's oldest sister. There we enjoyed playing in the hay mow of their huge barn with our cousins Ina, Clifford and Earl. The farm, located on Fosdick and Bemis Roads, offered many exciting experiences for two young city dwellers. Observing the farming chores involved in raising chickens, pigs, horses and milk cows, and playing in the orchard, provided hours of fun.

Our mother and father sacrificed in every way to provide Clarence and me with worthwhile educational experiences. In the 4th grade, I was allowed to begin playing the trumpet. This was before the schools had an elementary instrumental program. By the seventh grade, John Barnhill allowed me to play in the high school band. One Christmas morning, I found a silver plated Buescher trumpet under the tree. A couple of years later, Clarence received a clarinet for Christmas. He also played in the high school band throughout junior and senior high school. Band Practices were before school in the mechanical drawing room and in the cafeteria. Upon the completion of the auditorium in 1932, the band rehearsals were held on the auditorium stage.

The Ypsilanti High School Band was directed by Professor John F. Barnhill who taught mathematics at Michigan State Normal College. He was a former band director and school superintendent in Paola, Kansas. He volunteered his time to organize and direct the high school band. He purchased much of the music with his own funds. The band was very active and was noted for performing concerts and parades from Grand Rapids to Detroit. We annually marched in the J. L. Hudson Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit. Few activities were held in Ypsilanti that did not include an appearance by the band. The band even performed on a moving ferris wheel during a downtown festival. Its Prospect Park concerts were a tradition. People would sit in their cars and honk their car horns in appreciation for the listenable music.

John Barnhill was a quiet, distinguished gentleman, who instilled a spirit of loyalty, integrity and community service in us all. After his death in 1941, his spirit was kept alive by “his boys” who formed the John F. Barnhill Band dedicated to community service in music. I served as its first director as the band continued its summer concerts in Prospect Park and participating in parades. The band continued under several conductors including George Cavender, Nathan Judson, Jack Bittle, Allan Townsend and Lynn Cooper until the early 1970's.

Our high school careers were busy and happy times. Besides the band, we both played on the tennis and basketball teams as well as participating in other activities. We were both members of DeMolay and sang in its choir under the direction of Harold Koch, Dad of the Ypsilanti Chapter. One year our chapter attended the National DeMolay Convention in Kansas City, Missouri.

Traveling by high school teams to away basketball games was done by private auto. In 1935, Malcolm Chubb, a good friend who also played on the team, volunteered to drive his family's Essex car to the Dearborn game. The team left from the high school gym with Clarence, “Dick” Harner and me riding with “Mac.” Shortly after we got under way, “Mac” remarked that he knew a girl in Plymouth and he thought he would drive there and take her to the game with us. We picked her up. As we proceeded east on Plymouth Road toward Dearborn, the car sputtered and stopped. It wouldn't start again so the four of us pushed the old Essex, with the girl steering, for what seemed like miles before we came to a little garage. The mechanic repaired the faulty distributor and we made our way to Dearborn. We arrived at the gym late in the game which Dearborn eventually won. It was a game we should have won, and I believe the loss forced us to tie for the league title rather than becoming undisputed champions. Coach Harold Lindsay was furious and called us on the carpet to read us the riot act and to mete out some discipline but fortunately did not kick us off of the team.

On Good Friday in 1935, “Bunny” Ross, “Bill” Horner and “Mac” Chubb and I decided to skip fourth period study hall, since school was to be dismissed following that period. We left school by the back door and climbed into “Bunny” Ross's car. He had been given permission to drive his parents' Pontiac to school that day. Unfortunately, the Principal, Mr. Wiltse, had been visiting an industrial arts class and saw us leave the building by the back entrance. As we rolled up Cross Street, “Bunny” noticed Mr. Wiltse following us in his car. “Bunny” tried to elude him by driving into an alley behind some stores which proved to be a dead end. Mr. Wiltse drove into the alley behind us. He came up to the car and instructed us to report to our class back at the school. We were all terrified at what dreadful punishment would be meted out by the notorious Mr. Wiltse. He never said anything to us about the incident, although we all lived in fear of the day the other shoe would drop. In 1977, at my retirement banquet, during my remarks to the audience, I reminded Mr. Wiltse that I was still awaiting my punishment.

Upon graduation from high school in June of 1935, I had no future plans. I had been helping John Parindas in his fruit store since the 8th grade. It was a great experience and helped me to overcome my shyness by meeting all types of people. On the opening day of school in September, 1935, I went to the high school to help Professor John Barnhill get music ready for the high school band. Prof. Barnhill asked what I planned to do. When I responded that I hoped to get a job at Ford's, he suggested firmly that I should get up to Michigan State Normal College and register for classes. Mom and Dad agreed in spite of the short range loss of family income my not going to work in the factory would mean. This is another example of our parents sacrificing for their sons' benefits. Upon Clarence's graduation in 1936, he also attended Michigan State Normal College. While in college, he was named captain of the freshman football team. He and I also participated in intramural sports as members of the Arm of Honor fraternity. After about two years, Clarence left school to work. He was a natural athlete and could have made the college football, basketball, baseball and tennis teams.

A college activity of great fun was freshman hazing concluding with the freshman-sopho-more games held in the area of the campus called “The Pines.” Various events such as races and a tug of war culminated with the pole rush in which the freshmen attempted to get one of their class atop a greased telephone pole which was defended by the sophomores. If successful in getting up the pole and retrieving a flag from the pole's top, the freshmen could throw their green pots (beanies) into the homecoming bonfire. It not, they had to wear the pots for the remainder of the school term. The battle royal, in defense of or attacking the pole, was part of the fun and spirit of college life which remains as a cherished memory.

I played on the varsity tennis team for three years and was elected as a co-captain for two years. I played in the college band during times when I wasn't involved in other activities. I also led a dance orchestra, “Red” Goodsman and his U of M Favorites, which played for U of M fraternity and sorority parties and for high school dances. In the summer of 1938, the dance band including “Bunny” Ross, “Bob” Gooding, Clare Saltz, “Bob” Tabor, Atwood McAndrew, “Eddie” Morhous and “Don” Whitman played at Van Ettan Lake Lodge at Oscoda, Michigan. We were furnished a sparsely outfitted cabin, one meal a day and a small salary which dwindled to nothing as Labor Day approached. When I went to collect our last pay, the manager became irritated and took a revolver from his desk and fired a shot into the ceiling. We left for home immediately. In spite of the financially unprofitable situation, we enjoyed the experience of playing nightly for dancing and frolicking in Van Ettan Lake or lake Huron during the day. During vacation periods, “Bing” Brown, Dean of Men, arranged for me to be part of the student work gang which cleaned the college buildings, for which we were paid 30 cents per hour. College life was busy but filled with enjoyable activities. I marvel that I found time to study enough to be successful in my classes.

Upon graduation, I was unable to find a teaching position, so I took the entrance exam for the University of Michigan graduate school. I auditioned with William D. Revelli and was admitted to the Michigan Band. Playing in the band was a great thrill. The band traveled to Chicago for the last game played with the University of Chicago and to Philadelphia for the game with the University of Pennsylvania featuring All American Frank Reagan. Upon arrival in Philadelphia, we marched down Broad Street to our hotel to the applause of thousands of spectators. The headlines in the Philadelphia Enquirer proclaimed “Michigan Band Arrives Accompanied by Football Team.” The Michigan team featured Harmon, Evashevski, Westfall and many other stars.

In February, 1940, Metamora, Michigan Schools hired me to teach 7th and 8th grade English and mathematics, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, biology and chemistry as well as coach basketball and baseball. The school had about 40 pupils in grades 7-12 and 3 teachers. I roomed with the Hallenback family, paying $5.00 a week room and board out of my $100 a month salary. On Saturdays, I would go to Lapeer to the movie and have a tin roof at the Rexall drug store. Mom and Dad allowed me to use their 1940 Ford while I taught in Metamora.

During the summer of 1940, Prof. Barnhill informed me that there was a mathematics vacancy at Ypsilanti High School. I applied and was hired by Earnest H. Chapelle, Superintendent of Schools, to teach 7th and 8th grade mathematics and general business.

In the fall of 1941 Norris Wiltse, Principal of Ypsilanti High School, assigned a new teacher, Alice O'Neil to share my classroom. Since she was to have one class in the room, I graciously allowed her the use of the bottom desk drawer. One day I accidentally opened the drawer and saw some student work sheets which were not graded. Perhaps as a mischievous, sadistic prank, or in a desperate effort to be noticed by this attractive “room mate,” I placed a note in the drawer stating that the school superintendent would like to see her after school. Later in the day, after allowing her to worry a while, I confessed my prank. I'm certain that she though of me as a devious, conniving prankster rather than an admirer.

In February, 1942, I left teaching to work at the newly opened Willow Run Bomber Plant, where I was assigned as an inspector in the outer wing section. In addition to inspection, I was responsible for assigning new employees in the department to training classes before assignment to their jobs. People from all walks of life and all parts of the country came to work at the bomber plant. It was not unusual to see Charles Lindbergh around the plant. I worked with “Wally” Pipp, whose place “Lou” Gehrig took as the New York Yankee first baseman, and “Danny” Litwiler, Phillies outfielder. Alice O'Neil also left teaching and was one of the first women employed at the plant where she was a secretary in the transportation department. We both knew Glen Miller's brother who also worked at the plant. We shared backstage libations with “Herb” when his dance band played at McKenny Hall ballroom. “Herb” proudly showed us a telegram he had received from his brother, Glen, wishing him success at this dance engagement.

On September 14, 1942, I was drafted into the army. After processing at Camp Custer, Michigan I was sent to Camp Robinson, Arkansas for basic training. At Camp Robinson, I visited Richard O'Neil, a high school friend and future brother-in-law, who was chief cook in the officers' mess hall. Needless to say, “Dick's” chow was much better than that being served in our mess hall.

After basic training, I was sent to Camp Carson, Colorado Springs, Colorado. The 89th Infantry Division was being activated and my heart sank as my name was called for the 89th Infantry Division. However, when the troop carrier dropped me off at the 353rd band barracks the feeling of despair began to leave. I soon adjusted to the band routine which consisted of infantry training, band rehearsals, and playing for formations and concerts. I also was a member of the dance band which played for dances at the PX's and officers' clubs. Keeping busy day and night helped soothe the drudgery of army life. Mom and Dad came out on the train to visit Clarence and me. Clarence and I were able to get together in Camp Carson and in Denver a couple of times. Colorado Springs was a good town for the troops with good restaurants, theaters and a civic center where we played for GI dances. The scenery was beautiful and the weather acceptable. I was fortunate to advance to the rank of staff sergeant within three months and miraculously never served a day on KP duty.

In 1943, the 89th Division was downsized and the 353rd Infantry Band was sent to Camp Crowder, Missouri. The band was appreciated more in Camp Crowder and more of our time was devoted to performing as a band rather than infantry training. I was pressured to go to officers' school, but I successfully avoided being reassigned.

“People from all walks of life and all parts of the country came to work at the bomber plant…I worked with “Wally” Pipp, whose place “Lou” Gehrig took as the New York Yankee first baseman, and “Danny” Litwiler, Phillies outfielder.”

Early in 1944, we were sent to Camp Butner in Durham, North Carolina where we were reassigned to the 89th Division. This was a downer after our satisfactory experience at Camp Crowder. Musicians from four bands were brought in and tryouts were held for the positions in the fifty-six piece band. Fortunately, I passed the audition and eventually was made lead cornet in the band. As we readied for movement overseas, our field training was changed from that of stretcher bearers to working as military police. The band was composed of many fine musicians under the direction of two fine conductors, Chief Warrant Officers Paul W. Larson and Victor H. Steg. Under their direction, the band developed into an excellent military band. Several smaller groups were kept busy playing for dances in the camp and at Duke University.

In January, 1945, the division embarked from Boston. After a perilous 10 day trip, we disembarked at Le Harve, France. As the Battle of the Bulge ended, we went into action. The band acted as MP's and directed traffic for the troops as they advanced. I was made cartographer for the MPs and worked with the Provost Marshall in mapping the position of our division's units, as well as, the enemy's positions. This enabled me to keep track of our segment of the war.

The close of the war with Germany found us waiting at the Czechoslovakian border while the allies allowed the Soviets to advance on Berlin. During the final weeks of the war, the band left its MP duties and organized into military government units. Our responsibilities were to administer the captured cities until civil governing units could be organized. One of the places captured by our division was Ordruf, a concentration camp. The brutality of the Nazis was graphically brought home as we viewed the naked, emaciated bodies, each with a bullet hole in the back of the head, piled high in the streets and sheds. The haunting look of the piercing eyes staring from the shriveled faces was unforgettable. The acid vats and the grated ovens where bodies were disposed of gave unbelievable testimony to the inhumanity of the Nazis.

Upon the cessation of hostilities, our division was sent in 48 railroad cars to Normandy, France where we managed the redeployment camps which were processing the men with the highest number of points for their return to the USA. It was while we were billeted in Mt. St. Aignan that Clarence visited me. One day, as he and I were walking down a road toward Rouen, we met a French couple. Clarence gave them a friendly “Bon Jour” and we struck up a conversation even though neither knew the other's language. We soon found their names to be M. and Mme. Georges David. We were invited to their home to share a bottle of wine. Thus began a friendship with a wonderful couple who appreciated America's assistance in liberating France. Alice and I visited the Davids' in France in 1963, and they visited us a few years later in New York.

The band members with insufficient points to return to the USA were reassigned to the 83rd Division and endured another train ride in box cars to Linz, Austria. We were housed in barracks formerly used by the German army. Graphic evidence of the inhumanity of war was demonstrated daily when East European refugees, who were housed in displaced persons camps near our barracks, would line up and beg for scraps from our mess kits as we prepared to empty them into the garbage can. While in Austria, my friend, Roger Behlke, met fraulein, Hermine “Mink,” who he would later marry by proxy, via the telephone, in 1946. I left shortly after our arrival in Linz for redeployment to the USA. I sailed from Bremerhaven, Germany and was discharged from the Army March 17, 1946 from Camp Atterbury, Indiana.

Upon my discharge from military service, I was asked to finish the school year teaching mathematics at Ypsilanti High School for Viola Milks, who was on sick leave. In September 1946, with no job in sight, I enrolled in the University of Michigan Graduate School and completed my M.A. Degree. During the spring term, I interviewed with FBI recruiters on campus and was accepted as a Special Agent. After a twelve week training period in Washington, D.C. and Quantico Marine Base, Virginia, I was assigned to Portland, Oregon. I was then moved to Seattle, Washington and later to Pocatello, Idaho and Butte, Montana. One of the interesting people I met was a sheriff in Joseph, Oregon, who fit the image of the old time gaunt, weather beaten western lawman. He told me the story of a young boy, who in the early 1900s acted as a lookout for a bank robbery in which the robbers fled by horseback into the hills. Years later the boy lookout became president of the bank in Joseph that he helped to rob. Tiring of constant travel, I resigned from the Bureau. The experience of working in such a well run and respected organization and dealing with people from all walks of life was invaluable.

Alice L. O'Neil had served with the Red Cross during World War II in New Guinea, the Philippines, Japan and China. After the war, she signed up for an assignment with the Red Cross in the Panama Canal Zone. Upon her return, she worked as secretary to the head of transportation at Kaiser Frazer Motors.

On January 2, 1952, Alice L. O'Neil and I were married in Angola, Indiana. Attending the ceremony were Mabel Goodsman, Clarence and Arnita Goodsman and their children James and Sandra. On the way home, Clarence encountered a savage snow storm and icy roads but made it home safely. The same storm prevented Alice and me from reaching our destination of Niagara Falls necessitating that our honeymoon be spent in Cleveland, Ohio at the Terminal Tower Hotel. Upon our return to Ypsilanti, we resided in the upstairs apartment at 945 Sheridan. Alice subsequently left Kaiser-Frazer to teach at Cleary College. When Willow Run established its high school program in 1954, she was hired to teach shorthand and typing. She taught at Willow Run until she retired in 1973.

In September, 1949, I was hired as seventh grade teacher at Ypsilanti High School. In the early 1950's I assumed the directorship of the Adult Evening Classes in addition to my daily teaching duties. In September 1956, I was appointed the first principal of the brand new Erickson Elementary School. In 1957, I was re-assigned to Ypsilanti High School as assistant principal in charge of the junior high school division. In September, 1959, West Junior High School was opened with me as principal and Ronald Isbell as half-time assistant principal and teacher. I remained in that position until my retirement in June, 1977.


Ypsilanti Gleanings