Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dirty Girl Run 2013—For Aunt Doris By Mary and Krissy Hawkes

Mary Hawkes writes:


“Last year Krissy and I and a bunch of cousins did the Dirty Girl Run in Memory of Doris (see http://taylorbakercousins.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-dirty-girl-mud-run-by-mary-hawkes.html  for last year’s story on the blog).”

Mary and Krissy BEFORE the event. Notice how CLEAN they are

Event organizers proclaim: “The Dirty Girl 5K Mud Run series is now the premiere women’s mud run event, with more fun, more obstacles, more girl power, more creativity, more high fives, more excitement and, of course, more mud than any other mud run can muster. Additionally, Dirty Girl Mud Run continues to support breast cancer awareness and research, donating more monetary support to this worthy cause every year.”

Mary continues: “It was just Krissy and me this year. Next year however will be huge as Krissy is putting together a bigger group.

 Now, NOT so clean!
Had a blast!”


Monday, September 16, 2013

Uncle Dick Lochner’s WWII Experience By Julie Riber, Ted Lochner, Jack Kinsella and Pat Herdeg

Many years ago, Uncle Dick’s youngest son Ted had to write a paper for college, so asked his Dad for some of his childhood memories. We’ll write about those in another story. Uncle Dick also wrote to Ted about a bit of his WWII experiences. Knowing that he was in the 243rd Field Artillery, I have woven what Uncle Dick typed to Ted with a history of the 243rd . from their website of:
Uncle Dick’s memories are in bolded black and a larger font, and the History of the 243rd is in normal type. Uncle Dick's daughter Julie who proofread this story for me wrote back: “Thank you for writing Dad’s story, Pat.  He would have been 92 this September 16.  I miss him.”

My time in the Army was 3 years 4 months and 19 days with about 18 months of that over in Europe. I was in a heavy artillery outfit—the 243rd Field Artillery. I was 19 when I went in and felt very patriotic about it all. I wanted to do my part for the defense of this great country of ours. I felt very lonesome at first but it was something you got used to.
When I was in the South taking my Army training it was in Mississippi (at Camp Shelby) that I got my first taste of discrimination. It was strange to get on a bus and see that all blacks had to go to the last seat across the back. They never argued about it, they just did it--that was the law. I felt sorry for them, and I’ve been happy to see the change come about.

The 243rd Field Artillery Battalion fought in World War II under General George S. Patton in the Third US Army. The battalion is one of a very few who used the 8 inch gun, which fired a 240 pound projectile as far as twenty miles. The huge gun came in two loads and was towed with tractors and put into position with a crane.

In June 1944, the 243rd boarded the ocean liner The Queen Elizabeth with 15,000 troops. After six crowded days on board, they arrived at the rainy coast of Scotland. 
Once in England, the 243rd was assigned to Camp Stanage Park, just inside the Welsh border of Knighton and Bucknell. The battalion was assigned to the 3rd Army under the leadership of the already famous Gen. George Patton, Jr. The 3rd Army units began its drive towards Normandy at the end of July. 

The battalion boarded LST’s in the Weymouth Harbor on the morning of Saturday, August 5th. The naval craft moved out of the harbor to join a huge convoy bound for Utah Beach.”

The first real fear that I can recall was when we boarded the LSTs (landing craft) in England and headed across the English Channel to Utah Beach. The sea was just full of ships at the time, but you never knew if you were going to plow into a mine or not. It was rather shocking when we landed in France to see the buildings, houses and churches all knocked apart by shells but then you got used to that too. It was pretty rough sometimes especially during the winter months or when there was cold rainy weather but during the summer it wasn’t too bad. After a while you didn’t think the war was ever going to end—it just went on and on.

The ships beached late on the night of the 6th, two months after D-Day. On the night of the 9th, combat orders came to the battalion for the first time. It was to go into position outside of St. Malo.
The fortress citadel of St. Malo was being held by a garrison commander who would not give up in the face of long odds and a lengthy siege seemed quite possible. With the huge guns used on the citadel that day, the ‘Madman of St. Malo’ gave up and the 243rd were successful.

The 243rd now moved on with the 8th Corps to begin the siege of Brest on the coast of Brittany.
The march across the peninsula was one of the highlights of life in France for the men of the Battalion. Thousands of French people, joyously celebrating the liberation of their home country, lined the road from St. Malo to Lasneven to watch the American troops moving up for the battle.”

During the Brest campaign, the 243rd destroyed 23 enemy gun positions in one week. As the campaign wound down, the 243rd was sent to the Front near Metz. This five day march provided the men with a rare sight-seeing tour—Rennes, Laval, Le Mans, Chartres, Paris, Chalon-su-Marse and Verdun. It was now the beginning of October, 1944.

The 243rd fought all through November and December, moving to cross the Moselle River and follow the doughboys and tanks as they approached the Saar.

A few days before Christmas, the first heavy snow of winter fell and soon froze the ground. The ice and snow continued until late February. Meanwhile, the tide of the Battle of the Bulge began to change.

By mid- March, the 243rd was near the Rhine River. “At 0230 on the morning of March 28th,Charlie Battery fired a six-round concentration in support of VIII Corps troops northwest of Weisbaden, and the 243rd had fired its last round in the European war.”

During its eight months of combat, it (the 243rd) had participated in the major battles of St. Malo, Brest, Metz, Thionville, Saarlautern, Dilligen, Endsdorf, Saarbrucken, Moselle-Saar Triange, Ardennes, Saar River and Rhine River. It fought under two armies and four corps, gave support to 16 Infantry Divisions, four Armored Divisions, two cavalry squadrons and two Ranger Battalions.”

I missed seeing your mother very much and I tried to write every day. It was hard sometimes because of censorship you couldn’t say too much about where you were and what you were doing. We were engaged when I went overseas. I didn’t want to get married yet in case I came back maimed or hurt in some way.

Europe was great. I always took every advantage of any sightseeing trip that came up. I once had a two week vacation to the Riviera. We were camped near Munich in Southern Germany at the time. Then I went over to London a couple of times, saw Big Ben, Tower of London, Oxford Street, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace and most everything else. 
Uncle Jack Kinsella adds this story that Dick told at Algonquin one year: “He told us about a time after Germany had surrendered and his unit was stationed just outside some German town—a town just a few days before his unit had pounded the hell out of with their big shells.  It was announced that the townspeople were having a concert that night in a park in the center of what was left of the town. He decided he would like to go but none of his buddies were interested. So he went alone. After getting there he looked around and then realized that he was the only American soldier there—he was surrounded by hundreds of Germans. Dick said, “I was scared as I couldn’t help thinking, I hope none of them know it was my group that had destroyed their town.” It turned out OK. He enjoyed the concert and no one paid any attention to him.”

Most of this was done after the war and then after that I came home. Your mother and I were married soon afterward, on May 3, 1946.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Center Lisle, Part Two By Aunt CB

Ethel, Florence Baker, Kate and Adin, 1950

Continue on the Caldwell Hill Rd. a little bit and on the left is Aunt Florence's farm. She was a sister to Byron. She had married an older railroad conductor and lived a good many years in Scranton, PA. Returned to Center Lisle in 1920 and since early '30's, had been a widow. She milked her own cows, churned her own butter, and Adin hayed her fields for her as they were all on a hillside. In her front yard she had kids' playground toys (she never had any), a seated swing and a 'round a-bout' which we used to run around on. However, she was a crusty old gal and scared us so I visited her usually with Mom. She was the one who helped Mom paint her wedding dishes and did all the fancy roses on special pieces.

 A little further along, on the right side, you'll see a small woods, smaller now than it used to be! I was scared of these woods (shadows and ghosts lived here!) and always scampered past rapidly. One time, when Doris and I were walking up by these woods to Grandma's, I had to go to the bathroom, and Doris said 'Go in the woods'. Well, I 'd bust before I'd do that, so she told me to go in the middle of the road, she'd keep watch (when will I learn not to trust her?!). Just as I squatted, mid road, and mid pee, around the bend in the road came a car, and of course, it was Adin, back from Whitney Point with bags of feed. As he stopped and let us crawl up on them in back he said quietly, “Better not do that again.” From him, that was a big scolding, and I was crushed!

Further along up the hill you pass, on the right, Belle Barrow's farm. An old neighbor and friend of the Bakers, her daughter and son had attended school with Ethel. We used to stop and visit here, also, as we trekked up and down between Grandma's and the store. Her place was famous for the privy which was attached to the house by the woodshed. On your way out to it there were stacks of newspapers and one of the Sunday comics. We used to make a special trip to take them with us to read as we visited. We never missed the privy as it had three holes in a row, two adult size and one a step down, child size. We loved it!

Usually our vacations with Grandma were in the summertime and the number of times we walked the two mile road between our two main points of interest were legion. The road was gravel or crushed stone with a heavy layer of tar over it, and in the heat of the summer, blisters would form on the puddles of tar between stones. We'd hop all over the road, stepping on them, shoeless or shod, to hear the loud pop they made. This is where I learned to walk on the side facing traffic. Mom insisted! Just a bit past Barrows, before the top of the hill, was where I looked every year for the money tree.

One time, Uncle Elmer had given me a quarter and I had it clutched in my hand as I walked to Gram's. Just at this spot, a huge truck had hurtled down the road, making loud screeching noises. It scared me so that I dropped the quarter, and then couldn't find it. Doris was with me too, and she couldn't either. To quiet my tears, she told me that never mind, a money tree would grow there. I'm still watching that spot!