L. Bowley, Jr.
To undertake a venture such as this requires determination and as much help as one can
get.... Surely, an eighty year old memory cannot make a presentation like this without the help and verification of chronology many years
ago... Altho, I must admit, I amaze myself with the details remembered as a kid, growing up during the
depression... One wonders why the mind can place so much detail on things in the distant past, and not remember those in the present or
Of course, I must give credit to the willful help given by my younger brother, Bob Bowley, two years my junior...He kept me straight on many things, also giving details I might have forgotten. My loving wife also corrected and detailed many things from the point we were married to the finish of this episode.
The greater part of this bio is from my own memory of my childhood, teenage years, employment, marriage and retirement...a rather wonderful life as I see
it... A few bumps and bruises, but no great tragedies to note, and that's a plus no matter which way you look at it...
My eternal thanks to these two people for helping to make this venture a success..
I give this lifetime experience to my two children and my two grandchildren for whatever they may archive in the
future... To them this is dedicated, and it is for them only, I wrote it...
The fact that this statement of copyright is made, makes this work copyrighted for all time and cannot be duplicated or reproduced without the express
consent of the parties involved. This on the 26th day of November, 1998
by Edw. L. Bowley, Jr.
Many times in recent years, it has occurred to me to put my thoughts into print, remembering times past when I was a child and trying to survive the great depression. Not for any ego trip, since my life would be dull to most who look for the entertainment concept of an authored piece...but, more directly, to give a small legacy to my survivors.
In the years of ones' lifetime, many things of small consequence occur, which to anyone else would be incidental, but to the writer, are monumental in scope. That is why these thoughts go down on paper, hopefully, in a way that is interesting and informative to all who glance at these pages.
I have enough self-confidence in my writing skills to feel that this article will challenge my recollection of things past, and will be about a;
time not known to most readers today. That in and of itself is a documentation or chronology of incidents times past, and as I reminisce about them, many things come to mind, most of which I will try to put into context in the following chapters.
The aforementioned prologue describes the reason this undertaking is happening. To my knowledge, my brother and sister-in-law are the only ones in the immediate family who have archived any information or data
about the genealogy of the Bowley family.. To date, I don't think my brother has written an autobiography since he would have told me, I'm sure.
The genesis is paternal in scope, since I have been told more about my dads' origin than my mother...altho some details of my mothers' heritage are clear and will be forthcoming. The following is as I remember it or have been told.
My grandmother, Mary Anne Brimson, was pregnant with my father when they boarded a ship in England to come to this country in 1893. My grandfather, John Bowley, was a lace weaver par excellence and lived in Nottingham, England. His company planned to start a branch lace weaving factory in the states and he was selected to implement the start up of the factory. He left England with his wife and two children. Arthur and Katherine. pregnant with my dad Edward. My uncle Walter was the last of four children born to the couple and in the USA...my dad subsequently was also born in the USA at Patchogue, L.I. in New York
State.. March 3, 1894. The family moved to Chester, Pennsylvania and the Chester lace Mills was born and my grandfather was a large part of it. Unfortunately, my grandfather was an alcoholic and died at an early age...in his late forties, I believe.
To the best of my knowledge, my grandmother never remarried. Much of the time interval here escapes me, since I have no documented evidence of activities at that time. My dad, Edward Sr. was named Edward Lincoln Bowley, honoring King Edward of England and Abraham Lincoln of the United States. Something that was apropos at the time. Edward Sr. was educated in the Chester School system and left after finishing the eighth grade. He was unusually proficient in mathematics as I recall. He worked in the Chester Lace Mills as an apprentice until he changed jobs and went with
Harbison-Walker Refractories, also in Chester.
I now pick up the maternal side of the family...My grandmother, was born Rosena Williams, April 28, 1873 in Baltimore, Maryland, whose ancestry was English, since both her parents had roots in England. My grandfather, William J. Fox was born on September 9,1870 in Mannyunk, Pennsylvania and his ancestry was Prussian as was his wife Christiana Ritzman.. My mother Elizabeth E. Fox was the fourth born to this couple who married in Chester, Pennsylvania on September 27,
1890.. My mother's birthday was September 5, 1897. and she was born in Trainor, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Chester, Pa.
My mother attended schools in Chester, Pennsylvania and advanced to the eighth grade as I recall her telling me...at which time she left school to go to work to help out with the family economy as was the case in those days.. She was a lace mender par excellence, and could repair the rips and tears in the finished product as it came out of the mill, so no one could detect the
repair.. She also was proficient as a mother, doing fine needle work and raising two boys...She kept an immaculate house and I can attest to that..
I, Edward L. Bowley, Jr., was first-born to the couple Edward L. Bowley, Sr. and Elizabeth Emma Fox. who were married on August 2, 1916, I, having been born on August 1, 1917. My brother Robert Fred Bowley was the second and last son born to the couple and his birthday is August 11, 1919.
With this short background information, I pick up as far back as I can remember, and that is sometime when I was four or five years old...I was born at an apartment building on l8th and Providence Avenue, in Chester,
Pa.. so I'm told...The building still stands today as we are about to go into the year 2000. Any memory of my activities until we moved to West 11th Street in Chester, Penna., is vague...Our first house as I recall was a row house and we lived in half of a
duplex.. My cousin, Thomas R. Miller's family lived about five doors up from us...Since we were the same age, we grew up together having family close by. My brother, Robert F. Bowley is two years my junior and participated in much of the activities during my childhood.
At the end of the street, just one block long, the small town of Buckman Village was located....It was a community of about 1000 homes...also duplexes as I recall. I have fond memories of my aunt and uncle, the Spences...Della was my mother's sister and Walter Sr. was her husband....On occasion, the family who all lived close by used to congregate at Aunt Dellas' house, since she had a player piano...the only one in the neighborhood...We would gather and sing around the piano, sometimes more than twenty people....The words were imprinted on the piano rolls, so you didn't have to know the songs, just the tune.
This would go on until the wee hours of the morning...a Saturday nite ritual for us at that time...Most of the Fox family, my mother's side, were musically inclined. My uncles, Ben, Charles, Ed and Bill all played the
mandolin.. my uncle Al was on the guitar....when the piano got tired, they would bring out their instruments and we would all sing along with them as they play the popular tunes of the
day.. Beautiful Dreamer, and others that escape me at this moment...It was a fun time, since radio had just been introduced and not many of the middle class had such an item...Television was not even a dream then..............and speaking of radio...my dad had the first "crystal set" radio on our street...On special evenings, when KDKA would broadcast, he invited all the neighborhood to come to listen to the broadcast....We had headphones...but, sometimes he would put the headphones in a glass crystal bowl to amplify the sound so we all could crowd around the table and listen...sometimes six or eight at a time...
I was indoctrinated to elementary education at the Larkin
School, some ten or twelve blocks away from our home...I can remember the playground and the location of the building and some of the structure....It was of stone and impressive beyond
belief.. This in the first grade and a totally new experience to me..
I have a bare recollection of some our neighbors on West 11th St... Next door in our duplex row house was a family of Maloney...there were three children. Paul, John and Catherine...Catherine was my age and her brothers were somewhat older...They were a devout Catholic family and went to church every Sunday at the
Church of the Resurection...close by....Later in years, Paul and John both became priests and were located in the area...
The Stevensons lived next to my cousin Tom Miller just up the street a few
doors... We frequently fought in the street and side yards, and my parents would reprimand us for all this antagonistic activity. The strap would come out occasionally...More about the strap later...
Gillespies...........across the street...We were friends with the youngest son, but any incidents are beyond my memory...Maybe my cousin Tom Miller can fill in some to these, since he lived directly across the street....
My Uncle Rush Miller, (Tom's father) smoked constantly...Camels....I can see him now in his chair in the living room by the bay
window... smoking and reading the newspaper...He was a huge man, but kind and gentle and of a humor we all appreciated...He was fond of
chocolates... to the extent he used to go to the corner family store and buy an entire chanceboard just to get the boxes of chocolates that were the
prizes.... There were always chocolates at the Miller household and Uncle Rush consumed most of
them... He would sometimes bring a chanceboard home and sell them to us kids so we could win prizes. I can remember punching those boards so well...
My Aunt Kate....Rushs' wife and Tommys' mother...was a cook exceptional. She spent most of her life in the kitchen, cooking and baking and preserving for the winter stores...She had a coal burning stove which was a beauty and that is where most of her culinary productions were born...Thanksgiving and Christmas at the Millers was a thing to remember....The dining room was small by todays' standards...barely room for a dining room table and
chairs.. with room to squeeze by and sit...She could accommodate fourteen people in that small
room.. When you sat at the Millers' dining table on a holiday...there was no room for anything but food...Always two or three kinds of meat, two of potatos, three or four vegetables...(all fresh) or out of the Mason jars she canned previously...Coffee , tea...there was never a glass of beer or anything
alcoholic on that table as I recall... Beer was not as popular then as it is today, and if it was there it was home brew...
My paternal grandmother Mary Anne Bowley (nee Brimson) lived with my Uncle Rush during this time...since my grandfather had passed away by then...I never remember seeing him, since I was too small when he was
alive.. She was a dominant woman, ......stern...opinionated....I can remember at one visit when my dad said something like "hell" or "damn" in front of her, and sadly within her reach....She reached out and slapped him in the face and reprimanded him right there. My dad was MARRIED AND HAD TWO CHILDREN....but that didn't matter...Her British accent I can remember to this day and we all called her "nanny"....never grandmother, gram, or any other term similar to this...Nanny was her name and that's what she got from ALL her grandchildren....My Uncle Walter Bowley, dads' brother also live close by and visited us, usually alone, since his wife had a mental problem and never went outside much.. To this day I can remember the yellow stains on Walts' fingers from smoking Chesterfields and Peidmonts...He was a chain smoker...a gentle man and kind to his kids also a good provider...He and my Uncle Arthur both had productive jobs with
Scott Paper Company, who in those days, was mostly the sole provider of toilet tissue...of course Scotts was in Chester at the waterfront of the Delaware River as was Harbison Walker Refractories...where Uncle Rush and my dad were employed...
Concurrent with that period of time, memory brings to mind the Fox farm in Trainor, Penna. My maternal grandmother and grandfather had a small farm which was not far from where my residence was, and they raised vegetables and chickens, eggs and other staples necessary for life. My granpa was a master cabinet maker, carpenter and could do things with wood that were unbelievable, and this at a period of time when power tools were few and far between...He had gnarled hands and was a ruggedly constructed man...smoked a pipe constantly...had broken teeth which he repaired himself...When he broke a tooth and it was sharp enough to cut his tongue or cheek, I have seen him take a file and smooth it off until it was comfortable in his mouth...of course the pipe was inactive at this time, but close by. He had a shock of wavy gray hair, a gruff voice, but was a compassionate man as I recall..
My mother would, from time to time, take my brother and myself to visit
them.. Our transportation was a bus or trolley to the main road and then, walk the rest of the way...We crossed a stream, and I can distinctly remember throwing stones in the water as we crossed the bridge to my gramps farm...
The garden was loaded with plum tomatoes, a favorite of
his.. and we used to sneak into the garden and eat those tomatoes till we were stuffed...Of course, there were chickens..many chickens...Most of them ran loose, but laid their eggs in the small henhouse he had built...Sunday dinner was an occasion there, since the food was all raised locally and of course, the chicken, however grandma cooked it was local also...My mother till her dying day hated chicken, in any form, since she was raised on chicken as a child...There was little money for much of anything else...If we arrived early enough on a Sunday, we could see gramps chasing dinner, catching it, taking it to the chopping block....The execution was fast and expeditious...head off, the bird went into a peach basket to "bleedout" as he used to say....We all joined in to pluck the bird...grandmom singed the pin feathers, cleaned it and prepared it for dinner....My mother watched this process many times and I can empathize with her and her dislike for chicken..
My gramps had a drinking problem back in those days...of course it was shielded from me to a great extent, but sometimes he would disappear for four or five days because he "was on a drunk" as the saying went in those days...He never let it interfere with his responsibilities to the family, and would sober up and be clean for about a month, before it would happen again...A sign of the times back in those days, I'm told..
I was six years old when a new chapter in my life began....I had begun school at Larkin and had barely got to know my fellow students, when my dad explained that we were moving from West 11th Street to a more upscale neighborhood in Chester....
There was a lovely park in Chester...called Chester
Park, coincidentally and it had been a private farm at some point in time...The city bought the land and buildings thereon and used it for a home for the caretaker and maintenance building for the park....The maintenance forman and his family lived in the farmhouse, and he kept the buildings and vehicles in the adjacent barn in
repair.. also did ground maintenance on the nine hole golf course which had been built on the farmland...At the bottom of the park, Chester River flowed thru and was a great meeting place for picnics, swimming and other activities...An orchard with many sickle pear trees and a gigantic black cherry tree was adjacent the farmhouse...All this to tell you this.................Our new house looked out over all of this expansive operation and we lived on the fringe of Chester Park....No houses in front of us, just the park view.....no houses after the last one, the street was Lindsay Street...we were unobstructed...It was a wonderful location for a new family and well chosen by my parents...
The distance from my old residence and the site for the new one was quite long and couldn't be walked comfortably, so we used the trolley cars, which were the the mode of transportation in the city at that time...There were no buses, this is circa 1924....I was seven years old....We could catch a trolley after walking about four blocks to Highland
Avenue... travel to downtown city at Third and Market... transfer to the Park Place trolley and ride to 24th Street on the same fare...probably ten cents, then walk the remaining six or seven blocks to the new home site....
We watched the house being built as I recall....from bare ground to finish..
It was a moving experience.. The lot was one of about 16 in the row...we were the second from the beginning of the street...The houses were row duplexes, which was the construction at the time...We moved from an old one to a new one of the same architecture...The foundations were excavated by horse and bucket....with an operator handling the scoop...the dirt was put in a MACK truck by hand and moved about...I can remember the truck exactly....it was yellow with the old style MACK bulldog front end....chain driven to the wheels.
The driver let me ride one day in the cab and let me shift the gears as we rode on...(I was seven years
old).. The foundation was of stone masonry...with brick sidewalls and flat roof...cellar, back porch and
stairs.. The underside of the porch was a playground for we kids, since it was all dirt and a great place to construct roads, castles, and the like...
The developer and builder was named Woodall... he was a small man slight of
build.. hatchet faced and continually smoked a cigar... I don't think I ever saw him that he didn't have a cigar in his
mouth... chewing or smoking it didn't matter.... He was an accommodating man, holding the mortgage on the house which cost at closing in the
neighborhood of $4000. I remember this from conversations with my mother in later years, when discussing the depression in 1932, whereby the only way we could hold onto the house was to pay the interest on the monthly house
payment.. which was about $13 a month.. more about this later....
After taking possession of the house, we moved in...I changed schools and now went to
Wetherell Elementary School on 24th street...starting in the second grade since I was seven years old...The walk was longer with the new location, but not by much...a quarter mile I would guess...The school was a wooden construction building, pitched roof with two classrooms...not a large building at all. The only heat was a pot bellied stove in each classroom, the fuel for which was brought by the students...It was hardly sufficient for a building of this size and we were cold more often than not with snow on the ground...Recess was a big item...we had about fifteen minutes out in the school yard...during this time we were given a one-half pint bottle of milk and a straw to drink while on recess...This was an every day occurrence. I have no memory of my teachers in that building....A new elementary school was being built at that time, but I never had an opportunity to attend the NEW school...having gone thru the first three grades and then to the next building which was a two story brick structure and classrooms for the three grades of 4, 5, and 6. It was called the
Oak Grove elementary School and the acorns literally covered the entire yard, since the whole complex was dotted with large oak trees.
Our next door neighbors on the left were named Phillips...He was a milkman for
Supplee.. drove a horse and wagon to deliver milk to his customers.
They had one child late in life who I never was associated with to any extent, since the age differential was about 10 years....The neighbor on the right was Pendleton. His employment escapes me at this point, but they had two daughters of ages similar to our family and we grew up together and went to school together for years...
The row houses that backed up to ours had children the same ages as my brother and I and we traveled in the "gang" as we used to call our
selves... One in particular, Art King, was a maverick and troublemaker...and we tangled on many
occasions.. alternatley winning or losing a "fight"...bloody noses to wit...
The adjacent "park" had a small river running thru it...we swam, fished, picnicked and rendezvoused there with girl friends, swimming and just "hanging out."..I spend many hours fishing that river with a canepole and dough bait for sunfish, chubs, catfish and the like....Many times brought home a string of sunfish to clean, gut and my mom pan fried them for us to eat...It was a beautiful laidback spot about a thousand yards long covered with trees and paths...There were many Black Walnut trees in the lower end of the creek where we would, in the fall, throw pieces of 2x4 into the trees, knocking the walnuts down to the ground, putting them in a sack and carting them home...The subsequent drying out of the nuts came after the hulls had been taken off...This left a stain on your hands that wouldn't come off for weeks and everyone knew you had hulled a batch of Black Walnuts...They then went outside to dry and be ready for the Holidays...At the other end of the park, there was a beautiful spring...the best water you could drink out of the ground...In later years people would come with their cars and gallon jugs just to get the water. Across from the spring was the community swimming hole called the "rock". It was a large boulder on the far side of the river (no more than 50 feet
wide).. We used to dive off the rock.. It was the only place you could dive except at the "falls" ,which was down stream at a dam...of course risky business diving there as the water was not that
deep.. A bridge breached the river, part of the drive thru the park...I recall a young man diving from the bridge railing into the river which was not very deep...broke his neck and died from a result of this....It made the newspapers all over the county, and this was outlawed after that incident...
The "golf course", as it was named at that time...had no other name....It was a par three
setup.. No flags...(you had to know where the holes were), no handicaps...you just went out there and started to hit the balls, since in most cases there was no one there but you. I used to hit a few when I became a teenager and understood the game. There was nothing professional about the whole setup, but it was a fun thing to do, altho not many took advantage of this.
At some point in time, after I graduated High School, the park officials installed two tennis courts. These were professional and well kept and used quite a bit by the people who came to the park....I was never adept at tennis, but can remember one Labor Day weekend, playing constantly all three days until I had blisters on my hands and feet...That was the last time I was that involved with tennis as a sport...
Our new row house was a thing of beauty in those days...Location was superb and we were fortunate to have lived in such a place during;
my childhood.. Further describing our home....it had two bedrooms and one bath on the second
floor.. access by a stairway from the dining room to a central hall on the top floor...Mom and dad slept in the front bedroom, my brother and I in the back bedroom...One bath for all and it was a very cozy
situation.. Moms' bedroom had two large windows that looked out over the whole of Chester Park and all the activities could be recorded from that spot....the living room was located just the next floor, same location, but the vantage point for viewing activities was in the front bedroom...This situation got me into a lot of trouble as will be described later...The first floor had a living room dining room and kitchen, shed and back steps to ground level...The cellar was dark and dingy...slimly lighted...In the front was a large "coalbin" where walnut sized coal was stored for winter heating...The coal delivery man would deliver a ton of coal...carry it by the canvas sack on his back and dump it in a chute thru the cellar window until the bin was full...The furnace was a large coalburning convected hot air
model.. There was only one ventilator in the house and that was between the living room and dining room...a floor vent that was about 36" square that belched HOT air by the cubic yard...Convection was the only way the heat got to the upper floor...A hard system to control, but we managed...
We had electricity, natural gas and city water...Mom cooked on a gas stove...Hot water came from a unit in the furnace and had no forced pressure as I
recall.. just that the water rose to the top of the house...This is vague in my mind.. There was a large "cesspool" in the back yard...Ceptic tanks were called that in the days
past.. It was a brick enclosure underground about six feet in diameter and about ten feet deep...All the human waste was flushed to this tank and had to be cleaned from time to
time.. no drain field.. The water would runoff thru the bricks which were loosely stacked and the sediment collected until it was necessary to clean it out....Not an up to code situation, by todays standards one would think.
My dad built a workbench in the far end of the cellar and it was a ruggedly constructed piece of furniture for his workshop there...Of course the ashes from the coal fired furnace had to be taken out most every
day.. and that was a job for my self and my brother.. I can see my shoes and gloves now, sitting on the perimeter of the furnace floor vent....drying out after a tiff on the hill right in front of our house, sledding almost 200 yards down the hill and walking back.....This went on for hours on end with all the kids in the neighborhood, as it was the best and only sledding place near by....so...the gloves were wet and had to be dried, and where else but by the furnace vent....
Sometime, during the years before my brother and I became teenagers, Bob had an unfortunate accident in the park...We were getting black cherries from the cherry tree up on the hill and he fell from the tree and fractured his left arm badly....It was a grisly sight and the details of how it was repaired are dim, but, it was set and wired in
place.. and to this day he carries two scars on his arm about 4 inches long with large stitch marks to verify this...I'm sure he can remember in more detail than I
can.. He has to this day limited movement in his hand from this tragic accident..
The front porch was a gathering place for kids in the neighborhood.. It was all frame construction....wood floor set on concrete pillars...a balustrade rail also
wood.. The roof was supported by three large columns of wood construction ..and of course, wooden steps...three to the sidewalk which ran the full length of the block and was a standard four feet wide and curbing...there was no grass as I recall....
Now for the street........and it is very easilly described. There was none...yes of course it had a name, but from the beginning and until we moved away, the street was NEVER paved...It was cindered (a common commodity at that time, since coke was used exclusively and cinders came from the coke, extracted from
coal).. Gravel, mud and anything the city could put there to make it stable, I guess. The park property began at the other side of Lindsay Street and we had to climb a short mud bank to get onto the park property....The winter sledding activities were centralized in front of our house, since the hill we sledded down was there...consequently, much mud and dirt came into the house and my mother was frantic all winter long trying to keep the place clean with two kids running in and out of the house.
Details of my elementary school years escape me, but in 1931, I began Junior High School which was the 8th
grade... Three years at Smedley Junior High
School... The only prominent things I can remember are the drafting class, where I was introduced to a drafting board, blueprints and the
like.. I enjoyed the class immensely...also the printing class comes to mind where I was taught about pica type, how to typeset...We had an offset printing machine where we printed the school newspaper. My first introduction to journalism as a skill...and quite a bit of it stuck in later years...
Our football team was mediocre, but the athletic field was quite large and I can remember Mr. Crawford, our gym teacher taking us out every gym class when the weather was compatible and we would spend the entire class outside completing his
schedule... Red and white were our school colors...We had cheer leaders for the football games...also a large inside gym where classes were held
when the weather was bad.. A basketball court and drop down seating for spectators during games....There ropes, (2" diameter) for climbing.....I hated it because I couldn't climb that rope...and was embarrassed by this...Remember, I was only between 13 and 15 years old....
The school years at Smedley were 1931 to 1933....The Great Depression was upon us. The stock market crashed in 1929...many ventures in the market cost thousands of people their fortunes and some to the extent they took their own lives. Some jumped from the towering office buildings in New York City, which in those days were not airconditioned...the windows swung out for ventilation...Wall Street in NYC was a disaster...President Roosevelt declared a bank holiday to give the stock market a chance to recover...My Uncle Ed Fox was somewhat an entrepreneur in the market and I recall him telling me he lost quite a bit of money, having been offered five cents on the dollar for some of his investments...It took him a long time to recover from that fiasco...My family, never having been wealthy , was not affected moneywise by the crash, but it hurt us in other ways...Case in
point... my father who had a very stable job where he worked was laid off for some period of time...We had no income for weeks. He finally got employment for a short period of time with our next door neighbor, who was a milkman for
Supplee-Wills-Jones.. My dad and he delivered milk together and we survived until he got back with H/W/Ref. again...I can remember delivering orders from the A&P Market across the street from my grandmother Foxs'
house.. I worked for tips pulling grocery orders to houses near by ...sometimes a nickel or
dime.. sometimes nothing....My grandmother cooked for the clerks in the store, one of which was my Uncle
Al.. the youngest of the Fox clan...She connived food from the store to feed the clerks and sometimes would have enough left over to give to my mom for us to eat for a day or
two... It was super bad.. the worst you can imagine....We were about to lose the house we had bought, and had not the builder Mr. Woodall agreed to accept the interest on the mortgage every month in lieu of the payment...we would have lost the
house.. But...remember, had he forclosed.. no one could buy it.. no one had any
money.. so the best situation was to let us stay and maintain it paying interest until things got better, when we picked up the payments and made good the old ones...It took a few years, but my mom was good with money, little that we had at that time...
My dad had purchased a 1924 Essex. probably in '27 or '28...where or how the details escape me, but I can distinctly remember that after the '29 crash, we had no money to operate it and it went up on blocks in the back yard and sat there until it rotted away and was towed out...The body in those days was a combination of wood and metal and the elements could be a disaster if it weren't well kept. We played in the car and it was sad to see it deteriorate from no care, but die it did....It never ran again after it went on the blocks.
My next door neighbor was Bert Phillips.. the milkman.. He had a hobby of raising
pigeons.. The loft was over his double garage.. I seem to remember we used to rent half of this garage to keep our vehicles at some point in time, but the story here is.....he used to race the
birds.. belonged to a racing society.. I would go with him on race day, (usually a Saturday) to where the birds were to be released, sometimes as much as 75 miles away...That meant he drove the distance, we released the birds with a clock....got back in the car and drove back home, and usually the birds were home before us, in the
loft.. He would take a band off the leg of the pigeon and put it in the clock, registering the times it took to return to home...It was an interesting day...and ....of course I will never forget how he disposed of old birds or those too sick to fly, or young squabs he didn't
want.... He was very adept at catching them, getting their head between his forefinger and thumb and snapping their neck like a whip....instant
death.. This is how he kept his coop up to date with good birds...I can't ever remember the man dressed in anything but bib overalls., strangely enough..
The Pendletons lived on the other side of our house, across the side alley to the back
yards... Phillips were adjoining houses in the duplex...Bob and Ruth Pendleton were
religious people. They had two daughters...Janet and Helen.. Helen was my age and we went to school together from the time we moved in until we left the street some years later...Janet was sickley as I recall, but Helen was a robust young gal and beat the hell out of me from time to time, when we had a disagreement...
Helen and I graduated from Smedley Junior High school in 1933. The ceremony was in
June... How my mother scraped enough money to buy me a blue jacket and white pants is beyond me, but I graduated with all the rest dressed up to the nines. Remember, we were just getting over the depression and things were still not back to
normal.. My mother never worked while we lived at Lindsay street as I recall...
In 1934, I began Senior High School at Chester High School at 9th and Parker Streets in Chester...It was an impressive building, completely of stone, and occupying a whole city block. It was, I think, three stories high with classrooms on all floors...The administration offices were in the front of the building as you entered...The principal was Mr. Pedlow...
and he was a ringer.
The stairs were wood and creaked as students made it from floor to floor, and I can remember how the treads were worn when I graduated. I studied basic English, Math, Social Studies and the like in my freshman year, but changing to the Business Course in my final
years.... learning Typing, Shorthand, Office procedures, my elective was
French.... My French teacher was a sticker and of course I flunked French, but made it up in summer
school... I also had some trouble with shorthand and had to do this in summer school also, but was proficient when I graduated...My social studies teacher later became a lawyer and was instrumental in my first divorce action, believe it or
not... My music teacher was Miss McGowan...a portly woman who sang well and played the piano...My indoctrination to classical music came with this class as we studied the Nutcracker Suite . I hated it, but understood it after many lessons she drove into my skull..
I would be remiss if I did not describe my dad's employment and it was at this point in my life that I was exposed to how the money came into the household. I was just 16 years old when I first started High School...We had lived in our present establishment for about ten
years.. I had completed elementary and grammar and junior high schools and was now about to venture into high school education.
My dad was employed by Harbison-Walker Refractories Co. as maintenance and construction
foreman.. This company manufactured firebrick which were used as linings for open-hearth furnaces in the manufacture of steel. I can remember USSteel and Bethlehem Steel were consumers of this product.
The company was located on the Delaware River in Chester, Penna...
A brief description of the activities here follows: The ore (magnasite and chrome) were transported to the river docks in
freighters.. unloaded and transported to the machinery which ground and crushed the ore into a fine grain suitable for brick making...The "pans" as my dad called them were giant round saucers with rollers which crushed the ore into fine grains...The room was always thick with
dust.. The ore was mixed with water and a binder and sent to the presses which would mould anything the steel companies needed...regular and specials...They were then fired in kilns, cooled and shipped in box cars with straw spacing to stop breakage.
Many times when I would go down to the shop to get the car, I would see him covered with dust...in his ears, eyes and around his mouth...his nose almost plugged with this dust...He NEVER wore a mask or goggles that I can
recall.. He showered every nite in the wash room to get the grime off before he came home,
One doesn't have to wonder why my dad died a horrible death of Lung Cancer after hearing this story....When his cancer was discovered, he had two black portions of both lungs the size of an apple...with black lung disease very evident in this flouroscope...
this somewhere around 1945 or 6.
Sometime, I can't remember at which year, he had a horrible accident which butchered his right hand...He was grinding something at a stationary grinder when the work slipped and his hand went into the carbide wheel...He didn't lose any fingers, but when and after the surgery was performed, he had lost motion in to fingers and one was permanently straight and unusable.
A blacksmith by name of Bill Smith could forge and make anything at his anvil and forge...I used to watch him work...He was an artist with metal and a hammer at an anvil.
As you walked into the machine shop where all the machine tools were, the most impressive thing was the gigantic Allis-Chalmers steam engine which powered the whole plant. It had a mammoth drive wheel from the piston which was sixteen feet in diameter and about 24" wide...This drove all the powered machinery in the plant...Belts, (leather) and other materials and line-shafts, and jack-shafts were the only means of power
distribution in the company. I can remember how spotless it was...painted red, gold and the brass shining like brand new...The governor was two brass balls the size of grapefruit and spun
continuously.. the immense piston rod went back and forth delivering the horsepower to the
flywheel.. The steam box was large and painted red and gold. The massive leather belt would flap up and down as it drove all the pulleys in the
system.. Not very noisy, as one might expect. The boilers were coal fired initially, but changed over to oil at some point in time.
I did a brief stint in the office after I graduated the commercial course at high school...It was my first
job.. and my duties were to make out the bills of lading for shipping the products all over the world...I believe my weekly salary was $40.00 as I recall...this in 1937-8. My relationship with one of the belligerent office personnel led to my being dismissed or I quit...can't remember
which... My dad was crushed in that I didn't make a career at the office where he was employed...No matter, since I immediately found another job with
Westinghouse Electric Co in Lester, Pa, where my dear friend Howard Clark who graduated with me was employed in the Personnel
Department.. I also became an office employee in the Employment Department...This was the beginning of a career with Westinghouse that lasted 17 years...
There were times when I would walk from school to my dads work place to borrow the car, which was a 1932 Plymouth sedan...In order to get to the main gate of the company, one had to walk thru a red light district called
Bethel Court. This was the Chester brothel area...two streets each a block long and just a half block from the main gate of
H/W... Many times while walking thru, one of the "ladies of the night" would proposition me with the phrase, "Want a good time"?
Twenty five cents would buy you a "good time" anywhere in the area... I never took advantage of this, since my father would have beat me to death and told me so. Some of the hookers were not bad
looking... most of them were called "high yellows" in those days....a combination of black and white heritage...
The walk to school (buses were unknown at that time) was about two miles...
thru scarcely traveled streets, thru Upland, across the river and then a few more blocks to
school... A nice invigorating walk morning and afternoon, except when the weather was inclement...or snow was on the ground. 24th and Edgemont Avenue was a favorite corner for "hitching" a ride to school. We would wait there at the corner, "thumbing" it until the last minute so as not to be late and could walk the distance...Rides home were scarce, moreso than going to school...in the morning.
On my sixteenth birthday my dad allowed me to smoke... and so I did, continuing until my 60th birthday or thereabouts, when I quit cold turkey and never smoked again.
I will never forget the time my dad took my brother and me aside in the dining room of the house on Lindsay Street and gave us the "man to man" talk that most fathers give to their
sons.... He was quite knowledgeable and went into great detail about how to please a
woman.... My dad and mom were in love until his dying day and my mom for the rest of her life with
him.... She never remarried, since she told me, "I never found a man equal to your father".
It was a rare event when either one of us boys were chastised. Not that we were "goody two shoes" kids and probably got into as much trouble e as the next ones, but I can remember on one occasion when "the strap" came into
play.. The strap was hand made from a portion of leather belting reclaimed from one of the drive belts at
H/W... It was about 1/4" thick about three inches wide and probably 16" long, with a handle carved conveniently on one
end... It laid on top of the china closet in the dining room... I'm trying to remember the year this incident happened, but for the life of me I can't....I do know it was sometime around the age of12 give or take a
year... I inadvertently drove a golf ball thru the front living room window which was quite large...the upper pane of glass was about four feet wide and three feet high....I can remember it
well.. what a crash it made.. Of course, I got the strap that afternoon in the front
bedroom.. My mom administered the punishment quite well...about ten across my butt...My dad never had the power to render this kind of punishment coming home, cold turkey as it
were.. but mom was super mad and did it well...Welts on my butt and I can remember that also..
Another time the strap came into play was when both my brother and I got into a fight in front of the house on the park
grounds... My mom watched the whole thing and we both got the strap after that
incident... Nothing else comes to mind in the realm of punishment other than these two incidents...Of course, we used to fight with some of the gang from time to time, but she never knew about
that... I had it with Art King more than once, and usually lost, since he was more muscled than I, as I recall.
My graduation from Chester High School is a dim memory... No details come to mind, but I think it was held in the
Stanley Theatre in downtown Chester at 4th and Edgemont
Avenue.... Many first run films were seen there and it was the place to take a date on Saturday
night.. Cap and gown was the dress of the day, but no pictures are logged of this event, since my family were not "picture conscious" at this
time... My yearbook disappeared...where it went I have no idea, but that's something uncommon since I saved most everything in those days..
I have many fond memories of friends I made in High School and some of them are still here
today.. not many, but Pat Clark is still a dear friend.. Howard Clark and Pat Brown were high school sweethearts, and;
married after Pat graduated from Jeffereson Nurses school in Philadelphia. I stood for them as best man and the only witness, since we ran down to Elkton, Maryland for them to get married..
Howard advanced in the Personnel Department and stayed with Westinghouse for 40+ years and at his untimely death was Supervisor of Retirement Division of the Personnel Dept...Howard passed on at an early age with colon cancer at age low 60's. He never really retired from the company and died on the job as it were. Pat never remarried and they had three sons and many grandchildren communicate with her to this day and we're octogenarians..
Before graduation, we took the proverbial "trip to Washington, DC". Buses all the
way.. and I cannot recall the hotel where we stayed, but Howard, Len Tillman, Charlie Pennington and I stayed in the same
room.. We did the tours thing and I recall taking a "tin" of Luckies on the bus...Everyone smoked cigarettes...It was the thing to do and Luckies came in a "flat fifty" which had 50 cigarettes in a flat tin
box.. about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches square...We were "big shots" and lived it up on that three day holiday...
My brother and I were dear friends with the Ryan family.. Fred was something of a musician and put together a band of about 12 pieces...I helped with the
equipment.. He played some jobs, never made it big, but it was a fun thing and the singer, Thelma ............. had a thing for my brother Bob...They were an item for a
time... Len Tillman played trumpet, but the others escape me.
Dottie Ryan and Bob Guss married...(Fred's sister) and they witnessed my second marriage in Crumme Lynne,
Pa... in 1947... More about that later..
Approximately 1935, I met Evelyn Chambers, who was a summer visitor with her aunt Iva Self who lived in the next block up the
street... This developed into a relationship of some serious nature and I visited her over the weekends at her home in Philadelphia, when she was not in
Chester... She lived in Kensington a section of North Philadelphia... She had a girlfriend who became a foursome with Don Ruby and myself. She married a budding real estate man whose father owned a real estate company and had a future and income more stable than
mine... and this romance died a tragic death...
In 1937 or 1938 my parents sold the house on Lindsay Street and bought a single home in Twin Oaks, Penna, a suburb of Chester. This was a frame house, much larger than the row house on Lindsay
St.. on a single lot, on probably an acre of ground with outbuildings.. A garage large enough for six cars also
frame.. no floor.. just dirt and cinders...The house was built my my Uncle Claude Riddington...
who married Minnie Bailey, my mother's older sister. They moved into a brick house close by which he also built. The house had a large cellar entry at ground level, in the back...Stairs to the first floor in the
back.. The front entrance was at ground level.. The driveway entered off Bethel Road. .It was not paved, but a cut thru the ground down the side of the house to the garage in the
back... Claude had built a bathtub swimming pool some 40 by 30 feet, about six feet deep at one end and three at the other...It was a hand made shell of red brick and concrete...one drain in the deep end...No facility for filling or filtering the
water... It was drained in the fall and filled in the spring from a fireplug, by the local fire company and billed to us from the water
company... How no one every got sick from swimming here, I'll never know, but no one ever did. There was a barbecue grill, fireplace and patio beside the pool...We had many a weekend party there with our many friends and I will remember it forever...
The Big Band music era with "jitterbug" dancing came into style during the late 30's...
Altho jazz was a standard in the early thirties, big bands came into full swing around 1936, as I was finishing high school. It seems that in about one or two years, all the big bands formed and were successful...Dorsey brothers, Tommy and Jimmy, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa,
Bunny Berrigan, Jan Savits who was a Philadelphia native and quite successful doing local gigs..
The ball rooms all over the country used to book these bands on Saturday night
gigs.. Sunday at Steel Pier in Atlantic City was a favorite of mine...I saw
T. Dorsey, Good man, Glenn Miller there on different occasions...Of course listening was a major thing, but dancing was what everyone
did... some listened at the bandstand, most danced and listened at the same time...
I was quite taken with a little Irish girl named Mary McMahon.. who was cute as a "bug" tiny in stature, but big in personality...beautiful body, pleasant smile and a real
"looker"... We were a couple made in heaven when it came to dancing and jitterbuging...
We seemed to physically communicate on the dance floor... She could follow me without missing a step...also, we had a few nice routines which we exhibited at some of the sessions...We were a "thing" on the dance floor...We went to Sunnybrook, Steel Pier, Dons' in Yeadon, local hops in the city...and whenever we could bum a ride with others, since I didn't have any transportation at that time, but soon did in the year to
follow... I bought a Chevy Convertible..1936 and this was in 1938... of course I bought it used, but it was a
beauty.. Black with tan leather upholstery, tan top, radio and large white wall tires.
Of course, we would change partners at the "hops", but Mary and I did our thing most of the time....My cousin Tom Miller and Elsie Clements were also a "number" at these dances...We used to double date as I
recall... of course Tom married Elsie, because they were a great couple.
I remember a New Years' Eve celebration somewhere around 1939 or 40 when Bunny Berrigan and his new band performed at the Stanley Theatre in downtown Chester...
Berrigan was an excellent trumpet man and had a fine band. He split off from Benny Goodman around that time and formed his own band. The party went fine and I can remember him just before midnight, while leading the band, reaching inside his jacket pocket and producing a pint bottle of 'booze"..
from time to time...until he was almost smashed just after 12 midnight.
Berrigan was an alcoholic and died an early death from drinking...A masterful talent gone awry with
booze.. It was a night to remember....and I do very clearly.
The Boyd Drug Store at 7th and Welsh
Sts.. was a hangout for the clan in Chester.. Every Saturday night...a movie at the
Boyd Theatre and then cokes and hanging out until midnight or later with your date or trying to pick up a date, whichever came
first... It was protocol at that time... Also around the corner were the bowling lanes and the proper name escapes m at this time...also a hangout for
kids.. cokes, sodas, picking up dates... it was a way of life... Bowling was as I recall about 20 cents a line and they had manual
pinsetters... Automatic was not around then...
If you needed parts for your car,,,, Pep Boys was the place to get
them... just across the street from the Bowling Lanes... Birneys Birch Beer establishment was next to
Speare Brothers department
store....a pool hall par excellance... about 10 tables and the best birch beer you could
get... all home made every day.. Many hustlers in Chester got their start at Birneys... We had about four movie theatres, since black and white movies were the thing in those days...I used to go to the
Wm Penn theatre to watch Buck Jones and Bob Steele every
Saturday... You could start at 1100 hour and stay all day for a dime...We walked to the movie and walked home...this when we lived on
My first three or four years at Westinghouse in Tinicum Township, were building blocks for my stay at Westinghoue...
My dear friend Howard Clark and I, since working together , decided to advance our education somewhat by going to Temple University in Phila...
We enrolled in Industrial Management, where we thought we would wind up in Westinghouse...This was endorsed by the management of the company and I can't recall if they picked up the tab for the tuition or
not... Howard and I did three years of night school studying Industrial Management, English composition, Business Principles, etc...a nice groundwork for most anything in the future...We stopped when Howard got married to Pat Brown, since education was not on his mind then, mine either, since I had transferred to Engineering in the shops...
I worked under the instruction of Henry Zeloyle, who was the administrator of Time Study and Cost Analysis...I also took the first class taught by W.F.Stegemerten on Time and Motion Study...a new concept of analyzing the operation and production of materials on a cost basis...After completing the course, I started working as a Cost Analyst and this system produced the actual cost of producing a
product.. including material and labor...I can recall my first project was a steam turbine operated pump. The breakdown, analysis and study of this product took about one month....but,,,
after this was done, there was a definite cost almost to the penny on how much it would cost to produce this item...We used, motion pictures, study charts, voice to eliminate unnecessary movements during the production...Cut the time to the minimum and give a bonus for producing the item under the relegated time...It was an incentive system, unknown in those days...Of course, we fought daily with the union, who thought we were trying to get more out of the employees for less
money.. which was what we were doing... making them more productive and giving them an incentive to do just this...Our wages for machinist were tops in the industry, but you had to produce to make the money.
Let me revert to my high school days and tell of some more experiences
there.... In my senior year, Evelyn and I were an "item"... She would come to visit her aunt on
weekends... we would spend much time together...Her mother had a cottage at Lewis Beach, Delaware, which was part of the settlement at the divorce between her mother and father some time in the
past.... One weekend when they were visiting the Selfs up the street, we decided to go to the cottage, Evelyn, her mother and I. I borrowed my dads' 32 Plymouth sedan to make the trip...Unfortunately, on the way down from Chester and Lewis the Plymouth lost all the oil and burned some rod bearings...We made it to Lewis and spent the next two days overhauling the engine with new bearings and necessary parts to get back on the road...We worked day and nite with a friend mechanic of Anne, to get it back together and that we did....The trip back to Chester went well , but super
slow.. as we could only do 25 to 35 miles an hour all the way.... Needless to say, my mother was watching out the front window when we pulled up at the last minute before breakfast on Monday
morning... I had called and told my dad what happened... They were worried, but it all worked out well in the
end... That I'll never forget...
The '32 Plymouth was superceded by a '36 Dodge sedan... My dad was great friends with Frank Price, Shop foreman at the Dodge dealer in Chester, and he got dad a nice '36 Dodge...We traded the Plymouth...and this was about 1938.
The '36 Dodge was superseded by my dads' pride and joy....a 1940 Oldsmobile, brand new...The FIRST automobile with an automatic
transmission... He had to have this car and was he proud... Black as I
recall.. and it had the General Motors "hydromatic" transmission...first of its kind in those days, and of course all automobiles today are automatic shift and this is some 60 years later...
I was never an "athlete" at high school...but did some field and track, but never lettered in the sport. My energies went into the school newspaper "WELCOME" and I was editor in chief my junior year and senior year as
well... I had a great connection with the Chester Times publishing company downtown and spent a lot of time there getting the paper together as I
recall.... That was my only outstanding accomplishment at high school....
I wish I had a copy of the paper today... it would be a great piece of
memorabilia, but sadly thru the years there's nothing to substantiate this...
In the preceding pages I briefly described the new house in Twin Oaks... but here I shall go more into detail, since much history is painted here with my family. The house was of frame
construction... two floors and a basement... A fully enclosed porch fronted the building with glass all around. It was quite large, being approximately forty feet wide and about ten feet
deep.. There were roll up shades on each window, and of course it was furnished with casual
furniture.. A nice to place to spend winter afternoons reading and listening to the
radio... Hardly ever did anyone enter from the front porch door since it was inaccessible only if you stopped your car in the driveway, which was one car wide and had high banks on either
side... so a stop there was a temporary thing at best.
The driveway (nothing was paved) extended about 150 feet down to the six car garage building, also frame with NO floor except cinder, gravel and
dirt.. This outbuilding was used for most everything not needed in the
house.. After we became established in the house, my dad built a chicken coop for mom to raise chickens and sell
eggs.... This proved to be a little money maker for the family, since we had about 100 chickens and dad carried many dozens of eggs to his work and sold them to the fellow
employees.. I can remember a small garden in the back of the garage building, but not many details of this ring true at this time...The property was probably 150 feet wide and probably 500 feet
long.. It ended at a ravine with a small creek as I recall.
The upstairs was partitioned into one room, if my memory serves me correctly.... Bob upstairs and me
downstairs.... There were two bedrooms on the first floor with a large living room and kitchen. My mom entertained many friends and relatives in this
kitchen... My Uncle Rush Miller, Aunt Kate used to come for breakfast on Sunday and that was quite an
event.. Many picnics and barbecues were events held on the patio adjacent to the bathtub swimming
pool... which was rather large also... Hand made with red brick, concrete over a hand dug bathtub hole in the
ground... no filters, no pumps, just thousands of gallons of water pumped in once or twice a summer by the local fire
company... which cost I think fifty bucks... How the water was paid for I can't
remember... There was a drain at the deep end of the pool which went topside about lOO feet down the slope of the yard...that's the way the pool was
drained... The barbecue grill was hand made and cooked many hamburgers, sweet corn, etc in its lifetime...
We were comfortable and well settled by 1940 in this house. My mother and dad were avid poker players as well as the Fox
boys.. Saturday nite brought a penny ante poker game most every week...
Always six to eight players...a lot of fun and not much money was lost or won, but a good time had by all. My brother and I both had cars and dated much of the
time... I had a 1936 Chevy Convertible which took me to work at Westinghouse winter and
summer... I don't recall what Bob had at this time, but I do recall we both had Chevy Convertibles during the war and I can remember Bob going into the Air Corps long before I was drafted. He and Dot Phillips were an item then, even tho Dot was at Temple Nurses College at the
time.. Bob never went overseas, since he had that bad arm and asthma which kept him here in the states as cadre at a B-24 base in Kansas. I was deferred and had a 3-A draft status since I worked at a defense plant which was manufacturing steam turbine power plants for battleships and
cruisers... I had to go into the shops and operate a turret lathe to maintain my draft status, since the cost analysis work I was doing didn't
qualify... So, learn to run a turret lathe I did... But that still wasn't enough to keep me out when the Battle of the Bulge went so
badly... I lost my deferment and was drafted into the Infantry and did IRTC training in Ft. Gordon,
GA.. for six months and then went overseas.. More about this later... My brother did about three years here in the states and got out on points as I recall...
Before I was drafted, probably in 1942, I met and married one Eva Mae Marron, a Chester
girl... She was a legal secretary to a local lawyer in town.. An attractive brunette with all the qualities I thought for a wife and we were married in a church ceremony at the
Methodist Church in Parkside, Pa..
if my memory serves. We lived at my home, since her parents had divorced and altho her father lived in Chester, he had not much to do with her, or me for that matter.
The marriage was doomed to failure from the start, since we lived at home, and this was a contributing factor to the breakdown of the
relationship.. It was the war years and things were very unstable at that time, my marriage was no exception.
Jackie and I separated and she went into the service, she was a navy WAVE...
Did her training in Great Lakes Training Center...was a pretty good scribe and had a Yoeman 1st class rating when she left the
service.. Our divorce was finalized when I was in Germany...and she left the service and married again to a
sailor... lived in New Orleans, had three children and died recently of mouth and throat cancer I'm
told... She became a dental technician while in New Orleans. I have not heard or seen her or any of her kin since we divorced in 1943. So much for a failed first
marriage... and fortunately there were no children as the result of our marriage...
At this time, during the early war years, I worked in the Equipment Engineering department of Westinghouse, buying and selling machine tools for the operation of our manufacturing plant. It was at this time I first petitioned the Masonic order...and subsequently was
"blackballed"... At the time, I was devastated, since I had no idea why this
happened... Later, I found out that one of the brothers in the order was the father of a young lady I was dating, while still married, but separated from Jackie, my then
wife... Helen was a widow, since her husband had been killed in action on the Yangtzee River in
China.. at the middle of the war. We were rather serious about the relationship and everyone knew it, but I suspect, but don't know for sure, that this relationship kept me out of the Masonic order for many years...
Helen and I dated exclusively for some time in 1943..going out for dinner on Sundays, tripe to Longwood Gardens the seashore at Wildwood, New Jersey. I had traded my 1936 Chevy for a 1941 Chevy Convertible, which was a real
"looker"... Cream yellow with red leather upholstery, black top and all the "goodies" that came with a sport car at that
time... The car was well known in Chester, since it was the only one of its kind at that time in the
town... If I was at the Boyd Drugstore "hanging out", the yellow convertible was parked outside the theatre and Ed Bowley was at the drugstore of at the
movies... the Boyd theatre was one of the premium show places of the city...
My brother Bob had a 1940 black Chevy convertible before he went into the Air Force and was dating Dot Phillips at the
time.. I can't recall whether Dot was at Temple University Hospital at this time or little
later... When Bob went into the service, he sold the car, since it was a rare item at that
time... automobile productions had been halted in 1942 shortly after war was declared on Germany. Bob and Dot Phillips married after he joined the service, and while he was in Kansas, she was at Temple getting her RN...
In 1944, the Battle of the Bulge caused many casualties and I was changed in draft status from deferred to 1-A..and shortly was drafted into the IRTC
program.. left Westinghouse, and went to Indiantown Gap, Pa. for three day
indoctrination.. uniforms, etc;...My first contact with the US Army...My clothes, (civies) were shipped home, and three days later, I was on a train headed for Ft.Gordon,
Georgia.. My wife had started divorce proceedings, since she was in the WAVES at that time...I never saw her again...
My training at Fort Gordon was horrendous... Tho my health was excellent, I only weighed
about 130 pounds... not muscular by any degree since I had been an office employee at Westinghouse and physical work was not an issue.
I had training similar to the Marines...and since Ft. Gordon had been a vehicle and tank training base for heavy weapons, all the ranges were at least 15 miles and some 25 miles from base camp...We hiked to the ranges learning all the basic weapons of an infantryman and I survived this having learned much about weaponry and the foot soldier..
The base was converted from heavy weapons and tanks to infantry, due to the need for many more foot soldiers to take the place of the casualties during the Battle of the Bulge...It was located a short distance from Augusta, Ga and toward the end of our training, when we could get weekend passes, we went to Augusta for
recreation... I have some excellent meals at the Bon Aire Hotel in Augusta in 1943-4 during
training... I had asked Helen to come to Augusta and I would go to OCS...
she declined, since she said she never wanted to be a widow again and that was a distinct possibility with me going to Europe after the
Bulge.. That relationship died there... She later married one Thomas Gay and friend of mine at Chester High
School.. who was a Coast Guard officer and would never be in harms way.. I never saw her again...
We were called to replace the Bulge casualties, but the war ended in Germany as I finished my training, and we were reissued khakis to be ready for the invasion of Japan...I can remember taking all my Olive Drab gear at a full field
inspection and leaving it on the ground... and getting a whole new wardrobe of khakis to go to
Japan... Just before we were to depart, change in orders came down... back to
Germany... reissued all new ODs, (winter gear, since it was November) and we were back to going to Europe to clean up, since many thousands of GIs were coming home after the
war... The atomic bomb was dropped on Japan, Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan surrendered also in
1945... The war was over... there was never an invasion of Japan and never an occupation as thorough as Germany...
The departure from Hampton Rhoades was on a troop ship, converted Italian luxury
liner.. We were about 5000 strong...headed for LeHarve. I pulled KP duty as you might
imagine.. we slept three high in bunks in the hold of the ship. I had never seen a latrine on a troop ship and was amazed to find it a long sluiceway of running ocean
water.. with two 2/4's as a seat...The urinals were also running water with a metal wall about 4 ft. high to stand
against... Quite practical and functional for such a large group... The trip across the ocean took about 12
days.. We traveled in convoy since the armistice had just been signed and they didn't want to take any chances...We averaged about 12 or 14 kts an
hour.. and docked at Le Harvre late in the afternoon...I must tell about the Flu shots we all got on the ship...The flue Vaccine was brand new at that time and we were a mass guinea pig setup. We all were vaccinated with the vaccine about four days into the trip over...When we got there, half were down with the "flu" and could hardly manage to
move... We were billeted in a Replacement Depot barracks for about five days...no heat, messkit meals...I slept on my bunk with full
gear... including wool overcoat and still was so sick, I thought I would
die... The 'flu" bug had me...as a matter of fact some of the GIs did lose
it... I never found out how many, but it was rumored that some died at the repo-depot from the shot...Fortunately, I
survived... and since my "102" file said I could type and take shorthand, I was transferred to the 15th Army Corps in Bamberg, Germany.
The 15th Corps was the Headquarters for the new Constabulary which was the policing unit in Germany after the war...and since I had been in the personnel department of Westinghouse in Lester, they put me in the Personnel Department of the 15th Army
Corps... Now.......... this was a prize spot, and lucky I was to get it...
We lived in a German Panzer Barracks... two to a room, heated, with showers and latrine at the end of the
hall... nice accommodations in those days.. I was barracked with a T5 who was in the Personnel Dept at that time, and had been in the Corps for some
time... He later went home on points and I got a new roomate... George Roth also a T5...I was quite friendly with the Personnel Office, one Bobby Knocks from Cleveland, Ohio.. became a PFC almost immediately, then a Corporal a short time later...The commanding General's secretary went on leave and I had to substitute for a few
days... Now you can imagine a Corporal who had only been in the Army for about 8 months working for a Commanding
General... It was intimidation of the first water... those two stars on his collar were as big as footballs the first time I saw
him... He was accommodating to me, since he knew I was new and we did fine for about four or five
days... I took several letters and sent them as requested... When I came back to my regular station, I was made a buck
sergeant.. no doubt surviving the generals' tour of duty...
It was about this time that we started the Lightning Bolt... a newspaper for the troops of the
Constabulary... I had done some duty on the newspaper in the 15th Corps, before it became the HQ for the Constabulary, and followed thru working on the newspaper with the German printers of the local German newspaper in
Bamberg... I got to know the employees at the printer station and became quite good friends with some of
them... The little German I can speak, I learned from them, since not too many of them could speak
English... I was given a fine pair of newspaper shears, which I have today and they are as good today as they were 50 years ago...
I had a German family befriended... she did my laundry for chocolate and sugar for her
kids.. Her husband was a Whermarcht soldier, who had been a telephone line repairman in civilian life...When I came home he gave me a gift of his Whermarcht
binoculars.. which I treasure today...
I went to S/Sgt somewhere about this time and was Asst. Section Chief.. My boss was a Tech Sgt (five
stripes).. We were friendly and took a vacation during the winter months to Garmish Partenkirshen, Zugspitz and the south of
Bavaria... We requisitioned a jeep from the motor pool and started out..
Remember it was winter and the jeep was open... we traveled thru snow and finally made it to
Garmisch.. We stayed at the Bahnhoff Hotel at the railroad station...what a memory that was...
Gene Hazlett and I stayed at the Bahnhof Hotel in Garmish.. we had a single room with two single beds...I must describe the sleeping
accommodations.. the beds were frame wood with two mammoth feather ticks..
one to seep on and one to cover...As I recall the heat was non existent, so the feather ticks were a
blessing... As the maids made up the room they put the ticks out the window to air every day before making up the
room... Toilet facilities escape me at this time...
We were In Garmish at the hotel for three days...Of course, we rode the ski lift to the peak of Zugspitz...
There, was a ski lodge so quaint... not large but food, minimum menu since the war was just over, but food
nevertheless... An outside veranda large enough to accommodate about 10
tables... Beer and sandwiches just about covered the menu... We sat there in the beautiful atmosphere 12,000 feet above
sea level... the air was thin and difficult to breath.. The sun shone and the weather was clear as a
bell.. not a cloud in the sky.. barely a breeze...Many of the GIs there stripped to the waist and got a great
sunbath.. something unknown in Bavaria at the barracks... I bought some souvenirs and brought them home and have them in a scapbook as I
speak.. Book mark, cane ID souvenir which stuck to your cane.. with a picture of Zugspitz on it...
Neither Gene nor I were adept at skiing, so we watched some other GIs make fools out of themselves trying to conquer the
slopes... We stayed in Garmish for three days.. visiting the Olympic Site of 1936, when Hitler wouldn't allow Jesse Owens to compete, if any of you are old enough to remember that...
We left and traveled to The Eagle's Nest at Berchstgarden and quickly saw where Hitlers' retreat was...Interesting and we left to travel back to Bamberg, since our pass was running out and we had to be back on the seventh
day... It was a long ride back and we froze all the way in that damned "jeep"..
of course there was no heat in "jeeps" in those days...
We arrive back at the base having spent a delightful seven days in the Bavarian Alps...and seen some historic places as well....
Gene was about to go home on points and was a Tech Sergeant...An "operator" first class and knew the Army Regs like a
book.. When Lt. Knocks went on a vacation, Gene put in for discharge on points and typed a promotion to Master Sergeant and sent it thru
channels.. signing the Lt's name on the document...He was elevated to Master and was about to pack his bags to go home when the Lt. unexpectedly came back and found what had happened...He was furious and immediately broke Gene to Pvt. First Class...(one stripe) as he went home...No
discipline, but the demotion was enough... I felt bad for him...but he got caught and lost his
stripes... I wouldn't have had the guts to do that....
I was promoted to Staff Sergeant and section chief after Gene went home.. We had a bunch of new recruits and it was tough to keep the section operating to peak level, but we
did... Soon after that, I was notified that I was to be discharged also...
I wanted to get one more leave in and so we, my new roomie George Roth and I, requested a 7 day pass to go to
Nice... It was approved and George and I packed and took off by train from Bamberg to
Munich.. Changed trains and went to Paris, where we stayed over night..
George and I went to Pigalle the first evening to see the sights.. and what a night it was..
We went from one bistro to another all night long... costing us nothing..
returned to our hotel, where George had a "guest" waiting for him...I didn't see George until the next morning when I was train time...
We boarded and proceeded to Lyon, Marsailles and then to Nice, where we stayed for three
days.. We had a room in the Ruhl Hotel right on the Prominade.. It was a GI transient
billet.. We ate GI transient food at the hotel, but cooked in style in the dining room...George met a "lady of the night" at the hotel entrance the next day and I didn't see him for the next two
days... I spending time on the beach and bathing in the Mediterranean
Sea... Strangely enough, the beach at Nice is all "cobblestones" NOT SAND...There I saw my first "bikini" bathing suite on a French
girl.... top rolled down just covering the nipples of her breast....
bottom rolled down into a "thong" as we know it today... This was "noveau" at that time...and I have pictures in my scrapbook to prove
this... The women there were beautiful beyond belief...most half French and half Italian...a mix that spells beauty in any language...
George came back to the hotel room on the day we were to depart and told me he has spent three days with his "woman" and bought her a nice dress in Nice before he left to go
back... This was all she wanted, so I'm told. I bought a bra and panty set in black lace for a friend of mine in the
states... That was the only souvenir I got there... We check out of the hotel and had a nice trip back to
Bamberg... Many memories and pictures came with us...
I had occasion to go to Nuremburg during the Nazi War Crimes Trials.. Since I was a
U.S. Correspondent for the Lightning Bolt, the Constabulary Newspaper, I had credentials to get in for two or three
days... I took a bus from Bamberg to Nuremberg and stayed in the transient billets the whole time I attended the
Trials... I saw them all.. Goering, Hess, Doenitz and the rest....Doenitz was on trial the day I was there, and the U.S. prosecutors were divulging his activity as Admiral of the German Fleet and the submarine warfare crimes he had
done.. Not picking up survivors, shooting them in the water, etc..
I made some notes having been there two days and came back to Bamberg and wrote a story for the Start and Stripes, but was never
published... Disappointing to say the least...but an experience I will never forget.. Goering's image is burned in my brain as he sat arrogant in the box all the
time.. Of course, he committed suicide at a later time..
Of course, my tours would not have been complete had I not seen Nuremberg...
I was lucky to have done this... but the closest I came to picking up a bullet while over seas, came when I took a convoy of three flatbed semis to Frankfurt for
newsprint... I and George drove the lead jeep and the three semis were behind
us... The jeeps still had the wire cutters on them, since there were some die hard Nazis still firing at GIs from time to
time... We didn't cut any wire, but we were fired on by a sniper halfway to
Frankfurt... Fortunately no one was hit and we continued to the newsprint supply
station... loaded 12 rolls of newsprint and headed back to Bamberg... No incidents going back and we delivered the newsprint to the local newspaper printing
establishment... This is the only time I can remember being armed in
Europe... I checked out a .45 auto and ammo and belt to make the trip...
as did all the men in the work detail...
I also became good friends with a German couple in Bamberg.. He has been in the Whermarcht as a communications man, since he had worked for the telephone company in civilian life...He has been out of the Army and back with his
family.. She washed and ironed my ODs...changed my rate stripes and generally did my laundry...She had three young kids...beautiful fat German
kids.. very young...less than 6 years old... He spoke broken English and I some
German.. I used to get them supplies, sugar, chocolate, etc since the German Mark was worthless about
then... The last time I visited them, we sat in the dining room of their flat...he had a beautiful decanter of schnops with the small shot glasses hanging on the side of the
decanter.. We toasted our friendship and as I left, (this just before I left for home), he gave me a gift of his Whermarcht binoculars...I still have them to this day...
Just before I was to return to the States, the Major of the Public Relations Div of the Constabulary, called me into his
office... I was a Staff Sergeant.. about to go home...He complimented me on my work as Section
Chief and told me he awarded me the Commendation Medal... he also asked me to say for an additional six month and for that he would give me six
stripes... A master sergeant... I could have come home with six stripes, but I was anxious to return to the states and declined...
I departed Bamberg in May of
1946.. Traveled by rail to Hanover, boarded a Victory Ship for transport
home.... Now, Victory ships were small in comparison to the large liner I traveled with going over to
Germany... It was about 400 feet in length, narrow beam and had been converted to troop carrier just recently, since the war was over, it was not needed for
supplies... The accommodations were minimum... we slept in bunks three
high.. The chow hall was only large enough to feed about 100 GIs at a
sitting.. The food was not too bad as I recall..
We were two or three days into our return, which was thru the North Sea to New York...and we ran into a storm...Most everyone was
sick... the ship was a mess... no one ate for three days, while we ran the storm
out.... I can remember asking for permission to go up on the fantail to see the
ocean... The Lt. said yes and I proceeded to go above decks to the open deck on the
fantail... I had to hold on to anything I could to stop from being blown
overboard... The wind gusts probably were 40 to 50 kts... and the seas were something I will never
forget.. Swells between 20 and 30 feet high...decks awash from time to time and the sound of the screws coming completely out of the water, made an erie speeded up sound as they cleared the water and a slowing down as they went back into the
ocean... This was evident for about three days... It was hard to sleep with the constant up and down of the shaft rpms
changing... also the pitching and rolling.. almost impossible to stay in the bunk...But...we survived it and had nice weather the last five or six days coming
home... (My four stripes exempted me from any details on the way back)...
Rank has its privileges...
We docked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in NYC... with out any fanfare, since the war had been over for about 6
months... We traveled to Fort Dix for discharge.... Stayed there for three
days.. cleared the medics... got new clothes if we wanted them and the third day at Dix I was
discharged... My discharge signed by a WAC officer... Fst.Lt as I recall...
I boarded a train out of Ft. Dix and headed for home in Chester, Pa... I had called my mom and dad so they would meet the train in Chester
Station... My brother had already been discharged and I can't recall if he was there or
not... Probably not since he was contemplating marrying Dot Phillips.. The details of where he worked if any escape
me.. Dot was still in training when they got married and for the life of me, how they kept that from the Staff at the hospital, since nurses could not marry while in
training... Shortly after I came home, they married and I stood for them and Bob can fill in more details about this, since it is vague in my memory...
After a short time, I went back to Westinghouse and after a short time, left with a leave of absence and went to work for the
Ford Motor Company in Chester, working in the statistics office of the production division of
Ford... My supervisor was arrogant, belittling and generally a poor personality, but a hard work manager, and that's what Ford wanted him to
be.... Soon, probably six month later, I quit Ford Motor... I was unemployed at this point...
My dad had expressed a desire to have his own business at the Seashore..
Wildwood, NJ, and to this point my mom agreed to sell the house and buy a Pokerino spot on the boardwalk. We sold the house and moved into an apartment building on 15th and Upland streets in
Chester... a converted textile mill. There was two floors... all WOOD
construction... stairs hallways, everything...A real fire trap by todays standards, but live there we
did... My brother and his now wife, Dot, also moved there.. in Jan. 1947.
They bought the business in Wildwood, and my mother and I set it up and ran the business for two years as I
recall... Dad was still working at the time at H/W/Ref.Co... and coming to Wildwood every weekend to visit us and help with the
business.. We were successful and probably made four thousand dollars the summer we were there.
Two things were happening, at this time, that would change my life... My dad was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and I got married.
My dad had been not feeling well for some time, and after having been to the local doctor, was sent to have a "fluoroscope" examination of his
lungs... I was there when this happened, and saw the scope as it was being
performed.. He had two "black" patches, one in each lung, the size of a large
orange.. Black lung and tumors which were inoperable... He died a horrible death a short time later in
Jefferson Hospital, in Phila. Penna... He was on view at a local funeral home and buried in
Chester rural Cemetery...
My brother, had been married and was working in his father-in-laws bakery (DALTONS) at the
time.. what Dot was doing I can't recall... Her mother never accepted Bob as a son-in-law and they were estranged until Elsie Phillips' death in 1997. At some point Bob and Dot left Chester and traveled to Hollywood, Florida with their son Bobby Jr.
In Jan. 1947, when Bob and Dot, lived in Phila. in an apartment, they introduced me to a "blind date"...who was a class mate of Dots'. Martina C. Zapor, a 22 year old blonde nurse, graduated from Temple University Hospital and working in the Eagleville Sanitarium at Norristown, Penna. The courtship was short and after driving many times to Norristown, day and night for opportune dates and visiting
times... and she coming to Wildwood on weekends for weekend dates, we decided to marry and were married in Crumme Lynne, Pa. by a local
judge... Bob and Dot Guss stood for us.. We rented an apartment in the complex where my parents and brother lived after a short honeymoon at Wildwood. It was August of 1947 when we married.
My brother and his wife and their new son decided to leave Pennsylvania and go to Florida to
live... My uncle Charles, my aunt Minnie and Claude lived in Hallandale...
close by already... Bob and Dot bought a house in Hollywood and Bob went to work for Barnetts
Hardware... My mother was alone in the apartment building... Bob and Dot asked her to come down and take care of Bobby while they both
worked... It wasn't a hard decision for my mom, since her family of Foxes were close
by... They all moved to Florida and left Tina and me in the apartment
building... I probably have some of the chronology wrong here, but it's to the best I can remember...
Before I married, I had applied, under the GI bill of Rights for entrance to college at the University of
Miami.... was accepted and planned to start in the September of 47.... Of course, now married, Tina and I left the apartment and toured to
Miami... I started at the U of M in the fall of 47.. We lived in a garage apartment rented to us by friends of my
mom... in Coral Gables... close to the campus..... Fortunately Tina started to work at the Coral Gables Hospital at the same time...We had some
income... The living was tough.. not much money, studying every night going to school in the
day... but we survived with a hot plate for meals.. and the love of a newly married couple...
My dad was still alive when Tina and I were in Miami at school, but was dying at the
time.... I quit the University and Tina quit her job at the hospital, and we left for Chester before the Christmas vacation when the semester
ended... I brought my transcripts and our few belongings back to
Chester... We were in the apartment at that time... my dad died... having come back from
Miami... this is 1947. My dad died December 11, 1947... Tina was five months pregnant with our first child...Joyce.
My dad passed away, after a horrible stay in Jefferson Hospital in
Philadelphia... He had inoperable lung cancer and suffered many days before it finally took
him... This was a devastating blow to all the family... Especially since it was just before
Christmas... on December 11, 1948. Our holiday was anything but jolly, as those in the past had been. My mother suffered a crushing blow and emotionally never recovered from his
death... it was in her memory till her dying day... I can't recall ever seeing a Christmas tree in her apartment since that time.
My dad knew Tina was pregnant with our first born, but sadly never saw Joyce. He did tho, see Robert F. Bowley Jr. Bob and Dots' first and only born sometime before his death. We were still in the apartment building at 15th Street and Upland Avenue at this time.
Joyce Elizabeth Bowley was born April 14, 1948 to us in Crozer
Hospital, Upland, Pennsylvania... In May of that year, Tina, Mom, Joyce and I went to Wildwood, New Jersey to open the business for the '48 season. I had quit the Ford Motor Company to go to Wildwood to help with the
business... We enjoyed that summer with our new baby at the seashore and alternately baby sat and helped with the
business.... The Pokerino "joint" as it was called was on the Boardwalk at Magnolia
Street... We lived in an apartment above the store... It was a delapidated building, all frame construction...At some point in time, later, the whole block the store was
located... burned to the ground... The season ended and we concluded that we had had enough of the
business, since the income was not enough for all of us to live on. Again, the landlord was raising the rent and we decided to close and store all the machines, which we
did.. The machines and business was sold that winter at some loss as I
recall.. It was not a pleasant time.
After returning to Chester and the apartment, I once again went back with Westinghouse, but this time in the Jet Engine
Division... the Test Cell complex..
We drove to visit Tinas' family in Weirton at which time she asked to borrow two thousand dollars to put down on a new house in Springfield, Penna...
We had been looking for some time and knew we had to move, since Tina was pregnant with our second baby, Martina....
I enjoyed working with the Jet Engine Development team at Westinghouse. Our company was one of the first to begin development of jet engines and we were pioneers in the industry,,
Rolls Royce in England was also developing a jet and we swapped technology and engines for
cross-development... We incorporated some design details as they did with our new J-40. I progressed until I was made Crew Chief of the largest test cell
there.. It was an absorbing experience and I enjoyed my work, also learned much as well which would serve me later.
We bought and moved into a new red brick house in Springfield, Penna.. an upscale neighborhood sometime about 1951. I was much closer to work, we had our own beautiful new home and Martina Claire Bowley was born on a horrible super COLD day ..........January 26, 1952.
I would be remiss did I not tell of our family doctor...(yes, they had family doctors in those
days).. His name was Dr. Wasley...a great general practitioner. He diagnosed my dads' problems and followed until his
death... He took my mother thru a hysterectomy... and birthed BOTH my
children... both at Crozer Hospital in Upland, Pa. He lived a long life and did more than his share of keeping the family
healthy.. Surely a credit to the medical profession by any standard...
One of the great pleasures of my lifetime, was knowing Mary and John Wargo...
Tina had gone thru nurses training, roomed with, and graduated with one Mary Petrovich, from Lansford,
Pa... Mary married John Wargo and since they were "starting out" as it were, such as we, many visits went
on... We toured to the Poconos, weekended with them in Lansford when our firstborn were just
babies... John bought land on top of a mountain and built a beautiful stone house and out building, (garage) while working for Schaeffers
beer... He had run his mothers' beer business in Lansford before this.. It was primative country then and they were burried deep in the
woods... I sometime wonder how Mary survived all these years, but we were young then and very resilient to change and
hardship... I recall one Christmas season when we traveled to see them over a weekend with the kids and John cut a Christmas tree for us to take back to
Springfield.... We drove all the way home with the tree on the top of the
car... It was a beautiful thing.... Snow everywhere... John never let us go back without a case of Schaeffers Beer in the
trunk... After almost 50 years, we still visit and time has been bountiful with the years.
Bob and Dot had left the apartment building in Chester to buy a single home in Ridley
Township... They lived there for a few years and decided to move to Hollywood,
Florida... Some of my aunts and uncles had moved to Florida in the past years and we had family there;. My mother went with them and looked over Bobby while Bob worked at Barnett Hardware, and Dot worked for a local doctor.
In 1955, Westinghouse union personnel were about to go on strike for higher wages, and other
benefits... At the same time, my company was negotiating to move the whole Jet Engine Division to Kansas City, MO. My supervisors wanted me to move to KC and help setup the
operation... It was a bad time... I maybe would have to strike, or go to KC and neither was palatable to me. So, Tina and I made the decision to move to Florida if I could be employed with any of the three airlines in
MIA... National, Pan Am and Eastern...
I wrote all three airlines and mailed them the same day. It was a resume of my work activity at Westinghouse involving jet
engines.... Of course, none of the airlines had any airplanes with jet power at that time, but it was the coming thing and only a matter of time until they all were jet
powered... Not many realized this at the time, but we in the industry could forsee this
happening.... General Electric, Westinghouse, Pratt and Whitney and Allison were all developing jet engines at the same time....We, at Westinghouse, developed, tested and put into production a large
jet.... prototype J-40 which the Navy bought installed in its DEMON jet fighter....It was after-burner powered and developed 13,000 lbs. thrust, which was phenominal at the
time... All this was happening as they were going to move to KC.... As I recall, we lost the contract for the airplanes and subsequenty used the same basic engine to produce electrical power at power
stations... This proved to be too expensive and that was abandoned also...
With this downside, Westinghouse decided to get out of the business and the shakeout left Pratt and Whitney and General
Electric... doing the great majority of the jet engine military business today...
A short time after mailing the letters... I got a telegram from Eastern Airlines, probably five or six days later, which
said... "There is a ticket at the Philadelphia EAL desk for you to come down to be interviewed for employment."
I called my brother who was in Hollywood and told him I would be arriving to be interviewed...I boarded a 749 Connie at PHL and three hours later was in Miami.
I went to my brothers home in Hollywood and the next day toured to Miami and an interview with the personnel
chief... I was accepted.. had a physical the next day and flew back to
Philadelphia... I was working for Eastern Airlines... I had an extension to sell the house and move to
Miami... which we did...The house sold almost immediately and after closing we stayed overnight at my Uncle Eds' place in Morton and took off the next morning for
MIA.. with a Buick, some money, some clothes and our two girls.... Our furniture was in storage ready for the moving men when we
located... This venture was to change our lives...
We did some "tourist sightseeing" on the way down with the girls and made it to Miami in about four days...We rented an apartment in Coral Gables on West 8th
Street... I started with Eastern.... Joyce started school.... and Christmas came in an apartment too small for us let alone all the boxes and some
furniture... I recall we bought Martina a three wheeled bicycle and the day after Christmas, someone stole it from the front door of the
apartment.... WELCOME TO MIAMI!!!!! It was some months later after visiting my brother in Hollywood and seeing his home, that we contracted with his builder to buy a similar one in a new development called West Hollywood. We drove up from Miami most every weekend while the house was being built and watched it grow from the foundation and the terrazzo tile floor to a finished three bedroom, two bath, single garage on a corner lot 100 x100 and it was ample for
us... We moved into the new house sometime before Christmas the next year, since I remember the cows on the adjacent farm eating our lonely two palm trees planted in the front
yard... Our development was, at that time, the farther most west building development in Hollywood. It was built on a milk diary farm sub division and when we moved in you could see nothing but open cow pasture and cows from the
dairy... Of course, we had city water, piped in propane gas, electricity, telephone in a house built with jallousie
windows.... no airconditioning and little heat... A single wall unit fired with gas which was pitiful in the winter
time.. The jallousie windows were all the rage in Florida at the time..
since no one had air conditioning at that time... but when it was time to A/C the house, the windows had to go and we put in awning windows which sealed in the heat or cool air much better than the leaky jalousies...
The home next door, on the left, was bought by the Cornelius family... Same age bracket as us and they had two
kids, a boy and a girl.. same age as ours... The kids grew up together in the following years and are still friends today, altho we don't see them
anymore.. Frank worked for Bunker-Ramo, an installation company that produced stock market quote
boards... He serviced and installed them, since he had been in Communictions in the Army.
Helen, and Tina were housewives in the early years when the kids were little and stayed close to
home.... Tina became a Scout Master in the Girl Scouts, which both my kids belonged at the
time... Both girls went to Elementary school close by... walking distance as I remember...
My employment with Eastern went very well and I subsequently worked day shift after I got some
seniority... Of course, passes were allowed for the family and we flew frequently up north to family in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and to the Carribean from time to time...
I had never worked with aircraft piston engines.... only developmental jets, so when I went to Eastern, it was a whole new ballgame, as it were..
I had seen a cutaway model of the Wright 3350 Turbo Compound in the Philadelphia Air Show the previous
year... It was a "monster" compared to the little four cylinder Lycomings I had seen in the past...Eighteen cylinders, two banks of nine and three turbines developing 15 horsepower each at takeoff rpm...which was 2800 take off
power... My curiosity was aroused and naturally when I started at Eastern, I began in the disassembly section of Engine Overhaul...this to learn the engine...
My first day of work, I was assigned to the lead mechanic in the section who was Andy Concanon, a wild Irishman who loved engine oil and grease. I had new khakis on, but not for
long... The first hour in "teardown", he pulled a cylinder off the piston and crank assembly and purposely swung it around to the bench, knowing I was in the
way... Black engine oil christened my new khakis.. That was an indoctrination to all who worked with Concanon...
We were great friends after that...
Billy Bowman, who had been Capt. Eddies' personal mechanic in the "old days" was overall lead and I have seen him drink a pint of castor
oil.. which we used in the assembly, on a dare... He was a rugged
individual... He and Concanon made a colorful pair in the teardown department.
After some time, an opening on the final line became available, and I transferred to final
buildup... There, my dear friend Virgil, taught me how to build a 3350...
We worked together as a team for a few years, and no one of the other stations could put one together faster than we
could... of course after a year or so of training... The build stand was two levels
high... Each level was l8" high and the constant jumping up and down off the stand took its toll on my knees and
legs.. I attribute my bad legs today on the process... I built 3350s on the Final Line for about 10 years and until all the piston aircraft were retired from the fleet and Eastern went totally to jets and turbo
props... I was one of the last to leave and transfer from the 3350 Final
Line... I also build P&W 2800s in the same time frame...
I transferred to the APU section of the facility after the piston engine division shut down...We built Auxilliary Power Units for the DC-9s and 727s, which were the beginning of our jet fleet.
In 1962, the International Association of Machinists, my local union, went on strike for better wages and working
conditions... Eastern was a major carrier in the country and we were behind Delta and American in wage
scale.... The strike lasted quite a long time... Money was tight and there was no light in the sky that said we would go back to work at an early
time.... So.......Tina dug out her uniforms and cap and went job
hunting... Joyce and Martina were teenagers and dependable kids, so it wasn't a problem...
Tina secured a good position as office nurse to one Dr. Bernard Milloff, an internist in Hollywood,
Florida.. also a cardiac man...He, and a few other doctors, had started an office on the Federal Highway some years ago and it was one of the best in
Hollywood... A long and solid relationship existed there, since he looked after our whole family and the cost was forgotten...He looked on us as
family... He was a fine physician, compassionate, comedian orientated
also.. He always had a joke to tell.. Tina remained his office nurse until she retired in 1987.
He died shortly after that with a malignant brain tumor at an early age...
The complex today is named the Bernard Milloff Associates...
Returning to 1955, when we first came to Florida and shortly after I started with EAL, I got interested in
boats... more so than I had as a young man working at Westinghouse, where I knew a Time Study Man, named Floyd
Blake.. Floyd was a boatman.. and had an old round bottom wooden 26' cruiser at the local
boatyard... We worked on the engine and hull until it was floatable and in running
condition.. launched it and made a shakedown cruise from The Essington Yacht Club to Lewis,
Delaware... and return... This took several days, since the top speed of the boat was only 8
knots... I got the boat fever then and have had it ever since as this documentary will show...
A friend in Eastern had a Chris Craft plywood kit boat 14'... needed some
repair... I bought boat and trailer for $200 , added a 25hp Evenrude (used) and repaired the trailer which was rusty and needed new
springs... We put the boat in the water for the first time on Hallandale Blvd Boat ramp, which was directly connected to the Inter Coastal Waterway. (this
location today is the DIPLOMAT west lobby entrance) When the hotel annex was built, (after the DIPLOMAT east) was finished, they cleaned all the mangroves out and filled in the ramp site and built the WEST
annex... Goodbye to the boat ramp.... Of course, by this time Hollywood had built a large boat ramp on the Intercoastal and we never used the Hallandale location after
that... The ramp was adjacent to the Hollywood Yacht Club complex, where we held boating classes at a later time...
In 1960, Tina and I joined the HOLLYWOOD POWER SQUADRON... A boat club, nationally organized of which the Hollywood Sqdn. was a part. I had moved up in boats, (I had seven) and it was a 16' plywood CRESTLINER. Twin 25 hp outboards to start, with an auxilliary 9hp for
emergency... The four of us, Tina, I and the two girls had many fun weekends with this
boat.... and Tina hooked and boated her first sailfish with this rig. We have pictures to prove this. I subsequently have hooked six sails and NEVER boated a one...lost all of them.
We would go on weekend outings with the Power Sqdn... taking the boat on the trailer or going by water for a day picnicking with our friends in the Sqdn.
I took all the classes in boating offered and when I left some years later, I had a full
certificate... including Instruction Techniques, since I was teaching off shore piloting, and Celestial Navigation---The sextant. These were fun times, since Tina was involved with the Auxilliary and became president on the same watch I was Commander of the
squadron... sometime around 1968.
It was around this time we had purchased a 23' Allmand, trunk cabin and open cockpit , all fibreglass, out-drive powered OMC. Since this was too large to continually trail on trips, we sold the trailer and joined the
Ft. Lauderdale Boat Club in Davie, Fla. We had a slip of our own and kept the boat in the
water... The club had facilities to work on your equipment and scrape the bottom, paint,
etc... it was a perfect setup... Tina made screen covers for the cabin and we slept one summer night at the slip to check it
out... Not many mosquitoes, but the sleeping facilities were anything like my own
bed... We had installed a small galley with water pump and overboard
drains... we had a nice "head" inside the small cabin.. and all in all it was a solid comfortable boat to go off shore fishing, which we did on many occasions...many Dolphin and Kingfish came into that boat in the years we had
it... I remember one weekend we all left in a flotilla from the boat ramp in Hollywood to spend the weekend at Hurricane Hole...(this was a rendezvous spot in
Miami).. The trip down was uneventful.. the overnite stay also nice, but on the return the next day, the splined driveshaft on my OMC striped out and we were disabled just outside Hurricane Hole in
Miami... A fellow boatman in the Squadron who had just bought a NEW 25' Trojan Sedan towed me all the way back to the Boat Club where we were
docked... I tore the outdrive apart, replaced the bad shaft, put it back together, into the water...tested it and it WOULDN'T
pump... Back on the blocks... tear the drive apart and found that I had assembled the pressure plate of the pump
backwards... changed it and re-assembled and back in the water and it was
fine... I never had anymore major problems with this boat until it was sold and that was a sad
day.... We got so much fun out of it...
In 1974, or thereabouts, we purchased a CHEETAH 26' travel trailer. We towed it to Key Largo, Florida and set it up for a permanent installation in a park on Key
Largo... The park had a boat ramp and slips and about twenty single moveable
trailers... A typical weekend spot... It was a lot of fun to set it up and connect all the
utilities... stock the fridge, awning patio and the 16' Crestliner was sitting on its' trailer in front of the
Cheetah... The trailer slept four... two in permanent bunks and two on the converted table and seats in the kitchen area.
We at sometime installed a small air conditioner, since the summer nights were pretty intolerable with the heat and humidity, even with the constant breeze..
We spent two or three years with this weekend activity and caught many mangrove snapper, trout and shrimp while on
weekends... Joyce had married and Martina had a "steady"... They visited from time to time on weekends while we were there...
Joyce had married, May 31,1969.. She had graduated McArthur High School in Hollywood and began college at the
University of Florida in Gainesville... She met and married one Valentine Soler from Hialeah, Florida.
She quit college and moved to Hialeah with Val, who was employed with Eastern Airlines and began working also at
Eastern... They both worked for the company for sometime... The relationship did not go well and they were divorced sometime later. She subsequently met and married one Ronald
Nelson... from North Miami and that relationship went well and is today, since they both are active in their community (Coconut Grove, Fla), Civic Club, which Ron is Vice President as we speak. They love their restored 1940's house and are comfortable with it. Joyce graduated with a BS in Education from Florida International University, and since has obtained a Masters degree in Education, and is employed by Bell South as an Account
Exec.... Ron is with a wholesale food supply company in Miami.
Mart graduated Nova High School, in 1970, before it was a college. She then went to Broward Community College at the same time working for Barnett Hardware
Hallandale, where my brother Bob was working. She went with Barnett in March,
1970... While there, she met one Bill Owens. He and his mother both worked for
Barnett... The relationship developed... Bill quit Barnett and went into the Broward County Police Academy in January,
1971.. and he and Martina were married December 9, 1972. Martina was with a real estate appraisal company connected to one of the banks after being married, and now is office manager for a law firm in Deerfield Beach.. Bill, her husband, is Shift Commander in the Hallandale Police Department.
Since boating had become such a popular sport in SouthEast Florida, the waterways were crowded beyond belief and we became more disenchanted with boating as a recreation, and the girls had married and were not at home anymore.
In 1973, I petitioned the Hollywood Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. My brother was Worshipful Master when I petitioned and I was accepted and finally raised a Master Mason that
year... and with the help of some M/Masons at Eastern, learned the work and subsequently joined the Consistry and Shrine in
Miami.. I went thru the Shrine with three other buddies from Eastern...
Bill Franklin, Warren Baum, and Ernie Raynor... We still get together today 25 years later at the Eastern Airlines Retirees
Picnic in Silver Springs, Fla.
In 1978 we were again bargaining for a new contract, but since I had enough time and service to retire with a reasonable pension, I decided to retire from Eastern
Airlines.... They were having major problems... the company was losing money and generally things were not great for our
airline... all this considered, I retired in 1978 from Eastern... I was 59 years old and too young for Social Security, but my pension was 1-1/2 times normal to make up for the S/S. When I became 62, my pension dropped to the normal rate and I picked up S/S for age
62.... Tina was happy in her work and continued to work and I did many things around the place that had been neglected in the past
years.... Both girls were off living their own lives and I had the obligation to take care of my garden and house...
I wanted her to retire also, since our neighborhood had declined with the influx of
minorities... I can remember just before we sold having a garden which was very
productive... I "canned" tomatoes, froze beans and we ate generally well from the garden when things were in
season... I also made mince meat from "scratch" for pies at the holidays...We had a beautiful pink grapefruit tree in the yard, but sadly, we killed it by bringing a wild orchid from the Everglades, putting it in the
tree... unfortunately it had wood borers in the orchid and they killed the tree in one
season... We cut it down and that was a sad day.... That was the only fruit tree we ever had in
Miramar... since it was now named. I had to fence the property in with a chain link fence to keep the kids from stealing from the
garden... even then they got in from time to time and stole tomatoes...
We became great friends with the Cornelius family, who lived next door. We partied on holidays back and forth with the Paganos, the Souza family, and others. The kids had become teenagers or off and
married... both the Bowley girls and Eilene and Gary Cornelius...all were gone off to start their own and separate
lives... I remember the first time I ever got "smashed". It was on New Years' Eve with Frank
Cornelius.... We drank a whole bottle of Scotch in about 4 hours... and since this was a new experience to
me... I proceded to go home and get sick... upchucked in my boots and felt miserable for the next 36
hours... I'll never forget that and to this day, never repeated this nonsense..
At some time before I retired.. Frank and I bought and installed air conditioners in both
houses.... This meant cutting out concrete block, wiring, and installing the sleeve for the slide out
unit... At this time we had to have the windows changed to awning type instead of the jalousies, since they leaked so badly. We also had installed our own TV antennas and the necessary coax
cable... Later when we got cable, we took down the outside antennas and ran cable throughout the house for TV reception in all the rooms...except the baths..
Frank was nearing retirement age and since he hated dogs, and we had three big Dobermans across the street, which continually kept him awake, they placed their house on the market...sold and moved to Boynton Leisureville, which was just beginning to be constructed in
1974... They also deplored the change in quality of people; that were moving in around
us... A single Eastern Airlines mechanic bought the house and made many changes..
I would be remiss, had I not included my project for restoring a 1957
Thunderbird... This was a fun thing, and not too costly back in 1972. Tina and I worked on weekends for almost a year, getting new parts to replace those that were not
restorable... I discovered that a mechanic friend of mine at Eastern, had purchased a '57 Bird from a lawyer on Miami
Beach... It was in disrepair, but George bought it and stored it in his garage. He planned to get it running, but never
did... It sat there for a year or more.... I "bugged" him about selling it to me for
months... offered him $1000 cash... and he finally agreed to sell it...
The gas tank had rusted thru and there were pinholes in the tank, so no gas could be put in the tank, so we put a 5 gallon can in the trunk, with two gallons of gas in
it... hooked a plastic hose to the fuel pump... charged the battery and cranked it
up... We left North Miami one afternoon and finally got to the driveway in
Hollywood.... I gave George the cash and he signed the title and left to go home.
I had a 1957 TBird sadly in need of much work...but restore it we did and it was beautiful, when finished...
New parts were available from Hollywood Ford and I got to know the parts manager personally, we bought so much stuff from
him... Those unattainable I had custom made in EAL and hustled them out after
work... Small brackets, clamps, etc... I purchased a new rag top from J.C.
Whitney and a local upholster installed it for me... It had no convertible linkage and I had to find that and buy it
also... We stripped the car and had it painted...interior and exterior...
It's probably the only TBird with a second paint job on the frame... We changed the color from tan and brown to blue and
white... It was a metallic electric blue with white hard top... The interior upholstery was sprayed with a plastic spray
paint.. to match the outside color...I personally painted the hard top white..
I detailed the engine... it was a 312 with aluminum valve covers, which I had cleaned and polished at EAL...
The power steering system leaked badly and I replaced all the seals and piston. The fuel tank was a major
problem.... I dismounted it from the car and fibreglassed the bottom of the tank with three layers of glass and
resin... cleaned it out, replaced the float and reinstalled it... It never gave me a problem after
that... I put new rubber on, redid the brakes, cleaned the radiator and refilled it...and then it was done.
We kept it in the garage.... I think it was the only car we ever owned in Hollywood that went into the
garage... It was full of other stuff as you can imagine, keeping a house in repair and restoring a TBird.. We drove it on weekends to show it off all around Hollywood and
Miramar.... and about three months after it was finished, I was approached by a Bell South employee who lived in Miramar. He wanted to buy the car for his wife, for their 25th wedding
anniversary... He offered me 4000 bucks for it and I thought a long time about it, but the money looked big and I already had two cars, so we sold
it... I saw it once after we sold in Miramar and never saw it again... I would love to have it today, but today's prices would be in the 20k to 30k
range... seven times as much as when I sold it. It was a real fun thing to do and we enjoyed doing it..
Tina continued to work for Dr. Milloff until 1981, when she retired, since I had been retired for three
years... We discussed our future and plans for the remaining years, and she decided to
quit.... After three months of indecision, she returned to work and stayed at the Milloff center until Dr. Milloff had to leave with a brain tumor
diagnosis... Tina didn't want to work for anyone else and again
retired.... Dr. Milloff passed away after brain surgery proved not to be the
answer... He had terminal brain cancer...
In 1989 Tina again retired, since Dr. Milloff had died and she was Social Security
age... We decided to sell the house in Miramar, since the atmosphere locally had changed for the
worse... most all of our old friends had died or moved and since both the girls were married and gone, there was nothing to keep us there..
We sold the house in Miramar... put our things in storage and rented an apartment in Silver Springs
Shores.. right on the 11th fairway of a golf course.
It was furnished.. we needed nothing but our clothes and
toothbrush... We enjoyed it for about 3 months and since it was in the summer, the heat was intolerable, also there was NO breeze, which we were accustomed to before, and we broke the lease and after having visited Helen Cornelius in Boynton Leisureville, (Frank had died), we decided to rent a house here and we did just that....
We enjoyed our stay in the rented house, becoming active at the clubhouse..
I with the newspaper and computer club and Tina with the newspaper also.
We decided to buy and settle down in Boynton Leisureville, and we did just that in December of 1996. We bought a nice Edgewood model with a full screen room and in very good
repair... Tina masterminded the remodeling of the house, since I had been diagnosed with lung cancer and had surgery in January
1997... Fortunately, it was caught in time and there were no residual
effects.. I have been lung cancer free since, having checkups every six
months... No chemo or radiation was necessary since it had not spread.
As I finish this episode, it is December 1, 1998. We have lived in the new (to us) house for two years and established ourselves as homeowners in the community..
A final and quick recap of the family to date... Joyce is happily married and is financially
sound.. has an excellent job with Bell South..... Martina is happily married, financially sound and has an excellent job with a real estate attorney.
Travis is in his Junior year at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design), a computer nut and majoring in motion graphics. Kyle is in his freshman year at West Virginia University, getting his act together in engineering, and active on the swimming team. We see them from time to time as is permissible...
..................and so, with these final words, I close this
autobiography.. It has been a pleasure to reminisce my life, and again, it surprises me how easily the "old times" came to me and the lack of memory for the recent activities, but cover it I did, and it is now in the archives of the Bowley family forever...