Saturday, June 06, 2009

B-day, 6th of June

My dad was born on June 6, 1923, so today would have been his 86th birthday. He died in 1967 after spending 27 years in the military (Air Force). He was 44 (and I was nearly 14). Here he is with his sister Nellie. This was taken sometime in the 1940s. He enlisted well in time to be there for the big one - dubya dubya two - but he liked the life and stayed in. The patch on his sleeve means Corporal, Fifth Grade, Army Air Corps. His final rank was NCO, Tech Sergeant, Air Force.

He was from Makanda IL, a tiny village in Little Egypt south of Carbondale. He was the youngest in the family with 5 sisters and 4 brothers. I guess they ran out of names when they got to him, because they named him Junior with middle name Bill (as if Junior wasn't hillbilly enough, his official middle name was a nickname). He changed his name to William for the Service, but he was always called Bill. There he is in his school picture!

His father died in 1938 (he, his dad, and 2 of his brothers died in their 40s from heart attack - so I guess he was about 15 when his dad died). Above is what is probably one of the only pictures of his blacksmith shop and Red Crown gas station in Makanda. I guess you could research that car and the gas to tell when this picture was taken, but the shop was supposedly opened around 1900. [addendum: I've identified the car on this page as being a 1924 Ford Model T 5 Window Coupe. Scroll down about halfway.]

My dad is buried in Makanda with some other family members (not with my mother though - she's the one who ended up in a military plot in Santa Fe NM - but spouses do their time in the Service too).


Mando Mama said...

Hadn't put together that your dad's birthday coincided with a less infamous day of infamy during the War. My dad was in the airforce, born about 1920. Spent a good deal of time in Spokane, though his best friend was from Illinois.

The photo of the gas station is a treasure. I wish I were more vigilant about these things the way you are, such a good chronicler.

Billie Greenwood said...

I really liked this tribute post. The photos are wonderful. The Stories. Your thoughts and reflections. Thank you for sharing it.