Home at Last
I have already related the story of my homecoming after my years spent in the South Pacific during World War II. That first evening I was home, Darlene and I had to make a decision. Should we wait to be married until after I had reported back to Leavenworth at the end of my 45-day leave and learned where I would be stationed? Or should we get married and trust that I would get a discharge, or at least be sent where Darlene could be with me?
After entering the service, some of my friends had gotten married while on leave. Some even got married secretly, not even telling their families. I certainly thought that was a poor idea. I wondered if they had been afraid of losing their girls while they were away at war.
Darlene and I had been dating formally only four months before I was inducted. We had known each other and been in groups together since our family moved back to the farm from Western Kansas. However, since I was teaching school in Zook and didn't get home often, regular dating wasn't so easy. It was strange, even under those conditions, how so many people already had us picked out for each other.
It was only a short time after I had been inducted and shipped off to Shepherd Field, Texas, that I realized just how deep my feelings were for Darlene. I couldn't believe I had left her without saying something to let her know. Of course, I was in somewhat of a daze after my call came such a short time after I left Zook and returned home. When I told her how I felt in a letter, her answer was that she felt the same. However, we didn't have to make a decision about getting married because I had no leaves before being shipped overseas. The two times I got home over the weekend were strictly unofficial, and lasted much less than 48 hours.
All those three and one-half years we had written to each other almost daily, and long before I learned I would get to go home, we both knew marriage was in our future.
That first night I was home it didn't really take us long to decide we had waited long enough. The chances seemed very slim that I would be sent back overseas, considering my length of service, and my physical condition. After all, I had been in the hospital just before they sent me home.
We thought a Sunday evening at our little South Hutchinson church would be the appropriate place and time for our wedding. It was on a Sunday in church where we first met. I had first seen Darlene as she was leading the singing during the Sunday School hour. I guess I knew then I wanted to get better acquainted with her.
This is the Methodist Church in South Hutchinson where we met and where we were married. Mom & Dad (on the left) and my brother Junior (on the right) are with friends and two of Junior's children.
Since it was Tuesday night when I got home, we decided the next Sunday would be just too soon. However, we were sure we could be ready by the following Sunday, which was July 22, 1945. Wow! Just eleven days to do everything necessary for the big day!
Imagine getting the license and blood tests, selecting announcements and mailing them out, notifying those who would be in the wedding party, arranging for bouquets and church decorations, and planning a reception, including a wedding cake, all in eleven days. Besides that, I wanted to have my grand piano, my most-prized possession and one I had really missed all those years in the service, moved into the South Hutchinson Methodist Church sanctuary. To me having fine music was essential to our wedding ceremony.
We sent a wedding announcement and our pictures to the local paper. We put an open invitation in the Sunday church bulletin. Knowing that we would have a church full of friends and relatives at the ceremony, we didn't feel we could afford to invite all of them to a reception afterward. We settled on a reception at my folks' for relatives and close friends only.
Some way all the necessary preparations were made, and by Sunday the 22nd we were ready.
Darlene's friends even had time to give her a shower on Thursday night before the wedding. She got lots of nice things. However, both our wedding gifts and the shower gifts definitely had the mark of war time. No metal kettles were to be found. Glassware for the top of the stove had been invented, but we found those glass kettles were very easily broken. Linens were in fair supply, and we got lots of tablecloths. Some friends tried to buy Fostoria glassware, so popular then, but could find only a few pieces. There was no use trying to register in the stores for dish patterns we wanted. We went all over Hutchinson trying to buy a set of dishes, just any kind. Darlene's Dad had told us he'd buy us a set if we could find one. He'd had no luck. Finally, at a furniture store we found two sets. They were just alike, except one was a set of eight and one a set of twelve. We bought the set of eight. Darlene's Aunt Phoebe gave us money for silverware to use as soon as any was available. Later on we were able to order our silverware, but it was slow coming.
In spite of such inconveniences we found in furnishing our kitchen,
and getting along with gasoline and sugar rationing, we were just thankful
that I had been able to get home safely at last. Also people were beginning
to feel hopeful that the war would soon be over, and production could be
turned to peacetime goods.
Back on the Farm
How wonderful it was to be home again. Darlene and I were making our wedding plans and I was back helping on the farm. Dad and Junior were baling hay. It was a thrill to help load the bales on the wagon. I was again enjoying being stripped to the waist, soaking in that hot Kansas sun. Sweat rolled off my body. I was having a great time! It was just as hot and tanning as the sun in the South Pacific Islands.
It was hard work tossing those large bales around, and before long I began to feel the stress. I had lost lots of weight during that seven weeks in the hospital and the extra month it took to get home from the South Pacific. I was enjoying being home so much I almost forgot how sick I had been.
"Glenn, I think you'd better take it a little easy," Dad said. "You aren't used to such work."
"I'll be OK, Dad," I answered.
However, I knew Dad was right, and I decided to take his advice and rest more. I certainly didn't want to get sick again. I was planning to walk down the church aisle in a few days and get married.
At this time I had no plans to return to the service. I felt confident
that after my 45-day furlough I would be discharged. I was so happy to
be home with Darlene and my family, and working on the farm again, I really
didn't worry about my future status in the Army Air Corps.
Those eleven days went very quickly. We got our blood tests from the doctor and our marriage license from the clerk at the Reno County court house. The invitations got mailed and the acceptances came back. My piano was moved to the church, and our friend Don agreed to play it. Darlene contacted her music teacher from Hutchinson Junior College, Mr. Regier, and he agreed to sing. She was thrilled about that. She chose her matron of honor, Juanita, and her candle lighters, Velma Mae and Roberta. Of course, Darlene's father would walk down the aisle with her, and my brother, Junior, would be my best man. It was natural to use my young nieces, LaFaun and Donna June, for flower girls. Two friends, Wilbur and Billy, consented to be ushers.
We had plenty willing help in planning the reception. Darlene was only sixteen when her mother died, but through the years her Aunt Rose and Aunt Phoebe had always been there to help take her mother's place. They were a good support for her at this time, and took over most of the preparation for the reception. Darlene ordered the cake from a local bakery. We wanted a bride and soldier groom for the top. That had to be ordered from Wichita. (Incidentally, we had it to display at our 50th wedding celebration.) Mom jumped right in by helping to get the house ready for the reception.
Aunt Florence, with help from Aunt Myrtle, put the finishing touches on Darlene's wedding dress. Most of it was done before I got home. I had sent a parachute earlier to be used for the dress. It was a beautiful wedding dress and all it cost was money for buttons, thread, and material for the veil. Incidentally, that nylon material is still as nice and white as it was then. Darlene keeps her dress in a shoe box. She added some to the waist and wore it for our 50th wedding celebration.
Now I must backtrack a little and tell the story of that parachute.
Getting That Parachute
I saw my first parachute in New Guinea during World War II. The supply squadron was responsible for inspecting and packing the chutes. Any chute that came into contact with salt water had to be destroyed. For some reason salt water contaminated the chute and no one would ever take a chance using it.
What a beautiful wedding dress a parachute would make for Darlene, I thought. I asked the supply sergeant if I could have one to send home.
"What in the world do you want with it?" he asked. "You realize that we don't pass out chutes to just everyone, don't you?"
I explained why I wanted the parachute, and that seemed to impress him.
"So you want a parachute for a wedding dress? Fine. That's different he said. "You know we have to account for every chute. Right now we don't have any 'surveyed' chutes. I'll see what I can do for you. Come back in a couple days."
"Surveyed" meant the chute had been damaged. If the slightest flaw was detected, it could never be used. Although I was the Master Sergeant Major in the Wing Headquarters, I didn't make a habit of throwing my rank around. However, if rank would make a difference, this was the time I was tempted to use it. I wanted so much to get a parachute to send to Darlene. As it turned out, I didn't have to do more than make my first request.
Not only did the sergeant "find" a damaged chute, he had it packaged ready for shipment home. He confessed that it was really a new chute, but he found a "flaw" in it somewhere that made it unusable.
"Thank you, very much, sergeant," I said. "Here is my home address."
Friday night was the rehearsal. Afterward, Mrs. Linnens, the mother of one of the candlelighters, gave a reception for the wedding party in her home. Darlene had so many "substitute" mothers through the years. We really appreciated her thoughtfulness in giving that party for us.
July 21, 1945, was a wonderful exciting Saturday. Taking Dad's advice, I worked in the field only a short time that morning. Yes, it was hot that day. July in Kansas is always hot. One didn't work long before he was lathered with sweat. I went to the house, took a bath and tried to relax. I'm sure I didn't rest much. I was too excited. After lunch, I went to town to see Darlene. I knew she would have many little jobs for me to do. On the road to town, I dreamed of tomorrow evening. Hot diggities! I was going to get married, and now Darlene and I could be together always. (I have to confess there was some doubt about that as I was on only a 45-day leave, and Uncle Sam was still my boss. However, I tried not to worry about that during those first happy days at home.)
On Sunday morning, July 22nd, we all went to church as usual. I don't remember much about the afternoon, but somehow we all got to church in plenty of time that night. Long before eight o'clock we found the church full of many loving friends and relatives. Our pastor, Reverend Ray Bressler was waiting for us. He was a very congenial and happy kind of person. Why is it that most fat people I have known are such pleasant folk? I don't know.
At the appointed time, Don played typical wedding music, and Velma Mae and Roberta entered to light the candles on the two candelabra. It was a very hot Kansas summer evening, and the candles were feeling the heat. As they were lit, they would bend down. Velma Mae and Roberta picked them up and tried in vain to make them stay upright. Unfortunately, candles in the 9140's weren't treated to withstand heat as they are today. Soon the audience was giggling and the candlelighters were puzzled just what to do. Finally, after several attempts to make those candles stay vertical, they gave up and walked with as much dignity as possible back down the aisles.
Needless to say those candles were the topic of conversation often, and still are to this day, when anyone reminisces about our wedding.
Mr. Regier sang beautifully our favorite wedding songs, "I Love You Truly" and "Oh, Promise Me."
Rev. Bressler rose to face the audience, and Junior and I entered and took our places. Then when Don got to the "Here Comes the Bride" part, first the flower girls and Juanita, and then Darlene and her dad came down the aisle. I will never forget the wonderful smile on Darlene's face. I'm certain my face also broke out into a smile. There was my beautiful bride in her equally beautiful parachute dress.
As Sam escorted Darlene towards me, I knew the wedding moments I had dreamed of for those years had arrived. Darlene was soon to be my wife, not just my girl friend.
Sam said, "I do," when asked, "Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?"
This had long been a part of the marriage ceremony, coming from the idea that the woman was the property of someone. First she belonged to her father and then, after marriage, to her husband. Later it became customary for the father to say, "Her mother and I do." That gave a little credit to the mother, but still indicated the bride was owned by her parents. Today with more and more liberation of women, that line is often omitted. In fact, it is no longer included as a part of the marriage ceremony printed in our newest United Methodist Hymnal.
Darlene and I joined hands and turned to face Rev. Bressler.
"Glenn, do you take this woman to be your wedded wife?"
"Darlene, do you take this man to be your wedded husband?"
There were other words we had to repeat to complete the marriage vows, but to me those phrases were the most important.
"Yes!" I said.
"Yes!" Darlene said.
"I now pronounce you man and wife. Glenn, you may kiss your bride."
That kiss was the wettest kiss I had ever experienced, and to this day there has never been another like it. Both our faces were covered with sweat. It was almost 90 degrees that evening. Very few buildings had air conditioning in our area in 1945, and our little church didn't even have electric fans. The church was jammed with people so that made the heat situation worse. Johnson's Funeral Parlor always furnished churches with paper fans, and everyone who could get his hands on one was using it during the ceremony. Of course, those of us in the wedding party had to sweat it out.
Following the ceremony, we left the church to go uptown to the photographer's studio to have our pictures taken. The fact that we had to go to his studio tells you something about the state of the art of photography at that time. I don't know why I said "pictures" taken because that is a misnomer. We ended up with "a picture!" It was a good picture, but it took that photographer hours to take it. I looked liked a scarecrow! Every time I look at that picture I wince. I had lost so much weight. In my diary I had written that I weighed in at 135 pounds. It's a wonder that I was able to walk down the isle that night to get married.
Our Wedding Picture
When we finally got back to the farm, Junior had replaced one of the bulbs in our dining room fixture with a single flood light so he could take moving pictures of relatives and friends attending the reception.
Since we had been so long in coming, someone decided to open our wedding presents. After all, something had to be done to pass the time. They didn't want to cut the cake or start serving punch until we arrived. The presents were carefully displayed for all to see. We always felt a little cheated in not being allowed to open the beautifully wrapped packages, but realized that our friends felt they were doing us a favor.
After our arrival, the customary cake-cutting ceremony took place and all were served cake and punch. Then Darlene changed into her "going away" dress, we looked at our presents, said our "good-byes," and left the farm for our little house in Hutchinson.
Although Darlene and I had been late in arriving, leaving all our guests waiting too long for us, our wedding reception truly turned out to be a gala affair. In fact, despite drooping candles and a slow photographer, that whole evening of July 22nd, 1945, was truly a wonderful dream come true.
Our First Home
We had rented a little house at 212 West Avenue "A" in Hutchinson. It was a doll house with kitchen, bath, and combination front room and bed room. We had planned to get a little rest before leaving for our honeymoon in Denver. As I recall our Santa Fe train tickets called for us to be at the depot at 2am, ready to depart at 3am.
"Here it is," I said. "Our little doll house, our very first home."
When we opened the door, a surprise awaited us! First, when we flipped the light switch on, nothing happened. We discovered that our helpful friends had loosened the fuses. After we got the lights on, we discovered that our once nice little clean house was in shambles. The springs and mattress had been removed from the bed frame. There was toilet paper everywhere. Everything was an honest to goodness mess!
"Now what are we going to do! Should we try to make up the bed first?" I asked.
We righted two chairs, sat down, and looked all around. Then we suddenly began to laugh. Our friends had really played a good trick on us. They had seen to it that we would have no time to rest before catching our train!
Our first order of business was to see that our suitcases were ready to go. We picked up enough toilet paper to allow us to move around, and finished packing. I hadn't planned to change my clothes, which we were to learn was a mistake when we arrived in Denver. Darlene had changed hers at the farm. We were ready to go and had less than an hour before time to catch our train. We decided the mess could just wait until we got home. We got the slats and mattress back on the bed, took off our shoes, and stretched out to rest in the little time we had left. After all the excitement of the day, there was no danger of our going to sleep and missing our train.
Darlene's Dad had made arrangements for our cab with McVay's Taxi Company.
He had worked for them as a taxi driver for years.
The cab arrived and we got to the station on time. That Santa Fe train left right at 3am, and, incidentally, arrived in Denver on time, just 12 hours later at 3pm Monday. I'm sure that today Amtrak's schedule from Hutchinson to Denver is much shorter.
As it was dark, we couldn't see much of the landscape at first. I was hoping to see the foothills of the Rocky Mountains soon after we crossed the Colorado border, but sleep finally overtook me. The next thing I knew the train was stopping at the Denver station.
Earlier, we had contacted the Daum's to meet us at the station. Claude Daum was one of my teacher friends at Zook Consolidated Schools, where I was teaching when I was called into Uncle Sam's service. He was now retired and living in Denver. He and his wife were waiting for us when we got off the train.
It had been over three and one-half years since I had seen Claude and his wife. However, for a moment, that time in the South Pacific seemed only a dream. My teaching days at Zook all came back to me. Then when I introduced my new wife, reality hit me. I had come through those long months, returned home safely, and now I was a married man. For a few moments I had to wonder just what my future would be. I still had to report back to Uncle Sam in a few weeks. However, my thoughts quickly turned to the wonderful time ahead of us during the coming week. The future could take care of itself.
The Daum's took us to our hotel. Just as I got out of the car and started to open the trunk to get our suitcases, I heard, "Sergeant!"
There stood a military policeman looking me up and down.
"That's not a regulation shirt on which you are wearing those stripes."
Then he looked more closely at my pants and belt, and barked, "Nothing you are wearing is regulation! You must change immediately."
Now I knew why I should have changed my clothes before leaving Hutchinson. Since the war wasn't over, all regulations about military insignia were still in effect. Without giving much thought to army rules, I had bought more dressy type khaki-colored clothes for my wedding.
I tried to explain the entire situation, but he wasn't much impressed. Dutifully, I opened the suitcase, took out my army clothes, and crawled into the back seat of the car to change. Believe me, that situation again brought me back to reality. I wasn't a free man. Uncle Sam still had me in his grip. The rest of the trip I wore my army clothes.
We had a wonderful week. Daum's took us to visit one of our former pupils who now lived in Denver. I called a cousin who met us for a visit. We took a bus to Boulder to visit two of Darlene's teacher friends who were attending summer school at the university. You can bet I got lots of attention when we ate at the girls' cafeteria. We visited the studio of radio station KOA. That was a thrill for us. Remember, television was still in the future, and radio programs were popular pastimes. We took in several movies. One was "Murder, He Says," starring Fred MacMurray. A great comedy!
On Sunday morning we attended the large Trinity Methodist Church. In the afternoon at 3pm, it was time to catch our train for home. That train evidently ran back and forth every twelve hours between Hutchinson and Denver. We arrived home at 3am Monday. Mom and Dad met us at the station, and took us to the farm for some rest. Considering the condition of our home, that was a good idea.
After visiting and resting until mid-morning, we went back to Hutchinson. We stopped by Aunt Myrtle and Florence's home and they invited us for lunch. Then we went home to our mess.
Darlene's friend Juanita had left us a very nice wedding present. She had filled our kitchen cupboards with staples. I guess that was an atonement for all the toilet paper and trashing of our house on our wedding night. She lived in the house in front of ours. Since we had the same landlady, we always knew she was the one with access to the house keys.
After going to the grocery store for a few supplies, we had our first
meal together in our first home. We had "Denver" sandwiches, which we had
gotten acquainted with while on our honeymoon. They are made with eggs,
scrambled together with onions and green peppers. Even today, that is one
of our favorite ways to fix eggs, either for a sandwich or a main dish.
The next Sunday evening after the church service, I noticed something unusual was happening. A group of people our age were standing around outside. Suddenly, they started to make a circle around Darlene and me.
"Glenn, would you like to take a ride with us?" one of the guys asked.
Without waiting for an answer, two of the guys grabbed my arms and escorted me into a car.
"Did you really think you were going to get by without a good chivaree?"
I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was the car was headed toward Hutchinson. Our home church was in South Hutchinson, the little town just across the Arkansas River from the city of Hutchinson.
I couldn't help wondering just what they might be doing to Darlene. I thought about what had been done to my friends Val and Leila on their chivaree. To avoid being caught, they had run to Val's car. Before they could get their car started, the guys had surrounded the car. Val had then locked his car doors, thinking they would just sweat out the situation. Being unhappy that Val and Leila hadn't come with them, the chivareers had decided to teach them a lesson they wouldn't forget. One of the guys opened the hood, which was an easy job on those old cars, and pulled the spark plug wires. Then they crawled under the car and greased the brake bands. Next they chained Val's car to one of theirs and pulled it at high speed for several miles. Of course, this was a very dangerous thing to do. Val and Leila were really scared, and it's a wonder someone didn't get hurt. There were many bad feelings over that chivaree.
I certainly hoped something that dangerous wasn't going to happen to Darlene and me.
The car I was in crossed the Arkansas River into Hutchinson and headed north on Main Street. A number of other cars, one being a pick-up truck, followed. After driving a few blocks down Main Street, the parade of cars stopped. Everyone started getting out of their cars. The guys holding me told me to get out, and soon I saw Darlene and her captors coming toward me.
"Glenn, do you see that wheelbarrow in the truck? Well, we've decided you'll use it to give Darlene a ride down Main Street."
Darlene, having no other choice, dutifully crawled into the wheelbarrow. Of course, there were no springs on that vehicle with its single steel wheel. Moreover, Hutchinson's Main Street was paved with red brick, and it was far from being smooth. That brick was installed before I was born. It had been worn down by horses, buggies, wagons, hard rubber farm truck tires, circus wagon wheels, and, of course, plain automobiles. No wonder that wheelbarrow was hard to push, and that Darlene was having a rough ride.
I'm sorry to say I didn't help the situation any. In order to show I was being a good sport about the whole thing, I started at a rather fast pace.
"Glenn, slow down a little. I'm afraid you are going to throw me out," Darlene pleaded.
Frankly, I can't remember just how many blocks we went. I do remember that when we got to Jackson's Ice Cream store, someone yelled, "This is where we stop, Glenn. The treats are all on you!"
We never did know who engineered the entire affair, and whether we were
expected at the store. Jackson's Ice Cream had long been a favorite with
everyone in our area. Whether the ice cream cones cost five cents or a
dime that night, I don't remember. All I know is I did have enough money
to pay the bill, and Darlene and I didn't have to wash the dishes.
Discharge from the Army Air Corps
Sure enough, my 45-day leave came to an end too soon. By now, the European war had ended and Hitler was out of the way. However, the Japanese still hadn't surrendered even though the atomic bombs had been dropped. I knew I had to report to Ft. Leavenworth as ordered, and would have to go wherever they sent me. I had no assurance it wouldn't be back across the Pacific to Manila where I had been. I packed my bags and Darlene took me to the train station.
As I got on the train, I called out, "I'll give you a call just as soon as I know where I'm going."
That train ride from Hutchinson to Kansas City was a bore. At Kansas City I had to change trains to continue to Ft. Leavenworth. That was another boring ride. I'm confident that my boredom was really stress in disguise, caused by the uncertainty of my future. All I could do was sweat it out and wait!
After arriving at Ft. Leavenworth, I was fed and assigned my bed for the night. The next morning several hundred of us were herded into a very large auditorium for processing.
After what seemed like a long wait, a gruff sergeant entered the room and called us to attention. He then began to call off names.
After he had called four or five names, I heard, "Master Sergeant Glenn Deal McMurry, step forward. Do you have 114 points of service?"
"Yes, sir!" I replied with emphasis.
One of the fellows told me afterward that I turned all colors when my name was read.
After ten or fifteen more names were called, the sergeant read all the names once more, confirming the points each person had. Then, he ordered us to follow him into another room.
"You men are to be discharged from the service and sent home. It will take a day or so to finish the job, but I can assure you that, providing your records are in order, you can go home."
We all yelled, "Thank you, sergeant!"
You should have heard that yell. I'm sure it was the most enthusiastic reply we had ever given to any of our officers since we entered the service.
My records were in order, and I was discharged August 31, 1945. Whoopee!
Now I could go home to my new wife and my family!
That day the sergeant called my name, none of us knew that the war would be over very soon. In fact, on September 2, only two days after my discharge papers were finally signed, Japan signed the surrender documents. What a relief for the whole world!
My Big Mistake
One of the big mistakes I made when I first arrived at Ft. Leavenworth in July was forgetting the promise I had made just before leaving Manila.
"Promise me that you'll check into the military hospital when you get home. You are a sick man and you need treatment," I had been told.
Being eager to get on my way home, without even a second thought, I had readily agreed to do just that.
The trip home was tiring, and took almost a month. By the time I finally got to Leavenworth and was given my leave papers, I had forgotten all about that promise. At least, if the thought passed my mind, I dismissed it. I was sure that all I needed to get well was to be with Darlene and my family. That was my big mistake.
I hadn't been back home too long before I came down with a fever. When the doctor came, he informed me that I had malaria.
"Did you quit taking your quinine?" he asked.
I had to admit that I had forgotten all about quinine since I got home. As a result I was sick for a week or so with a high fever.
Shortly after that, I got sick with the amoebic dysentery for which I had been treated in Manila. Again I hadn't been continuing the treatment. It took several years of medication before I finally was pronounced cured of it. During those years, I drew a minimal pension check each month.
Had I checked into the hospital upon arrival in the states, and continued to take the proper medicines until pronounced cured, I probably would have avoided those health problems.
Yes, I disobeyed orders and I paid for my mistake.
Working on the Farm
All the time I was overseas I dreamed of coming back to the farm. All would be right with the world. I would enjoy working with Dad and Junior. No more stress of teaching school. Darlene I and could give music lessons to supplement the farm income.
After our honeymoon, my farming began in earnest. I had lots of plans. I had saved quite a lot of money during those years in the South Pacific. However, it didn't take long for me to spent a good portion of it on farm projects.
First, we needed to prepare the ground for next year's wheat crop. I worked hard doing my share. The alfalfa also had to be baled and hauled to the barn.
I knew that there would have to be other projects besides land farming
if there was enough money for three families. I had two main ideas, turkeys
and milk cows.
The folks always had a medium size flock of turkeys. As usual we gathered eggs from the hens and carefully tended to them. Turkeys are an odd fowl. During the breeding season, one has to watch the old hens. They will wander away and prepare a nest in a clump of weeds or even beneath any building they can squeeze under. We were continually hunting for their nests so we could remove their eggs. We always left at least one egg in the nest so the hen would return when she was ready to lay another one. In past years the folks had taken their eggs to the hatchery in town, but this year we had a different idea. I was the main person pushing for us to go into the turkey-raising business in a big way.
Mr. Clayton, our neighbor to the south of our farm, always impressed me. I don't know where he got his money, but he seemed to have plenty of it. Either his farm projects were very successful or he got money from some other source. He had all types of buildings, all painted white. I particularly admired his large white barn with its gabled roof. He also had pig shelters, chicken houses, elaborate hatchery equipment, granaries, and various structures to house his farm machinery.
As Mr. Clayton grew older, he pared down his chicken hatching project. When we learned that he had some unused incubators, we decided we would ask if we might rent them for hatching our turkey eggs.
"Sure," Mr. Clayton said, "my incubators will hatch turkeys as well as chickens."
It was quite a job to learn how to run those incubators. Turkey eggs are larger than chicken eggs and require special care. The temperature has to be kept constant throughout the incubating period. At first, we spent hours watching those incubators. After a week or so, we began to build confidence in what we were doing, and would check only two or three times a day. It was a good thing Clayton's farm was only one-half mile from us.
After turkeys are hatched and have grown large enough to fly, more troubles begin. They are easily frightened by the least little noise, especially at night. They are practically blind at night so they have no sense of direction and no caution for obstacles in their paths of flight. They will fly into a fence or the side of a building, and then pile on top of one another. If they have been injured so they can't get away from the mess, those on the bottom will suffocate. What a time we'd have wandering in the dark, trying to find the most likely spot where those dumb turkeys had gone.
A turkey stampede was almost always a disaster felt in our pocketbooks. One couldn't sell dead or injured turkeys, and if there were too many, we certainly couldn't eat all of them.
We had nearly 2,000 turkeys that year, but we decided that we didn't
want to do that again. They were too much trouble for the small profit
they brought. Also there was a great possibility that there might be no
profit at all.
When I was overseas I dreamed about having a diary herd. Now that I was home, I decided to make my dreams a reality. After our friend Fred Robertson died, a sale was held to dispose of his farm equipment and livestock. I felt sure this sale was my opportunity to get into the cattle business.
Fred always had some Holstein cattle. Because in the past my Dad's Holstein cows had always been prize winners at the annual state fair, I figured I couldn't go wrong buying several Holsteins. I went to Fred's sale and got into the cow business in a hurry.
Before that sale was over, I had purchased seven cows. I had no inkling which cow was a potential milk producer. Worst of all I had purchased those cows that afternoon without a thought of how I was going to get them home.
"Don't worry, I'll just herd them home," I tried to assure myself.
Well, those cows had minds of their own. At first when I opened the gate, they scattered in every direction. Finally, they quieted down and I got them corralled together. However, the way home to them was back to Fred's barn. After awhile, I got them to make a U-turn and head out the gate and down the road to the west. What a relief!
Some strayed to the fence along the road. It seemed that a fence was something to explore. If there was green grass on the other side, they had to take time to try to stick their heads through the fence and taste it. Never mind that there was grass on the road side. I learned that the old saying "The grass is always greener on the other side" was literally true when it came to cows.
I yelled until I was hoarse! Finally, Junior showed up to help me. He proved to be a big help, but first he had to scare me about the difficulties ahead of us.
"Remember, Glenn, you have several hurdles ahead. There are two intersections, the railroad tracks, and a couple culverts before we get home. Those railroad tracks will probably be a problem."
Fortunately, we got past the first intersection without any trouble.
When we got close to the railroad tracks, I really got worried. Suppose a train should come. What would they do then? I looked up and down, and fortunately, no train was in sight. However, when those cows stopped to inspect the rails, I was sure they would start to walk down those tracks. I urged them on and after taking their own sweet time, they finally stepped over all the rails and proceeded down the road.
We were lucky to meet only two cars and a buggy, and the cows didn't seem to be bothered by them at all. Soon we were at the corner where I had to turn south onto Highway 17. Now I had three worries. First, I was afraid that the cows would get distracted with the activities at the gas station on the corner. Second, I doubted that they would heed the stop sign, but would run right into any traffic that might be on the highway. Third, I thought the cows might be startled by the culverts between the corner and our farm, and go off into the ditch.
Like so many things one worries about, none of the imagined disasters happened. The cows were getting tired by now. When we reached the stop sign, there were no cars in sight on the highway. Those cows seemed to get the idea I wanted them to turn south.
We now had 3/4 of a mile to go. When we reached the first culvert, the first cow sniffed at the cement while I held my breath. However, she hesitated only a moment before stepping onto the bridge. The others followed without a pause. The second culvert was no problem, and still no traffic! What a break!
Mom and Dad were waiting at the driveway to help guide the cows in. Dad had already opened the barn gate, and soon all my cows were safely inside.
Next came the milking and, of course, that was my job. In fact it had to be done every morning and every night.
I tried to make the best of the situation. I bought a small cream separator and was able to sell cream to a company in town. Dad had an old milking machine that ran on his generator. By buying some parts, we were able to make it work most of the time.
It didn't take long, however, for us to decide the cows weren't producing enough to pay their expenses. Some of the cows did have calves that we sold. After a few years, all decided it best to sell the herd. Of course, as you will learn by reading on, I gave up my dream of becoming a dairy farmer and went off to get my master's degree. Maybe teaching wasn't such a bad idea after all. Furthermore, if we could save enough money, maybe we could get to California and I could learn to make movies in the cinema department of the University of Southern California.
That's just what happened and after we got to California, Dad sent us a check for our share when the last of the herd was sold.
Incidentally, I've never owned another cow, nor have I milked a cow
since the end of that project! So much for my dreams of having a dairy
My New Typewriter
Yes, that's right, I wanted to buy a typewriter so I could write letters again! Although I was a farmer now, my interest in typewriters still was strong. In fact, Bennie Bargen, my professor at Bethel College, and I again spent some time dreaming about our Tact-O-Graph, a machine for teaching typing. That dream came to an end, however. I hadn't been home too long before we both decided it was a lost cause.
In the Army Air Corps in the South Pacific, I had typed reams of paper for the general. I had gained a good reputation for speed and accuracy, and took pride in doing my best at all the jobs that came my way in the office. Now that I was a civilian again, I missed typing. Sooner or later I knew I would have to get my own typewriter. Well, it turned out to be sooner, not later. I found a little portable for $70 and bought it. When I got home and Mom found out what I had done, she had a fit. My wife wasn't too happy about it either.
"Glenn, why do you need a typewriter?"
As a matter of fact the entire family jumped me. They thought there were lots of other things for which we needed that $70.
In our diary Darlene wrote, "Poor henpecked guy."
Now Comes Oscar Matthew
When I was overseas during the war, I had my fill of troubles caused by alcohol. Too many of my buddies became problem drinkers. I had never drunk during my entire life, and only one time, in New Guinea, did I taste some beer. I hated it then and I never tasted it again. The officers had not only had beer, but could have all of the hard liquor they wanted most of the time. Those poor privates and non-com's had to snitch drinks from the officers. Of course, when we were on leave, the Australian alcoholic drinks were available.
I was raised in a "prohibition" atmosphere. The nineteenth amendment to the U S Constitution was enthusiastically supported both in my home and in my church . The Women's Christian Temperance Union, the WCTU, was very active. In Sunday School we often had lessons on the evils of drink, and each person was asked to sign a pledge not to drink alcoholic beverages. Of course, in "dry" Kansas, the only drinks available were either homemade or from someone in the "bootleg" business.
Soon after I was discharged from the service, the liquor industry was trying hard to get alcoholic beverages legalized in Kansas. After the repeal of the 18th amendment, each state was given the power to regulate or prohibit alcoholic beverages in its boundaries. Our state was one of the few "dry" states left in the union. Liquor sales had to be stopped on airplanes flying over and trains driving through Kansas. Naturally, the liquor industry wasn't happy with that situation.
One of our Methodist ministers, the Rev. Oscar Matthew, was a leader in the fight to keep Kansas "dry."
Oscar, as I learned to call him, was a hell-fire preacher. One of his favorite subjects had long been the evils of drink. He had invested in some profitable oil wells, and used lots of his money to fight the liquor interests.
One of Oscar's important projects was promoting the drama, "Ten Nights in a Barroom." A motion picture was made of the play, and he saw that it was shown all over the state. He also produced a temperance movie, himself, called "The Power of Decision." It had a religious theme. He had many copies made and distributed. The final production work on his movie was done by The Calvin Company in Kansas City, Missouri.
I mention the Calvin Company here because Oscar was the one who encouraged me to attend one of their workshops on film production. More about that later.
Since my parents were staunch prohibitionists from away back, the message Ocsar preached was well received by them. They also wanted me to get that message.
Mom insisted, "Glenn, you've got to meet Rev. Matthew and see his films."
Of course, any film was of interest to me. His films impressed me and added to my desire to do what I could to keep liquor out of Kansas.
The churches and other civic groups had formed the "Committee of 100,000" to fight the liquor interests who were pouring money into the election campaign. The first thing I knew I was chairman of the group, giving talks and writing about my feelings on the evils of drink. Our committee produced, duplicated and distributed lots of material in an effort to get people to vote "dry."
Needless to say, when the election was held the next year, we prohibition people lost, and 3.2 beer became legal in Kansas. Soon the state started to sell alcoholic beverages in state liquor stores. It was some years later before it could be served in bars. Frankly, I'm not sure just what regulations are now in effect in Kansas. Every state has its own set of rules regarding the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages.
After Kansas legalized beer, I believe there was only one "dry" state left. I think it was somewhere in the south. Of course, by now it has also lost its battle against alcohol sales.
After all these years, I still haven't changed my ideas about the evils of alcoholic beverages. However, I have also decided that the "dry" position is impossible to push on society. Trying to get rid of all alcohol is "more impossible" than the "impossible" task we had when I was a kid of getting rid of all the sparrows in our old hen house.
Statistics do show more alcohol-related problems today than during prohibition. Of course, during the days of the 18th amendment, which outlawed alcohol, the gangster era arose. It's a little like the drug problem today. If there is demand for a product, no laws will prevent its distribution. Nevertheless, society still tries, mostly without success, to catch the drug users and distributors, and punish them.
During our prohibition fight, Oscar and I became good friends. Soon after he left Hutchinson to preach in Herrington, Kansas, he decided to have a revival meeting. He was aware of Darlene's and my musical talents, and the first thing I knew we were involved in his three-week revival meeting. There were services every night except Saturday. Darlene played the piano and I led the singing.
That revival meeting was quite an experience for us. As I mentioned before, Oscar was an old fashioned hell-fire preacher. He had a detailed chart explaining all about the end of time, and just what would happen to true believers and non-believers. Although some of his religious philosophy didn't exactly coincide with ours, we did the best we could at the job for which we had been hired.
The meeting may have changed some lives. Who am I to say? We were treated
very nicely by his faithful members. They paid our hotel and eating expenses,
and also gave us a monetary gift. I don't remember just how much it was.
Since Oscar seemed happy with the help we had given him, we were glad we
agreed to do the job.
Calvin Company Workshop
"You've got to go to the Calvin Company workshop," my friend Oscar Matthew had told me one day. He knew of my intense interest in films.
"The experiences there will be fantastic. You will be able to view lots of films, meet many film producers, and hear great lectures on film making."
That sounded great to me, and Darlene and I made our plans to attend the next workshop.
The Calvin Company had been making training films for the government during World War II. The company had a large production facility and processing laboratory for 16mm motion pictures. After the war, most of their work was making training films for industrial firms. All types of 16mm educational films were becoming increasingly popular.
Many films stressing safety in factories and in the use of farm machinery were being made at this time. I remember one on the corn picker that was so realistic one could hardly watch it. It was made by the University of Iowa, and its purpose was to warn farmers of the dangers of operating the machine. It presented in very, yes, very graphic manner how a man could lose an arm. As a matter of fact, one of the actors had actually lost an arm and to make things realistic, the film first showed him with an artificial arm. Then, at the critical moment as he operated the corn picker, his arm was missing. Although the film wasn't in color, one could imagine he was seeing red blood spurting all over everything. However, films of this type later back-fired, and such subjects with similar scenes were avoided.
The workshop lectures were very interesting to me. I heard about such things as upcoming film formats, developments leading to new and better color film, improved cameras and lenses, new sound recording and reproduction techniques, and motion picture projector improvements. In addition to the workshops, there were many colorful exhibits. These were by educational and industrial production people who were promoting their new, and even some of their old, ideas and products.
One of the principal speakers was Neal Keene, the Calvin Company's public relations officer. I still remember his story about a problem they once had with a buzzing sound in their amplifier. The technicians spend many hours taking it apart and reassembling it, trying to find the cause of the buzz. Imagine their chagrin when they discovered it wasn't the amplifier at all, but a fly that kept buzzing around the microphone. What wasted time and energy all because of an innocent little fly getting its exercise.
Those three days at the Calvin Company Workshop were a real inspirational experience. They made me even more eager to produce films. Still I did have a couple disappointments connected with the trip.
First, it was at that workshop where I first met Herb Farmer and Bill Blume from the University of Southern California. I told them about my desire to go there on the GI bill of rights. Although they gave me glowing reports about the Cinema Department at USC, they also warned me that there was no affordable family housing around the campus. The area was already crowded with workers in various wartime industries, and now that the war had ended, many GI's were returning. Many had been stationed in Southern California and, liking the climate, had decided to return there to live and/or go to school. That was discouraging.
Second, I found out the hard way that the streets of Kansas City were not quite the safest places to be.
The minute I returned from the service, I felt I had to have another motion picture projector. Before I enlisted, I had sold my projector to the Zook school. Soon after we were married, I bought one that, according to the manufacturer, was flutter free and would last a lifetime. I got very excited about the Kologragh projector, and decided that I would like to be a distributor for the company. I even had a booth at the state fair.
Dad in my booth at the Kansas State Fair
I didn't sell any projectors at the fair, but I did persuade our minister to buy one. He, too, thought it was a fine machine. However, my career as a Kolagraph salesman came to a halt during my time at the Calvin Company Workshop.
I had brought my Kokograaph Projector with me, hoping to show it to prospective buyers. One night, returning to the car after a night session of the workshop, I found a rock had been thrown through my car window and my projector was gone. I was devastated. When I notified the police, I was told in no uncertain terms, "Never park your car under a street light in this area, especially with such a piece of equipment exposed." They also said there was little chance that the projector could be recovered. They were right, and there I was without insurance.
There was one positive experience at that workshop that changed the course of my life. I was introduced to Kansas University at Lawrence by Fred Montgomery. He was the head of the Audio-Visual Department, and he highly recommended KU's graduate school to me. I told him my under graduate degree was in music education, and that I wanted to make educational films.
"Glenn," Fred said, "you won't have any problems in getting your Master's Degree at KU. Our music department staff is very competent, and they can build you a graduate program emphasizing films in music education. You will get a good background to help you with your dream of producing films."
That idea really excited me. Although I still was enjoying being on
the farm, his suggestion kept creeping back into my mind. It was becoming
increasingly clear that Dad's farm was too small for three families.
Our First Baby
From my early years I knew I wanted to marry and have children. I would have conversations with myself about the situation. I'd discuss how I would select a girl to be the mother of my kids. My folks are good role models to follow, I'd say to myself. My wife will have to be a lot like my Mom, I decided. So, I'd size up each girl I went out with to see what kind of mother she'd be for my kids.
I've already written about Darlene and how I picked her for my mate. Although we hadn't discussed our potential family before I went into the service, I certainly thought a lot about such things while I was in the South Pacific, just sweating out the time until I'd get home.
During the three and one half years I was gone, we wrote many, many letters back and forth discussing everything. We knew we wanted to get married and raise a family. Our first idea was that six children would be about right. Of course, those were only dreams. After we were married and had two, we began to think four would be ideal.
I might just explain here that after our third, Darlene had two miscarriages and was advised against trying again. Although we didn't get our fourth, we were blessed with three wonderful children. But I'm getting ahead of my story.
For a time after we were married, we were very, very busy getting settled. Darlene gave quite a few piano lessons, and I went to the farm nearly every day to work with Dad. Darlene also helped Mom with her garden crops and spent time canning and preparing food for the freezer.
We also became active in our church. Among other things, I started directing the choir, we taught Sunday School classes, and we helped with the youth groups.
Although we were very happy with our life together, it wasn't long before we began to think about the fact that we were older than most of our friends had been when they were married. Several already had children three or four years old. They had gotten a head start on us.
It was almost as though we got the idea at the same time. Why are we waiting? There's no reason for us to wait. Let's get our family started!
We were very lucky in planning our children. Each time we decided we were ready for a baby, Darlene was able to get pregnant without delay. We give thanks for that, and our sympathies go out to those couples who aren't able to have children or have children when they aren't ready.
"Mom, Darlene and I are going to have a baby!" I announced one day.
"Well, I wondered when you were going to tell me. I knew Darlene was in the family way. We women know!"
The joke was on me. I thought I had some news and my folks knew it all along.
Sam, Darlene's father, was elated when we told him the news.
Actually, the word "pregnant" wasn't in common usage in those days. In fact, it wasn't considered nice to say that so-and-so was pregnant. Folks just waited for a woman to "show" and then the gossiping started about someone who was "in the family way."
I seldom knew when a girl was pregnant until someone reminded me that she was "showing." Yes, I was quite a naive guy!
Mom asked the obvious question, "When do you expect the baby?"
"Well, Doctor Jones said around the end of May."
"Wonderful, Glenn, we're so happy for both of you."
As for me, I was happy as a lark. I was going to be a father, and it didn't make any difference to me whether it was a boy or a girl. I just wanted a healthy baby.
Darlene and I went right along acting like everything was going just "hunkydory" as we used to say in Kansas. We continued our normal day-to-day activities. Both of us took part in church and various music activities, singing for weddings and memorials and the like.
The ladies at the church had a shower for Darlene. With the friends who knew her when she taught at South Hutchinson School, our church friends, and other neighbors of both our families, it was a big shower.
One of Mom's friends had a note with her shower gift. It said, "If you have a baby girl, you should name her Glenda Darlene, after her mother and father. If you do, I'll give her a silver dollar."
Now a dollar was lots of money in those days, so how could we refuse her request. Of course, the real reason we decided to follow her idea was because we liked the name. We decided if we had a boy, he would be Richard, but we hadn't been able to agree on a middle name for a boy.
Darlene wasn't without discomfort, however. She had the usual morning sickness problems and to be sure, she got bigger and bigger. I began to think we were going to have twins, but Doctor Jones assured us we were going to have only one baby. He said everything was OK, and in due time we'd have a fine baby.
Just what did that mean, "In due time?"
One morning we thought "due time" arrived.
"I'm having some strong pains," Darlene announced. "I think we should go to the hospital right away."
We went, but it was a false alarm.
"Go home and wait for those pains to get stronger and closer together, then call me," the doctor said.
He was right. The pains went away. A couple days later, however, they returned with a vengeance. When we called the doctor, he said that we should go to the hospital. This was about two in the afternoon.
I waited while Doctor Jones did his examination.
"I'm going to keep Darlene in the hospital. It will be quite awhile before this baby comes. I suggest you go home and wait there until I call you."
That seemed a reasonable thing to suggest, so I gave Darlene a big kiss and left. I hadn't been home long before I just couldn't wait. I went back to the hospital.
It was about eight o'clock in the evening before the doctor decided to take Darlene to the delivery room.
Of course, every hour seemed like an eternity. However, every once in awhile, the doctor would assure me all was OK.
Over three hours went by and both the doctor and I were still waiting. I knew Darlene was in lots of pain, and I couldn't understand why he didn't do something to help her.
"I don't want to do anything to keep that baby from coming normally. I think we should wait a little longer."
Wait, wait, wait. Is it always that way? I certainly hadn't had any previous experience. Darlene hurt so much, but there wasn't a thing I could do accept stay close to her.
I did learn in later years that it doesn't always happen the same. Sometime, one barely makes it to the hospital.
Finally Dr. Jones announced that it wouldn't be too long now. He had a couple cups of coffee brought in and sat down calmly at the end of the bed, while I sat at Darlene's side, looking anxious.
After another eternity, the doctor said, "Come here, Glenn. See that head of black hair showing. It won't be long now."
However, things didn't progress as he thought they would. He sat down again but he looked a little worried. I was getting worried, for sure. Darlene was suffering from pain. I knew it and he knew it.
"Humm," he finally said. "You know, I think we'd better help that baby along a little."
With that, he gathered his instruments the nurse had laid out for him and got busy.
I never dreamed that I would get to experience such a thing. What I thought was to be a "little help" turned out to be more drastic.
The doctor gave Darlene a little ether and she quickly went to sleep. He carefully inserted his forceps in far enough to get them around the baby's head and started to pull and twist. I was sure he was going to injure our baby. Then, he decided that he would have to cut the opening larger with a pair of surgical scissors. I was afraid I was going to faint, but I didn't. He started to pull and twist again.
"There it comes," he said breathing a sigh of relief.
"You've got a fine girl! Now, let's just put her there on the table while I do some stitching on Darlene," he said to the nurse.
What a miracle to watch as our baby moved out Darlene's body, gasped, and took her very first breath of outside air.
Our first baby, Glenda Darlene McMurry, born 9:45pm, May 27, 1946, in Grace Hospital, Hutchinson, Kansas, had just joined our family. She weighed nine pounds and seven and one-quarter ounces and was twenty inches long. How excited I was!
I quickly found a telephone and made calls to Darlene's Dad and my folks making the announcement.
"We have a new baby girl and she's a "doll". Darlene is fine. We have named our baby Glenda Darlene."
The grandparents were all happy to know that they had a new granddaughter, and that she and her mother were just fine.
When I returned to the delivery room, I found Darlene was sleeping peacefully. I kissed her tenderly and whispered in her ear, "Sweetheart, Glenda Darlene is with us now."
I know she didn't hear me, but I said it anyway!
Glenda Darlene and Her Mother
My Farming Career Ends
It wasn't until I was married to Darlene that I learned just how my folks and Junior were keeping farm records. When I began to pursue my dreams of returning to the farm, it meant a third family had to be involved with the records. As I started to invest my money and labor in farm projects, the bookkeeping became more complicated. I knew Darlene was more of a mathematician than I, so I naturally expected her to work on the books with Mom. Darlene's attempt to help balance the books and get proper figures for income tax literally became a very "taxing" job. She was very exact with figures, and would spend lots of time balancing our household records and bank accounts down to the last penny. If things didn't balance, she always wanted to know why.
"Who paid for that?" Darlene would asked.
"Well, let's see," Mom pondered, "Junior and I have always had a good arrangement for paying the farm bills. If I have the money, I pay them. Likewise if he has some money at the time, he pays. In this case, I think Junior owed me some money for something or other and I think he paid that bill."
Darlene would go to Junior, asking about the same bill.
"Look, I remember exactly where the money came from to pay that bill. I got some money making terraces. I wrote it down somewhere."
I remember when Mom tried to help me keep books back in my roadshow days. Her classic statement was, "Well, son, sometimes, things simply don't add up so I just write 'Gone with the wind.'"
As I look back, I am certain that my folks' inability to communicate with Aunt Myrt and Florence on family money affairs created a lot of friction. Aunt Myrt learned to keep good records while she was giving piano lessons. Aunt Florence learned to do it as she ran her sewing business. Both seemed to have mastered the simple rules for keeping records. However, Mom and Dad, bless 'em, never seemed to be able to have a system that worked satisfactorily. They were always trying to figure out what happened to the money they had--or thought they had. Of course, I suspect that a large part of the problem was the fact there wasn't enough money to go around most of the time. Also money and material things didn't take first priority in their lives. Just give them enough to live simply, and pay their bills and their church pledge, and they were happy. My folk had a very generous nature, and would do more than their share to help others who they perceived were in need.
Darlene almost went out of her mind trying to balance those family financial records. Frankly, I never was able to add two to three and get five. It could just as well be six or something. Then, later, when I had my light stoke, my math suffered even more. Of course, I knew something wasn't quite right about Mom's and Junior's system, but if they made it work, I had never worried much about it. However, that type of philosophy didn't suit my wife. She had also seen how loose bookkeeping had caused misunderstandings, at times, between the folks, and Junior and his wife. Each family would get the feeling the other wasn't doing its share.
Darlene said, "If we are going to enter into a three-way partnership on the farm, the records must be kept accurately. That's the only way to prevent hard feelings. Dad must get the landlord's share, and then the rest must be divided three ways. On special individual projects, other accounting must be done. I don't want any problems among us about money affairs."
The folks and Junior agreed with that, and seemed happy to have her help keep accurate accounts. Of course, keeping accurate records didn't help the financial situation in the long run. It soon became apparent that three families couldn't make a living on the small farm, and my fantasies about a quiet farm life began to fade away. Although I was reluctant to admit it, I knew in my heart that I would have to be the one to leave. After all, Junior had first priority as he had never left the farm. Also he had only a high school education and finding a job would be more difficult for him. I could always go back to teaching if necessary.
I have to admit that the conversation I'd had with Fred Montgomery about KU at that Calvin Company Workshop some months before had lingered in my mind. But I just hadn't quite been ready to give up my dream of coming back to the farm. At the same time, my fascination with film kept tugging at me, and the call to go to the University of Southern California had never really faded away.
I don't remember the exact date when I made the big decision to go to graduate school at the University of Kansas. I do know that we were driving along the road from Newton when it happened.
"Glenn," Darlene said rather emphatically. "There's absolutely no way we're going to make a living on the farm. We are going to have to do something else. Dad and Junior barely have enough income to keep them alive."
I wasn't quite ready to admit that it was necessary for me to leave the farm. I wanted to argue some more about it and my Irish temper was beginning to show, but Darlene kept the heat on.
"The GI bill is a good opportunity for you to get your master's degree. With it, you can get a good teaching job. Maybe then we can save some money and still get to California. Buying those cows, raising turkeys and giving piano lessons is certainly not going to get us there."
My mind was muddled. I wasn't really convinced yet. I clammed up, and asked Darlene to quit talking about it for awhile. I suddenly remembered the title of Oscar Matthew's film, "The Power of Decision." Decisions, decisions and more decisions! How in the world am I going to make up my mind? Then I recalled what I had said in a talk I had made one day when we were trying to keep Kansas "dry." "The power of indecision can be devastating."
Finally, I blurted out, "OK. I'll go to KU graduate school for two years, teach for two years, we'll save some money, and then we head west to study film production at the University of Southern California."
How good it felt to finally make a decision! As I look back, I have
no regrets. I enjoyed working on the farm that first year. It was a welcome
change from my life in the service. However, we have never been sorry about
our decision to leave the farm.. My life off the farm has proved to be
very rewarding and I'm thankful for my many experiences.
One year after moving into our little house, we moved out. As I have explained, we had decided to go to Kansas University at Lawrence in September. We packed our belongings and prepared to store them at the farm until time to go to school. Our plan was to spend the next three weeks on a trip to Yellowstone Park.
Right after harvest Glenn's brother and his family had gone on their trip to Yellowstone. As soon as they returned, Mom, Dad, Darlene and I made our preparations to go. They would care for things on the farm while we were gone.
Packing our Ford wasn't an easy job. We took tents and cots, blankets and other bedding, a camp stove and cooking supplies. Four people had to have clothes and other personal paraphernalia. Also we had our two-months old baby and all things necessary for her, especially diapers, had to be packed. Disposable diapers weren't a common item in those days. We already had a car bed for her. Food for her wasn't much of a problem as she was nursing. She had started to eat some pablum, but it wasn't absolutely necessary to her well-being. We had a bottle warmer, and if we could arrange to plug it in somewhere, we could warm water or milk to mix with the pablum. If we couldn't, that was also OK. Luckily, Darlene always had a good supply of milk for all her babies.
Needless to say, it took us all morning to pack and we didn't get on the road until afternoon.
"We're loaded at last! Yellowstone, here we come!" I finally declared.
The first night was spent in a school yard eight miles south of a little town called Plainville. Everything went along just fine. We all got a kick out of camping. This trip was going to be very inexpensive. Incidentally, the most we paid for gasoline was 26 cents a gallon. It was usually 22 or 23 cents. Oil was about 30 cents a quart.
Heading north again, we stopped at Phillipsburg, Kansas, where Mom visited some old friends and her old home. We crossed the Nebraska line, had lunch, and visited the historic Pony Express Station at Gothenberg. Glenda seemed to be weathering the trip so far.
That night we stopped at the Buffalo Bill Tourist Camp at North Platte. The cost was $1.00. Can you imagine that!
The next morning we drove through gorgeous hill country. We saw large wheat and alfalfa fields. Then we got up to the timber line, and at night camped by a mountain stream. We even took "sponge" baths in the cold water.
We visited the Wind Cave National Park. There we saw buffalo and antelope. According to our diary, we bought $3.23 worth of groceries. We must have brought lots of food with us. As I read the account of the trip before writing this, I couldn't help wondering just what we ate along the way.
We camped at Lake Slyvan one night. The next morning I took time out to sketch the beautiful scenery around the lake. That day we drove through Needles Drive, and on to Mr. Rushmore and Spearfield Canyon. By evening we reached Wyoming and kept driving until we got to Devil's Tower. There we found a camp ground for 50 cents.
The next morning we were aghast as we gazed on that pile of rock. Darlene and I hiked part way around, but didn't want to leave Glenda asleep in the car too long. We returned and then the folks started down the path at the foot of the tower. After nearly an hour, we began to be a little worried about them, but soon here they came from the other side. They had walked all the way around.
That day we were excited about seeing snow in the mountains, and getting a glimpse of some deer. We went through the Powder River Pass, 9,666 feet high, and the Tensleep Canyon. At night we found a filling station where the man let us pitch our tent.
Driving through the mountains was quite an experience for us people from flat central Kansas. We were over one thousand miles from home, and the cold night temperatures were a big change from the hot, humid weather we had left in Kansas.
Before we got to Yellowstone Park, we stopped at Cody, Wyoming. Since it was the first city of any size we had seen for awhile, we took time for a shopping spree, mostly window shopping, that is. One store had a magic eye to open its doors, and that was a new experience for us.
More mountain driving took us through the Shoshone Canyon, and finally to Yellowstone Park, the main goal of our trip. We camped at Fishing Bridge and spent the coldest night of our lives. Those camp cots didn't provide very good insulation on the bottom. We tried putting newspapers down before the blankets and that helped some. Although Junior had warned us to take lots of blankets, we decided he hadn't been emphatic enough about just how cold the nights were.
The next morning Dad and I tried to catch some fish off Fishing Bridge, but had no luck. Our neighbors from Washington state felt sorry for us and gave us two fish to fry.
Since Dad had some relatives in Livingston, Montana, we went north out of the park to Mammoth Springs where we camped. The next day we got to Livingston. One of the relatives was Dad's Aunt Lulu. She had visited us in Kansas from time to time, and I well remembered her singing for us. One of the songs she sang and played on the piano was called "The Tune the Old Cow Died On." She explained that it was dedicated to the cow the farmer had starved. The old farmer heard that a cow would give more milk if he played music for her. He decided, if this were true, he's play a little more music each day and feed a little less grain. He did this for awhile with no adverse effects, but, alas, when he quite feeding grain and gave her only music, she finally died.
Dad really enjoyed the day visiting her and some cousins. That evening we returned to Mammoth Springs to camp. At last we had learned how to fix our covers so we could keep a little warmer. One night there was a bear in camp, but he didn't do any great damage except to the garbage cans.
All along Glenda had always kept nice and snug in her car bed. We would put the car right next to our tent door and let her sleep in the car. A couple times in the mountains she would have crying spells, and we couldn't decide why. Later, we thought about the altitude and what it did to our ears. That was probably what was causing her discomfort. During the whole trip, those crying spells were the only trouble we had with our baby. We have often said she was less trouble on that trip at two months than any of our children ever were again on any trip.
We spent a couple days in Yellowstone Park taking in the sights, and, of course, watching Old Faithful geyser several times. Then we headed for Salt Lake City, expecting to visit the Mormon Temple, and hoping that we might hear the organ and choir which we had often heard on the radio.
Near Salt Lake we found another campground for $1.00. When we parked at the temple the next morning, a lady approached the car offering to take care of Glenda. She persuaded us she was official and that she often baby sat for couples who were coming to the temple for the Mormon marriage ceremony. My understanding is that this is a marriage for eternity and must be done in the temple. Maybe today, since they have so many other temples, one can do it in other than the one in Salt Lake. I'm not sure.
We didn't tell her we weren't Mormon, but just accepted her offer. We were thrilled to get to hear a wonderful concert on that magnificent organ.
Our next stop was Grand Junction, Colorado, to visit Mom's sister and her family. After two days there, we did more sight-seeing in Colorado. We rode a train to the bottom of Royal Gorge, visited the Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls and Helen Hunt Jackson's grave, and toured a pottery plant.
Now it was time to head for Kansas. We got to Syracuse in time to camp for the night for only 25 cents. The next day we stopped in Montezuma where Darlene had taught school. She was able to visit some friends there. Our final stop was in Hanston where we had lived during my high school days. After seeing some friends, going into the church to see what changes had been made since we moved away, and driving by our old farm, we headed for Hutchinson. We arrived at nine o'clock that night.
What a wonderful trip we had! We were so thankful to be home safely and with everyone well. Now it was only two weeks until time to get ready for our move to Kansas University at Lawrence. We had earlier made arrangements to move into a housing community, called Sunflower, not too far from the Kansas University campus.