Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Chat in the Den

Mary Ann and I are in Lake Tanglewood, parking the RV in my sister's driveway and spending the next few days at my parents house a couple of blocks away. We'll be here for about another week before heading off to California for Mary Ann's next event.

I had a nice long talk with my father, aged 87, today, talking about his history. Every time I do this, I learn new things. I thought I'd share my notes:

While on a troop train heading for the Pacific, Gene stopped in Amarillo and had a brief few minutes with Evelyn, but by the time the train reached California, Hiroshima had happened and VJ day declared and he was no longer headed for Okinawa. The train unloaded in San Bruno in the San Francisco area. He was stationed at the Naval Station in Richmond for six months or so until he was released. (Oakland Navy Yard? Supply Depot. Mare Island?) He and Evelyn and the two children Roger and Mary lived in a housing project in Richmond, struggling with war time rationing. She had to beg the store owners to sell her items they'd hidden out of sight for their special customers. Gene was within a 20 minute walk to where he worked. They had no car. He remembered a visit the observatory at Mt. Hamilton just outside of Richmond.

He had gone into the Navy as Seaman First Class because of his radio experience and was placed in radio supply.

While living in the bay area, his uncle Bill Melton, brother of EJ Melton Sr., who lived in Oakland, working for Ford Motor company, visited and they spent some time together. He had a motor and they rented a rowboat and fished in Frank's Tract, a marshy area nearby where they caught striped bass.

Grandfather Thomas Jefferson Melton was Methodist cricuit preacher and rural postal deliverer. Dad's father Gene Sr. was a pharmisist.

Uncle Luther was a candymaker. And later lived in the ozarks. After his company closed in the depression, Luther and Gene Sr. lived together in Oklahoma City and made candy in the garage. They made candy canes and peanut brittle and fudge in a black cast-iron pot. They had a big roll of cellophane to wrap the candy bars in. Those they sold in the drug store. Dad got sick of it. He was in high school. He lived on beans and candybars. Every day for lunch he had fudge or peanut brittle bar in his lunch box. Peanut patties five or six inches in diameter. Candy canes were made as a taffy and then pulled through an opening and twisted.

Uncle Arville. (Dad grew up thinking it was Orville.) Went to Phoenix. Had two boys. Killed by spider bite in Arizona. Lost track of him. 'Melton family was never one to be close.'

I hope for more visits like this in the next few days.

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