My daddy was born in 1914 in the ridges of Northeast Alabama. He was deserted by his father when he was a school-age boy and “raised” by his single mother in the midst of the Great Depression. He was raised dirt-poor.
My Aunt Helon, tells about their childhood and what a great shot my Daddy was with a gun. She said he would leave the house with a shotgun and a couple of shells. In a little bit, they would hear a gun shot and she would tell her mother, “Mama, we’ll have meat tonight!”
Daddy finished the ninth grade and my mother finished the sixth grade. She was the daughter of a sharecropper couple whose only piece of ground would be their burial plot.
My parents were married when my mother was sixteen and they started having babies. My first two sibling were born before World War II. Because of my Daddy’s age, he was drafted later in the war which allowed him to get a job at Goodyear in Gadsden before he was drafted. He resumed work with them after the war. This allowed my Dad and Mother to climb out of poverty, even though depression era mindsets still prevailed. My two other brothers and I were post war babies (boomers) bringing the number to five children.
The war took two years out of my Daddy’s life, away from his family. He fought the Japanese in Okinawa. I have seen him shed tears over the boys who never returned but he came back alive and physically whole. We were blessed.
Years later in his last decade of life, my Daddy owned a Nissan Sentra. He loved that little car. It was his last car to drive and the one from which we had to pull his keys to keep him from killing someone. Much later, when his thinking was sparse and scattered, he would still ask me about “my little car”.
One day, I was driving him to a doctor’s appointment, and I asked him a loaded question. I said, “Daddy, have you ever thought it strange that you fought the Japanese on Okinawa and here you are owning a Japanese car?” He looked at me straight on and emphatically said, “I’ve never even thought about it!” He seemed surprised that he had not thought of it. That moved me. Dad was not one who just let things go, oh no! But he had put this behind him.
Here was this ole country boy, who had probably never crossed the Alabama line until the war. He had been plucked from his young family and carried to the other side of the world to fight with people who looked and lived quite differently than him. He came home from that battle with the future in his mind not the past. When he came home; he hugged his little plump wife, kissed the faces of his two young children, and stepped into his future and ours. He loved his family more than he hated his enemies. “Bless his heart”, he would even buy one of their cars!
If you live in the past, you will end up hating your enemies more than you love your children.
Yours on the Journey,
Harry L. Whitt
**Just so you know, I drive a Toyota Camry and cut my grass with a Kubota lawnmower. We love the Japanese and everyone!!! And we love our children too!!!