Following up on my earlier post about my family friends and his involvement with Patton’s 3rd Army I wanted to discuss some of the stories he told me about his later life. It is important, in my opinion, to look at all the facets of a person to get a feel for them as a whole and in civilian life he was no less exemplary than while in uniform.
On being discharged after the end of WW2 he returned to a small town on the Minnesota/North Dakota border and started a career with the railroad. It had been his dream to become an engineer and through hard work he was able to achieve this goal. Talking with him his years driving trains in this rural part of the country were some of the happiest of his life.
He often spoke of the days when he would slowly be going through a town, the most excitement most small farming communities had at this point, and being hailed by kids running and waving trying to keep up with the train. Often, with the parents’ permission, he would give some of the kids rides in his train engine to the next town and return them later in the day during his return run. Other times, if he had the extra money but not the time, he would buy candy to throw to the kids who marked his path and brightened his day.
For years until his retirement he led a happy, simple, and generous life. I always found these stories of mid-century american idyll fascinating having grown up in a time of such easy transport and over-stimulation but he made the life of an engineer sound more glamorous than any CEO or actor could possibly have. I like to think that his kindness and joy during these later years of his life helped in some way to calm the turmoil he faced during the war. I know many veterans found such outlets and led wonderful lives as a way of saying thanks or simply celebrating their lives after violence.
As I said, it’s important to always look at every aspect of a person and my friend was a hero in every aspect of his life, like so many others like him throughout the country who helped create the world we live in.
Thank you for reading,