Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mom's Haley Family Memories, part 12: She and Dad take their two "Japan born" babies back home

Mom, I have another little "assignment" for you when you get a moment or two. Can you relate as much as you can, the story of our hair raising flight to Hawaii that almost resulted in a fiery crash or at least a mighty splash into the Pacific Ocean?  

We flew back to the states in early 1959. I think it was not a military plane we were on although I’m pretty sure I went INTO Japan on a military plane. It all happened so many years ago.  You are knowledgeable of flight activities; I definitely wasn't at the time.  I have always remembered the flight back across the Pacific as on a Pan Am airplane. 

I did see the engine but not an actual fire. I remember seeing that the propellers were not turning at all. I am pretty sure that when it happened we were sleeping and when it did we must have lost altitude pretty fast.  I was so busy taking care of my two babies that I wasn't aware of all that was going on.  The Navy eventually sent out two amphibious planes that flew on each side of us and escorted us all the way to our destination. We all cheered when we saw them out there. Gotta love the Navy, right?  
Mom wrote: "How do you like Gene's keen motor bike? It is light blue"

Before that, when the plane lost oxygen everyone complained of headaches and you and Mary Kay were crying from both the earaches and headaches too.   I remember the earaches. (When we lost the engines the aircraft lost the ability to pressurize which caused the headaches and earaches until the aircrew could get the plane down to a more “comfortable” altitude).

The crew handled everything very confidently and reassuringly.  It was pretty hectic with the two of you crying so hard and me trying to calm you down. Now you cause me to doubt about whether it was Guam or Midway that we went back to.  I just remembered that it was a tiny base (tiny base means it was Midway) and we walked to the mess hall to eat and then walked out to the beach to see the remains of the fallen planes from the war with Japan which had ended just 14 years before. I do remember that we were almost at the halfway point to Hawaii (THAT is definitely Midway) and the pilot had to decide whether to try to make it to Hawaii or turn back to the closest island with a runway. 
Midway Island indicated in the circle.
Halfway between Asia and North America
Its been a US possession since the 1850s
Oh yes, about the landing, they had sprayed the landing area with foam or something like that. I was sure glad to be back on the ground. We stayed there until the engine was repaired or replaced. I also remember being nervous getting back on the plane. But the trip on to Hawaii went very well.  

This PanAm flight ditched
in the Pacific 3 years before our flight.
If we had lost one more engine
it would have been our fate as well.
However, MOST ditchings were
Wow, we've really come a long way since then, where now jumbos can fly nonstop all the way across. It wasn't much more than ten years after that in 1970 that we flew back across the Atlantic in one of the first 747s after finishing Dad's last assignment to Turkey. Do you remember that?  From props to jumbos in just ten years!

 Hey, can you tell the story of our road trip across the US from the West Coast to our first duty station in 1959? What car was that, the one where we got caught in a sand storm somewhere in the desert, was it?  You guys picked it up when we arrived in California? What was our destination; back to Michigan first, or did we go right to the base? Or am I completely off the mark on the whole story? 

Mary Kay & Philip in late 1958
We landed in California and stayed a day there while Dad picked up our car; it was the Olds that we had shipped to Japan and so now it was waiting for us back in the states after we shipped it back FROM Japan.   Dad also reenlisted there that day and was given a reenlistment bonus check that he didn't cash until we got to Saginaw.  

"Phil blowing out the candles
on his 2nd birthday cake,
June 23, 1959"
I believe the sand storm hit as we were passing through Arizona.  I remember it being very dry when the storm kicked up. We drove until we came to the nearest town, arriving Saturday evening. On Sunday morning we went to Mass at the nearby Catholic Church and these elderly ladies were walking out after Mass commenting that they had never lived through such a terrible sand storm.  Dad said to them, "Wouldn't you know it? The worst sand storm in memory hits us as we are driving home after being stationed in Japan—story of my life!”
Phil on the stairway at Grandma Haley's house
on 12th Street in Saginaw, Michigan
The storm damaged the finish on the car and we had to have it repainted in Saginaw so we could trade it in on the Chevrolet station wagon that we bought right there in Saginaw.  
Phil at Grandma & Grandpa Haley's house
on the 12th Street

We stayed in the house on 12th Street while your dad went on to his next assignment in Wisconsin. After a few weeks he decided that he did not like it there and asked to be reassigned. That resulted in orders to the little air force station in Kirksville, Missouri and that is where little David was stillborn, having died in the birth canal, no bone covering the back of his brain. More than likely it was because of the severe lack of O2 on the way back from Japan. The third month is the bone forming month so they figured that is what happened.

Looks like Mississippi or Florida about 1960
You guys used to tell the story about us not being served at a restaurant in the deep South on a Sunday morning and being asked to leave instead when you asked the waitress where the nearest Catholic church was. What are the details of that?  In my mind it’s all rather murky.

We were never kicked out of a restaurant but I had gone by myself to church while we were stationed at Keesler AFB at Biloxi, Mississippi while Dad went to school there after we left Missouri. It was just too hard to take you all to Church. I would go to the earlier Mass and because there wasn't much time between the two Masses I would sit in the back seats so I could leave just as soon as The Blessing was given. I’d hurry home so Dad could drive back to church for the next Mass. The usher told me to move up to the front of the Church. I explained why I wanted to sit in the back and he said that those rows were for the negroes.  I was so disgusted that I barely moved at all—maybe just two rows up. The next day I was telling my neighbor about it; she was also an air force wife. No sympathy from her, she said that the Catholic Church was very good to the negroes; they weren't even ALLOWED in the Protestant Churches. That was The South in the early 60’s.

"Momma & Phil,
Fort Walton Beach, Florida 1960"
Hey, I was always going to ask you but never got around to it. Why DID they move out of Saginaw? I always assumed it was because the neighborhood was turning into a "hood." I remember how concerned everyone was when the riots began to roll across the cities of the country during the Civil Rights Era and probably even more in the aftermath of the MLK assassination. Do you know how they settled on Birch Run, probably because the Bell's lived out there?

Dad and Phil
You are right they moved out of Saginaw because the neighborhood got a little too dangerous for Grandma to live there, so they sold the house and rented for a few short months back on the street behind Merrill Street. Then they bought the house in Birch Run that Gail now lives in. Uncle Mike had already settled in Birch Run then and he thought it was a much better place for her to live.   

So 12th Street was where they lived before my memories of Saginaw started? The only place I remember is the one where I met Tag (Grandma and Uncle Bill's dog), the place with the big front porch, where the black boy lived nearby, Ronnie I think was his name; it was also the place where we stayed waiting to join Dad in Yalova Turkey, right?
I lived on Merrill Street from 1943 until I got married in 1956.  After I left for Japan, Grandpa Kehoe died and left Mom an inheritance which meant they could finally buy a home.  That’s when they bought the house on 12th Street, the one that you remember.   So they moved from Saint Mary's Cathedral Parish to Holy Rosary Parish.  The Saint Mary's school that YOU attended was in Bangor, Maine where you went to first grade and made your first Communion.  You and I went to two DIFFERENT Saint Mary's Schools.  When we lived with Grandma on 12th Street while waiting to join Dad in Turkey I'm thinking you finished that year at Holy Rosary. It was only a few months, perhaps three.  During that short period I went back to Saint Mary's Hospital to work until we left for Turkey.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mom's Haley Family Memories, part 11: Her Second Child is a girl and Mary Kay is her name

Mary Haley Spear my dear mother! Attention! It’s time for some more “memory inputs.” Your last was on MY early months and tender years so I’m looking for whatever you have on your OTHER “kids!” Find me some time please!

Okay! Okay!   Life is pretty busy here.  I am quite active with exercise at the "Y" and volunteering with taking Blood Pressures, singing with the Diocesan choir, baby showers and spending time with my dinner friends, etc; but, having said that, I will try to get this done for you.

Thank you Mother, sorry for the bit of scolding there; but remember this, what we are doing here is not just for me, it’s not even for you, it’s for the entire “Haley family,” for those present and for those to come.   

Okay, Mary Kay was my second baby, born just 11 months after you. All my pregnancies went well for all four of you. By the time MK came along we had a Japanese maid, so that helped a little. But, we let her go after about 2 months as I quickly got my strength back and was able to care for my two babies.

She was born on June 4, 1958 not long after we moved into base housing. We hired a Japanese maid to help out at first but I soon got back on my feet and didn't need her any more.

We lived in Japan at the time! Thus the kimono!
Mary Kay had a very nervous stomach, something I don't think she ever outgrew. I didn’t want to cover up her beautiful red hair so I put away her baby bonnets so I could share it with the world! Redheads have always been prevalent in the family by the way.

She and Phil were very close when they were little. We returned to the States while they were both still babies, MK was just 9 months while Phil was 21 months. Good thing I was young and could handle my “nearly-twins” just fine. 
Mary Kay was a little more active, or maybe I thought so because my time was divided between two very young children. But I do remember she was able to stand up in her crib and scream for attention after just a few months, much earlier than any of my other babies.

As I said she had a nervous tummy and several different foods caused her digestive distress. At that time the doctors started you little ones on solid food much earlier than they do today. Looking back now I can see that that wasn't such a good idea. 

Living in base housing on Johnson Air Base made life a little bit easier than living off base but just nine months after MK was born we were on our way back to the US to our next assignment at the Air Station at Kirksville, Missouri. We went right into base housing there as Dad was NCOIC (noncommissioned officer in charge) of the Station. It was all fenced in and quite safe for you two little ones to enjoy the outdoors. We had a swing set and slide in the yard and you two really enjoyed that. 

I of course was PG again with little David. (Sorry to say, David was stillborn). I looked out my kitchen window one morning and there was Mary Kay up on the top of the slide dancing around. I almost had a heart attack and went running out to get her down. The two of you got into quite a lot of mischief.   You decided to inspect the small housing area (only 8 houses) and the neighbor brought you back to the house telling me that you had gone down into the ditch and started crying because you couldn't get back up out of it. The next "fun" thing the two of you did was to rub your hands on our freshly painted blue house and wipe them off on our red station wagon. Dad was not at all happy with that. It dried quickly and he had to work pretty hard to get it off the side of the car.

Mary Kay with Grandpa Spear and Cousin Christine
Mid 1960's at Grandpa's House
MK: "That pic with grandpa Spear has always been one of my favorites."
 Then you both decided to check out the First Sergeant’s tomato plants (they lived next door).  The two of you picked all the tomatoes (thinking you were helping I guess) and proceeded to knock on their door to give them to him. He brought you home and was so sweet about it all but I made you both walk over to their house and apologize to them, after I had given you a lecture about why you were wrong to pick his tomatoes.

(This reminds me of a story you told me about MK and me, where one of your neighbors again brought us to the door in tow. His face was blanched and his hands shaking as he explained that “a feeling” made him get out of his car before reversing out of his driveway and there he found the two of us toddlers, happily playing on the ground directly behind his car.)  

"Natural" smiles there, eh?
That incident about you two little ones scaring the neighbor (and Dad & me too!) that happened in the Pan Handle of Florida while Dad was going to school before moving to Dow AFB in Bangor Maine. Let’s see that must have been in 1960 when the two of you were just two and three years old.

 From then until you started school you two were pretty much inseparable. As I said, our next assignment was Bangor, Maine at Dow Air Force Base where we lived in the trailer park about 10 miles from the Base at East Holden. Housing was short because our entire unit descended on Bangor at the same time. 

The two of you started school in Maine and you both really liked it and did very well in your classes.  While in the trailer park south of Bangor in the town of East Holden you went to kindergarten in the public school but after we moved into Dow Air Force Base Housing, called K-Park, you finished kindergarten in the on-base school. After that we sent you and MK to Saint Mary’s, a Catholic school in Bangor where both of you also did very well.

So this will be all for today. I Hope it helps some. This is turning out to be quite a job!

More photos of MK below. You can't miss her--she's the one with the striking locks of red.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mom's Haley Family Memories, part 10: My Mother has her first child.... ME!

Eugene & Mary Spear, newly weds in Japan
I think here is where I need to ask you to cover the birth and early years of your children, including me of course. You can do it any order you prefer.

You, Phil, of course were my first born.  The pregnancy was very normal. We were at Johnson Air Base, Irumagawa Japan.  My due date was June 23 and that is when everything started happening. We were living in the trailer on base right next to the fence on the edge of the base. Outside the fence were some off base houses and also some Japanese homes. 
The base hospital where I was born in Japan
My labor was shorter than some of my friends who were also expecting. I don't remember just how many hours. My tolerance for pain is quite high, so I didn't let it worry me.   (My experience working in Labor and delivery as a student helped as I knew just what was going on). 
New born Phil w proud poppa
Late in the afternoon you arrived and everyone was excited that it was a boy. I think I have already mentioned that Aunt Ruth was there also and she drove all over the base telling all our friends and the choir members that you had arrived. We had no phones in those days even on base. I think we did later on in base housing. 
Zonked out baby Phil w momma Mary

I was in the hospital just 3 days and went home nursing you until I developed an infection and had to stop nursing. Hospital staff infection had just started then. I ended up having to have a small surgery to open up the infection site and the doctor had to debride the site so that it would heal properly. After that no more nursing of the following babies as I couldn't produce any milk.
In front of base housing cottage

I just remembered some thoughts about your early schooling. When you went to kindergarten in rural Maine you rode the bus from the trailer park. I guess to save gas your class lasted all day. I remember when you came home you wanted to spend as much time outdoors as you could, and I’m sure that was because at five you had been cooped up all day in school.   Then when you transferred to the base it was only a 1/2 day and you were much happier and not so on edge when you came home. 

Then the next year you transferred to Saint Mary's in Bangor, which you seemed to like a lot.  There was the second grade nun also at Saint Mary’s (I've forgotten her name) who  recognized your artistic ability and encouraged you with art classes. (The sister set me up with a private tutor once a week, an older student).  

Saint Mary's, Bangor Maine
Sister Irene, Phil's 1st Grade teacher
Kevin, about 2 yrs old
Her name was Sister Irene. I found her going through the old childhood photos of me. There she is with Kevin and I in 1963. Seeing her face brings back a lot of memories. See Spot run!  She’s the one who taught me to read.  

First Communion Phil
Standing on front porch
K-Park Dow AFB Base Housing 
Saint Mary’s is where you made your First Communion,  along with our two God daughters, the Davis sisters.  Laurie is the younger one and I hear from her every Christmas. I can't think of the older one's name.   I never hear from her.  

By the way you might want to enter this little note back in the time before you were born. I taught 5th grade CCD for that school year at the chapel on base.

Phil & a Davis girl
\1st Communion Day K-Park Housing
(I remember the Davis’ from the trailer court that we lived in out on Mud Lake. Their dad’s name was Paul Davis. He had a bad back that caused him to stoop and hobble along like a very old man.) 

St Mary's was an interesting school.  I have a lot of memories of that place, even more so than all my other elementary schools put together. That nun sticks in my mind big time. She put me under the wing of an older boy and he and I spent some alone time up in one of the unused rooms way up in an attic class room. He did a lot to show me the tricks sketching and drawing. 

One of the coolest things about that place was that at noon while we were also out in the large school square for recess they rang the church bells. The tradition for us kids was to FREEZE in the exact position we were in when the bells started until the final peel. 

In November '63 I was in class when JFK was shot and the nuns came in to the class room in full blown sobbing tears mode telling us little kids that the president had been shot.  We weren't so much stunned by the news as we were by the reaction of those nuns. 
Amazing the things that I remember of that time in that school:  Going to Mass every day; the clickers the nuns used to signal to us to stand, sit and kneel; learning how to read, and on and on...  

But there WAS another school called Holy Angels that I attended AFTER Saint Mary’s. In fact, that was the very next school I went to after we left Maine for San Angelo Texas where Dad got stationed at Good Fellow Air Force Base for advanced cryptological equipment maintenance training on his way to Karamürsel Air Base Turkey. It was also a private Catholic School, but for me, it was hell on earth.  

Phil 7 in Holy Angels Uniform
I remember we had to wear khaki uniforms. For some reason I got branded as a trouble maker there and it stayed with me the entire time I went to school at that hellish place. So weird, since I was never considered a "bad boy" before or any time after.  What really upset me at the time is they called you in and had you in tears over what a horrible little boy I was. Oh!  It’s coming back to me. After they called you in to fill your head with all those trumped up charges on me you were so upset that when we came home you showed me a football that you had bought for me, telling me that I was not going to get it until I straightened up and did right.  It was all very confusing for me because I really had no idea what I was doing so wrong.  

If I remember correctly they told me that you would walk down the sidewalk and strip the leaves from the hedges that lined the walk. You had just come from Bangor where vegetation grew like crazy and in Texas it didn't and had to be nurtured and took a lot of care. You didn't know this and were just having fun. I didn't realize that I was so hard on you and thought I had explained it all to you that you were in danger of being expelled from school.   They were overly strict, I agree.   Some private schools were like that.   Sorry!

Please Mom, don't take any of this ancient history personal. We are simply reminiscing. I wasn't blaming you for anything. I was recalling how irked I was at them for making you so sad, not to mention I definitely felt impugned at their overly harsh assessment of me. Can you believe it all happened 50 years ago?! Of course you HAD to go with their bogus claims that I was some kind of juvenile delinquent, but I knew better.  Although, thinking back, I think I began to believe that maybe I WAS a bad boy! I remember “the hedge stripping incident” perfectly.  To say that I stripped off leaves was a complete exaggeration. All I did was drag my fingers along them while walking past. I might have plucked one tiny leaf though!  Death to the little boy! Goodness gracious, they were telling you that they were going to expel me! Holy crap! Are you kidding?  I never knew that.  No wonder you were in tears.

MK & Phil 1965
San Angelo Texas
Hey, do you remember what Mary Kay’s teacher did to me in that school?  I'm sitting at my desk in my own class minding my own business when suddenly MK and her old nun of a teacher suddenly burst through the door and makes a beeline right for me.  The nun has one hand on MK's shoulder and practically shoving the little girl that was her towards me. In the other hand of the old biddy is some paper that MK had just completed which must have been pretty good work because the nun slams it down on my desk top and practically screams at me with her nose right on mine, "LOOK at this paper young man!  WHY can't you do work like this…! "  After that, all I heard was ranting.  I really think that ONE nun for some reason had it out for me—ME—just a little boy!  I was just looking at a photo of me in my Holy Angel's uniform—I was a cute little kid.  Weird, right?  That dried up old woman certainly had some issues.

You’re right Phil, those ARE memories of SO long ago. Mary Kay, do you remember the mean OLD nun dragging you into Phil's class?   She sure should have been retired long before that year, don’t you think?

MK: Yes, I remember that particular incident very clearly. One teacher was a nun, the other was a lay person, Mrs. Cornflower is the name I remember. It was a spelling test I think. I got 100% on it and I remember the teacher telling me to get up and then pushed me into Philip's classroom. I was a first grader and remember thinking so clearly. ‘This is wrong. This is so wrong. Why would you do this and make my brother hate me? I'm only six and you are an adult. I know this is wrong why don't you know this is wrong?’ That was one of the worse days of my life, one I will never forget. I always felt the closeness I shared with Philip deteriorated after that day. A very sad day for me.  
Little Phil and his dad
Nope, for me it caused nothing of the sort. That incident barely had any effect on me at all. It’s amazing that you remember Mrs. Cornflower's name since she was MY teacher.  I always assumed that the old nun was YOUR teacher, but now I’m thinking she was in the office. I'll be damned, I mean danged.
Phil with his mom pregnant with MK
 I remember the look on MK's face quite well while I was being harangued by the crazy old flying nun—stunned horror—kind of funny.  It was quite obvious MK wanted no part of any it. Thinking back, I was too young to hate anyone, even that dried up old biddy and certainly not the other obvious victim, my little freckle faced little sister.  Little boys are a lot like dogs that get kicked a lot, they don't hate, they just want the kicking to stop and then they seek to stay AWAY from the kicker!  
The only thing about Holy Angel's is that I got gun shy in that place.  I was always looking over my shoulder that maybe I was pissing someone else off about something.  She was the first adult bully that I ever had to deal with and it completely puzzled me why she decided to make my young life so miserable. Even so, her notwithstanding, things that adults did to me or said to me never bothered me very much; but I do remember feeling awfully bad about what other kids might say or do—I was hypersensitive to that.  Stuff like that, being physically attacked by other kids or yelled at by adults, happened a lot to me over my early years, more than I've ever told people.  THAT is why I've repeatedly claimed that THE greatest thing that EVER happened to me is when we moved to Birch Run where suddenly I didn't have to worry about getting beaten up, or verbally attacked, or pushed around by black kids (which happened a LOT in the 60s), and there were no bullies of any color or age to worry about.  It was instant heaven.  
Mary writes: "Gene & Phil - look alike?"
September 3, 1957
I just remembered another horrifying incident that happened in San Angelo. This time "Little Phil" DEFINITELY showed bad judgment. What was that kid's name down the block?  I can't remember.  Anyway, he brought out a heavy old rusty throwing dart.  So, we started throwing it.  And then we had the idea of throwing at each other, like a game of dodge dart. We got far enough away that we could easily get out of the way but then I whipped it at him kind of low and fast and he ran right into it!  I remember it sticking right into his lower leg.  I was sick seeing what I had done.  Boy oh boy, if I deserved some kind of punishment for anything it was for THAT. Ha! Maybe the old nun WAS right!

My Cousin Brian had the following remarks below:


I just finished reading your latest article - Part 10 about your childhood. I had to chuckle about one area that brought back some memories.  I was just talking to someone at the VFW about these memories not so long ago.

You mentioned being bullied by black kids when young in the 60s.  When we lived on Harold Street in Saginaw in the early 70s, I attended Kindergarten ('71) and First Grade ('72) at Jesse Loomis Elementary School (just checked the school is still there).  I walked to school, about 4-5 blocks having to cross E. Gennessee, a major highway for us youngsters to cross twice daily.  Anyway, I can remember many of those days going to school or coming home changing my route in an effort to avoid the all too often beating I would get from this one black kid and his friends.  There were times when they would gang up on me.  They were always there to make my life a living hell. Dad would tell me to fight back but if I did, I always got the worst of it.  The kid would wrestle me to the ground and beat on me.  I can remember dad telling his parents that he was older and should leave me alone.  I remember dad saying on one occasion that his parents gave him a good beating for his bullying. Makes you wonder if the race issues of the 60s were some of the causes of us getting bullied as kids.
After that, it seems that bullies always seemed to find me. I even got into fights with bullies at Mackensen Elementary School when we moved to Bay City.  By then, it was my Irish-Red Head-Kennedy temper that got the best of me.  I now know that I got some of that temper from Mom.
Anyway - just thought you may be interested in hearing some of my experiences in the early '70s.


Brian, my cousin! Not surprisingly to me, your experiences were VERY similar to mine. I think the black kids of the 60s and early 70s became more aggressive as a direct result of the "burn baby burn" black militancy era of the 60s race riots.  I don't think you were aware of the riots at your younger age but I was VERY cognizant of them. In fact, that increased violence and criminality is why Grandma Haley and Uncle Bill finally gave up on Saginaw and moved out to the safety of Birch Run. I remember well black kids wearing single black gloves like the black US Olympic athletes did at Mexico City in '68. They would then find some white kid to punch with those gloved hands and a couple times it was me, until I learned to avoid them. It actually sounds like you had it even worse than I did though because other than a few inopportune or unavoidable times I was mostly able to keep out of their reach.  It was obvious they enjoyed the power that their violent aggressiveness and intimidation brought to them. It never occurred to us white kids that we could have simply formed our own racial protective association to keep ourselves safe from the constant threats of battering and bullying.  Like I said though, all that stress on me ended once my dad retired and we moved to Birch Run where everyone was friendly and where there were only one or two black families in town. They were all very nice people, and the few black kids from those families were amiable and well accepted in the community. As a matter of fact, they were treated great, like celebrities. Hey, can I include your comments in this email as a follow on commentary to the post, or would you prefer to keep it private?  I KNOW that OUR experiences with racial bullying by black kids was NOT a unique phenomenon.  I think that THAT is interesting, especially when you read what's going on in the country these days with all the APPARENT increase in racial enmity of blacks toward whites. In fact, I don’t think there is an increase at all; I think it’s simply the same status quo that has existed for as long as I can remember.