Written by Connie Moore, Frank’s mom.
PART IV : 1950 / 1960
Jim’s group was moved to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio and we moved into our first base housing. It was a real come-down from our little house with 2 bedrooms in Highland. They were barrack-types, really thrown together. We were assigned a tiny 1 bedroom apartment at first. There wasn’t much room for the equipment we were using for Frank. So, when one was available, they gave us a two bedroom at 330 Hillside Avenue. At least it was bigger. One Sunday we decided to go for a drive back to visit friends in Wilmington. I never got back home that day. About half way down we went through an intersection and met a black man backing up our lane and Jim was unable to avoid him. Neither of us was going very fast but the impact threw Frank and me into the dashboard. Frank had a tooth knocked out and I came out of it with a broken jaw and minus 6 front teeth. Jim took us on to the hospital at Wilmington emergency and they sent us back to the base hospital at WPAFB. They treated Frank and sent him home with Jim. I went into oral surgery on a Sunday evening when they couldn’t get the drugs they needed. But they got the surgeon and he went to work cleaning out my gums and setting my jaw without anesthetic. They gave me something like laughing gas as I remember everything was funny until they started to work. I tried to let them know I wasn’t out but they obviously knew that and kept right on. I remember groaning but it seemed to come from someone else and it really didn’t matter anymore.
After the surgery was over, they gave me a shot to put me to sleep but it had no effect on me by then. I had no teeth to wire together, so they tied a splint in my mouth and bandaged my head to keep the jaw in place. I spent the next 6 weeks in the hospital eating fluids and anything that would slide through the small opening. I drank a lot of soup and milk shakes but lost about a pound a week. We had a club going in our ward and we could go into the kitchen any time we wanted to fix something. My gums had to heal before they could put a bridge in so I had to go all summer without front teeth. I planned to stay home a lot, but there were too many activities that the family would enjoy so I went along and tried not to smile. I was never able to get a good bridge fitted because my molars were too short but 3 dentists tried including one in Germany. Many years went by before I got a good permanent bridge anchored with gold crowns on the molars and gold backing the bridge. At the cost of gold now, my mouth is worth more than the rest of me.
After the hospital visit, I got pregnant again. Jim was going away a lot on TDY (temporary duty). When I was about 5 months pregnant, he went to Germany for a couple of weeks. The day Jim left, I got Frank ready to take to therapy and we went out to the parking area but couldn’t find the car. One neighbor helped me get the insurance agent and another took us to therapy. The insurance company tracked it down in Kentucky where it had been abandoned by the teenagers who had stolen it with a key they found in another car. They had really worked it over and it had to be towed back and repaired before we got it back. So, for a few weeks, I experienced what it was like not to have a car in this day of high mobility.
Frank was getting therapy regularly. He enjoyed working with the therapists and they liked him. So, when Jerry was due, we left Frank in the convalescent hospital as an in patient till I was able to take care of him again. They told us Frank felt we had given him up for the new baby. But the therapists took him to therapy every day and talked to him and he felt better. Jim went to see him often and I kept in touch. Then he got chicken pox from someone in the hospital and couldn’t come home until he was over that.
We gave Frank a brother, Jerry Neal, on March 14, 1951, born at the WPAFB Hospital. I went in early with false labor and due to a heart problem they detected, I had to stay. I recalled that they would find something wrong with my heart one year at school and wouldn’t let me take gym. Then the next year they would let me. One point, they warned me not to run upstairs or I might fall over dead. The doctor put me on digitalis until delivery. I had a normal delivery when he finally decided to come, and Jerry was a healthy, normal boy. I was on a strict diet and came out of the hospital nice and thin. We brought Frank home and then they told me that Aunt Harriet was dying in the Mansfield hospital. They had not told me about it before because I was about to be a mother. She had leukemia and had been sick for some time. When she died, I had a new baby and Frank to care for and couldn’t go with Jim. He joined Harriet, Grace and Dad for the funeral services in Mansfield and they took her body back to Monongahela, Pennsylvania to bury with the Moore family.
With Jerry, we could find our own name since Frank had the father’s names. We liked Gary but there was a Gary Moore on TV so we settled for Jerry. The middle name is for my mother, Cornelia, which was always shortened to Neely or Neel. We made it Neal and gave it to Jerry.
The Air Force life was very interesting but, as any life, it had its drawbacks. In some ways, all the moving was broadening and other ways it was a pain. I always lived in dread of Jim being sent overseas where we couldn’t go or into a hazard area. We had been together since Christmas of ’42, except for a few days TDY, which was bad enough. When he left, my life seemed to stop and wait for him to come home to continue. I did a lot of waiting. We were about to get a taste of the frustrations of family life in the military.
Jim’s first orders about November, 1952, sent him to San Antonio, Texas for a brief period before an overseas assignment. The housing rules were that after the sponsor left a base, the dependents could not live in housing. So we found a place to live until we could join Jim again. We moved into a nice 2 bedroom apartment at 27 Smithville Rd., in Dayton. One of the nicest places we had lived so far. Jim left us there and went on to San Antonio to school. From day to day, his letters reported frustration as he waited to be “picked” for interviews and then starting school without knowing how long it was going to be or where he would be going. He came home and spent Christmas but we had to send him back to wait. By June, it didn’t seem as though much was happening and he began processing orders for us to join him. Frank was in kindergarten at Gorman School for the physically handicapped in Dayton. They picked up our household goods the day he finished school. I got everything packed and ready for the movers and let them have at it. Jerry and I attended a party at Frank’s school and then started for San Antonio. Frank was tired and lay in the back seat. Jerry, age 2, sat on a suit case and drove his little steering wheel. We stopped and picnicked along the way. We stopped that night at a motel. It was so hot and with the air conditioning was too noisy for me to sleep so about 3am, I packed the kids in the car asleep and started driving. Late that afternoon we were in Austin and I called Jim to tell him where I was. He met me on the outskirts of San Antonio and drove us to our new home. It was never really home as we were only to stay there 2 weeks. We didn’t really get unpacked and we were on our way again. We knew some people from the Clinton County base and we had fun renewing our relationship, saw a little of San Antonio including the Alamo which was closed the day we went. Then we were off to Salt Lake.
In June, 1953, Jim had his orders to go to Neusser, French Morocco which included a leave time for him to take us to Salt Lake to find a place before he reported to his embarkation point. We found an apartment on 6th East and 13th South and settled in and Jim left us for 8 months before we could join him. It was so lonely without him. Having the family around helped. I was close to Vera and Ben whose son Roger was the same age as Jerry, and Martha and Eldon whose son Russell was close to Frank. The boys enjoyed getting acquainted with their cousins. Martha had always been my special friend and confidant from the time Eldon brought her home as his new bride before I was married. But most of the time I was tied at home with the kids as it was difficult to get around a lot with Frank in a wheelchair. I spent a lot of time with Mother and Dad on Sunday afternoons. Frank started school at the University of Utah Medical Center at Fort Douglas where they had special classes. It was obvious by this time that he was not mentally retarded. He was learning to read and doing very well.
Winter drew near and my landlord grew anxious about when we were going to move. I couldn’t tell him and it upset me so much that I finally moved in with Mother and Dad to get him off my back. We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with them. Gordon gave me a job in the Christmas Tree business he had every year. This year he was located on the corner of Wentworth Avenue and State Street so I could work and check on the kids at home with Mother and Dad. That helped my income as we planned to go overseas. I also sold Christmas cards to make some money for the trip. It was interesting contacting old friends. One was Sylvia Gigi that I grew up with. Frank rode a bus to school which helped a lot.
Jim came home to assist us travelling to Morocco. He arrived in February after they had picked up our household goods and we were ready to drive across the States to Brooklyn, New York. That was a long cold drive. We visited friends in Ohio and New Jersey. We left the car in port and we boarded the Navy General H.F. Hodges and began our, the boys and my, first ocean trip. It was quite an experience. It took a little doing, as Jim was not assigned to our cabin on the water line, to get Jim assigned with us. There was a woman in our cabin who was more than willing to relinquish her bed to Jim probably because of the kids. Frank had to be fed in the cabin but the rest of us had to go to the dining room. Jerry loved that. He could order anything he wanted whether or not he wanted to eat it. What power. When we went up on deck, Jim had to carry Frank up the swaying stairs. There were days during a storm when we had to stay on deck to keep from getting sick, and the nights it was a struggle to stay in the bunks. The water on the tables sloshed over on the table cloths. We were on the water 14 days. On February 16, 1954, we got a little newspaper called the “Sea Foam”. It told us we were 2,852 miles from New York and 315 miles from Casablanca. We had travelled 420 miles that day. The world news reported heavy fighting by the French Union Forces from Saigon and Laos, names that would much later become house hold words to us all. Generalissimo Chaing-Kai-Shek was trying to retire in Formosa. Tokyo reported 250 men were in Indo China to instruct the French in the use of our planes and not fighting. Senator Watkins of Utah criticized the situation. We landed in Casablanca on February 17, 1954.
Morocco was a strange land for my first overseas experience. We had a nice house, by Morocco standards, in a place called Oasis, outside of Casablanca. Our neighbor and Jim’s co-worker, Larry Blackwell, picked us up from the dock and took us to our new home and then took Jim out to the base to sign in. We did have breakfast with Larry and his family then his wife left for the afternoon. Larry had stocked our cupboard with a few groceries but I had to borrow a can opener and pan to fix our lunch. Jerry was ready to explore the place and he was gone. I was frantic as I didn’t know who and where the Americans were yet. An Arabic woman named Zora, who was later to be our cleaning woman, could see my plight and told me where Jerry was. So I met my new neighbors behind the house next door who had a boy Jerry’s age and I retrieved Jerry.
Our house was white stucco with a patio porch all ground level. Beautiful black wrought iron protected the windows from entry and we also had roll down shutter type blinds that protected from the inside and also kept out the hot African sun. It was like jail to keep anyone, meaning Arabs, of course, from breaking in and stealing us blind. Some of them probably would as someone did break into our garage and took our tools. But Zora proved to be a very dependable and honest person. She cleaned our house every day while I took Frank to school and worked with him at home. She washed our clothes in the bathtub as that was the only place we had hot water. She was very good with the boys and stayed with them when we went out. We did have sinks and toilets but the drains emptied in troughs under the house. Thanks to the base, we were supplied with refrigerators that would run on their cycle. Our TV’s were no good and we learned to live without them. We heated each room with a kerosene space heater and we only could afford one. Frank wore long leg pelvic braces at that time but we didn’t do much with therapy then but we did try to get him into school. We means me as I was usually the one to take him and work out our problems with the school. The school was sympathetic but did not take him because he didn’t fit in at that point. So we worked at home with books I had brought from Salt Lake and got him through 2nd grade and ready for 3rd. Then I just registered him and took him in the first day of school. His poor teacher didn’t know what to do about that. She was frantic as she had never had any experience with teaching the handicapped and I thought I was going to have to back down. There were other teachers there who had had some experience and they wouldn’t let Frank’s teacher quit. They promised to help and I did and Frank stayed.
I took Frank to school every day 10 miles away because he couldn’t ride the bus. I stayed on base, with Jerry in tow, while he was in class. Frank did well by bringing his books home and we did the written work there. He made a hit with the kids and one little girl would have willingly done his work for him.
I spent a lot of time sitting in the car and did a lot of reading. When Jerry was 4, they let him go to kindergarten as we were on base anyway. I would sit in the car until the Base Exchange opened and Jerry knew I was there. So, if he got tired of school, he would just find me. We finally got that stopped and he was OK.
Now it was time for me to think about religion for the kids. It was easy then as all we had was the base chapel which was nondenominational. We attended that and the kids started Sunday School and Vacation Bible School which I usually helped out with. Part of the time it was on base and then they rented a large villa outside of Casablanca and made a chapel out of the barn where we went to church. The house was used for classes. There was a nice swimming pool we used on occasion. Frank was 8 at this time and we talked about baptizing him. He had been blessed in an LDS Church in Columbus and Jerry in one in Dayton. Frank wanted to be baptized by submersion so the chaplain did the ceremony in the base swimming pool. He was very elated and really felt good about that.
We spent 18 months in Morocco. At the end of our stay in the summer of 1955, Morocco was experiencing a civil war and it became dangerous to live in town. They were moving everyone into trailers on base. We were waiting our orders to come home so we had to give up our house and move into a hotel in Casablanca with Air Force families. That was difficult with Frank so for a week or 2 we moved with friends in their trailer and left Frank in the nursery where he had made friends with the people who ran it from church and school days. They took care of him at night and I fed him during the day. Our final weekend we were assigned to a little Quonset hut to stay until we boarded the plane to go home.
On our flight home, we landed first in the Azores for lunch. I didn’t think much of the landing but the take off again was over water and was a little scary. We knew when we took off that there was a hurricane en route and we were flying around it. For a while we thought we would land in Bermuda, but 16 hours later we put down at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey about 3 am. We got a room there where Frank was able to go to the bathroom for the first time since we left the Azores. We had sent the car home early and it was in port. No, we bought our 1955 “Green Giant”, our first station wagon, and it was waiting in port. We drove through Pennsylvania to visit Jim’s family and on to Salt Lake. Jim was to be assigned to Hill Air Force Base at Clearfield. We rented a large house on Healy Street in Ogden. Jerry started kindergarten again here as he was not old enough to go to first grade.
This was a 1½ story brick with a full basement which housed a small apartment the owners rented. There was a large yard with all kinds of fruit and berries and grapes. The strawberry patch overwhelmed us after I got the weeds cleared out of them. We planted a garden in about half the space available but didn’t fertilize it. We didn’t get much from it. Frank was able to go to a handicapped class in a school on 12th Street and was picked up by bus. The parents were expected to volunteer often and I spent a lot of time there working with all of the children. I was active in PTA and was vice president one year. I got quite influential with the schools and the Crippled Children’s Society for which I worked as part time executive secretary with Feola Barton for $50 a month. Feola had a new baby and I took the whole job for $100 a month. It was a fun job I did mostly at home with help from the family. I distributed Easter Seal campaign mailing to be stuffed and got them into the mails. I picked up the donations at the bank and deposited it. I kept files of big donators and enlarged on the mailing list. I went alone or with the state Executive Secretary to visit other parent groups. The last one I went to alone was just before Jim left for Germany. It was the night before he left so he went with me. He wouldn’t go so far as to go to the meeting with me, he found a beer joint to fill his time. We were closely involved in fun raisers with people like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and TV fund raisers. I hated to leave that behind but the Air Force had first priority in our lives and it was our livelihood.
Being back in Utah, I was forced to think seriously about my religious preference. I decided to try the Mormon Church since it surely was predominant. I took the kids (Jim would not go) and we went to Sunday School and Primary. Our landlord was a bishop in Salt Lake and he had friends in the Ogden ward as they had lived in our house before they rented it. I told them to leave Jim alone but things are not done that way in the Mormon Church. We soon had the home missionaries at our door. We gave them permission to come for the series. Jim had his questions about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, etc. But I already knew that I did not believe in what they were presenting as the “truth” and I had to tell them so. At that pint, I decided that if God was saying anything to me, He was saying “This is not for you.” That didn’t make sense in the Mormon context that God was telling Joseph Smith the “TRUTH”. Of course the church representatives have their answers to that but they didn’t satisfy me. So, at that point, I knew I could not go back to the Mormon Church anymore and, as a family we started attending the Presbyterian Church in Ogden and later to the Lutheran Church in Roy.
This was not easy as Mother wanted me to be a Mormon and raise my boys as Mormons if I didn’t get my husband to join. She had to know what I was doing and it hurt her very much. I had to make her look at the fact that she hadn’t raised me to be a Mormon, through no lack of effort on her part. She didn’t want to take the responsibility for that but she wanted me to take the responsibility for my boys. She finally came around a little and accepted that maybe it wasn’t so bad if I saw that they went to some church. She even came to a dinner we had at church once and attended Jerry’s baptism. Jerry chose to be sprinkled and that ceremony was done at the Lutheran Church in Roy. Neither of the boys have ever joined a church as Jim never did. That was and is fine with me. I joined one not with my free will and I have become an apostate to that faith and never accepted another. I was later more able to define what my religious philosophy was.
During the 50’s, I fulfilled my need to be a do-gooder as a Den Mother for the Cub Scouts. I started in Morocco in order to let Frank have the experience to his greatest potential. He went on into Scouts with the help of his father. I carried on with Jerry in Ogden, Roy and Germany. It was a fun experience for me. Our house we bought in Roy in January, 1958 was a new ranch style white frame in a tract at 2275 West 6000 South right on the south west corner. We put in our first yard, and only one. Frank was still being picked up to go to school in Ogden and Jerry was in 2nd grade in the Roy Elementary School close by. As the decade came to a close, Jim was once again taken from us and sent to Germany before the end of ’59. The boys and I spent that Christmas alone in our new house. We opened our gifts at home and then spent the day with Martha and Eldon in Murray with their family. On New Year’s Eve, I went to the NCO Club at Hill Field with a friend whose husband was working until midnight. We saw that decade out and celebrated the new and I went home alone to wait for Jim to get housing for us in Bitburg, Germany and send for us.