Written by Connie Moore, Frank’s mom.
PART III : 1940 / 1950
As I was finishing my junior and senior year in high school preparing myself for a possible career in the business world, Private James F. Moore, AF6914381, was doing his basic training and was following the direction of his orders to Salt Lake and eventually, on his own, to Wooley’s Roller Skating Rink where we were destined to meet. This event took place shortly before Christmas, 1940. I invited the lonely soldier to Christmas dinner and Aunt Lizzy was there. In her kidding way, she prophetically asked me to introduce my future husband. Jim was amused at my embarrassment.
Jim, by this time Private 1st Class, was from Washington, Pennsylvania, which was part of his attraction. Pennsylvania was so far away from Utah, so much more sophisticated. I was awed. It was all so very romantic. I learned that he had graduated 5th in his class (and I was a drop-out returned) and that his sister Harriet was 1st. Nobody was that smart in my circles (I thought). I was falling in love. On one date the question of age came up. I had turned 20 on my last birthday. Jim was 19. There was a big 8 months difference in our age and I was horrified. He was just a kid and I couldn’t handle it. I felt the whole relationship crumbling. It didn’t take me much time to get used to the idea because cupid was at work. We started planning marriage. I suggested it as he was shy. But he was in the service and World War II was fast approaching. We didn’t have time to play around with the idea long. Jim bought a Lincoln Mercury which kept him broke but offered us intimacy to cement our relationship. One night on his way to my house he had an accident out on State Street. After that he turned the car over to the insurance company and we carried on our romance by bus or borrowed car.
After we decided to marry, Jim wrote a letter to his dad telling him what we thought was good news. Dad did not think so. Jim was just a kid and since I was still in school (the fact that I had gone back hadn’t been explained to him) sounded like I was kid and didn’t know from nothing. “What were my parents thinking to let me get married.” He certainly did not want him to. Jim showed me the letter and I wrote to him. He never said, at least not to me, but he must have been pretty disgusted at Jim for showing me the letter.
We were married at my home on May 3, 1941 with my family present. No one from his family was there. It was not a formal wedding. Justice of Peace, our neighbor from across the street, performed the ceremony. We didn’t have money for announcements and it may have been awkward for Evelyn and Dad. And they were having marital problems at the time which may have been a problem. However it was, they did not come to our wedding. I wore what was to be my graduation dress (formal) in one month, all pink and sheer. Jim also wore his graduation suit, a dark blue pin striped accented with a bandage on his forehead covering a cut he had received a few days earlier from an airplane propeller. He was an airplane mechanic. Thanks to Reba, we had a reception at the house with a few friends and then we went to our new apartment. Our honeymoon was to be only the weekend as the Air Force came first and sent the whole squadron to Yellowstone Park for a 2 week vacation. I never heard of such a thing again.
Our honeymoon apartment was a one bedroom remodeled old house on E Street 2nd Avenue with a lovely dinette fashioned from a glassed in porch. We had a wall-to-wall bath tub with wash basin and toilet tucked tightly in place. The tub just barely accommodated one person which was more fun for the newlyweds in a conjugal bath. One day Reba brought a friend to visit us while we were so engaged. She was horrified that we took baths together. After a month or two, we moved across the hall to an apartment with lots more closet space, a larger kitchen and a shower. Showers can be fun too. We had our first party in this home with mostly the brothers and sisters and husbands. I remember Vera’s husband going into our walk-in closet and coming out with a lamp shade on his head. That was Cal, the life of the party. We had a record player with records of Glenn Miller, etc. Our song was Frenesie (in don’t know how to spell it). One I remember so well was “Blue Berry Hill”. Our special place had been the hill over the capital building along with everyone else. It offered a splendid view of the city and valley. We had a lovely fireplace in this apartment which probably didn’t work but we never tried it.
It was from this apartment bedroom that I bid my warrior goodbye when he went off to the war, after just 6 months of wedding bliss.
I continued school under false pretenses. They had seen our marriage license in the paper and I would have had to quit if I was married. I didn’t want to do that at that late date. So I told them we had gotten our license but were to be married on Grad night. So in June, 1941, I donned my wedding dress again and joined the class of ’41 at South High School to receive my delayed diploma with my new husband and Mother and, I think, Lois in the audience. With this diploma in hand and the depression in full swing, I went looking for a job in the laundry again. This time it was the Palace Laundry that supplemented our income. Jim was corporal now but no pay increase. We lived on $80 a month. I walked back and forth to work as neither buses or money were available. On one trip down I remember seeing some women taking pictures in the doorway of an apartment house. I was to meet these women later. Their destinies had joined mine for a while. Their husbands were to go overseas with mine and we met and became friends in Monahans, Texas where I saw the snapshots. Beverly Sheets was the object of the picture.
The Air Force cut short our honeymoon again with overseas orders. He left, ironically, on November 11, 1941, the 23rd anniversary of the end of the war “to end all wars”. We said goodbye in our bedroom early that morning but I went down with him to meet his ride. Since it was a holiday and I wasn’t working, I picked up a kitten and took it upstairs with me to cheer me up. What it did was shit on my bedspread. Jim’s orders read “Plum”, interpreted as parts unknown, as he embarked from San Francisco on November 21. Nice birthday present. I had to give up the apartment and move back “home” as I would only get a small allotment for the next year and I did not make enough to support an apartment. So Lois willingly moved over in the bed we had formerly shared and let me back in.
Less than a month after Jim sailed, World War II broke out on the infamous day of December 7, 1941with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Jim had been in Hawaii at Oahu and visited his sister, Harriet about 10 days earlier. She was a nurse at Tripler General Hospital in the Army Nursing Corps and we had driven up to Ogden to meet her when she went over a few weeks earlier. On December 7, he was somewhere out in that big Pacific Ocean and I didn’t know where. We were all glued to the radio that day to hear the reports that were coming in. I was in shock. The month to come was the worst I have ever lived through, not knowing where Jim was or if he would ever come back to me. Finally, I had word that he had landed in Australia in January, ’42. I received a phone call from Java which I had to take at work. But what a thrill it was to hear his voice again and to know he was alive and alright. Shortly after that phone call, Java fell. The war was very real to me now and I watched the news closely. But I heard Jim had been sent back to Australia where he stayed until he returned to the States. I was so thankful he was taking care of the planes on the ground and not flying in them. I got more phone calls than letters, but I did get a little V-Mail letter now and then. They were light weight letters that folded and were ready to send without an envelope. I dogged the mail box for word and would be in heaven when one was there. I missed him so much.
During Jim’s stay overseas, I quit the laundry job and went to work at Remington Arms Plant that had opened as part of the war effort. It was way out on Redwood Road and 21st South. The depression had come to an end as the country geared for war. I was filling bullets for machine guns and later painting tips on what was called “tracers”. It was terribly boring assembly line production. We changed shifts every two weeks as we worked around the clock. It was so hard for me to stay awake during the long grave-yard shift. Eldon was working there too and he let me join the car pool without a car. The pay was good for my standards and I saved for the time Jim would come home and we could have our home again. But I also felt I was helping him to get back to me. I still skated and went to parties with the plant people. But I was so lonely for Jim, I just wanted to go somewhere and cry. The women I met at work were fun to be with. We got together on the days we were off and went bicycle riding around Liberty Park or horse back riding in the foothills. I never got the hang of the horse back riding. We also had dinner parties together.
At the rink, plans were in progress to take the competition winners back to Philadelphia for the national contests. They planned to go through Pittsburgh which was about 20 miles from Washington and I saw a chance to meet Jim’s family. I was invited to go and pay my way, since I was only a second place winner. I got leave from work and joined them. We drove together in Mr. Wooley’s car with his two daughters, Julia and Joyce with figure skating titles and a young man, whose name escapes me, who could also help drive. And I had my first experience of crossing state lines which I would do over and over again.
Meeting Jim had opened doors to new horizons for me and when I walked through, my life was never the same again. I was a little Mormon girl from Utah who knew precious little about that big world out there. I knew there were other churches that I had been told were preaching false doctrine without the sanction of God. The authority to teach God’s word rested with the Latter-Day Saints whose leaders had visions as Joseph Smith had. My blind faith had been shattered back there with Santa Claus and I really didn’t believe this. I had visited some of the other churches in Salt Lake with friends, but until Jim came along, I had never considered another option. I was a born and raised baptized Mormon. It just was. I had really had nothing to do with it. It was done for me and I had no reason not to accept it. But, now it was assumed that, of course, I would get Jim into the fold of the true believers. Jim had not joined a church but he had been reared as a Presbyterian. Before marriage, he said he would join the church when the subject came up. I didn’t want it that way. If he wanted to join, he could for other reasons than to get me. After marriage, he wanted no part of “The Church” and it took me a long time to find it out for sure, but I didn’t either. At that point, I was not attending church anyway, so it didn’t make much difference.
My trip east with the skaters was fun. We were all friends and Mr. Wooley was a good chaperone. Besides seeing all the new country, and Mr. Wooley was a good guide, we would stop at night where we could go skating. The rinks’ personnel would treat us royally and introduce us as champions on our way to the nationals. When we got to Pittsburg, I was dropped off at the bus station where I took a bus into Washington. There I called a neighbor, Mrs. Saxon, who took me in until Evelyn came from her teaching job. I had a very nice and informative visit with Mrs. Saxon and her daughter Helen who was also a school teacher. I was later to meet her son, Jim, who was my Jim’s best friend.
Evelyn was Jim’s step mother since he was about 7. His mother, Pauline, had died when he was 6 with acute appendicitis. His father, Frank, came home later and it was so nice to meet them. They were very cordial and showed me around the town Jim was born and grew up in. They introduced me to friends and relatives. But there was friction between Frank and Evelyn and it wasn’t very comfortable being there. They later split up and went their separate ways. Frank married Grace and Evelyn married Lew Golden.
Jim Saxon spent a lot of time with me. He was a radio announcer at the local radio station and he had a studio over their garage. We spent long hours talking about his and Jim’s childhood. He took me skating one night and I saw where Jim began that hobby.
I took a side trip to Chicago to meet Jim’s aunt Harriet. They were all so different from the people I knew. The teachers I knew were my teachers and stood heads taller than I ever could. Aunt Harriet was a sales person in an exclusive dress shop. She had been married twice before but was single now and had an apartment out along Lake Shore Drive where I spent the night. We saw a movie together after dinner that Dad had financed with a twenty he sent up with me in a sealed envelope. I enjoyed that visit and got a different perspective on Jim’s life.
It was over in a week and Mr. Wooley picked me up at their house and we headed home. The night I got home was the longest in my life. I thought I had another day, but graveyard shift started at midnight and really was the next day. I had to go as tired as I was and had a very hard time keeping my eyes open that long night.
Travelling was in my blood now. My friend, Bernice Williams, and I started planning another trip to Washington. My brother, Terry, was at Fort Lewis and our friend, Dave Bernard, was at an air base in Seattle. He was Bernice’s boyfriend. We took a bus and went north through Idaho and Oregon to Washington. It was a beautiful drive along the Columbia River and up to Puget Sound and I had added 3 more states to my almost coast-to-coast travel. We saw Terry first and he showed us around the sound and the fort. He took us to a small Mormon church on Sunday and we met his girlfriend. Dave came in from the base and we spent the day and the night all together in our little room we had rented. We just all stretched out on top of the bed in our street clothes and slept. He took us skating at a big rink in Seattle. It was fun being with him but I was missing Jim a lot.
It seemed like forever that Jim had been gone but it was just over a year. I had gotten the word that he was to arrive on December 24, 1942. What a lovely Christmas present. However, he arrived earlier than I expected and at 5am, Mother woke me and told me Jim was there. Nice words to wake up to. He was all bundled up in his green overcoat and I was in my robe with my hair up in curlers but we looked awfully good to each other. It was so good to be held in his arms again. He was back and I was deliriously happy. He had a 15 day furlough and we got a motel, against Dad’s wishes, and started our second honeymoon. It was also our first Christmas together. We renewed our friendships with the couples that were left and spent a lovely Christmas holiday with my family. We didn’t go back to see his family as it was just too much for the time.
After his leave, he reported back to Pocatello, Idaho and was sent to Pyote, Texas. Texas isn’t hard to find on a map, but Pyote was something else. But I was getting used to finding spots on maps. Pyote was hardly a spot on the map. It was hardly more than a spot on the road of Rt 80 across Texas where they had built an air base aptly named Rattle Snake Bomber Base. I went back to work and waited for Jim to find us a place to live and send for me. I finally got the call and immediately packed and took a bus to Texas. Trains did not connect very well. It was a long, long bus ride through Denver via Wyoming and down through Colorado and New Mexico to Texas. I spent hours waiting for bus connections in little New Mexico towns getting the feel of what it was going to be like living in Texas. It was a totally new experience. I sent wire after wire along the way telling Jim when I would get in but the mail room was not geared to getting word to the GI in a hurry. I got off the bus at 2am in Monahans with no one to meet me. This lonely little town of about 3 blocks was not the best place to be at 2am. I wanted to cry but I went looking for a hotel room. I might as well have cried; there were no rooms available. The only alternative I had was to join a few lonely soldiers in the same situation sitting out the night in the hotel lobby. The manager had a room just off the lobby and she felt sorry for me and made me up a bed on a cot. This sure beat sleeping in a chair all night and I was more than thankful to the dear lady. The next day I called the base to let Jim know I was in town and rented a room at the hotel in case. Jim joined me in the afternoon and we began our third honeymoon. So many honeymoons probably kept our romance alive. It was hell to be apart but the reunions were heaven.
The next day we went to get the apartment he had rented over Jimmie’s White House Café in the center of town next to the train station. We had lots of company from the well-fed cockroaches that would find their way up from the café. They were big creatures about 2 inches long and I kept a broom to go after them. The cat we acquired there liked to play with them. So in March, 1963, I began to learn what it was like to be an air force wife. I began to meet the other wives and we became friendly and close. One of the first was Bev Sheets whom I had seen talking pictures in Salk Lake. Glen Phillips brought his new bride, Alice, down and she and I became very close. When we moved from the café apartment we all moved into one bedroom apartments or houses, same street on the outskirts of Monahans on Mississippi Street. It was like living in a dormitory at college. We had a lot of fun partying and sharing our last-night leftovers for lunch. We walked 2 miles to town to get our mail and groceries or see a movie. No one had a car. Several of the wives were from Salt Lake but only one was a churchgoer. That was June Hamilton, Bud’s wife. They were the first of the group to get a divorce soon after the war.
West Texas was noted for sand storms that could equal the fog I remembered in Utah. They left the houses a lot worse. Then it would rain and the houses would sweat and clothes would mould. At one point, the government caught up with something Jim had done with my allotment checks or travel pay. They decided he owed the government about $150 and took it out of his pay all in one pay check. That was a disaster and I had to go to work. Monahans didn’t have much to offer and for the base you had to pass a Civil Service exam. I went to work in the local dime store, Wackers, and took home about $18 a week. It got us by. I tried the Civil Service exam but needed more than the old Underwood I had to practice on. I failed the typing test. Later, I went to work for the County Judge at the Court House as a more or less receptionist. I think I typed two letters for him but mostly sat at the reception desk with nobody around to disrupt my reading. But I made $50 a month till we left Texas.
While we were in Texas, Lois came to visit us once and Reba and Kirk came. Kirk could mix the best drinks with the worst material. We had to buy one bottle of something else to get a decent bottle of whiskey. We had some pretty bad vodka and gin on hand. We finished it off with him as a bar tender. While they were there over New Year’s of ’44, we took a trip to Carlsbad Caverns. We were there on New Year’s Eve but couldn’t get the bus out to the cave until after midnight. So we sat in the bus depot drinking coke and whiskey all evening and saw the new year in pretty tired and grouchy. We finally got a bus and went out to our motel and went through the caves the next day.
One Christmas in Texas, Jim gave me $10 for my Christmas present. That made me feel so bad that he wouldn’t take the trouble to buy me a gift to open. I asked my friend, Alice, to buy something for me and wrap it so I could open it Christmas Day. Jim never did that again.
We made a trip to Pennsylvania once during the war and once to Mansfield where Jim’s dad was now married to Grace. Evelyn had married Lou and moved to Detroit. We didn’t see much of her anymore. Grace and dad were family for us now.
In August, 1945, the war ended and we were making a decision that would affect the rest of our lives. Jim had to decide whether to get out or make the Air Force his career. It wasn’t easy. His only training was Air Force, but he had a taste of what kind of life it would be. He decided to stay in. He was Master Sergeant now and he chose an assignment in Columbus, Ohio near his dad and where a former commander was assigned. We bought an old car in Monahans, packed it with our belongings, dog and cat and with the gas coupons allotted the service personnel and headed for Salt Lake. On the way, we went through Zion National Park where we slept in the car and drove through the park at daybreak. It was a beautiful experience with the morning shadows. I was about 3 months pregnant with Frank on this trip, but we did a lot of hard driving. Every time we would stop the cat would take off. He didn’t like the car ride. Boots, the dog, would round him up and we would get him back in. One time we put him in the trunk and the next we saw of him were his claws coming through the ceiling. When we got to Salt Lake, we made Mother a present of him and went on our way with Boots.
We spent Thanksgiving with my family in Salt Lake and then went on to spend Christmas with Jim’s. After the holidays, Jim reported into the base at Columbus. There was no housing. We finally found a big room in a rooming house with a communal kitchen out back. We bought a little hot plate stove with an oven attachment and did some of our cooking in our room for privacy. We weren’t in Columbus very long but we did have a chance to renew our relationship with Reta and Emory and their two boys, Keith and Gene. Then we were moved to Clinton County Air Force Base at Wilmington, Ohio, about half way between Columbus and Cincinnati and we started looking for a home again. After our first night in the hotel, Jim went to work and I went out to see what was available. I went to the Sinclair station across the street and the dealer, Charles Hughes, offered us a room in his house which we accepted until Frank was born. We used their kitchen first and then Evelyn and Charles and their 2 kids had theirs. We got quite friendly with them and one time we took them to Mansfield to visit with Dad and Grace.
Frank James Moore arrived pretty much on time on June 25, 1946. We had to drive to Columbus’s Fort Hayes Hospital for delivery. He was not turning and was finally delivered breach. Somewhere in that delivery, Frank had some brain damage and they couldn’t get him to suckle. They finally took him, without telling me what was happening, to the Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Jim went with them and they were gone so long. No one would talk to me and I was just sure that Frank had died. When they came back and told me, I was so relieved but I asked Jim never to do that to me again. I can deal with what I know, not what I don’t know.
When I was told I had a boy, I felt a little intimidated by it all. Like I was a receptacle through which the great males pass. You get patted on the head if you produce a boy. We had given Dad his first grandchild and it was a boy. I wasn’t thinking boys were better, but it had always seemed right to have a boy first and then you can have a girl. I was destined to have all boys. There was never to be a girl. Anyway, I wanted to give Jim a boy.
We named him Frank after his paternal grandfather and James after my dad who had lots of grandchildren and some had his name. I went home from the hospital but Frank stayed at the Children’s Hospital for a month until they could get him to take enough formula. Finally, I brought him home and we treated him like a preemie with feedings every 2 hours all around the clock. I would just get him back to sleep and it was time to eat again. I was the one to get up always. Jim had to work and needed his rest. I wasn’t getting much either. Frank liked all those feedings and it was hard to stop when he didn’t need it anymore. I finally had to let him cry it out. I didn’t think I was ever going to get a full night’s sleep again.
After Frank was born, we moved into a second floor apartment where the 2 bedrooms and closets were remodeled for renting. We shared the bath between the two bedrooms at the top of the stairs. The kitchen was in the closet. As the months went by and Frank wasn’t doing the normal things, we had to come to grips with the fact that he had motor damage. His pediatrician in Columbus thought he was mentally retarded and suggested we start making arrangements to put him into the State Hospital. Jim was ready to accept the prognosis, but I could see too much alertness to buy that. Grace and Dad agreed with me and we started looking around for help.
We were offered another apartment friends of our landlord had remodeled and we moved again outside of town. Then some more friends of the friends remodeled an old farm house and we moved into that. Here we had a kitchen and living room downstairs and a bedroom upstairs where we shared the bath. In 1949, we moved into a real house in Highland across the drive from Bob and Dot Foskuhl. Here we just shared the driveway and garage. We also had a full basement.
It was in this house our twin boys, Jack and Jeff, were born on my birthday, 11-20-49. It would have been a nice birthday present had they been alive. They were born in a little hospital in Leesburg. Labor wasn’t long or hard and the doctor didn’t want to put me to sleep because of the situation. I hadn’t felt life for a week. So I experienced childbirth naturally. The twins were small so the delivery wasn’t difficult. But it was so much easier getting over because I did not have to throw off the drugs in my system. Poor Jim, though, took them to Mansfield to bury but he didn’t have death certificates and he had to come back to get them. His dad came back with him and they came by to see me. I did not want to see the babies if I could not have them. But Jim saw them and had to go through all of the trauma of the burial. We had tried to get help for Frank in Columbus but his pediatrician’s prognosis prevailed and we got nowhere. We took him to the Cleveland Clinic, renowned for its work. We went armed with his records and with Grace and Dad for support and drove up. They went through the usual evaluation, but here again, the other doctor’s opinion got in the way. They were more interested in my eye span which was abnormally wide than Frank’s problems and they wanted X-Rays of me for their studies. I acquiesced but Frank got nowhere. So we decided to leave the records behind and start fresh. We took him to the Barney Convalescent Hospital in Dayton where they had a clinic. They could see his potential right away and scheduled him for physical and occupational therapy and then speech. I started my trips of 30 miles three times a week. Thank goodness I had learned to drive by then. Frank did well and was well liked. He was cooperative and it was a joy to work with him which I did at home. Jim built an exercise table and parallel bars and “skis” to work with. He built him a standing table and a sandbox. So at the end of the decade things were looking up. I had a happy home, a son and we were about to move again.