Written by Connie Moore, Frank’s mom.
PART V : 1960 / 1970
At the beginning of the 60s, I was selling the first house we had ever owned. Jim had already gone and I was left behind to close the doors. I wanted to sell it myself and not put it in the hands of realtors in order to keep the price down. I resisted the realtors but a neighbor came by one day and said if I would add $100 to the price and give it to him, he would bring me a buyer. I did and he did and the lady bought the house. We met at the escrow office on January 22, and I tried to figure out what was going on. This was a new experience for me. We spent all afternoon in the escrow office and I was beat when I was through. But I had in my hot little hand a check for $1,000 for our equity. I had never had so much money all at once in my life.
The house was sold and we had to have a place to live until we went to Germany. So Mother and Dad moved over for us again and we moved in. We had our furniture stored at the base. The kids were in school at that time of the year and I didn’t want to change them for the short time we would be there. So I arranged to take them up to Ogden three times a week and worked with them in the interim. This worked well as I could just carry on the work while we went overseas. We lived with Mother and Dad two months.
While we were in Salt Lake, one night the boys and I had gone out to Martha and Eldon’s. On the way home in the evening, we came to the rail road crossings where the lights were flashing. I pulled the car up a little to see if I could see the train coming and the guard rail came down on the car. I was scared and so were the boys. But I backed up and the guard rail came off the car and into place as the speeding train went past. The car radio was playing “Teen Angel”.
Jim came home for us in March and we drove to New Jersey to McGuire Field again where we got a commercial flight and were treated like 1st class citizens for a change. Our flight went into Frankfurt where Jim had left his car that he had bought over there and we drove home to a little town way out in the country. It was a windy road twisting around and through mountains and beautiful country. Jim had rented the bottom part of an old farm house with 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and living room. If we thought Morocco was cold, it had nothing on Germany winter, spring or summer. It was nearly always cold. We were celebrating the Fourth of July in our winter coats. We had heaters in the living room and kitchen but the bedrooms were only for sleeping well covered. We lived there a month and then got an apartment in Bitburg close to town and the base. I started to take Frank to therapy but the school would not consider letting him go. They would let me take books and gave us a curriculum and I set up a school at home for him. He went to church and made friends there and with our friend’s children mainly Elon and Bobbie Nash’s boys Butch and David. But he missed the experience of school. He probably got a better academic experience and so did I. I worked with the idea that, since we were in Germany, we would learn as much as we could about the country. It had some fascinating history with old Roman sites to visit close by. Our first house had bullet holes from World War II. There had been heavy fighting through that area as Hitler was defeated. Bodies and old money were being dug up all the time. We didn’t do a lot of travelling as it was difficult with Frank but we did some sight seeing around West Germany, Belgium, France, Luxemburg and Austria. One vacation we went through Switzerland, across Southern Germany and a tiny corner of Austria mostly to see the country.
This way Frank worked through his junior high years and was ready for high school when we came home. This experience opened up doors for me as well. I really was learning to love to learn. I couldn’t get enough. We used the library a lot and I started my upper level education then.
We had a cleaning woman in Bitburgh who was a good clean person but I discovered that she was taking some things. I saw some in her purse one day, so I knew she was doing it. It wasn’t much but it was disturbing. After we moved into base housing, she was not as dependable. Then we found she had stolen some money from an officer’s wife and she was barred from working on base again. I didn’t get another one.
Our unit on base was situated near the hospital and Frank was able to go to therapy every day. I could walk him over after we had got down the 7 steps to the ground level from our first level apartment. One day I tried to hurry things up and took him down in the wheelchair. I couldn’t hold him and sat down on the top step and bumped down each step as I held the wheel chair upright. I didn’t try that again. I took his wheelchair down and used the rolling chair we used in the house to take him to the top. Then I walked him down each step and up again when we came back. One day, as I was going down those steps, I slipped on the top landing and fell on my back all the way down. It really scared Frank but, fortunately, all I did was strain my back and it was stiff and sore for a few days.
I began to notice that I was having trouble hearing soon after Jerry was born. The most obvious times were at PTA meetings in Dayton where I couldn’t hear a word the principle said when she was talking in the meetings. I was alright in a one to one conversation. The person losing their hearing is not aware of it for sometime so it took me several years to decide I needed a hearing aid. I bought a Zenith pocket model, but since I didn’t usually have a pocket in a convenient spot, I attached it to my bra and the cord went up my neck to the ear piece. I always tried to wear beads to hold the cord in place. But it was a nuisance. I had a control put on my telephone while I was working for the Easter Seal Society (Crippled Children). It didn’t help very much. So while I was in Germany, I decided to have surgery as there was a doctor in Wiesbaden AFB Hospital who specialized in the surgery. He thought he could help me with a surgery called stapes, or filling the bone away from the little bones in my inner ear as they had grown immobile with calcium. A condition called otosclerosis. He operated on the left ear first without too much success. Then he did the right with enough success that I didn’t have to wear a hearing aid for many years. Frank took it for a while until they could get his eustation tubs equalized with little tubes in his ears. I also had a D&C (dilation and curettage) while I was in Germany. I never really did know why they did that. It may have been something they thought they saw during a pelvic exam or they just wanted to practice the surgery. Who knows. I remember when Jerry was born, the nurse examined me and thought she saw a finger coming which turned out to be a small tag probably from another delivery. She called the doctor out of bed and he wasn’t very happy about that.
Frank had surgery to bring an undescended testicle down and while he was out, they siphoned the liquid from his eustation tubes. They did that to Jerry once while he was sitting in the examination chair. He fainted. Jerry was having some hearing problems when he was in the second grade in Utah and the doctor cleared that up with a tonsil-adenoidectomy. While Frank was in the hospital, I had to be on hand to feed him and stay with him at night. It was nice that I was close and could run home now and then. Jerry tells me he fell on some ice in Germany and hurt his elbow. He said he told me but I didn’t pay any attention. I guess I didn’t because I don’t remember it. It proved to be a serous injury as he grew up and got to the point that he couldn’t rotate his left arm. It swells on occasions and he has to have it tapped. How could I have missed such an occasion.
Jerry had had a hernia operation while we were in Morocco, too. Jim got to be on hand for him while I stayed with Frank. Jerry went in the night before the surgery and they wouldn’t let him eat. But they brought Jim a plate and Jerry unhappily accused Jim of eating his dinner.
Jim was a Chief Master Sgt. by this time. He had been one of the first in the Air Force to make Senior Master Sgt. and was soon promoted to Chief. In Bitburg, that gave him the job of being the building supervisor in our housing unit. That meant they were to come to him with their problems. This was not very much fun as it always involved us in marital fights. One nice couple above us fought a lot. She was pregnant and one night he kicked her in the stomach. The baby was later born dead. Another couple in the middle stairwell whose name was Moore too, Andy and Margaret, were our friends and he worked with Jim. He was playing around with their German maid and caused a lot of trouble with her. Margaret and Andy had 4 small children very close together, one set of twins. She would call Jim to go out to find him in the middle of the night. Jim would go hoping he wouldn’t find him. I would go over and stay with the kids while they were out. One night Andy came home while I was there and it was rather embarrassing. We had them both at our house another time when he had come home from Tripoli without letting Margaret know and went to see the maid. Margaret got wind of it and went to pieces. She came to our place and collapsed. Her parents were visiting and were home with the babies. We even had the base commander there. Someone finally found Andy and he came home. Then everybody went home but we were all upset.
Germany was strange in a different way than Morocco. We had the tensions of the Berlin Wall separating East and West Germany. The base was supposed to be war ready. They were sending men to Tripoli to practice bombing runs. Jim spent 6 weeks at a time down there every couple of months. Then we would have alerts with sirens going off in the middle of the nights. If Jim was at home, he would have to jump up and go. If he was not, I would wonder if it was the real thing or not. During the days, the families in housing went into the basements with the mice and broken windows to wait for the all clear. We were instructed to have supplies ready to go in case we had to evacuate the area. Jim, of course, would not be able to go with us and we were supposed to know the evacuation route to a place in France. We took the route on Sunday afternoon so it got us over into France for some interesting sight seeing. But, as close as we were, we didn’t ever get to Paris, regrettably.
On January 28, 1962, I got a telephone call from home telling me that Dad had died. They would hold the funeral services for me to get there if I could go. I couldn’t see spending that money and flying that far when he was already dead. So I said I would not come. I felt sad but I was never very close to Dad. He always seemed so old and far removed from my world. He had been hospitalized since he had broken his hip and life wasn’t all that good for him. It was time for him to go. It was alright.
With all the tension in Germany, it was no surprise that my nerves began to go. In retrospect, it was the beginning of menopause and could be something to expect. But I wasn’t that well informed about menopause and it was rather soon. The doctor wasn’t much help either. Maybe he didn’t know. But he passed out the tranquilizers. I found that wine helped too. I would wake up out of a sound sleep shaking all over for no reason. I had to get up and move around and make sure I was alive. A case of anxiety, I later found out. It was scary, though, and I was glad to leave Germany and back to my home ground.
We came home in December, 1962. A friend took us to Frankfurt to board our plane. We left our room there about 8am and were to board the plane that morning. The base was fogged in and the flight was canceled. Sometime during the day we were put on busses and taken to Kaiserslautern to take off. We got there in the evening and had dinner and waited. Finally our flight was ready and we boarded late in the evening for the flight to McGuire. All of this time Frank had not been able to go to the bathroom. We flew all night and landed at McGuire in the morning. By the time we got a room, Frank was so uptight he couldn’t urinate. I laid him down and gave him a tranquilizer and left him. He finally relaxed enough to relieve himself. No wonder he was later to have kidney problems.
But we were home! At that point we didn’t have a home at all. While we rested, Jim picked up our car and we began traveling the snow covered Pennsylvania Turnpike to Wooster, Ohio where Dad and Grace were living on a pheasant farm. We had Christmas with them and crossed the country to have New Years with my family in Utah. Then, in January, 1963, we joined many friends from Germany at George Air Force Base at Victorville, California. I had always wanted to live in California since the days Pearl and George would come back from a trip there and bring us the most beautiful navel oranges. It seemed like such a grand golden state to live in no doubt because the movies were made here and a lot of our television shows originated here. It had a mystique for me. And, finally, here I was. Victorville, in the desert, was not exactly what I had dreamed of. It was more like Texas to me or at least West Texas.
This time, after a day or two with the Nashes, we stayed in a guest house on base until we could get quarters. Getting housing was getting easier now that we were getting close to retirement, and we were 42 years old. Still, housing was not really all that great. We got a unit in a fourplex with two bedrooms all right on ground level. It was here I got better acquainted with Jane, who lived across the open space from us. I had met her in Germany, but didn’t realize what an interesting person she was. She had been going to school all along and was going in Victorville. We had some wonderful intellectual conversations in the short time we were there. She opened more doors for me and picked my interest in continuing my education. And, at this point, I am very frustrated that I cannot remember her last name. She later moved back east and I have lost track of her because she did not write letters. Her name was Jane Pettigrew.
Jerry went to school to finish his 6th grade but there was no school for Frank in Victor Valley. So we started looking around for one for him down the hill at Riverside and San Barnardino. With Jim’s rating, they only needed one at a base and it was difficult. He did get in at March AFB at Riverside in the reserves and we bought a house in Redlands. Number 12 Ash Street, Redlands became our last home. I have counted 28 houses I have lived in to this point. Jerry was ready for junior high and Frank for high school and they were able to graduate from high school without another move. Frank was accepted at the handicapped school at Crafton located way outside the city of Redlands. He could take a bus but I had to go out and feed him lunch. With only one car to work with, I took a taxi out and back for a while until we got our second car.
Before we moved to Redlands, Jerry was the focus of the family as a lead in Jack and the Beanstalk. Not really lead, he was the giant, and a good one. I had to dress him for the part and it was a problem getting shoes for the part. I found a pattern and made them out of felt. He was a hit. Then, on Easter while we were visiting Lois and her family, he was playing on their trampoline when Graig threw a ball under him. He came down on the ball rather than the trampoline and twisted his knee tearing a cartilage. After an attempt to mobilize it with a cast, they operated to correct it. We took his report card to him in the hospital and he had an A in math. His remark was that someone had goofed.
When Frank started at Crafton, it was pretty hot at the beginning of the year and the school had no air conditioning. Frank wilted by noon and they thought he could not work a full day and sent him home at noon for me to work with him. On November 22, 1963, just before they brought him home on the bus, President Kennedy was shot. We spent the rest of the weekend glued to the TV watching history unfold through his funeral services on Sunday. What a weekend that was. We were all drained as if it was one of the family.
Frank went on to high school in Redlands where they had just opened an occupationally handicapped class. I still had to go and feed him all through his high school years. My friend and neighbor, Ruth Van, was working on the lunch program and I would ride over with her, feed him and walk home reading a book as I walked. I often stopped at the fabric store and went through the remnants. I made more blouses that year. Finally, Jim agreed that we were indeed a two car family after all and we bought a ’59 Chev station wagon.
Besides feeding him at school, I was at his elbow while he typed on an electric typewriter to turn pages and replace paper. I finally devised a roll made from newspaper roll ends which didn’t have to be replaced so often. But I couldn’t go to bed until he was satisfied that he had done his work for the day. Sometimes it was late into the night before I could get him into bed. He typed with a peg on his head which was very slow. But he was persistent and smart. He was getting A’s in everything but typing where he got a C. How stupid can you be. I was also getting a good high school review that would help me.
In 1965, his junior year, Frank made the honor roll and was an usher at the graduation exercises for the seniors which was quite an honor. Then in ’66, he graduated with exceptional academic honors, joined the Scholarship Club where he was given a life time membership with a gold pin and a gold seal on his diploma. I was so wrapped up in the activities then I hadn’t noticed that my driver’s license had expired the past November. I was stopped because the car was smoking and had to go to court in the middle of all the activities.
Jim retired from the Air Force in 1966 and while Frank was at the Easter Seal Camp, we took a whole week off to drive up to Reba and Kirk’s place in Medford, Oregon. Reba, Billy and Becky had visited us once in Ogden but we hadn’t seen them since. We took Lois’s boy, Terry and he stayed a while. Jim had gotten a call from the Post Office to go to work right away so we had to come back. We drove down the coast to San Francisco but all I got to see of that city was the skyline from across the bay from Oakland. I have yet to see San Francisco.
Frank’s rehabilitation counselor had arranged for him to go to San Barnardino Valley College in the fall. I was going to have to take him so I took my entrance exam that summer. I surprised myself by getting a 98% in English which enabled me to take the college English along with Frank whose major was English and Journalism. He had written for the Hobachi, the high school paper, and with the help of our neighbor, Roger Woods, who was a physics professor there, he had a byline on the War Hoop. I was able to go to most of the classes with him while we were trying our wings.
I had always thought of myself as a very average student but my first experience at college proved me wrong. I didn’t take very many units at first until I could see how it would go with Frank. But the year I took 12, enough for a full course, I made the Dean’s list, along with Frank, and we were honored in an assembly.
It wasn’t easy to get Frank started at Valley as it hadn’t been all along the way. Some of the teachers looked at him and said, “But he can’t go to school, he drools.” He certainly did, but that hadn’t stopped him before and it didn’t stop him now. Our good friend, Roger Woods, went to bat for him here too. He talked to our counselor who was the Dean of Women, Miss McCarthy, and assured her and everyone else that Frank could do the job and from then on the only trouble we had were the steps and toilet facilities. Vocational Rehab would go to any lengths for Frank and hired people to help him up and down steps and take notes in class. But they weren’t always where they were supposed to be and we had to wait for someone to help us. One day on the second floor of the Ad Building, no one would help us and we just had to wait. Finally, the head of the Psy Dept gave us a hand.
Frank took a class in Psychology of the Personality. They had a late class and Frank was exerting his independence from me. He was tired of me being his shadow all the time. He told me to leave. The class seemed to think I got my kicks by being his mother (super mom) who needed to be needed. So I left. There wasn’t anyplace to go as I had to be there when he was through. So I went into the Student Union to study. I went back when the class was over. They were bringing him down the steps. Mr. Thrasher, his professor, was looking for me and seemed relieved to see me. I don’t think he was quite sure I would be there and then what would he do.
The Vietnam War was a hot issue while Frank was in high school and he wrote about it in the paper. His ideas were not too popular with the staff then. It was still hot while we were at Valley and Frank and I both got involved. I did stand in some quiet demonstrations there, but mainly I took Frank if he wanted to go and he usually did. He was involved in some in Redlands but I didn’t want to put my body where my ideas were because Jim was not very happy about any interference with the military’s stand over there. I really kept a low profile, but I did have my opinions. Once in a while I ventured to voice them. The boys and I were in accord and Jim stood alone in his thinking. When they started drafting the boys, Jerry didn’t have to go because of his knee and his arm that he had hurt in Germany. He was #12 on the list. Jim and I were both happy that he didn’t have to go. I was against the draft because the war had not been declared…a little detail that should not be overlooked.
Jerry graduated in ’69 and he went on to Valley to study Telecommunications. Frank and I had gone 2 years and Frank was ready to transfer to a 4 year college. With the help of Rehab again, he got a house in Muscoy with a male nurse (that term is used loosely), who took care of him and took him to school where students took over. And Frank went on to California State College at San Bernardino. He wanted to go farther away but we could not arrange it.
Jerry had taken up the guitar in high school and with a couple of neighbors, played a few engagements like rest homes for $25 an hour. Then we got him a set of drums and they got a rock group together. They practiced in the garages and living rooms. That was the beginning of many practice sessions in our living room which the neighbors bore in relative silence. They changed names and musicians and went on practicing in the living room.
I went on with my studies at Valley after Frank left and had enough units for an Associated Arts degree but did not apply for the degree as I really didn’t think it was very important and Jim seemed to feel threatened by it all. I was playing the low profile game which seemed to be becoming a habit. I could go on adding units to units at Valley, but I decided that I was not going on mostly because of the money involved and stopped going to stay home and be the good housewife.
Frank and his nurse were living in Muscoy but I was given the responsibility of handling the money that Frank was granted to maintain his household. I paid the nurse’s wages and turned in his Social Security, paid the bills and bought groceries. But things weren’t going too well with them. Frank complained that the nurse was threatening him with a gun and was drinking. One weekend, Frank called on his telephone that the telephone company had put in for him. It had an automatic dialer. The nurse told us then that he was not going to kiss Frank’s butt to keep the job so we went over and brought Frank home. The nurse came over and said he didn’t say that and wanted to stay with it. Frank went back but didn’t stay long. He came home one weekend sick with the flu and said he thought he was having a nervous breakdown. He didn’t want to go back again. So we gave up the house. Jerry and I went over and cleaned it up. They had obviously had a fire while cooking and I replaced the kitchen curtains and washed down the walls. Then Frank moved in with friends from the college and was much happier. I still bought groceries from the commissary for him but that was all.
When the other students gave up that house, Frank and Jerry moved in together in an apartment in Highland. They had looked without success so I went with Jerry to look at this place. The manager was so impressed that the brothers were going to college and Jerry was taking care of Frank and she let them have it. However, I assured her that I would see that it was kept clean and I did. We gave them our oldest station wagon as we had 3 now. And finally Jim and I were alone to do our thing.
Frank went into the hospital at the Loma Linda Medical Center, while he was still with the students, and had surgery to correct bladder problems. One of the friends he was living with called me to see if it would be alright to take Frank to a doctor there and I said yes. Frank was over 21 now and trying to be on his own. The doctor scheduled surgery to do a trans-urethral section. I had a full schedule at Valley at that time, but was still expected to feed him and see that he was ok. I had one night class and would go by after class to see if he needed anything before he went to sleep. Then he came home to recuperate.
While Frank and Jerry were living together, Frank made plans and a reservation to fly out of Los Angeles to Washington, DC to visit a friend. Jerry took him to the airport but when they saw Frank planning to travel alone they said no! Another airline took him if they could find someone else going who would sit with him. Jerry looked around and found another long hair and made arrangements and Frank was on his way. I had visions of trouble and Frank without his talking board and couldn’t communicate with anyone. But everything went well. When he came back, Jerry went down to pick him up and they came back to our house. Jerry was pretty uptight because Frank was telling him that he had invited a girl to come and live with them. She was to come in a month. This girl, as Frank explained to us, was withdrawn and wouldn’t talk to anyone. He had gotten her to talk to him on his talking board and he felt so good about opening her up, he wanted to bring her home and take care of her. This situation was between Frank and Jerry, but they only had a one bedroom apartment with a contract for 2 people. I didn’t see how it would work out or how Frank was going to take care of her. Somehow in this discussion, Frank heard that I said nobody could love him. He told me later that he had decided then and there that I was no longer his mother and he felt no duty or love for me any longer. The girl, incidentally, never came.
As this decade ended, relationships in our family were becoming strained. Jim was alienating his relationship with the boys and it was getting harder for me to live with him. Nothing I could do was right. Our last Christmas together as a family, we were invited to Frank and Jerry’s place on Christmas Eve. They had a tree in the middle of the small living room. Lynn, Jerry’s girl friend, had made pastries and they wanted us to open our presents there. There was no liquor or beer served and Jim was getting restless. We didn’t stay very long. Jim wanted to go to the bar. Jerry and Frank went their ways on Christmas Day. We had our New Years alone together but the 60s went out on a very low note.