As my generation calls it, The War, really started in 1919 with the Treaty of Versailles and the unreasonable reparations forced on the German people. Their slide into National Socialism and Nazi dictatorship was almost inevitable, with Hitler “solving” all the problems caused by the reparations. For our Country The War began on December 7, 1941 and as our president put it, “A Day That Will Live In Infamy!”
The next day, December 8th, my dad went to the Marine recruiting center to join up. He was a former Marine and a veteran of one of the last scrapes in the Banana Wars in Nicaragua, however, since he was 40, he was too old for service.
For the next 4-1/2 years The War held up both my hunting and fishing development. To me it seemed that all my friends and I did was work, collecting paper, scrap metal and keeping up with the war. Everything was rationed and in short supply, BB’s and .22 ammo were hard to find, most men, including my brother and uncles, were off training or fighting and since we lived on the outskirts of Houston, by necessity we walked, bicycled or rode the bus much more than drove.
The highlight of each day was the evening news, the war news, either H.V. Kaltenborn or Walter Cronkite. The latter was from Houston and attended San Jacinto High School with my aunt, Hazel Wallace Pyland, so he was our family’s favorite.
The War in Europe had ended in May and on August 15, 1945 Japan’s emperor, Hirohito announced the surrender of all Japanese forces. The first thing Mom and I did was to catch a bus and go to downtown Houston where the people were literally going crazy. Getting downtown, we then walked over to Christ Church Cathedral and prayed thanks for our victory and end of war. Then we walked outside the Church and joined in the festivities.
After the war ended, it was a time of learning about firearms, their safe handling and my first stumbling hunting attempts. My high school friends were a mix of hunters and fishers and, I believe, that I was the only one who was a “switch hitter”, loving both sports.