A series following the story of my father in World War II 75 years ago. This updates the series Following the 10th Armored that I did five years ago. The beginning posts set the stage for 1944 and 1945 when he was in Europewith the 10th Armored Division's 80th Armored Medical Battalion.

#17- A Hint of Something To Come


    •    April 21, 1944
At 6.45 in the evening Buddy called from Augusta and his friend was there and I talked to her.
- Diary entry, Beula Keller Lehman
This is the first mention in the diaries of Buddy’s friend. Did Beula know that she was more than just a “friend” and was she using the euphemism to ignore the implications? Dad was 38 years old, never married. His brother Carl, 42, the eldest, was to be married by the end of June to his very long-time girlfriend.  His sister Ruth, 40, the middle child, had been married about 10 years. Dad had a history of a long time girlfriend that I have mentioned in other posts, whose tires he reportedly slashed when angry.

For all practical purposes Buddy was a small-town boy He spent most of his life in his hometown along the banks of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and the nearby Pine Creek in North Central Pennsylvania.

The West Branch rambles through the Allegheny Plateau, before heading east at Lock Haven. Forty or so miles later it breaks south at Muncy leaving the valley. It will join the North Branch a few miles further and form the main river to the Chesapeake Bay. The east flowing section is in a wide, fertile valley, the transition between the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Province (- Link) to the south and the Allegheny Plateau (- Link) to the north. For those 40 miles Bald Eagle Mountain (- Link) bounds the river and the valley. Powerful, tall and green, the mountain is the edge of the world from either direction.

Then there is Pine Creek (- Link). Don’t let its name fool you. One historian commented that it deserves the name river rather than creek. It can be a powerhouse of liquid- or a rock strewn stream. It runs eighty miles from its start beyond Ansonia. It flows through the Allegheny Plateau heading south having carved what is known as The Gorge or the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. It flows into the Susquehanna a few miles from my hometown, near the site where an ancient Elm stood for centuries until felled by Dutch Elm disease. Under that elm, the Tiadaghton Elm, on July 4, 1776, a group of illegal settlers known as the Fair Play Men signed a declaration of independence from England as the same thing was happening in Philadelphia. (- Link)

Pine Creek is the Tiadaghton- its native name. We were always told it was the largest creek in the world; the major tributary of the West Branch of the Susquehanna. Pine Creek is the wild place, the wilderness on which one’s life foundation can be built, a wilderness at the bottom of a majestic pine bounded gorge. Get your feet wet in Pine Creek, the saying went, and you will always return.

Both Dad’s parents grew up in the same area on neighboring homesteads. The town, and the whole valley from Williamsport to Lock Haven as well as up Pine Creek was filled with all kinds of distant- and not too distant relatives. Everyone knew everyone.  Nevertheless, as I said in post #2, I have little concrete information about his childhood and young adult years.

As a small-town boy, he did become familiar with the city when he went to pharmacy school in Philadelphia. But his feet had been in Pine Creek. After his graduation in 1928 he returned home to the West Branch Valley and lived with his parents in the house where he had spent much of his youth, worked at a local pharmacy that he and his father eventually purchased.

I am sure that it would not have been too much to assume that Dad was going to marry someone local.

All of this was now several years past when Beula got to talk to Buddy’s “friend” 75 years ago. When and how he met this friend is lost in family history. From information in Beula’s diary it appears that Dad was renting from a family in Augusta, about 9 miles from Camp Gordon and probably working in a hospital at least part time. Sixteen years later the family would stop in Augusta on a return trip from Florida and visit with a family who we were told was where Mom was living at the time. I can only guess that it may have been the same place. Who knows? Sometimes facts are not possible to discover.

What Beula and Bill or any of his siblings knew is pure, uneducated conjecture. Now, 75 years later we know where it was about to go.

Meanwhile,

◆ April 1944
◆ 75 Years Ago
    ◦    Adolf Eichmann and the Nazis offered the Hungarian rescue worker Joel Brand the "Blood for Goods" deal, proposing that one million Jews be allowed to leave Hungary for any Allied-occupied country except Palestine, in exchange for goods obtained outside of Hungary. The deal would never be made because the Allies believed it to be a trick and the British press slammed it as blackmail,
    ◦    A two-day meeting between Hitler and Benito Mussolini was held near Salzburg, and
    ◦    "It's Love-Love-Love" by Guy Lombardo and His Orchestra topped the Billboard singles charts.

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