FATHER’S DAY

Another Father’s Day has come and gone, but memories linger of a father I thought I knew well.

For two decades we were a happy family with Mom and my younger brother, Ransom, until the onset of Mom’s mysterious paralysis a few months after her hysterectomy performed by the family doctor. She believed his lack of skill during that specialized procedure caused her eventual debility.

As the family of a newspaper editor in the San Francisco Bay Area during World War II and the following decade, we lived a privileged life.

To be continued . . .

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REMEMBRANCE OF WORLD WAR II

Jeep

Jeep

The Army general purpose vehicle (GP pronounced Jeep) on display in the World War II exhibit at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, immediately caught our attention. In the late 1940s, Lee paid $500 for a war surplus Jeep. The Jeep displayed in the museum looks exactly like the one in which we neighbors anticipated weekend rides with Lee as he drove across rolling open space in the East Bay hills (now covered with homes) overlooking San Francisco Bay.

Comments from museum visitors in the model kitchen are as interesting as the exhibit. Seniors remember the chrome kitchen table and chairs. “This looks like (Grandma’s) (Mom’s) (our) kitchen.”  “My mother used those.”  “We had that.”
Younger visitors ask, “What’s this for?” (A manual egg beater.)
“What’s that?” (A glass dish with a knob in the center to manually squeeze fresh orange or lemon juice.)
“How do you use this?” (A manual can opener.)
Mine are all still dependable and never require batteries.

I remember victory gardens, curfews and blackouts, defense savings stamps and bonds and ration coupon books for groceries, gasoline and shoes on the home front. Lee remembers serving with the Navy in the South Pacific.

The parachute in the museum reminded me of the young sportswriter and amateur boxer my parents paid to babysit my younger brother and me when they spent an evening out to dinner and a movie or played cards with friends. When the U.S. entered the war, Dave enlisted in the Air Force and was assigned to B-17 bombing missions over Germany. Mom wrote Dave regularly and mailed him packages of chewing gum, chocolate bars and cigarettes. Wartime slogans encouraged citizens not to discuss troop movements, ship sailings or war work. Dave’s letters always mentioned my younger brother’s age: “So Ransom just turned 12.” “Wish Ransom a happy 14th birthday for me.” “Guess you are all looking forward to Ransom’s 16th birthday.”
“Dave knows Ransom is younger than I am. Why does he write that?” I asked Mom.
“That’s his code for the number of missions he’s flown,” Mom said. “After 24 missions, he comes home.”

Nearing Dave’s twenty-something mission, Mom told me she awoke in the middle of the night to see Dave standing in the bedroom doorway. She wrote Dave and asked if that date meant anything to him.
“Yes,” he wrote. “We were hit by shrapnel. Our turret gunner was killed, and we limped back to base.”

After the war, Dave gave Mom his parachute from which she sewed a peasant-style blouse for me and lingerie for herself. She cut Dave’s uniform down to a suit for Ransom. And Dave gave me his lapel pin shaped in the form of gold wings.

 

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COMPUTERESE

When I turn on my computer, occasionally a question appears in the upper left corner: “Lynne, what is on your mind today?” Similar to few of my blog followers, it never responds.

I vent frustration about how differences in the English language and punctuation marks have changed from those my English teachers taught. For example, E-mail morphed into e-mail and now the correct word is email. E-book followed to e-book and now is it ebook?

Recently my name appeared on a list to evite. I thought it was a typo for invite, but my vintage dictionary defines “evite” as “to avoid or shun”. Really?  Hmm . . .

Computerese, and the use thereof, leaves me B-hinde in a-fogg.

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CAMP ABBOT, THEN and NOW

Part 2

Camp Abbot’s Officers’ Club, now known as Sunriver’s Great Hall, was a major training exercise and accomplishment that remains a distinguished landmark after more than 70 years.

Camp Abbot's Officers' Club

Work began October 1, 1943, and took six months to complete. Designed in the style of a mountain lodge, a total of 63,000 manual hours went into the 511 log construction. The 40-foot hewed beams, as well as the logs and slabs, were all located on site.

The Deschutes and Willamette National Forests supplied additional material including the tree for the circular staircase. A total 150,000 board feet of lumber were put into the building.

Sunriver Great Hall circular staircase

Stone masons shaped ten tons of volcanic rock into the two massive fireplaces, one on the lower level, the other directly above on the mezzanine. Less than three months later, a “bush raising” ceremony was held at the Christmas Eve dance to celebrate completion of the roof.

When Camp Abbot was abandoned in June 1944 after the invasion of Europe, the Officers’ Club was the only significant building left untouched. The 5,500 acre property went up for sale in 1945. By 1950, it was used for a livestock operation, and, at one time, the Officers’ Club housed cattle.

Camp Abbot memorabilia, once displayed at the Sunriver Nature Center, is now at the Deschutes Historical Museum in Bend.

According to the Sunriver Nature Center Publication Camp Abbot, the main entrance was on “F” Street (now Center Drive), along with the café, recreation buildings, and “F” Street barracks. The post chapel was located on what is now a Sunriver Lodge parking lot.

Besson Commons sits between the Lodge and the Great Hall. On the walls inside the main doors of the former Officers’ Club are a plaque, pictures and descriptions to commemorate the 50th Anniversary (September 10, 1993) and remember the 90,000 soldiers who trained at the U.S. Army 3rd Engineer Replacement Training Center.

The Great Hall is now used for conventions, banquets, receptions, formal dances and music recitals. It has been used by movie and television companies on location. One script of Richard Boone’s “Have Gun, Will Travel” television series was adapted to focus on the unusual circular staircase built around the huge pine tree.

Officers' Club circular staircase

Camp Abbot’s review field was on part of the Great Meadow.

Soldiers dodged bullets on the obstacle course, now the 10th tee on the Meadows Golf Course.

The waterway behind the Lodge and River Lodges, now called Sun River, is all that remains of the canals developed by the corpsmen.

Sun River

The Civilian Conservation Corps camp site was in the area now called Vista Lane.

Soldiers practiced on bayonet courts and rifle and grenade ranges on the lower meadow between what is now Vista Lane and the Sunriver Airport.

The “L” Street barracks spread between what are now the 12th and 14th holes of the Meadows Golf Course between Circles 2 and 3 near the Wildflower condos.

With the addition of a roof and door to Camp Abbot’s sedimentation tank, the building is now used by Sunriver’s Public Works Department between the Sunriver Police station and the community recycle center.

Camp Abbot's sedimentation tank

The Army’s munitions dump proved too costly for the Sunriver Homeowners Association to dig up and remove all toxic asbestos and contaminated soil so in 2012 they built the concrete Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic and Recreation Center (SHARC) on Overlook Road to bury what remained.

Additional anti-tank range, mortar and firing ranges, and demolition areas spread north and west across the Deschutes into what is now the Deschutes National Forest.

The chemical training area took place east between what is now the railroad track and Hwy. 97.

Remnants of bridge abutment foundations built by the corpsmen between what are now the Sunriver Stables and Mary McCallum Park are better seen by floaters on the Deschutes.

Major General Alexander M. Patch used Camp Abbot as his base in 1943 to lead the Oregon Maneuver. One hundred thousand soldiers participated in large scale war games on 10,000 square miles in three central Oregon counties before their deployment overseas. In 1943, the U.S. Forest Service and the combat engineers training at Camp Abbot built the General Patch Bridge about seven miles south from Sunriver at what is now the Big River Camp Ground. Declared unsafe, it no longer remains. It was visible from the Robert D. Maxwell Veterans Memorial Bridge built in 1984 on South Century Drive.

Gen. Patch bridge

General Patch recommended Technician Fifth Grade Robert D. Maxwell of Bend to receive the Medal of Honor for heroism in France in 1944. According to a plaque at the campground near the site of the former smaller bridge, the two men never met each other.

Patch Maxwell plaque

 

 

 

 

 

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CAMP ABBOT, THEN and NOW

Part 1 of 2….

In the railroad survey section at the Bend, Oregon, High Desert Museum’s Spirit of the West exhibit, visitors learn that young Lt. Henry L. Abbot led an Army Corps of Topographical Engineers (all West Point graduates) to survey a proposed Pacific Railroad from Sacramento, California, north to The Dalles. On September 2, 1855, they camped in the meadow at what is now the resort community of Sunriver.

In the Museum’s current exhibit, WWII: The High Desert Home Front, visitors learn that in October 1942, the U.S. Army bought 5,500 acres to establish the 3rd Engineer Replacement Training Center (ERTC) on that same site to construct roads and canals and to train corpsmen for amphibious assault combat in the European theater.

The area was selected for its winter weather and terrain similar to the conditions soldiers faced in France and Germany. The Deschutes River substituted for the Rhine, and trainees built pontoon and permanent bridges only to blow them up afterward.

In November 1942, construction of  a self-contained community to sustain a population of 10,000 began with roads, water and sewage, barracks, café, post chapel, recreation building and tennis courts, repair and storage buildings, Civilian Conservation Corps camp, and an Officers’ Club.

On May 12, 1943, Col. Frank S. Besson, a 1909 West Point graduate with honors who also won the Sabre as the Academy’s outstanding athlete, transferred as commander of the ERTC at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri to assume command of Camp Abbot, named for the first young lieutenant who camped there. Abbot was later cited for gallant service during the Civil War, and named by President Theodore Roosevelt to the Board of Consulting Engineers planning construction of the Panama Canal.

Camp Abbot was the third and largest of the nation’s three ERTC installations. The other two were Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and Fort Leonard, Missouri. Ninety thousand men prepared for combat conditions in Europe, 10,000 trainees at a time. A nighttime temperature of 20 degrees below zero greeted the first trainees on their arrival in March 1943.

The 17-week training cycle included three phases:

  • Six weeks instruction in basic military physical training, hand-to-hand combat, rifle marksmanship, map reading, camouflage, combat drills, hand and anti-tank grenades, defense against chemical, air and mechanized attack, and first aid.
  • Eight weeks of specialist training in a choice of administration, cooking, carpentry, sawmill operation, automotive maintenance, motor vehicle or heavy equipment use, along with physical training, military orientations, and night maneuvers.
  • Those not selected for specialist training advanced to the technical and tactical team for three weeks to build bridges under simulated combat and prepare the way through field mines for the troops. Sealed orders were revealed to the trainees one day at a time.

Col. Besson’s welcome to his recruits, published in the weekly Abbot Engineer, told about the Army Corps of Engineers’ reputation and skills to uphold. He believed in training soldiers who were the “first ones in and the last ones out when the going is toughest.” Besson participated in many training exercises with his men. He crawled through an obstacle course under live fire and officially opened the rifle range by hitting the bull’s-eye with his first shot.

Besson encouraged team and individual sports competition. The first baseball game on June 6, 1943, was won by the Bend Elks, 11 to 1. Although table tennis was the most popular activity, soldiers competed in boxing, tracks meets, bowling leagues, and volleyball tournaments. Besson tossed up the first ball at center court in the first basketball tournament in October 1943.

Radio listeners looked forward to the Big Band sounds. Camp Abbot personnel were especially proud to hear Fred Waring dedicate one of his Victory Tunes broadcasts “to the new camp in Central Oregon.”

Check back next week for Part 2.

 

 

 

 

 

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MEMOIR

Everyone has a story to tell.His Daughters Remebrance Cover

More than half a century ago, I promised not to reveal a family secret. When the burden affected my health, a doctor suggested I write my thoughts on paper, not for publication but to ease my mind.

Decades passed. I decided it is time to speak out.

Recent publication of His Daughter’s Remembrance has finally lifted the weight off my shoulders.

My only regret is that those who never knew my version of the story are not alive to read it. Available at Amazon, http://a.co/5greuFg.

 

 

 

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Mother Nature’s Ice Sculptures

What do you see in each picture?

Ice Sculpture

Elephant and a pig?

 

Ice Sculpture

A python or a walking cane?

 

Ice Sculpture

A swordfish or a witch on her broomstick?

 

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