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 Author Sandra Warren
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Stories Beyond The Book
     As I travel around sharing the amazing story of the South High School Class of 1943, the “Buy a Bomber” program and the B-17 crash of “The Spirit of South High” in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, wonderful WWII stories are emerging, memories long buried in the hearts and minds of folks who had first-hand experience as well as those who remember growing up in that era. I share them here for all to enjoy. Fall, 2015      Bruce Fisher gave the book to his father for his 95th Birthday. The book prompted his father to talk about his WWII days, something he’d never done before. Bruce and his brother sat mesmerized and astounded listening to tales of all their father had lived through. Presentation: October 1, 2015, Meadows of Dan, Virginia (71st Anniversary of the Crash)      Following the presentation and a call for anyone having memorabilia from the crash to donate it to the Patrick County Historical Society, a gentleman, Levoy Bray, came up to me, pulled a ring off of his finger and said, “Here, this belongs to you!” It was one of the hand-made rings made from the B-17’s instrument panel.        Levoy said that his friend, Coy Hall, made it for him and that Coy’s two brothers, Luther and Benjamin went over to the crash and pulled metal from the instrument panel. They had been in the barn doing their milking chores when they heard the bomber circle and then crash.  Presentation: March 12, 2016 – Patrick County Historical Society, Stuart, VA        Arlie Dalton, grandson to “Bud” Goad, owner of the pig lot where the bomber crashed, said his grandfather made a slew of rings but he doesn’t know if any still exist. Presentation: January 14, 2016 – Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC      Englanders, Fredrick (Fritz) and Rita Hardy attended a book signing and presentation. When I spoke about the food rationing that went on during WWII, Fred later shared that he had been a young child growing up in London during the bombing and he remembered the wonderful food sent over from America, especially the powdered eggs. He said he loved those eggs. He indicated that he and his family thought that Americans had too much food so they were just sharing it with England. The food supply had been cut off because of the U-boat raids and England was starving. He said he was shocked to learn that Americans, via rationing, sacrificed so that Englanders could eat.      Rita then told the story that her mother was in the basement giving birth to her sister when a bomb was dropped across the street blowing the roof off of their house January, 2016 Comment on Carol Baldwin’s Blog      sarahsbookreflections (http://sarahsbookreflections.com/) has left a new comment on your post "We Bought a WWII Bomber: A Review and A Giveaway": Interesting story, Sandra. Thanks for sharing it with us, Carol. I remember collecting rubber and metal with my mother who was a "Rosie the Riveter" at Lockheed in L.A. Mother wasn't actually a riveter, she was Lockheed's first female tool and dye designer. But I remember having War Bonds. I also remember Mother being extremely angry with neighbors who took my sister with them when they went to the black market. I also remember Mother christening a ship with a bottle a champagne. She had to smash it against the bow 3 or 4 times before the bottle shattered. Sandra, I'm glad you told the story so kids today can learn something more about that era. I don't think children today are any less altruistic, they just haven't been involved in what's happening in the world as much as we were. Sarah, author of "Terror's Identity." January 29, 2016, WW2 Club, The Villages, Florida      Mark Erdich, WW2 History buff, shared that he’d scoured WWII research and couldn’t find another book about the “Buy a Bomber” program. He said he believe this is the only book written on the subject.   March 3, 2016 – Calvin College Life-long Learning (CALL), Grand Rapids, MI      1. Following the presentation a woman told the story of being 7-years old and growing up in Iowa when her teacher told the class they had to collect rubber for the war effort. She remembers giving up her rubber dolly!      Later, the whole school had to go out and pick Milk Weed Pods because the filaments inside the pods were used for stuffing of vests and sleeping bags for the soldiers.      Many folks have shared their stories about picking Mild Weed Pods as children, most initiated by school teachers.      2. A gentleman shared that his monthly Army pay was $17.00 and Uncle Sam said they should all buy US Savings Bonds in the amount $7.50 per month. It was deducted from their paycheck. Years later his mother reminded him that he had a whole pile of bonds saved up. Presentation: March 7, 2016 – Grand Rapids Public Library – History & Collections Noontime Series, Grand Rapids, Michigan      1. Several South High Alumni showed up. One, a Mr. Tubbs, said he was one of the trombone players in the band in the photo of the dedication ceremony. He said he stood under the wing and that after the ceremony, the kids were allowed to go inside the B-17 bomber. (This I had not heard before.)      2. A 96-year old gentleman was also at the presentation. He said he did not go to South High, but went to Central High School and he remembered watching Gerald R. Ford play football for South in 1930. The gentleman said he was ten years of age at the time. He said that President Ford would line his linebackers up in a line in a strange pattern that was very effective. The gentleman then said he remembered that South High School had the BEST SCHOOL SPIRIT. He said he’d sit across the field looking at the full stands at South and hear their very positive cheers. He even remembered one and did it for me and one of the SHS alums standing nearby. Presentation: March 12, 2016 – Floyd Historical Society, Floyd, VA     A woman, Ruth Heafner, brought copies of photographs she’d taken of the crash and told the story that she was fourteen at the time and her mother brought her there. She had the old box brownie camera with her she had used to take the photos. Presentation: March 12, 2016 – Patrick County Historical Society, Stuart, VA      Irene Handy Joyce shared that she was around eleven when the bomber crashed and two of the pilots, ended up at her house. Captain Stredbeck and First Lt. Hearty Fitchko, showed up on their doorstep.      First Lt. Fitchko had met her father, D. Lee Handy at the crash site. He, D. Lee Handy, offered to drive him (Lt. Fitchko) to a telephone. (Few residents in the mountain community had telephones in 1944.) Captain Stredbeck arrived at the Handy house after being told there was another pilot there.      When they all met at the Handy house, Irene’s mother had breakfast ready for them. She said the pilots were amazed at all the food her mother had fixed. The Handy’s had six children, they were farmers and so food was plentiful. (In cities all over the US food was rationed and in limited supply. Farm families, on the other hand, had their own chickens and cows and knew how to grow food for their families.)      Irene remembers being there when First Lt. Fitchko and Captain Stredbeck saw each other for the first time after the crash. She said she’d never seen grown men cry before. Presentation: Albert Dale Interview: Marion, NC – McDowell Historical Society Presentation October 22, 2015      I live in the Dysartsville Community of McDowell County in NC. My mother’s name was Eva Kirksey Dale. She was born in 1909 and as WWII started up she was a Psychiatric nurse doing private duty in Charlotte. She got a telephone call at 4 PM in the afternoon.      My Dad had the sort of personality that he always knew what was going to happen. They had a prearranged code and in this code he told her he was being shipped to the Aleutians. Of the seven ship loads that were supposed to go, he and five or six others were taken off of all the ships. He had gotten so his left arm wouldn’t straighten so much it was tender to the touch. My mother got on the bus that same day at 8 pm headed for Atlanta and ultimately LosAngeles. The fellow driving the bus had never driven a bus before so the hill where the WBB-TV in Charlotte is it took him 4 times to get up the hill. But by 4 o’clock when they got to Atlanta he was a pretty fair driver, she said.      She was about to run out of money after three days in Los Angeles so she went to Douglas Aircraft and was hired as a nurse. Now she wasn’t the set-about sort so after three or four days, I’m not sure how long, she asked to work on the assembly line. The pay was about $25/week as I recall. They gave her a rivet gun and she made a mess of that and decided she wasn’t going to do that so they mover her to final assembly.      One of the things that she did was install various things in the cockpit. One of the Norden Bombsights but she never saw one. Afterwards you could get them for about $25 at the Army Surplus, 40-years later. She didn’t want to spend the money to see what it looked like. But the cockpit is a very confined area. The Co-pilot sits on the left side of the plane as you look forward and the bombsight was mounted there. Of course things were going on all the time on the assembly line. This was in a B-17. She ... I don’t know where the term came from but they called it “squawking” the plane goes up and someone does the squawking after it’s finished and the tests are done in the meantime.      The lines for the oxygen had a RED light and a Green Light. It did not have a diming mechanism as your dash instruments would have; which is called a Pentium meter.       I’m not sure it will pick up....little leaves inside that spin around and because they get no ventilation, they get very hot. And because of the position she had to get in to install them, these little lights would burn the dickens out of her. And she would get burned here (Upper arm – three spots – he rolled up his arm and showed me the three spots) and while I was in utero. The scars on her were barely visible when I was about seven.                   So as a trained nurse she would look at me and say, “you’re not supposed to be able to do that to a baby,” but there it is.      I’m the product – the burned B-17 product.      My Mother worked at Douglas Aircraft for 4 years. I was born the second year she worked there. It’s sort of a different story. Maybe they’ll be an explanation someday but so far I’m not aware of one. You have to wonder why they weren’t using Pentium Meters to dim these? Post script: My daughter is a Ph.D. microbiology researcher and a professor of genetics at Roger Williams University. She could find no research to support the possibility that an external bruise on the mother could be transferred to a fetus. She said perhaps future research will unlock the possibility.