September 12, 1947 William Shepard to parents…

This is Thanksgiving week, so there will only be one entry this week as I have every intention of totally vegging out and enjoying my 4 days off. Lord of the Rings marathon here I come! Have an excellent Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

Officers Mail Section
Scott Field, Ill.
September 12, 1947

Dear Dick & Dad,

There just isnt enough time in the day any more. We seem to be going all the time.

Hunting season is in Nov. Im going out tomorrow after dove & squirrel. Fishing is OK here. We have a mess in the ice box & Im going again Sunday.

I suppose that you folks are catching whoppers. Mine are all little fellows.

K.W. is all happy, he got an erector set (big one) and is busy building most the time. Sue got a rubber doll,

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she likes it too.

We all like it here. My work is OK, takes about 6 hours a day. We have every week end off & thats OK.

The car is running fine and it sure is a blessing. I dont know what we would have done without it. It needs a tuneup now & I think Ill have it done soon.

As soon as you folks get back let us know and Ill ship you a bundle of money. We owe you some, remember? We got the check from Hilliards bank but you were on your way to Canada.

Well I wish you a very good time and Ill see you.

Love
Bill

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Dick and Dad in Florida

One major disadvantage to growing up as a military brat, is that you don’t get a chance to become attached to ‘place’ or know your relatives, because you aren’t around, or around long enough, to do so. But I am glad that in my case I do have a some great memories of extended family.

Because my dad was stationed at McCoy AFB in Orlando in the late 60s, we were able to visit with my great grandparents, Dick and Dad, several times over the few years that we lived there because they weren’t too far away. My fist real connection to family other than mom and dad.

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Dick and Dad

Although their earlier years were spent in West Virginia, Rachel ‘Dick’ and William Shepard, Sr. ‘Dad’ lived mostly in Ohio raising their family of two boys, until Dad retired from his supervisory job at the post office in the 1950s.

They had had a cottage in Thessalon, Ontario, Canada that they went to often, as early as the 1940s. (I don’t know yet if they bought it or rented it.) Below is a photograph of the cottage in Canada that gramps is always mentioning in his letters to his parents, where the fishing was fine.

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When Dad officially retired, they went down to Safety Harbor in late 1956 where they rented a place in the area until they could find the perfect winter retirement home. (We know this because their son Herman wrote a letter to them in Dec of 1956 asking how they were liking their temporary accomodations.)

By December 26, 1956 they had found their spot, and it was at this time they purchased their second vacation/retirement home at 305 7th Ave N in Safety Harbor, Florida, near Tampa. The place that we visited several times in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

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So in this post I thought it would be fun to do a sort of slideshow from past to present on the house I remember visiting in Florida.

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This was probably taken about when they purchased the property in 1957. (Found in the Shepard family slide collection.)

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This is about the late 1960s, when we would be visiting.

In the above second picture you can see the tree is much taller, there are awnings added to the windows, and the front entrance/patio area is now enclosed. Everything else is pretty much the same.

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Here’s another view from the late 1960s.

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Here’s Dick in her kitchen mixing up some libations for her guests. Late 1970s or early 80s. Dad had passed away in 1973.

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Here she is with friends or family, laughing it up on the couch I remember sitting on when we visited. This was probably in the late 70s or early 80s.

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Late 70s, early 1980s? The landscaping has been changed up a bit.

Dick passed away in 1986 and the house was sold sometime later that year by her son Herman.

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Now for the shocker, here is a 2014 image of the property from Google street view:

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These are images posted in 2002 when it was for sale and the outdoor shots look pretty close to the 2014 images:

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Quite a difference from the 50s though! That kitchen sure doesn’t look the same. The property sold for $74,000 in 2002, and it is currently valued at about $185,000, for 916 sq. ft. of living space. I like the improvements, although the carport/garage doesn’t look like it has been worked on at all. (It looks like someone tried to sell it in 2015 for $225,000, but it was only on the market for a couple of months before they unlisted it.)

Because the city used crushed shells, instead of gravel, in the driveway, when we visited I would go looking for cool shells when I got bored with all the adult talk. I still have some great finds in my shell collection.

Interesting fun fact: According to the 1959 directory for Safety Harbor, Lois and William Shepard, jr. were also living at this address. My grandparents. (Hey Mom, I don’t remember you mentioning this.)

What a fun drive down memory lane.

 

January 12, 1947 William Shepard to parents…

This letter is in regards to William and Lois Shepard move to Puerto Rico.

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January 12, 1947

Hello Dick & Dad:

We are settled down now. At least we are settled as much as we can be until the trunks arrive.

Lois & the children like it here very much and it is nice. I work when I want to, report in the morning 8 to 9. Off at 11 until 1, quit about 4.

It has been raining some the last two days, rather cool, about 70°! It will undoubtedly warm up the next few days.

Sunday we went to the beach for a while after lunch. The kids had a swell time. Played in the sand. Found coconuts. I opened one for them. They found about a bushel of shells.

I think they are going to send some home. Havent sent your Xmas present yet. So it is still pending. What I have in mind is in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. My next trip there, Ill pick them up.

Prices on food are about the same as the U.S. a lot of frozen foods. The milk is also frozen. Vegtables are fresh grown & frozen both. We get the sweetest tasting cabbage here. No lettuce though. Oranges, big ones, are 1¢ a piece. Lemons grow all over the place.

The farmers grow coffee, sugar cane & vegetables. Some pinneapple too, I think.

Sue is going to school here. She goes about two hours a day. KW & Sue both seem to like the school here.

We went to the show friday. Saw Spencer Tracy in “Cass Timberlaine.” Only about 2 blocks away as Ive told you.

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The only thing that you folks can do for us or rather me is to have my gun fitted with a poly-choke and shipped down. Pack it well & ship it to me at the below address.

Lt. William A. Shepard Jr 0-48155
24th Composite Wing*
Borinquen Field**
Puerto Rico

What ever it costs let me know. By the way we will send you the $100 we owe you next month. And while we are on debts. Thank you very very much Dick, for helping Lois to New Orleans she really appreciated it. And Lois tells me that dad helped a lot in Trenton. It made the trip a lot easier.

I expect the car down the 25th of January. We can use it here. The post is large and we want to travel over Puerto Rico.

Well, Ill close for now. Xcuse the paper.
Havent found film to take pictures yet.

Love
Bill

 

*From August 1946 until replaced by the Antilles Air Division in July 1948 the wing supervised large numbers of major and minor bases and Air Force units in the Caribbean area from Puerto Rico to British Guiana. [https://www.revolvy.com/topic/24th%20Composite%20Wing&item_type=topic]
and
Constituted as 24th Composite Wing on 19 Nov 1942. Activated in Iceland on 25 Dec 1942. Served in the defense of Iceland. Disbanded on 15 Jun 1944.
          Reconstituted on 5 Aug 1946 and activated in Puerto Rico on 25 Aug. Assigned to Caribbean Air Command. No tactical groups were assigned, but the wing supervised various air force units and bases in the Antilles. Inactivated in Puerto Rico on 28 Jul 1948. [http://www.armyaircorpsmuseum.org/24th_Composite_Wing.cfm]

**Borinquen Field was an American military airfield built in northwestern Puerto Rico in 1940. During WW2, it served as a base for US Army Air Corps (later US Army Air Forces) reconnaissance flights over the approaches to the Caribbean Sea. In 1947, it was turned over to the newly formed US Air Force, which renamed the field Ramey Air Force Base the following year. [https://ww2db.com/facility/Borinquen_Field/]

Clarence and the Wisconsin State Guard Reserve

It was pure chance that I was preparing this post for this week, and Veteran’s Day is Saturday. Brilliant. To all the veterans in my family, past and present, thank you for your service.

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Clarence with his State Guard Reserve unit. (He is in the back row, straight back from the gentleman sitting on the far right in front.) His designation was provided by the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison.

In 1904 the Wisconsin State Legislature enacted Chapter 434.

“In the event of all or part of the Wisconsin National Guard being called into the service of the United States, the governor is hereby authorized to organize and equip a temporary military force equal in size and organization to that called from the state, provided, that upon the return to the state of the troops called into the service of the United States the temporary military force shall be disbanded.”

Both my grandfather Clarence Fredrick John and his uncle Milton Cain were members of the Wisconsin State Guard (or in Clarence’s case it might have been the State Reserve, his exact designation is unclear at this time). Milton went on to fight in France with the Rainbow Division. My grandfather, on the other hand, never stepped foot in Europe, or Africa for that matter, during this war. He did not turn 21 until October 29, 1919 and the war was over a little more than a week later.

The State Guard was organized after the Wisconsin National Guard went overseas to join in the war effort in July of 1917. The first units of the State Guard that were organized were in Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Fond du Lac and Green Bay. The men recruited were all volunteers who were too old or too young for the draft.

Its first encampment was at Camp Douglas in July of 1918. It was comprised of four regiments of infantry and a State Guard Reserve. In total about 5,500 officers and men.

The Guard was paid an allowance by the state for: armory rent, upkeep of clothing, and the expenses connected with their training. However, the men in the Guard were all volunteers so received no wages or pay. And if you were in the State Reserve, you paid for your own equipment and uniform.

The camp was commanded by BG Charles King, a retired officer of the Wisconsin National Guard. He trained the men as if they were regular army, and their competence  after a few days of intensive training, along with their own drills at home, was impressive. In his report to the adjutant general Gen. King complimented them highly.

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From the family album. Clarence Fredrick John in his State Guard Reserve uniform.

It was understood that joining the State Guard did not exempt the men from the draft. Those who were too young to join at that time would be eligible for active service when they reached the age of 21. The older men could be called up if they ran out of young blood.

The Wisconsin State Guard was needed 3 times during the World War I:
1. Sept. 16-18, 1918 Clark County; to assist in search for draft dodgers.
2. Aug. 20-24, 1919 As guards during the Cudahy riots.
3. Sept. 9-12, 1919 Troops were assembled in the armory at Manitowoc, for use in strike riots at Two Rivers, but they were not used.

The State Guard was incrementally disbanded starting on May 5, 1920, as the National Guard was slowly reactivated in full, a process which was completed in 1921.

Clarence was with the 26th Separate Company of Crandon.5 He sure does look cute in his duds. He apparently told the story that his ship was turned around at sea because the war was over, so he never got to fight. It makes for a nice story, but I am doubtful that that was the case, as he wouldn’t have had time to be on a ship heading overseas, less than two weeks after he was of age. He might, however, have had his bags all packed and been raring to go.

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Sources:
1.  http://www.b-1-105.us/history/wsg.html.
2. Email from: Horton, Russell <Russell.Horton@dva.state.wi.us.
3. “State Guard to Camp Douglas”, The Farmer-Herald, Oconto Falls, Wis., Friday, June 28, 1918. Page 4 Column 2.
4. “Wisconsin in the World War,” by R. B. Pixley. Milwaukee, The Wisconsin War History Company, 1919. Copyright 1919:S.E. Tate Printing Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A. Google Books digitized. p285
5. “…found a Clarence F. John in the State Guard Reserve microfilm. It appears he with the 26th Separate Company, which seems to be based out of Crandon” — email from Wisconsin Veterans Museum, 
30 West Mifflin Street, Madison, WI 53703.

September 17, 1945 William Shepard to parents

September 17

Dear Dick & Dad:

A short note before I turn in to sleep. No news on the discharge that I havent already told you. I will probably fly tomorrow, I hope so as it means $80.00 to me. Nothing else to do, so I had might as well fly.

If I get back too soon before hunting season I will go right to work for Ma Bell. No use loafing around all the rest of the year. Well I doubt very much if I will be able to come up this year, but next year the story

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will be different.

give Mr & Mrs Forder my regards and tell them that I shall see them next year. Bring back some fish so I can have some real fish to eat. I’ll always remember that lake trout.

Take care of yourselves and Ill see you when you get back or when I get back.

Your son
Bill

September 1, 1945 William Shepard to parents…

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Sept 1, 1945

Dear Dick & Dad:

Perhaps in a few days you will have a civilian son again. You will probably hear from me in the next month, sometime, to drive over into Indiana to Camp Aterberry to pick me up.

At the present time I am just waiting for orders to go to the separation center, swimming and sleeping in the meantime.

I sold the car, as I coudnt afford to keep it. I got to much out of it, $910.00 to pay me to fix it.

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while I was here the rear end started growling too and I figured $250 to fix it up. For what I sold it for and the $250.00 I can buy a new one.

When I get home I think that Ill run up to Canada to hunt ducks, geese & deer. Probably 15 or 20 days.

Duck season starts Sept 25 and goes until Dec 5. and Deer season starts Sept. 15 & lasts until Nov 25.

Im planning on going up about October 1st, it doesnt hurt anyting to plan it that way.

letter_shepardw_to_shepardwr_1945_09_01_p03It will probably be the only chance for a few year that I’ll have to hunt up there.

Ill bet that you folks had a grand time up there. I m happy that you could spend so much time up there.

Give my best wishes to all. I will see everyone soon.

Love
Bill

August 15, 1945 William Shepard to parents…

August 15, 1945

Dear Mother & Dad & KW:

What do you think of the good news? You dont need to worry any more. Ill be out of the army & home in a few months.

For the present Louis will be here until Sept 1 and then she will probably come home Ill sell the car here, as I can get about $900 fo it.

I may stay in for 6 months or so, doing transport flying, I dont know yet but I

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will in a few weeks Ill let you know as soon as I know. If I get out in time I want to go deer hunting this fall & perhaps some moose.

Ill bet you are having a wonderful time. How is the fishing? Give Mr & Mrs Forder my regards & best wishes. Tell them Ill see them soon.

Take care of yourselves

Your Son
Bill

PS Susie says to tell KW she loves him

A case of slander…

3274299875_615a879761_oThe following newspaper clippings tell me the story of a court case that never really came to be. And, if it wasn’t for the local reporting on the matter, I never would have known about it at all. (From what I have seen it appears that Joseph Pinkerton might have been the go-to carpenter in Gillett.)

1878-1-26, Saturday, Oconto County Reporter vol. 7, issue 13, page 3, col. 2:
It is reported that Jos. Pinkerton has instituted proceedings against Wm. Johns of Gillett for slander, laying his damages at $8,000.

1878-11-02 Saturday, Oconto County Reporter vol. 8, issue 1, page 3, col. 2:
The slander libel suit pending between Joseph Pinkerton and F. W. Johns has been amicably settled, and dropped from the court calendar. It would be better if more law suits could be disposed of in the same way.

1878-11-16, Saturday, Oconto County Reporter vol. 8, issue 3; page ? col 2:
Court Proceedings.
The following is a summary of the court business disposed of since our last report:
J. Pinkerton vs F. W. John, Settled

So it appears that hot tempers cooled and better natures prevailed. Good thing for William, otherwise that would have been an expensive bit of slander if he had lost the case.

 

July 29, 1945 William Shepard to parents…

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July 29, 1945

Dear Mother & Dad:

It has been a week or so but forgive me for not writing Well it has been 7 years since Louie & I was married. I guess she has had a rather rough time of it. I have never been able to give her a home. Dont mis understand me. You & Dad have been wonderful about having us. Ill never forget.

I do want you and Dad to come out to Arizona. I like it here

letter_shepardw_to_shepardwr_1945_07_29_p02immensely.

I am flying about two or three days a week now. This country is beautiful from the air.

Our address after August 1st will be Route 2, Box 479 c/o Evans Guest Ranch, Tuscon, Arizona.

We are sharing a 6 room ranch house with another Lt. & his wife and 2 girls.

I really dont have any news so Ill close, wishing you a happy time in Canada.

Love,
Bill