1940s Letter William Shepard to Lois Shepard

Written possibly early December, 1940s, talking about Puerto Rico.

Hello Darling:

Here it is, Friday night in Trinidad. Ill write the letter here
and post it tomorrow. We flew down early this morning, leaving
Boringquen at 08:15. It was my first over-water hop. Only 700 miles
but something new. I flew down with Capt. Corcoran. there are
sure a lot of things to take care of beofre a flight. I dont suppose
that I have told you a lot of thngs we have to do.

First after the need for a flight has been ascertained it has to be
passed by the A-3 or the operations division of the wing (here)[?]. Then the
pilot must get all the crew & passengers to accomplish a physical
inspection certificate (if flying out of zone). Then a customs clearance
is necessary if flight into other than US possessions is contemplated.
Then the pilot fills out a form 23. (clearance of aircraft). He has
to give information as to the people going (their ranks serial nos)
the route to be traveled, air speed, altitude, destination and
fifty other things. Then he has to go to the weather office, which
prepares a chart showing just what weather he will encounter.
After that is he ready to go? No. He has to inspect the airplane
and crew & passengers to see if they know bail out & ditching (landing
on water) procedures. After everyone is aboard are we ready
to go? No! some jerk always comes running out on the
line as one is getting ready to pull out. We have to pick him
up and change the clearance (1 customs, 2 medical, 3 flight) via
radio. Then are we ready to go? I think so so
we taxi out to the runway, run up the engines and call
the tower for take off clearance. Do we get it? No. The
radio went bust! So we taxi back and change planes,
clearance, cargo, temper[?] and stuff. Well it give you
an idea anyhow of why I get $125 a month extra!

[page 2]
Im off the subject.

I figured the course out before take off and we flew 4 hours,
over water, when we hit land we were about 20 miles
off but that suited me. It was a clear day and we could see clear [over?] the top of Triniday. We had Maj. Brown the base chaplain for a passenger.

Trinidad surprised me. It is very mountainous near
the north coast and through the middle it is flat & level
Very much jungle country. It was sultry hot when we
landed. My boys (telephone) has removed some equipment
from the exchange at Waller and we loaded it in the C-97.
Ready to take off when Capt Corcoran called & said he had to
meet a naval officer in Port-of Spain. So we are R.O.N.
Get used to the term. It means. Remain Over Night.
when we are expected back & dont get to go, we send a radio
message, if possible, to one base informing them we are RON.

Be happy we are not here at Waller. It has its
points, but Borinquen has more of them. It is undoubtedly
more social & friendly but. It is really hot here. And
I have never seen it rain so hard. Believe me it has never
rained that hard in Ohio! And it keeps up.

The base is spread out over 19,000 acres! One needs
not a car, but an airplane to commute with.

When we were to RON. I went to the base telephone
office and met all the enlisted men. We then examined

[page 3]
the plant. They have a pretty fair system, better than
Boringquen’s. Boringquen isnt my worry, bu the way, any
more than Waller, Jamaica, Gunia or any of the others.
We are responsible for the telephone plant in all of them.
The Boringquen exchange is under Capt. Vaden. “Dave”. I
have charge of construction & maintenance in the whole area. I
do get a lot of experience this way although it keeps me hustling.

As we were looking over the system, one of the spliciers
tells me that they captured a boa-constrictor 19 ft long
at the very spot we were! We left there; and then he
told me of all the hunting. Deer, boar, duck. Well
now I think I will have to make frequent trips down to
Waller to coordinate communication activities.

Its crazier than hell, the way they drive. British you
know! On the left hand side, and it worries one to death.
The population here is not only dark. They are downright black
Some of the most shapely black wenches I have ever seen and
no kidding. They arent coarse but fine featured.
not negroes as we know them [SORRY just typing what he wrote]. The VD rate is high!

The driver of the jeep I rode in was black and he carried his
pet bird, Tony, with him all the time. He had made a cage
that was beautiful out of jungle wood. It was a masterpiece
of artistry! The bird was smaller than a canary and I was
told that It changed colors with age.

It may be in the cards for us to move to Waller in a year

[page 4]
or so. In that case we will undoubtedly enjoy it. But lets enjoy
Boringquen. As soon as you car arrives we will travel all over Puerto
Rico and take a lot of pictures. It, like all the Caribbean has
much to offer to the sight-seirs. It is very rich in history (only)
when I get back to Borinquen Sat I will have a full week
end ahead of me. I will get all the issued material, furniture & the
bike checked out to us & installed in the quarters. The all I will
need is a family to fill it up. We may not have a fortune
in money but we do have a family in every respect.

I am going to continue writing until I receive definate
word as to when you are coming down. Remember, I can
receive telegrams quickly, but to send one, I must go to
Augudila and it takes about 2-3 days to get to you. Coming
down they are sent via army radio so I get them immediately!

Well Im tiring out. This is a good example of a long
letter, buy the way. Ouch. Get it? well dont feel so bad,
its just lately that I have written anything but a one pager!

In case this is before Xmas I want you all to know
that I love you. That isnt worth money, just what you
want it to mean.

From South America your latin friend:
Willamo Sheparado

March 28, 1954 William Shepard to parents

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28 March 54

Dear Dick & Dad:

Things have slowed down enough for me to write a letter now. I have been managing to write Lois, and that is about all.

I had a good trip over, leaving 17 March and arriving on the 20th. I rode in a Lockheed Constellation, which is one of the more luxurious planes. We stopped 6 hours in Honolulu and one hour on Wake Island. I spent three days in Japan and arrived in Rosia[?] on 24 March.

Was assigned to the 18th Fighter Bomber Wing at Osass Kova[?]. They call this base K-55. I am communications — Electronics Staff Office for the wing. They have F-86s, however, I am flying C-47s and letting the young fellows have the jets.

I am just settled down now and ready to put in my time and today is Sunday, so Ill close to go to church.

Bill

December 20, 1947 Lois Shepard to mother-in-law

Dec. 20 —

Dear Dick-

I’m not leaving for New Orleans till the 3rd. of January. If I can make my plane reservations for Jan. 5th that is.

I’m really selling the furniture at a sacrifice. Wrong time of year I guess. But I have to get rid of it. I’ll never buy any more furniture as long as we are in the Army.

Bill has our quarters & is living in them I guess 5rms all tile floors. It sounds wonderful & I’m so anxious to get down there. I’ve a million & one things to get done between now & Jan. 3.

When will you come out and I don’t suppose you can go to N. O.

[page2]
since I’m not leaving till the 3rd. However if you can it will be O.K. Hope to see you soon.

Love
Lois

Colonel Irving C. Pahl

After reading the title of this post I can hear my relatives asking, “Colonel Who?” A perfectly legitimate question too. But, in order to answer it I will need to go back a few years to give you a frame of reference.

The story starts with Laura, the youngest daughter of FW John and Johanna Deadrich, my great great grandparents. The second youngest of 6 children to survive to adulthood, she was born August 27, 1866 in Gillett, Oconto County, Wisconsin. (Laura was six years older than the youngest child, my great-grandfather, Victor.)

When Laura John was 19 years old she married her first husband, Charles Edward Pahl. A marriage which lasted for 10 years. Here are some notes from the divorce case:

“…That shortly after the said marriage the plaintiff [sic: defendant Charles] commenced a system of cruel and inhuman treatment towards the plaintiff by calling the plaintiff base, vile and abusive names, by threatening to strike, shoot and kill the plaintiff ….. conduct of the defendant became so cruel and inhuman towards the plaintiff and the said child [Victor] that the plaintiff was forced to and did leave …. That during the time the plaintiff and defendant lived together the defendant was ever jealous of every body who spoke to the plaintiff even of the plaintiff’s brothers …would abuse the plaintiff by the use of vile epithets…talking about shooting and killing the plaintiff.

…the defendant had a mania for whipping and punishing the said Victor Pahl … when the plaintiff remonstrated and attempted to prevent the defendant from so whipping and punishing said child the defendant would grossly and outrageously abuse the plaintiff by use of abusive words…

That the defendant frequently took up a stick or wood and threatened to strike and beat the plaintiff. That about six weeks before the plaintiff left the defendant…because she protested against the punishment of the said Victor Pahl by the defendant, the defendant violently assaulted the plaintiff and pinched and bruised her arm with such force as to take the skin off of her arm.

That shortly before the plaintiff left the defendant as aforesaid he told the plaintiff that if his style did not suit her she might leave and the sooner she left the better, that in consequence of said abuse and the great fear the plaintiff had of the defendant she left him as aforesaid.” 1

Laura had three children with Charles: Louis, who died at about a year old, Harold and Victor Pahl. She retained custody of Victor in the divorce proceedings. (It appears that their son Harold might have also died by the time of the divorce as he is not mentioned in the records).

Laura married again in 1899 to Edward Naylor.

Married
Last Saturday morning, at Gillett, Oconto County, this state, Dr. E. S. Naylor to Miss Laura Johns, Justice Riordan officiating. The bride is one of the most popular young ladies of Gillett, and a sister of our obliging station agent at this place, and the groom is well know veterinary surgeon formerly of Ripon, but now in the employ of the Rusch Lumber Company here. They arrived here on the evening train Monday and were duly serenaded by the village band, after which a social ball was given in their honor at the Exchange Hotel, where they are at present staying. The Advertiser joins their many friends in wishing them a happy and prosperous journey through life. 2

This marriage didn’t last long either, and there were no living children of this marriage when divorce was granted in 1904. Laura supported herself by working as a cook in lumber camps, and boarding houses. Skills she most likely learned from her mother, who was acclaimed as a great cook by locals and visitors alike.

Victor was born in 1891. It is possibly because Laura was working in lumber camps, a place that would be dangerous for a young child, that he is found in the 1900 census living with his grandparents, FW and Johanna John. He appears to have had a complicated, rough and confusing childhood, because we find him a few years later at the State School for Boys, in Waukesha, at the age of 14. I don’t know what his incarceration was for, or for how long he was a guest of the facility.

In 1916 when war started in Europe, Victor was working in Ontario as an ironworker. It appears that he was so eager to join in the fight, that he didn’t want to wait for the United States to get involved.

Oconto Boy in the War
Victor Pahl, son of Charles Pahl of Oconto, has enlisted in a Canadian company and will participate in the European war on the side of the allies. Victor was born and brought up in Oconto. 3

military_pahlvic_canadian

He was in the Canadian Navy. When the United States finally join in the cause, he signed up for the draft there.

Victor died in 1951 in Florida. Leaving three children from his first wife: Irving, Martha and Laura. From the little that I have found, I am quite sure that there is much more that could be written about Victor, but this post is really about Irving, my Dad’s second cousin.

Here is a picture of Victor from a Brazilian Passport4 from 1943. He would be about 52:

misc_pahlvic_passport1

pahl_irvingc_headshotfromnewspaper

Like his father, Irving C. Pahl was born in Wisconsin. His mother however, was a Romanian immigrant.

Irving’s father moved the family around a lot, probably because of his job (I believe he was a sailor, or worked around boats), so the family wasn’t actually in Wisconsin very long before they left on the first of many moves. It was in Connecticut that the family settled for a short while, and Irving started his formal education.

But he can tell you all about that in his interview.

One of the great things about the internet is how it makes it so much easier to find gems, that you wouldn’t otherwise know about. In researching Irving online, I ran across an interview with him, recorded by the Winthrop University, for their oral history program. The main focus of his interview is the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviets, because he and his family were there when the hammer came down.

Finding the interview, seeing his involvement in Czechoslovakia, and his rank when he retired from the Army, I thought that he might have been an interesting cousin to know about, so I did a little more digging. What follows are newspaper clippings that I found regarding Irving’s life in the military. And I was right, it was pretty interesting.

This first newspaper article is from 1953 and gives a good overview of his accomplishments and involvement in the service from 1939 up to that time. The rest of the articles are chronologically organized.

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Kentucky New Era 06/11/1953p9

 

133153548 copy

Untitled
Pacific Stars and Stripes, vol.11, no. 149, may 30, 1955

79485056 copy

133746094 copy

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Excerpt from book published about the Czechoslovakian fight.

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Those are the highlights of what appears to be quite an interesting life for himself, and his family. And when Irving retired in Columbia, South Carolina he didn’t actually ‘retire’. He was still very much involved with the community, volunteering and writing letters to the editor.

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Irving passed way in 1996, leaving a son and a daughter to carry on his legacy.

The interview which I mentioned above can be downloaded from the University’s website, and listened to at your leisure, it is about 50 minutes long. I have also transcribed the interview as best I can. The transcript (a link to it is below in .pdf format) is the best I could get from listening to it on my iPhone. Some bits were too garbled for me to hear clearly, and I indicate such, on occasion he is speaking Czech (or German), or using Czech names and places, and I can’t quite tell what he is saying. A few times several people were talking at once, (I believe his wife was present at the time, interjecting a comment on occasion, which I couldn’t quite hear).

TRANSCRIPT OF PAHL INTERVIEW

As each new generation is born, it is only natural that family starts drifting farther apart. So I am glad when I can find and share these stories of cousins we never knew. I hope you enjoy them too.


Sources:
1. Divorce of Laura Pahl (plaintiff) from Charles E. Pahl (defendant) December 24, 1895 (filed January 8, 1896) Oconto County, Wisconsin, Circuit Court Case #4044, Area Research Center, UW Green Bay, Green Bay, Wisconsin. June 23, 2005.
2. Northern Wisconsin Advertiser, Wabeno, WI (Madison WHS micro PH 73-1888) January 26, 1899 c5 (weekly Thursday paper).

3. The Union Farmer Herald, Vol. 5, Issue 42, March 24, 1916, page 1, col. 1.
4. Rio de Janeiro Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965, FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2013. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records. Image 145-146 of 201 (pulled from Ancestry.com).

August 6, 1944 William Shepard to parents…

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1704 W. Broadway
Enid, Oklahoma
August 6, 1944

Dear Mother & Dad:

It has been several weeks since I have written. Have been very busy. As a f’rinstance I flew 18 hours last week. I am now finished with my first phase. Tomorrow, monday, I start instruments, radio and night flying.

I am getting fatter than a pig. I weigh 190# now. I eat to darn much. I was turned down for fighter pilot because of heigth so It dont matter so much. Ill try next for attact aviation. If the war keeps on at the rate its going Ill never

letter_shepardw_to_shepardwr_1944_08_06_p02

get any combat experience in Europe, Well It’ll be at least 6 months yet.

Kenny sure is growing. He is much taller and heavier. He is pestering me now. Ill be happy to get him and Susan home. I know he is anxious to see his trains. Thanks ever so much for getting them. He also enjoys his tinker toys. Goes to church sunday also. Some  boy. Sue is also growing. Her head is almost healed.

Lois has been having a few headaches lately. I think that she needs her glasses refitted.

It has been unbearably hot lately 100 to 105 daytimes. Thank gosh it can’t last much longer. Ill be here in Enid until September 7th, or 8th.

Ill probably go either to Waco Texas

letter_shepardw_to_shepardwr_1944_08_06_p03

or to Altus, Oklahoma. Ill get multi-engine training.

Lois & I have been getting out a little now. We have a  crowd here. Pennochle playing deluxe. We went out last night & saw ‘Gaslight” with Ingrid Bergman & Chas Boyer. It was O.K.

Well Ill close & wish you good fishing. I don’t get to write much so Ill try & get another letter out in a week or so.

Have a good time in Canada.

Love
Bill

November 21, 1943 William Shepard to parents…

letter_shepardw_to_shepardwr_1943_11_21

470 Base H.Q. and Air Base Squadron
Pendleton Army Air Field, Oregon
November 21, 1943

Dear Mother & Father:

Arrived here safely, after much delay. Waited at Patterson Field for three days. Met some fliers I knew and had a ride home, but at the last minute the flight was cancelled and I had to come via airlines I was kicked off at Cheyenne and Boise and came in on the train, just making it.

As you have probably noticed, I have been transferred to another organization. You can address all mail to the above address until further notice.

It was nice to get home and probably will be the last time for a while at least. Although it will take me three monthes to pay  you and Lois back.

Ill send you the money for Lois’ ring in two weeks. Get it wrapped and give it to her on Xmas eve for me. Ill send a note to put in with it. I can pay you back Jan & Feb.

Same old place out here. The weather ifs foggy. Im just waiting now. Ill write later.

Your son
Bill

December 17, 1942 William Shepard to home…

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12-17-42

Dear Mom:

In order to put my personal affairs in order I want you to do this for me.

  1. Get all my insurance policies out and send me the following details for each policy
    1. Name of Company
    2. Number of Policy
    3. Amount of Policy
    4. War clauses if any in policy
    5. Double indemnity or not
    6. Who is designated as beneficiary?

It would clear matters up if you could & would transfer the policies to me. Then I could arrange for the government to pay the premiums for me. Lois could then be assured of getting prompt payment. As it is matters will be mixed up.

Louis should be my first beneficiary
Kenny ” ” ” second ”

They are my family mother, and as I cant get any more insilian[?] life insurance I want them

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to be my direct beneficiaries. I have money enough and am capable of taking care of it now. The government arranges for premium payment.

I want to arrange all my personal affairs so that If I am killed there won’t be any delay or trouble in settling my estate. This is war and there is a chance of me not coming back so I would thank you forever if you could arrange for this.

Write me right away because I have to have all my personal affairs cleaned up in as soon a time as I can. It is one thing that the US demands of all officers.

Everything is fine here Im getting along swell. The weather is foggy now but It’s still better than Miami Beach. Tell everyone hello for me. Ill be seeing you.

Your son
Bill

September 27 [1942] William Shepard to home…

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Sept. 27

Dear mom

I just got a letter from you. Thought that you were home but you are still in Canada. Everything is fine here. I told you before I guess, but Clark Gable is in my wing #(the same division) wing no 1. He is a sergeant in the section just in front of me. He looks different without a mustache. All the men like him  because he’s a man’s man. I haven’t got to talk to him yet, or rather I haven’t had the occasion. It sure is a fine place here. I think that when the war’s over Lois & I will move here to Florida. Ill write later.

Bill

P.S. Never mention anything I write you to anyone connected with newspapers. It would get me a dishonorable discharge and I would rather be shot than that.