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

 

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July 7, 1945 William Shepard to Lois and parents…

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July 7, 1945

Dear Louie & Dick & Dad & Family,

Had a pleasant trip out, arriving without any delay at 11:00. I have the week-end off before starting training again. It seems as if I was wrong about giving over right away. We will be here 10 weeks and then it will be a while before any-thing happens. Ill tentatively advance the date to the 1st of October.

I stepped off the plane into a pile of sand. That is Tucson, a big pile of sand. The base is real nice the food is out of this world. Ill probably weighed 250# by the time I leave here.

The radio has caused some comment and I’ve been offered $40 for it already. It sure works good out here. I can get a dozen

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s dotations.

Tell herman that I looked for trousers and they had no 38″ waists. The PX is very small here.

P.S. Davis-Monthan field was named after two tucson boys killed in the last war. A bit out of the ordinary in names for a field.

P.P.S. They will never name a field after me.

 

Bert and Flo partners in crime…

708338When I first started researching my father’s family history, (many, many moons ago), I wrote to a relative (I forget who) asking what they knew about the family. The response I received contained what little information they had to share, along with a mention of memories of my great grandmother Gert not speaking to one of her sisters. Something to do with politics. Now I am wondering if maybe it was something else entirely.

Carrie Rosa and John Cain had, along with several daughters, six sons (in order of birth):
William b1879
George b1882
Albert (Bert) b1887
James b1889
Henry (Harry) b1892
Milton b1894

While doing research in Oconto County newspapers, I ran into several articles in which Bert Cain was the subject, and not in a good way. In fact a few of the Cain brothers were showing up in the newspaper regarding some crime or other they had committed.

James and William* were caught using dynamite to catch fish in the Oconto River in 1915. I don’t know how, or if, William was punished, as there was no judgment found with his name on it, but James was charged $5.00 and spent 30 days in jail. (This was the only time William showed up in court.) James, however, was convicted in 1922 of being in possession of privately manufactured liquor. This time he paid a $200 fine and spent 90 days in jail. Ouch! Milton, the youngest, was always trying to get into saloons when he was underage and was fined twice for his attempts, once in 1912 ($2.00) and again in 1915 ($1.00).

Now to Bert.

Before I dove into the rabbit hole of my latest newspaper research I didn’t know much about Bert. I knew his wife’s name was Florence ____; they never had any children together, that I am aware of; and in 1955 he committed suicide with a shotgun blast to the head. I can say with certainty that I now know a lot more.

Bert and Flo owned/ran a drinking establishment called Swamp Saloon in the Town of Little River, in Oconto County for many years.

The first time he shows up in trouble in the newspaper was in 1920. He was on trial for manslaughter.

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All told he paid a fine of $750 for killing someone.

The next time Bert shows up in court is in 1921. He was arrested and charged with selling liquor in violation of the National Prohibition Act, which had been passed in 1919.

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Another arrest occurred in 1925. Again for selling liquor. On the face of things this seems pretty innocuous, just another violator of prohibition. (The prohibition act, while enacted basically good intentions, was a farce that didn’t really address the problem of alcoholism and domestic violence, which was the actual intent. It merely made scummy mobsters rich.) The saloon was most likely closed during the trial, along with others.

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In reading over the case file I wasn’t really expecting much of interest to show up, after all it was just another case of illegal liquor sales, but boy was I surprised.

It appears that Bert and Flo, while never being charged as such, were also ‘procurers’ or pimps. They conveniently provided prostitutes for interested ‘clients’, and took a part of the ladies’ profits, renting the rooms in their ‘hotel’ for the use of the couples. Below are clips from the court case regarding their prostitution related offenses:

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There was no judgment in this case as it was the preliminary hearing to decide whether or not to proceed to trial. Bert and Flo probably pled guilty and paid the fine. They didn’t serve any time in jail as far as I can tell.

In 1931 Bert was again in court for the same reason, as seen in this amusing newspaper article:

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I could find no case specific to this time period for Bert. Again, it doesn’t appear that he actually went to jail for any of these offenses, and probably paid another fine.

Bert and Flo continued to operate their saloon until 1933 when an unfortunate and terrifying event occurred:newspaper_cainbert_ODNW1933_03_16p1

The article mentions a daughter Leona [age 17], this would be Florence’s daughter from a previous marriage. This incident didn’t stop Bert and Flo though, they continued to operate drinking and eating establishments as shown in this Billboard magazine news clip from 1941:

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As to their prostitution related activities, the length of time of their involvement is not clear. I can find no record of either Bert or Flo being brought to court for them, at least in Oconto County.

We don’t know how much of this activity Gertrude was aware of. But my guess is that it is this brother and sister-in-law whom she didn’t much associate with.

  • This is a link to the court hearing for James and William, with testimony. Makes for some interesting reading.

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

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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

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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

July 15, 1944 William Shepard to parents…

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1704 W. Broadway
Enid, Oklahoma
July 15, 1944\

Dear Dad:

Everything is going fine so I thought that I would write a letter. This finishes my second week here in basic. I have had about all the actual flying I will get. From now on its instrument flying and cross-country and night work. Im getting along fine.

The weather here is hot as blazes although we have a cool place to stay. I fly 6 days a week. It is a pretty long day but I dont have to study evenings. We go swimming a lot. K. W. likes it fine. Sue is beginning to. Ill be happy if we can always find as nice a place

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as this to live in. Enid is a bit smaller than Muskogee but better laid out. The air base is 4 miles south. We take turns driving. I have a B card and need it too. The oldsmobile only gives 12-14 miles to the gallon. It needs an overhaul. On a trip I get 16-17. It is a club coupe and we can pack all our belongings in a rear seat & put the matress in them. The trunk is empty when we move. It is nice and roomy well Ill close and mail this Ill write again soon.

Your son
Bill

No date [aft March 1944] William Shepard to parents…

letter_shepardw_to_shepardwr_1944_nodate_p01S.O.G.A.F.P.S.(P)
S.A.A.C.C.
San Antonio, Texas

Dear Mother and Dad:

Here I am again, in a barracks. All the fellows are swell. Its just as if I was a G.I. (dogface) again. We all live together, eat and march like O. C. S. Only it is easier. Not too easy. The meals are swell here. Best since Pendleton. Up at 5:15 and quit at 5:00 we also have plenty of calisthenics, running and sports.

Looks as if I would get through, at least I feel like it. Just saw “See Here Pvt. Hargrove” its a scream and the best army picture

 

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that I have seen. See you when you get the chance.

Tell Herman Ill write him soon. I hope to get some pictures of you all soon.

Well Ill close and give you a chance to write. Do. Give my regards to everyone

Love
Bill

April 29, 1944 William Shepard to parents…

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2413 Elgin Ave
Muskogee, Okla.
29 april, 1944

Dear Mother and Dad:

Ill dash you off a letter and eat. I awoke late this morning and have written a ream of letters.

It is still cool here. The wind is always blowing. I wont know how to fly in calm weather when it comes, if it does.

The flying is coming along O.K. I have 5 hours 40 min. now. I will probably solo when I get about 10 hours. It is so strict now that Ill be lucky to get through. If I should happen to wash out, Ill call Lois and have her come down for a short visit, as I will

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probably go overseas right away. If I don’t, then you folks can come down and bring K W and Susie. Do you think that would be okay? If everything goes as planned, you all will be coming out about July 1st.

No news of any importance so I’ll close.
All my love
Bill

Early 1944 William Shepard to parents…

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Dear Mother and Dad:

Well the waiting is over and I have passed the tests. I start training Monday March 13, 1944. I should finish training in November or December. I will probably get test-pilot work, but if I dont, Ill get fighter aviation. Its what I want.

I miss you all. It was sure nice being home. Ill get another leave when I finish training. (I hope) Ill be in Texas until I finish. If you all can why dont you come down this summer? About a week

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or two before I graduate I want Lois to come down. We can talk about that later.

I dieted for five days when I came down. Then I just got in under the limits.

All my buddies passed the exams, but most the other fellows in the bunch washed out twelve out of twenty five failed. Only six out of twenty five made pilot. Bob Orr, Cleveland, Bill Stewart, Texas, Maness, S. Caroline, Pick-?, and Steve Butler, Youngstown made navigator.

We all buddy around together

Well folks, Ill sign off for a while

Love
Bill

~1943[?] William Shepard to parents…

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Hello Mother:

Here is that oft promised letter. About finished here. I think Ill go to Enid Okla. in about two weeks. I have 58 hours now. I will have my acobatic check ride soon. It will be easy as acrobatics are easy for me: I seem to fly better upside down. I always was crazy. Ill be glad to get to a larger ship. Lately Ive wanted some more power on the nose. The new trainer has about 500 H.P.

We have a 39 Oldsmobile coupe or did you know? It sure is a nice car. I bought it from a boy in the Rainbow Division here at Camp Gruber.

It is a club coupe so we have plenty of room.

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I wish I could go to Canada with you but it will wait.

Well Ill close for now.

Your Son
Bill

P.S. Send Carls address

December 24, 1943 William Shepard to parents…

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470 Base Hq &A B Sq.
Pendleton AAF, Oregon
December 24, 1943

Dear Mother and Father,

I always like to like to get a letter from you. It brings me back home if only for a little while.

I guess that dad about worn out by now, working so hard. Here I am laying in bed two thirds the time. However I hope to be completely ready for duty in a few more weeks. To tell the truth I havent been feeling very good, but that is only natural.

The weather has been foggy for a month here. Today is one of the few clear days. I can see the snow– covered Rockies from here. This country

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is beautiful. It makes me so mad, when I think that you and Lois went home, then I came back to Pendleton. I almost tear my hair out. You cant make any plans at all in the army. Every time you think you have it straightened out it up and slaps you down. Suppose that my flight training will get screwed up somehow and Ill end up as a pencil pusher somewhere. As long as I can be busy I wont mind anything too much.

I hope that Louis can find a nice apartment there in Westerville. I dont want her to move away from there. It is handy, and you folks and Herman can give her some help if she needs it.

I expect to leave here in a

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month or so. If I get in good physical shape it cant be too soon.

I received a basket full of cards from everywhere. Letters from everyone too. While I was in the hospital I wrote a lot of people, now the answers are coming in. It looks as if I would have to keep up my correspondence now.

Dont worry about me, mother. If I get sick Ill let you know. There is a lot of men who would trade me places Ill bet. They are having their tails shot off while the surgeon just nipped off a tiny piece of mine.

Wishing you and dad a happy new year, I will be

Your son
Bill