Welcome to the Connellsville Canteen!
Background Information on my dad by Bonnie Killar.
BACKGROUND INFO - This is my Dad's story - in his own words…as written in My Life by E.M. King…he worked on this for years …his last piece of information was written after June 14, 2001, the day my Mom died…he didn't write anything more about his life after that…he died March 5, 2012.
I think his story was meant for his family but I don't think he would mind us sharing it with others. My Dad, Edward. M. (Bud) King, was a great story teller, I think he inherited that trait from his Mom, Mary Agnes Tippman King (Mrs. Peter J. King). I am glad he actually wrote this information down for us to keep.
My dad graduated from Immaculate Conception High School in 1940. His family lived at 1211 Race Street, Connellsville. His family consisted of (father) Peter J., (mother) Mary Agnes and (sister) Madelyn.
This is how his life in the Army is chronicled…in his own words….
I now started an entirely different part of my life some good and some bad. We (the group I was with) were scheduled to be sworn in on the 11th of November 1942 (also Armistice Day - a day celebrated because it was the end of the first world war,) Because some of my friends were going to be sworn in on the 10th and I wanted to stay with them I had my date changed to the 10th. After being sworn in we were told we had two weeks to get things straightened out at home because we would be leaving for the induction center on the 24th of November. On the 10th of November after being sworn in at the State Armory in Greensburg I came home to find out my Grandmother had passed away, a rough time for my mother. I made a mistake when I asked to be sworn in on the 10th instead of the 11th because the ones who were sworn in on the 11th got to stay home for an extra week because of Thanksgiving. The army got started on me right off the bat because I got K P on Thanksgiving and what a load of dishes I had to do! I guess they figured I might as well get my basic training started early. Well after spending about a week at Camp New Cumberland getting my shots which were very painful especially the ones that they gave us in the flesh in back of our shoulders. This is the camp where we got the shots, our clothes, shoes and two duffel bags (a large canvas bag to carry all of the equipment in). A lot of the fellows were friends of mine before we went into the service and one of them was a fellow named Bill Butler who lived down the street from where I did. He was as strong as a horse. Another fellow named Ray Cuneo, was so small he couldn’t carry his bags to the train when we were shipping out so Bill Butler carried his two bags and also Ray’s two. I think we walked at least a half mile to the train. Bill Butler was an older fellow, he didn’t last very long in the Army but he was a person who everyone liked. The group that went to New Cumberland was split up and sent to different camps. Me and about 15 or 20 others went to Camp Barkley, Texas an Infantry training center. When we learned we were being sent to Texas we figured we were going to an Air Force Base but later we found out where we were going. I think everyone was a little angry because I think everyone wanted to go into the Air Corps because it was an easier life than the infantry. As time passed and the guys got acquainted with one another. We were really like brothers or even closer because we were together 24 hours a day, eating, sleeping and training. We joined the 90th Infantry Division which was already activated but not up to full strength. The 90th was the Texas and Oklahoma National Guard in peace time so our shoulder patch was a large green square patch with a red T set over a red O for Texas Oklahoma. Our outfit was made up of three regiments the 357th, the 358th and 359th and I assigned to the 357th Co. B. The training was rough and some of the things we had to do were a problem for me because the running part showed up my breathing trouble. I didn’t tell them at the induction center that I was an asthmatic because I didn’t want to be classified as a 4F (unfit for active duty). What we had to do was what they called run and walk. We had to run for 10 minutes then walk for 10 minutes. I could do it but I had a harder time than most others but you had to keep pushing as long as you could. We also had Close Order Drill and that was marching to commands with rifles in different positions on command. Twice a week we had to go to the rifle range where we used the M1 rifle on targets 100 yards in front of us. Other times we had to crawl under fire which meant we had to crawl on our bellies while a machine gun was firing over our heads. This showed us how a bullet sounds as it passes you and that sound makes a loud noise (sharp crack) as when the gun is fired. We were told if we raised our head 6 inches we would get a bullet through the head, so we kept our heads down. One of the things we were taught was how to kill people by any means available. There were many ways which weren’t the greatest things to teach a group of peaceful men who had just left their peaceful homes and families. Texas has very goofy weather. A person could be warm enough to be outside in an undershirt and 10 minutes later you would be cold with an overcoat on. A short time after we finished basic training (about 6 weeks) we left for maneuvers in Louisiana but shortly before we left some new fellows joined our outfit. One in particular ended up a very close friend of mine he was a Sioux Indian from South Dakota by the name of Jim Quiver. After he and the others finished basic training they were sent to Louisiana to join the rest of us. At home Jim had a wife and a number of children and he would tell me stories about living on the reservation in the Bad Lands of South Dakota and ask me to visit him after the war was over. I agreed and told him I would. During maneuvers quite a few things happened that I remember as being funny and also serious. One night while we were on a break another friend of mine named Jim Yancy asked me to go to a little town in Louisiana named Leesville with him so I told him I would. We got a pass and left camp and on the way he told me he wasn’t coming back and I said you can’t do that because you’ll get court martialed but he said I don’t care I’m going home and he lived in Texas. No matter how much I asked him to come back he refused and I even walked him to the train station coaxing him to return. Finally I gave up and I started back to camp and I had to hitch a ride because there was no transportation back. Finally an army truck stopped and I climbed in the back and since it was full of soldiers I said hi fellows not knowing who they were until an auto drove up behind the truck with lights on and all I could see was Lieutenant bars, Captain bars and Major Gold Leaves and some Colonels. You never say hi fellows to the officers, but when I did say that I did get a few grunts and that’s all I did get. When I did get out of the truck everything was pitch black except for a few smoldering fires and many, many tents that all looked alike so I stumbled in the darkness and fell headfirst into a six by six garbage pit luckily with no garbage in it yet. When I got out I went strolling amid the tents but since they were all alike I couldn’t tell which was mine so I picked up a smoldering log and waved it around in the hopes it would light so I could find my tent. Since I was waving it around sparks were shooting off and one lit on a tent and a soldier stuck his head out and said what the hell are you doing trying to burn the whole camp down. So I laid the log down and started to try to find my tent without the aid of a light and finally a voice said what the hell are you doing out there Smokey (that was a nickname someone hung on me shortly after I got into the service). I said boy am I glad to see you Kermit (Hodge). If you hadn't seen me I would have been walking around all night looking for home. We maneuvered in Louisiana for about a month then headed back to Camp Barkley and stayed there until September of 1943 and then on to the California Desert for a three month stay maneuvering again this time in the heat against the 79th Division in mock battles and the side winder snakes. They were rattle snakes that crawled sideways which was odd to watch and there were gila monsters and tarantula spiders. After bedding down one night with my shelter half (half of a tent, when you used it as a tent you had to get someone else and put the two shelter half’s together to make a tent) on the sand. Then you had one blanket to sleep on and one to cover with. When I got up the next morning and rolled my equipment up I found I had a bed buddy that I kept warm all night. It was a large tarantula spider under my shelter half. This is some of the things we had to put up with and we did, and didn’t think too much about it. In the latter part of December we boarded a train and were told we were going to Fort Dix, New Jersey for a while. The train ride was nice and some time to shoot the breeze with your compartment friends. I used to tell the different guys from the western states how odd it seemed to me that we would go for miles without seeing a house and after seeing one we would go for miles again until we saw another house. On our way to Fort Dix one of the western state fellows said I see what you meant when you remarked about the houses being so far apart in the west. He also said while we were passing through Pennsylvania, it seemed to him as though Pennsylvania was like one large city separated by tunnels. We arrived at Fort Dix shortly before the Christmas holidays so the ones who lived in the east were given weekend passes and this included me but I had a little difficulty in moving around since I had athlete’s foot which I acquired in the hot climate of the desert. I couldn’t wear anything on that foot but a rubber boot so that is how I traveled on the train getting home but it was worth the effort to get home. We were at Fort Dix until March so I did get to go home a few times to see my Father, Mother and also my Sister since she was stationed in Washington D. C. and could also get home on weekends. She was in the Wave’s. My family and relatives were the only ones to see since all our friends were in the service and were never lucky enough to get home together. After spending some time in Fort Dix we were notified that we were moving in a short time and the ones who lived close could get a weekend pass to say goodbye to our families because we would be going overseas before long and would be gone for a good while. So I was one of the lucky ones who could visit my family for the last time for a year or two. When we left Fort Dix we went to Camp Kilmer also in New Jersey and it was what is called a staging area (a camp used just before boarding a ship). We were there only a few days then headed for New York and boarded the Dominion Monarch the largest diesel powered ship afloat. During peace time it was a luxury liner with swimming pool and all the conveniences to make a sea voyage complete, but we couldn’t use any of them because there were so many of us (15,000). Also because it was so cold in the North Atlantic in March and we could see pieces of ice floating around the ship. We set sail on the 24th of March 1944 and landed in Liverpool England on the 7th of April. The trip was long and very cold to be on deck. We were in a convoy so there were many ships all around our ship, and the ship in front of us was an aircraft carrier and it was a very large ship, also. The weather was very rough which meant the waves were high and as the aircraft carrier would rise and fall on the waves the propeller would come out of the water. When we were on deck, we could see it spinning. The roughest part of the trip was when we took a shower out on the deck in the open with water they pumped out of the ocean which was freezing. The wind was blowing very hard and the soap we were issued wouldn’t make a lather because of the salt water. The North Atlantic is a very rough place to be in March and I swore I wouldn’t take another bath if I were on that ship for another 6 months. That is what we enlisted men had to put up with while the officers were in the heated ship taking hot showers. That’s because they were Officers and Gentlemen and we were just foot soldiers. But we did live through it all and landed in Liverpool on the 7th of April. It was night or early morning when we docked and I remember looking out a porthole at the Bobbies (British Police Officers) walking around on the dock wearing their odd hats similar to the kind the Keystone Cops wear. It must have been night because I don’t remember debarking in the dark. So we must have stayed on the ship until daylight then exiting the ship and went to a tent camp by truck that was already set up for us close to a little town named Kiddymister. It was close to a larger city named Stokes on Trent, famous because it was the home of William Shakespeare. At this time of the year the weather in England is damp and rainy also chilly. Living in a tent wasn’t the best way to live but there wasn’t anything we could do but put up with it. As I recall the training we got at this time was mostly forced walking, miles and miles over the rolling English countryside which was really beautiful. Everything is green the year round, I guess because of the damp weather. Well we stayed in this camp for about a month then moved to a little town named Chepsto in Wales. This town had a horse racing track and that’s where our home would be for about another month. Our bunks were in the stable which were cleaned and ready for us to move into and our chow hall was in the large grandstand that held the people when racing was going on. I think horse racing was put on hold while the war was being fought. This was the place we were when we heard the sounds of war for the first time. We could hear the bombs from German airplanes exploding and the flashes in the night taking place in Cardiff Wales, a few miles from where we were. Cardiff would be the sailing port we would be leaving in a few days to cross the English Channel. The 90th Division was made up of three regiments the 357th, 358th and the 359th regiments and the latter regiment (359th would go ashore in France on D Day) and the rest of us would follow sailing on the U.S.S. Excelsior on D+2 and going ashore in the morning on D+2. Since the 359th were in the invasion they really had it rougher than the rest of us. But even for us it wasn’t easy, there was shelling still going on when we landed and we had to debark the Excelsior by climbing down the rope netting into LCI boats (Landing Craft Infantry) a smaller flat bottom boat with a flat door that dropped down when we reached shore to let the soldiers unload in a hurry. As the men unloaded, the boat got lighter and began to drift away from shore so the last men were in the water up to there necks with all there equipment strapped to there backs and this was full field packs (tents, blankets, coats and gas masks) ammunition belt full of clips of ammunition plus a heavy rifle slung over our shoulders. While we were unloading from the Excelsior an American fighter plane trailing smoke went straight down into the channel behind us, but we could see the pilot eject so he was alright and most likely picked up by one of the ships which were many, in the area. During the night before we landed the different Chaplains led the soldiers in prayer. I hadn’t written much lately but during this time I would think of what to write and I decided to skip the ugly things. There were many that a person doesn’t even want to remember but they did happen. One of the things was the constant odor of dead bodies. Not American - it was the duty of the Quartermaster Corps to take care of the bodies and they did a good job with the American soldiers first and then the German bodies. These German boys don’t want to be there shooting at us anymore than we wanted to be there trying to kill them. But that’s what we were trained to do and we had to do it. That’s what war is and the person that said WAR IS HELL knew what he was talking about. He had to be there to know that. If we could have had the pleasure of getting Hitler, Himler or some of the other henchmen in our sights and pulled the trigger everyone on earth would have been better off - even his own soldiers. For all we knew as Americans and mixed nationalities, we could have been shooting at our own relatives. It wasn’t known at that time about the plight the people of the Jewish Faith in Germany were going through and the atrocities that were happening in the Death Camps. This had to be happening at the hands of the higher German Officials and I don’t think the German people themselves or their soldier boys knew what was happening in those camps. I think the majority of the German people are just as humane as we are. There are things I remember and those are things a person will never forget as long as they live. There was one incident that took place and it caused me to lose respect for a lieutenant that I always liked as a leader. We were not under fire at the time and when three men in German uniforms came down the road with their hands behind their heads which was a sign that they wanted to surrender to us. He tried to talk to them but couldn’t understand the language they were speaking. So he determined two of them were Germans and the other was Polish, He said to us fellows while looking directly at me, we will take the Polish Soldier back to Headquarters for interrogation and while still looking directly at me said does any of you guys want to take the Germans over in the field and shoot them (which was in violation of the Geneva Convention) and since he was looking at me I said no not me. But one other fellow that I knew said sure I will. But just as he was about to take them our Company Commander, a Captain Cason said what is going on here so the lieutenant told him what was going to happen and the Captain said to him there will be none of that in my command take all three of them back to headquarters. So the men in German uniforms had their lives spared by a good humane soldier worthy of the rank of Captain. There are probably more incidents like this that don’t end as well. Another incident that happened to another fellow and myself that was a little scary. We were entering a field that was surrounded by hedge rows. The field was about one hundred yards square and just as we entered in the lower right corner a shell exploded in the upper left corner diagonally across the field from us and immediately we both hit the ground as we knew. I was laying against a hedge and he was laying across or next to my legs but close to me. In a matter of minutes a second shell exploded directly in line from the first shell to where we were laying and in a couple of minutes another one exploded again in line toward us. This happened about six or eight times each one getting closer to us. While this was going on I knew he had a large two way radio strapped to his back. I asked him if it was turned on and he said yes. So I told him to turn it off because they might be picking up a signal from it, although I doubted that, but we did what we could. We knew the safest thing was to stay where we were because of flying shrapnel and the closer to the ground we could get was the safest place to stay. When the second to last one exploded I felt the next one was going to be mighty close so I told him to be as flat on the ground and face down in the dirt. When the next one hit he said I’m hit, so I said how bad and he said a piece of shrapnel through my hand so I said keep as flat as you can and as soon as the shelling stops I’ll fix your hand. Finally I got a chance to put sulfa in the wound and bandage his hand and we separated. Him going to the hospital and me moving on. Since we were held down by the shelling I had to catch up with the rest of our outfit. While trying to catch up I had to cross a road that had a 5 foot bank on each side and on one side was an American Soldier lying dead. As I crossed the road I heard the crack of a bullet pass over my head and I hit and lay flat against the bank and every few minutes the crack sounded again and I could see dust and small stones fly up directly about 3 feet from me in the road so I knew someone knew where I was but couldn’t see me. After one shot I jumped up over the bank and ran bent over close to the ground across the field and just as I got to my outfit there was shelling going on so I jumped into a slit trench (a hole that’s dug in the ground just long enough for a person to lay flat in) and a shell hit a limb of a tree just above me and parts of the tree and large limbs were falling around me. I was lucky enough that none of them lit on me although the burst of the shell lifted me out of the trench. From this time on there were more incidents, losing friends through wounding or worse. This is about the way war is.
Another time I was sent out to try to locate a patrol that was sent out earlier. This was also a little tricky and I had to crawl through a gully on my stomach because it happened at night in enemy territory when you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. Just a short time before, this land was occupied by the Germans and we didn’t know whether some were still there or not so the scary part was when you did see or hear someone you didn’t know whether it was German soldiers or your own men. In either case if you made a noise a trigger happy soldier could shoot and ask questions later, but finally I did hear an English speaking voice and made my presence known while still under cover and it was the men I was looking for. While crawling on my stomach I lost my knife which was fastened to my belt. The next day one of the fellows from my company said I think this belongs to you and it was my knife. It was made for me by my Uncle Gene.
Sometime after this my asthma started bothering me. I think it was caused by smoke and in a short time I was sent back to England to a hospital. Still later I was sent to work in a Postal Unit. After this I spent different times in hospitals and in one the doctor asked me how the hell you got into the service in the first place. So I explained that I had asthma since I was eleven years old but as I grew older it seemed to leave me, which was great, but being in Europe maybe the different climate had an effect on it. While I was in England I was first stationed in Exeter in Devonshire with a small American Postal Unit and we were housed in an English Army Barracks, while there in a short time I was hit with a bad asthma attack and to make things worse there was no U.S. Army medical facility nearby. So they had to rush me to a U.S. Seabee Base (a Naval Engineering Unit) located just outside of Exeter where a Naval Doctor gave an injection of Adrenalin and in a short time I was ok and went back to our unit in the truck that took me to the hospital. There were three other men sent along with me to this Postal Unit which already had about five or six men and a Captain in charge and we all we all got along real well together and we stayed together until the war ended but in different locations in England and again back to France. While in Exeter we made friends with the people there and learned some things about the area. One of which was that this was the home or at least where Charles Dickens wrote some of his stories. One of which was The Pickwick Papers and in this story he mentioned about a fat boy who got stuck in Parliament Street. This street was a very narrow one and so narrow that a person going through it could touch the walls with both arms extended part way. I used to walk through it at different times. The walls I mentioned were the walls of buildings located on each side of the street and it did have a street sign located at the entrance. I really don’t remember how I found out but there was a place called The Civic Center or Civic Hall or the Auditorium that had dances every night for soldiers both English and American. One evening I went in just for something to do and while standing I started talking to some girls. They were all English girls who lived in Exeter. I became friends with them and would meet them on different occasions to dance and just talk. There was one that I seemed to enjoy talking and dancing with more than the others so eventually she was the only one I seemed to be with most of the time. I did walk her home most of the time when we met and because it was also the way I walked to get to the place I was stationed. It was Topsham Barracks and it was a great distance from the dance hall and I did enjoy her company. I’m sure the feeling was mutual because we did seem to enjoy each other’s company. Her name was Maureen Andrews.
We (the other fellows and I) dealt with a lot of other soldiers who would come into our Post Office to pick up the mail for their outfit. The Quartermaster men, especially, would bring different foods for us and a lot of the time it would be hot dogs, Hamburg, and often large roasts which was appreciated. However, the roasts were something we had no way of cooking since we just had a small hot plate to work with. Since I was the only one who had an English friend I would take the roasts and give them to my friend Maureen. Since the English people were so strictly rationed when it came to food, it made a real treat for them. She and I would just walk and talk at times about everything and nothing important just talk. I remember one time we were walking around a large lake with large swans swimming around. I said who does this lake and swans belong to and she said the King. So I reasoned that in England everything that exists and doesn’t belong to an individual or city belongs to the King. I guess the King or Queen whoever is ruling at the time doesn’t know how much they really do own. I think at that time King George the something was reigning and owning almost everything.
As time passed and things changed it was time for our Postal Unit to be moved. In a way I was ready even though I did feel bad about leaving because of the friends I had made there. They were people I would always remember. In a case like this you feel as though you’ll never see them again because of the distance. We were moved to a different area of England. This time to Birmingham, another nice place and it was while we were here that the war in Europe ended. While here we were stationed just a few miles outside of Birmingham and we would go into the city at night and either go to the Red Cross Club or to one of the local Pubs (a place where the local people gather to have a beer, play darts or just talk). It was at this Pub (The Golden Eagle) while I was with some of my army friends that I saw a pretty English girl and I said to one of the friends I sure would like to meet her. One of them said go on over and get into the conversation she was having with some other fellows but I was a little hesitant about butting in, so I didn’t go. But the next night after a few beers I did get up enough nerve to start talking to her and we became close friends and the guy that coaxed me to go to talk to her said Smokey, you sure have good taste in picking a girl because she is the prettiest and the classiest girl I’ve seen since I left the States. Well we became close enough that I had a pleasant steady job of walking her part way home every night and the reason I said part way is because she said her parents didn’t care much for Yanks. This is the feeling most older people of England feel and maybe they have a right to feel that way because of the influx of the American Troops all over their small country, even though our being there was a necessity. At this time the war was over and this girl’s name was Evelyn McAlenden and she had a friend named Pat O’Grady and we would meet at times and Pat had an American friend named Chuck. I never did find out what his last name was so it was just Chuck. Before I got to know Evelyn very well I ask her if she was married because from what I heard some of the girls over there had husband’s away in the service and she said no she wasn’t married. So that was fine with me but Chuck said they were both married but with her the answer was no. So being the trusty soul that I was, I believed her and since I knew we wouldn’t be there very long I ask her for her address so I could write to her. And she gave it to me. So that told me that since her parents didn’t like Yanks they wouldn’t approve of one writing to her if she was married. And some time later we were informed that we were to cross the English Channel and be stationed at Rheum’s, France and while there I did write to her and my letters were answered and even after I got back to the States I kept writing. All of my letters were answered. But when our unit was Stationed in Rheum’s I was taken out to work in the Postal Unit in the School where peace was signed. And the rest of my outfit was sent to another location, a camp that had an arch built over the entrance with ON TO TOKYO written on it. So if the Pacific war hadn't ended that’s where we were going. After I spent about a month in that school I returned to my outfit. It was at this camp that a funny incident happened to me. We lived in tents in this camp and a fellow that was in the African Campaign brought a monkey back with him and in this camp he had it tied on a rope that was about ten feet long. The rope was attached to one of his tent poles and one day when I came out of the mess tent he was in a squatting position next to his tent holding the monkey on his thigh and petting it across its head and you could tell the monkey (Sad Sack) was really enjoying it. While he was petting it, the soldier said to us fellows do you want me to make him real mad. All of us said yes. So while petting the monkey he shoved the monkey’s head down hard and the monkey jumped up and down while chattering like crazy which was funny to see. The next day a good friend of mine (John Delaney) and me came out of the mess tent and no one was there only Sad Sack still tied to the tent pole. So I picked him up and had him on my thigh like his owner did the day before and I was petting him the same way. I asked John if he wanted to see me make the monkey mad and he said yes. So I shoved the monkey’s head down like the owner did the day before and that monkey was all over me biting me from head to toe. It was hard for me to stand up from the squatting position with the monkey biting me like he was, so eventually I did stand up and at this time he was up on my chest. I took my two hands and put them between him and my chest and shoved him away as hard as I could. He flew clear out to the end of the rope, hit the ground and just like a spring he was all over me again. So I finally walked backward until the rope pulled him off then John and me went to the infirmary to get me all patched up. I later did pet Sad Sack but never made him mad again. I don’t think he weighed more than three pounds but I would never want two of them mad at me at the same time. I think they would kill a person. Shortly after this incident John Delaney turned thirty eight and that meant he could go home because at that age the army feels a person is obsolete. I sure wish I was obsolete again in a few years I’ll be obsolete backwards. Some time later I was in the hospital again with asthma and the doctor told me if I wasn’t so close to going home on points he would send me home then. That didn’t bother me because I was willing to wait until it was my turn. While we were still in Rheum’s we got the chance to go to Paris and see the sights which was great. During the winter I did get to visit Switzerland which was beautiful and I would really like to get a chance to visit all of Europe again.
It was getting close to the time to head back to the States after two years being away and everyone was anxious. At this time we were at a transit camp and the food was not too great. Again we were living in tents which were heated by pot belly stoves and we stayed warm until the fire got low at night. Then some kind soul would get out from under the blankets and put some coal on the smoldering fire. The food was something else, we had to walk from our tent about one hundred yards to the mess tent and since this was the first I ate here I had them put stew (I guess that’s what it was) in my mess kit along with other goodies. Then I had to walk back to the tent and by the time I got there, there was one half inch of lard on top of the stew. From then on I lived on rice with sugar and milk on it. I was so skinny coming back on the boat a fellow I didn’t know asked me if I was a prisoner of war. I think I weighed one hundred forty pounds. When it was time to leave, we either went by train or by truck to LeHavre, France where we boarded the U.S.S Wheaten Victory and set sail on the 15th of January 1946. Our destination is New York on the 25th of January 1946. When we were in mid ocean we hit very rough seas and I mean rough. The ship was a Victory ship for carrying troops and on this ship there were 1500 men and I think 1450 were sea sick and one of them was me. I don’t think I ate anything for four days. Every time I felt hungry and would go to the mess hall, as soon as I smelled food I got sick all over. The Victory Ships were small and in rough seas the front of the ship would come up out of the water and when it came down and hit the water it sounded as though the whole ship was breaking in half. They said if the ship lists to 30 degrees it won’t straighten up again. So a lot of fellows would have some kind of a weight on a string hung from their bunks and tried to guess how close in their judgment was 30 degrees. My bunk was right below the galley and at one time all the pots and pans came flying off of their racks and it sounded as though the ship was breaking up. Eventually the rough water was a thing of the past and we sailed on toward our final destination, the Statue of Liberty and the city of New York. When we did dock we had to go through a final inspection to make sure we didn’t bring anything into the country that we weren’t supposed to. After that we were taken by train to Camp Kilmer for a day or two and then on to Indiantown Gap for our final records checked. We were kept here for a day or two and then given our discharge papers after being asked if we wanted to reenlist. Very few men wanted that, so we all left for home in all the four corners of the good old U. S. of A. My Mother, Father and my Uncle Gene who drove my parents to the Greensburg Station met me and we all hugged and kissed and were glad to be reunited again. We were on our way back to Connellsville, PA - a place I had missed very much for two years. My sister, Madelyn, who was a Wave in the Navy was still in the service but ready to be discharged in a few weeks. Before being discharged, she was to be married to a fellow who was still in the Marines and they were to be married in the Navy Chapel in Washington D. C. where they were both stationed. My sister chose me to be her best man and a Wave friend of hers was chosen to be her bridesmaid so when the time came, my Mother, Dad and myself went to Washington for the ceremony and it was very nice. After a while they were discharged and my Mother, Dad and myself left for home and the married couple followed us to Connellsville and stayed a few days. Then they left for their home in St. Louis where he had spent his life.
Since things were getting back to normal as a civilian I had to go back to where I worked before entering the service in order to get my job as machinist apprentice, and found the job was waiting for me. I only stayed there for a few months because the money wasn’t the way it should have been. After the war people were making good money and I thought I should have been making a little more than I did before I left for the service. I worked several jobs, but was never really satisfied with making a career out of any of them.
In March 1947, I went to St. Louis and stayed with my sister and her husband while looking for work. For about a week or two I didn’t have any luck but on Sunday the 16th of March 1947 something happened that changed my life forever and gave me the feeling that fate has a lot to do with a person’s life. On this particular Sunday my sister, her husband and their little infant son and me were just sitting in the living room talking, when in walked her husband’s aunt and uncle with a friend that had never been there before. Neither my sister nor her husband had met him before so he was a complete stranger to the three of us. After the introduction we just sat around and talked. In the course of the conversation the stranger asked me what I was doing in St. Louis since he found out I was from Pennsylvania. I told him I was there looking for work and I told him that so far I had no luck. He then asked me if I had used any of my GI Bill for education and I said no since I had never thought of going to school. He then told me that he taught a course in refrigeration in a well known trade school which is now known as a College in St. Louis. He asked if I cared to look the school over and he would be glad to show me around the next day. I did go and met him and he did show me the refrigeration area and described the different subjects that were part of the course which impressed me. I was also very impressed with the school building itself. It was a large stone structure with the name The David Rankin Jr. School of Mechanical Trades engraved in the stone above the entrance. Written below the name was To Show The Dignity Of Labor. After entering the school to the right and left were two marble staircases leading to the main lobby where the offices were located on the right and some classrooms on the left and the rest of the class rooms were on the second floor. The shop work areas were located to the rear of the first floor. Also, as you entered the front door if you walked straight back a short distance there was a opening the size of a door in a marble wall and through the opening you could see a large mechanical room with large machines which I assumed were to make the compressed air used in the different shops. I don’t know whether they taught a power house course or if it was just used for the school equipment but if you enjoy just looking at large machinery in operation as I do, it was very interesting. After getting a good picture of the whole operation I decided to sign up that day and in a way I was lucky because a new class was starting that day, so it was kind of a fast move. There wasn’t much teaching that day because of the signing up and getting the proper tools which were issued to us. The school offered both a day and evening course’s and I chose the day course because I had plenty of time on my hands. Some of the subjects we had to take along with the refrigeration itself was drafting, electricity, physics, mathematics and business. Of all the other subjects I liked drafting best but it was all interesting and I was satisfied that fate worked for me in meeting this instructor named Woody Absher. I’ll never forget a remark one of the instructors made and, it went as follows… you fellows picked a good trade to follow - you’ll always have plenty of work to keep you busy if you do your work well. Then he added, you will never get rich but you should make a decent wage - but you’ll regret the day you ever heard of a refrigeration trade - especially in the summer when you’ve worked hard all day and you’ve come home for your evening meal and after you wash up and have eaten you have to go back out to start over again. The school was an endowed institution by the millionaire David Rankin Jr. and it was a very strict non-profit institution, they told us from the beginning if we didn’t make our grades we would be asked to leave. At that time, after the war quite a few schools started up just to get some of the fellows who would be going to school through the GI Bill. They weren't concerned whether the boys got an education or not, as long as they got the government money. Since this was an endowed school the cost to get a good education was just what it cost to put you through and is still that way today. Beside the endowment, money comes in from many large corporations and the school boasts an almost one hundred percent placement after graduation. Well after a few days the students begin to know each other and we had a good bunch of guys to work and study with. We did continue on with school and most all of us did get good grades because I think we were all interested in the trade we chose. I don’t know how the other fellows chose to be involved in this type of work but for me I’ll have to give the credit to fate. Usually all of us students in this field came to school in clean work clothes the same kind we would be wearing on the job when we would be working on the refrigeration systems in stores or in homes where you have to look your best while working. When we did graduate we all went our separate ways doubting we would be seeing each other again but in my case I did see some of them later when I would make trips to St. Louis to see my sister. When I did finish school my parents came to St. Louis for a visit with my sister and when we did leave for Connellsville we did travel by train because my parents both had passes on the railroad which meant they traveled free of charge since my father was retired from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. I was now at home and thought I would take a little vacation before starting out to look for a job in my newly acquired trade. When I was ready to go to work some of my friends told me to go talk to a certain man that was in this business and had a few men working for him. One morning I went to see him and he was setting at his desk with his crew of men standing around so I introduced myself to him and said I had just graduated from a school in St. Louis and I would like to work in his business starting at the bottom. When I finished talking, he looked at me and said you G. D. guys out of school don’t know anything and every one I’ve hired so far has been trouble and while he was still yelling I walked out the door, telling myself I don’t need you and I’ll go into business for myself even though it’ll take time but I’m single with no dependents so I’ll show you I can make it without you. So I did start and with the help of a few friends I did get a few customers and they seemed to be satisfied with my work so I was on my way. I did learn about another man who was in this business so I decided to go see him and after talking for a while we seemed to hit it off pretty well and he made me an offer and I accepted and we worked well together. One thing I liked about him was he had a sense of humor and we laughed and talked together while we worked together. After about a year he decided to move to Florida so I bought what equipment he had and I took the business over and then I realized after a while what our instructor in school meant when he said we would regret ever hearing about this business because you never get time for yourself to do the things young men do in the summer. About the time you plan to do something the phone rings and you have to go out on a service call which is bad especially when you have a date waiting for you to show up and this happens quite often. This fellow I worked for had a pretty good business so when he moved to Florida the work kept me hopping one of the customers was a well known company by the name of Meadow Gold Ice Cream Company and the territory in this area was quite large (about 70 miles in diameter) so one or two of those jobs in one day kept me on the go. I wasn’t married at the time so when I had to go on one of these jobs either my dad or mother would go along just for the ride or to get away from the house for a while and to keep me company. I didn’t complain because I usually enjoyed the conversations since they were retired and had nothing to do but enjoy retired life. After a few years of this kind of living - working during the day and running around at night with my friends when I did happen to be free, I did happen to meet a girl whose name was Margaret Gebadlo who was introduced to me by a friend who told me about her and said she was a well liked person whom he knew through working in the same jewelry store he did. He did know I saw her before because I did work on the air conditioner in that store and he didn’t know it but I had noticed her when I did work there. Later we did date a few times and eventually she changed jobs and went to work at Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation in the in the shipping office. I also did their air conditioning work so I would see her there too. Still later she invited me to go to a company dance party with her so I agreed to go and she was the prettiest girl there. I can still see her in my mind today. She wore a very pretty yellow dress with a square cut neckline and a gold necklace that made the dress and her something to be proud of. We did have a very nice time. At certain times I would call Marg and make a date with her and we would go to a movie or to a night club or just a place to eat or just to ride around. I did start to take her out to teach her how to drive but I think one of her brothers finished teaching her. In time we began to date regularly and that went on for a good while. In the meantime she had gotten to know my family and I had already known her family from picking her up when we would go out on a date. Once when my sister Madelyn was visiting from St. Louis with her husband the four of us went out to a club and had a real nice evening and when it ended and Madelyn and myself were alone she said to me don’t let Marg get away from you she’s to nice to lose. So I guess that started me thinking and the following Christmas I gave her a ring, along with a stupid proposal, everyone still kids me about that. I guess I wasn’t very romantic - all I said when I gave her the ring was “you know what this means” and she answered I sure hope so after three years. I guess it wasn’t too romantic but I think if you listened to all the proposals of marriage in the world you’d probably hear a lot more stupid than mine or just as stupid. I doubt if too many men get down on their knee’s and say will you marry me honey because I love you. I think most guys realize the if the girl put up with us for such a log time they must know we love them. Especially if they have a Mother and Sister that don’t want “that girl” to get away. We finally did get married the following May. (May 1954).
Edward M. (Bud) King and Margaret C. King owned and operated King Appliance Commercial Air Conditioning and Refrigeration - Sales and Service. They ran the business out of their home on the Southside of Connellsville. He loved the area - and loved growing up and living in Connellsville.