Friday, October 24, 2014

paper airplanes

 My eleven year old loves to make paper airplanes.  I did too when I was her age.  I remember on several occasions - bringing home a stack of discarded programs after church on Sunday just to make a bunch of paper airplanes.  I went from pew to pew, front to back, I gathered every single one of them. I turned our living room floor into a paper airplane airport.

A few months ago I gave Kelsey a large stack of tabloid size paper for which I had no need.  I no longer had the large format printer for that particular size paper.  I should've known she would've started making jumbo paper airplanes with them.  They fly nice!

Watching this Disney animated short reminded me of my youngest.  I know that when she grows up, she'll find that special someone.  I know she'll teach her children how to make the best paper airplanes in the whole world.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

you can't go back, but...

September 1970 Then and October 2014 Google Map Now
In 2007, my siblings helped move my uncle Pat from the home he built in 1957 to be near his brother and sister in Columbia, SC.  While clearing out the cluttered old house, my mind went to many Finlayson family visits to 880 Pinewood Drive.  It was a melancholy week for me that week.  My sister Jennie had already taken Pat to his new digs at Still Hopes Retirement Community in Columbia and the rest of us rummaged through his belongings, figuring out what to leave and what to pack for the move. 

There in every room, ever closet, every corner was a memory waiting to be recounted.  Westbrook would take his family to visit his brother Pat about once a year.  I remember celebrating my birthdays there (August) a number of times down through the years. Pat was a terminal bachelor.  His house was small, but seemed to be able to take on a large amount of visiting Finlaysons.  I remember as a kid, Pat sharing his bed with me.  Everyone would share beds.  There were two couches along with cots in the closet.  I don't recall anyone complaining during these trips because we were all visiting UNCLE PAT! 

Tonight I looked up Pat's old house via Google Maps.  Even though I know there is no going back there, seeing the house perched atop that familiar hill, my mind still makes that journey back there.

Someone mentioned Macon, GA this week, of course I thought of Pat.  Wouldn't it be great to see him again, even if it meant getting shanghaied into another day long sightseeing tour under the guise of a post office run?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 15, 1944 ~ Somewhere in England

Burruss Finlayson, Patillo Ainsworth Finlayson and Jennie Wait Foster Finlayson

My new address will be U.S.S. LST 382
C/) Fleet Post Office, New York, NY

Somewhere In England October 15, 1944 (Sunday)
1340 (Navy Time)

Dearest Mother and Papa,

No change in my situation since the last time I wrote (yesterday), but I received some mail which has pleased me "no end".  It was forwarded to me from Portsmouth, my last location.

You can imagine how I felt reading Murdoch's letter written in Cheraw.  It was great to hear from him and all of you.  His letter was written Sept. 25.  Rutha's letter, Florence's letter of Sept. 24.  Edith's letter of Sept. 25, and Mother's letters of Sept. 24 and Sept. 26.

And how about Murd's making the crossing on Queen Elizabeth!  In six days!  Well, he went the fast way ~ I'll have to go the slow way, just as I came.  And it appears I'm going to see quite a bit more of England yet, before I leave.  I doubt if I see any places in England I didn't already see, but my stay is certainly going to be prolonged.  Who knows, I may see Paris before returning to the states!

As for Christmas, please,
don't send me any packages.  Just buy me some presents and save them until my home-coming.  It may not be before Christmas; but it certainly won't be long afterwards, I don't think. 

The sweater sound good  ~ and you know, the one you mentioned buying from Pearlman.  That would be a nice present.  Then I need a shaving kit.  The nice, fine one Wofford gave me, with Beverly's sweet little picture in it was destroyed.  I am using a cheap plastic razor now, and it's no good.  I would like some shaving lotion like "Ye olde tavern" stuff ~ or whatever it was Wesbrook and Louise gave me (in pottery ~ designed container) for my graduation.  I was still using it up 'til the time of the accident.

A jar of Vick's vapor rub, Mentholatum, some nose drops, Fitch's shampoo, and various types of useful cosmetics would be appreciated.  Oh yes, I could also use some white shirts, some collars (size 15 1/2" ~ this is my shirt size, too), and
grey shirts.  My shirt sleeve length is 33 inches, 15 1/2" collars.  A nice little suitcase (weekend size) ~ maybe just a tiny bit larger than the one Florence gave me ~ which too, was destroyed ~ would please me considerably.  You see, there are a lot of things I can ask you this year that I had no need for last year.  A matter of fact, I need some black ties.  I only have one.

I do hope Murdoch gets a commission while he's home.  I am glad he put in for it right away after arriving. He wants it so bad, and I know that's what has divided his conscience ever since he has been in the Navy.  Rutha wrote me that sometimes she found it so hard to get his attention while talking to him.  Of course, with the millions of questions your pouring at him, hardly anyone could do much better job than he's doing.  But I know what Rutha meant.  I found him the same way every time I talked to him.  I would be telling him so many things of interest, and often find him piddling around at something else or looking off into space as if thinking of something else.  I'd stop and say "Murdoch you're not listening to anything I have to say.  What's wrong?" Then he'd reply, "Oh yes, I was listening, bu I've got other troubles right now." 

I'd be telling him all about our accident or about the trip with von Schlieben aboard, and he'd never responded with any enthusiasm.  It would just "get my goat".

Murd's letter was entertaining and showed that he was having the time of his life.  Naturally, I am constantly blue and don't feel I'll ever be really happy again until I can see you all and enjoy an extensive leave.

Breman paid me a visit last night.  I was glad to see him after being separated for a week.  He likes his new ship and was surprised and amused at the fact I hadn't gone aboard my ship.  The ship I was supposed to have gone aboard met with an accident while I've been awaiting it arrival in port. That has been the reason I've been held up.  Now what d'ya know about that?  I'm really a jinx to everything, it seems.  They are reassigning me to another ship now!  Maybe, I'll get settled finally. 

Did Murdoch actually tell you, Mother, that he
flew Sicily and Italy?  Well, he should be ashamed of himself.  He was teasing you because you are easy to fool, I guess.  But he shouldn't go away letting you believe that, for it is whole untrue.  Perhaps, you misunderstood him.  Could that be possible?

You certainly did not receive all the letters I wrote in August, if you only got six.  I know for a fact that I wrote 10.  Did you get the one with the enclosed cartoon from the "
Stars and Stripes"  You know, the cartoon I thought was so funny.  I never received any comment, so I'm doubtful as to whether you received it or not.  It making me mad to think that my letters are not reaching you. Please see if you can find the other five letters.  No wonder you were complaining over my not writing.  However, I'm glad you've been receiving my Sept. letters.  They seem to be reaching you OK.

If Papa hasn't already mailed the Bible, please have him hold it at home until I get there.  I would not have it lost in the mail for
anything.  It's a nice present, and I'm proud of it.

Tell Rutha I don't think I've lost an ounce of weight.  Too bad!  I reckon dieting is the only thing that would do me any good.  And now Jennie Llew's bicycle is gone, so I guess it's really hopeless.

It was surprising to hear that Murd and my old skipper sailed home together.  We knew our captain had gone back to the states, but had no idea the two went at the same time.  He was some character.  I have lots to tell you about him.

I was glad to hear from Edith.  Tell her to give Beverly another big hug for me.  Am glad Westbrook and Edit are quickly recovering, but was uneasy when I heard Murdoch had fallen and hurt himself and had x-ray pictures, etc.  I don't want anything to stop him from passing his physical and getting that commission.  He deserves the
very best.

Florence description of Murdock's behavior was the
best of all.  I could just picture him.  I was sorry to hear of A.T. Thompson's death. I guess that's pretty definite now.  Her letter made me so anxious to get home ~ so did all the other letters.

Mother, the only way I've changed is in y love for you.  It's
increased tremendously, so you can imagine what you're in for when I there.Lots of Love to
both of you,
DF NOTE: those of you who come across this post who are not akin to the Finlayson family, let me help connect the dots concerning the names/relations.  Ainsworth, Patillo Ainsworth Finlayson, was my uncle who served in the USN in the European Theater of Operations during the war.  His brother Murdock (aka: Murd) also served in the USN and was on leave at the time.  The letter is addressed to his mother and father, but he mentions many names, mostly siblings; Rutha Dial, Jennie Llew Guyton, Westbrook (my father), Wofford (wife Edith and daughter Beverly).  Braman (Richard A. Braman) was a fellow officer on the LST-312 who visited Pat while the crew was separated after the 'accident'.  Maybe that will help clear things up a little.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Biding Time on the 382

During my last interview with my uncle Pat, I had asked him what happened after his ship was hit by the buzz bomb while docked in Deptford.  It was the last question of the phone interview and he was tiring.  I could tell it over the phone.  He simply stated that the crew went to a rest camp while the ship's officers were separated from the crew and each other, having been reassigned to other ships.
Pat asked me if I would write down any further queries and he'd be happy to answer them in time via Email.  Pat never answered those final questions because his health went into a spiraled decline until his death.  Having been a bachelor all his life, with no child of his own, it meant a great deal to him that I had taken interest in his service and doing my best to document as much as possible.  There just came a time when I knew it was time to take my hand off the project and just write him letters without all the questions.

After his death, I received his keepsakes that consisted mostly of letters written during the war to family home, and letters written long after the war to fellow crew members of the 312.  I went through a ton of letters while organizing and compiling the manuscript 'Sentimental Journey of USS LST-312'. There are letters from his old locker that I have yet to have read.  The most interesting ones are the letters starting with 'Somewhere in England', wartime letters home to Mother and Papa from aboard the 312.

It was in these letters where I found Pat reassigned to a different ship, the USS LST-382, after the Deptford incident.  Within the pages of these letters, it is easy to tell that he didn't like being apart from his ship, the 312, and his shipmates. He wondered if he'd ever make it back to rejoin his crew, when and if the superstructure would be repaired - and sent back into service.  I remember asking Pat in that last inquiry letter what LST he had been reassigned to - but he only replied that the information was somewhere in his records.  Well, today I found that piece of data.

Pat was eventually reunited with his friends and his ship. He couldn't have been aboard the 382 for long, because the 382 was decommissioned by the USN within a month, November 29, 1944 - and handed over to the Royal Navy. A letter to his parents on October 15, 1944 informed them that he could be reached aboard the USS LST-382.

I had many questions for Pat that were left unanswered.  Many answers I found after receiving his old footlocker, but even in finding answers, I have discovered more questions.

October 14, 1944 ~ Somewhere in England

Somewhere in England
October 14, 1944 (Sat.)
1020 (Navy Time)

Dearest Mother and Papa,

Please do not address any more letters to me in care of LST 312.  In other words, do not write to me until you hear further from me in regards to my new address.  You see, at present I'm being reassigned, perhaps to still another ship.  Just which one it will be, I don't know.  Therefore, you had better wait until I get settled.

I'm now beginning to doubt if I'll ever get the letters you've written to me since Sept. 19th.  All this transferring about is most undesirable, especially  for someone like me, who loves mail. I'm requesting to be transferred to one of the older ships.  I hope my request will do some good.  You can well imagine how i feel these days.

Wasn't it bad about Wendell Willkie?  It was as surprising as Campbell Laney's death - both were practically of the same age, same stature, and died of the same disease and both were politicians.  But I won't compare them any further.

I saw a British newsreel the other day in which President Roosevelt bounced back on the Dewey and the Republicans in regard to a statement they made concerning his dog, Fala.  Roosevelt displayed his acting ability as a comedian. His expressing while he talked, was so funny I laughed heartily.  Did any of you see a newsreel of it, by chance?

Did I write you that I voted for Roosevelt?  The state sent me a ballot slip in return envelope.  All I had to do was place the slip in the return envelope and mail it again.  One of the printed notices they enclosed read something to the effect: "The electoral delegates of this state (S.C.) have been asked to support the Roosevelt-Truman ticket. If you desire to vote otherwise, write to us and we will inform you of the proper channels."  I had to laugh - it suggested the "love it or leave it" idea. If you don't vote for Roosevelt -Truman, you're no South Carolinian. They also enclosed some other state issues (amendments to the Constitution, etc). I didn't fool with all that.  I felt I might screw up the works guessing  - so I just didn't express my opinion.

I wonder if Mrs. Sullivan ever wrote to you since her arrival in the U.S.. That beat anything I'd ever heard. I knew all her children were in America.  You had no idea she'd go to America before the end of the war.  She is lucky to have such people as the Vernons to take care of her things in London while she is away.  I'm going to write to Mrs. Vernon as soon as I get settled.

And did I ever write you that John Battles' father was dead, and his mother remarried?  I don't know his mother's new name by marriage and never did.  That's one reason I'm glad you had Lois' address.  I thought I wrote you this a long time ago, but maybe I didn't.  Have you heard anything further from his folks?  John's mother wrote to Dick Braman ) Braman received the letter about a month ago), stating that John was her favorite child, her "pride and joy".  It was a pitiful letter.

I never did hear from the McRae's, did you? There was another boy on the ship - an enlisted man, a boatswain's mate first-class, who was from Chipley, Florida.  His name was Otis Hinson.  Bill had known him all his life, and by a far more singular coincidence than mine and Murdoch's rendezvous in Africa and England, Hinson was assigned to the same ship with McRae.  You see, Chipley is just about the size of Chesterfield. If anything, it's smaller.  Hinson was not killed in the accident;  so perhaps someday he'll be able to report to the McRaes the full story.

I guess Murdoch's thirty days are about up now. I do hope he manages to keep away from the Pacific. The Navy is going to be even more important out there. I know on thing, the Americans are not going to waste any time with Japan after Germany's defeat.

Are you still looking forward to my 30-day leave - as much so as I am?  That's the greatest thing on earth I've ever had to look forward to. But I dread how I'm going to feel on the 30th day.  No more news right now, so will stop until later.
Lots of love,