Little Sailor Boy

Sailor Copy copy© 2017 Bill Murphy

My deep interest in World War II history began in George Elementary School. In the library I discovered a book relating the exploits of Naval Aviators during WWII. In this book was a photo of the ill fated Torpedo Squadron Eight – which was decimated early in the Battle of Midway. Only one man, Lt. George Gay, survived. For some reason, this story made a deep and lasting impression on me. Today, I have an autographed copy of his book about the battle. This began my collection of famous aviator autographs, and aviation history books.

I was born 10 months before the United States officially entered the war. My early childhood toys were mostly war-related toys. One such toy eventually led to my long and endearing friendship with Art Simmons, a WWII war veteran. My kiddie petal-car was styled after the Curtiss P-40 Flying Tiger.

And, I have several photos of me in a kaki Army uniform – and also in a white Navy uniform. But a few weeks ago, I learned something truly amazing, and of deep significance to me.

We were in Carthage, Mississippi at the annual Murphy Family Reunion. I was chatting with my 1st cousin Ray Cochran, a little less that 2 years younger than me. We were discussing family heirlooms and mementos that we own. Ray then told me a story that I had never heard before.

His father had served in the Navy, in the Pacific. When he returned home after the war, he brought home his uniforms. Because my mother was a seamstress, his mother (Aunt Joy) gave my mother a set of Uncle Raymond’s white uniforms, and had her make from them a little sailor suit for Ray.

Ray then told me that not only was he photographed in this suit, but also all of his sons, and all other young tykes in his family. He still has the original little suit! WOW!

I sent Ray copies of my photos in ‘my’ little Navy suit – and he tells me that they look to be the same! His only concern is the possible size.

Personally, I choose to believe that this is the same suit. Why would my mother make two suits? But, possibly she did. After all, from a uniform belonging to an adult male, it would be all together possible to make two kiddie uniforms! At any rate, Ray’s story thrilled me to the very core!

All these years I’ve thought that this was perhaps just a photographer’s prop, or simply store-bought. But no longer. No!

Now I see myself in those photos, proudly smiling in a little US Navy WWII Sailor Suit made from fabric that actually saw combat in the Pacific! And that makes those old photos all the more special!

Thanks Uncle Raymond. Thanks Aunt Joy. Thanks Mother! And thanks Ray for the story of that little sailor suit!

 

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BC, AD, and BAC

Fanning copy

©2017 Bill Murphy

We’re familiar with the terms BC and AD. From the Julian calendar: BC (Before Christ) and AD, (anno Domini, in the year of our Lord.) For the purpose of this post, I suggest a 3rd – BAC. BEFORE AIR CONDITIONING.

The past is nothing more than HISTORY, and because I lived it, I believe I can speak FOR it. Heaven knows my grandchildren are baffled by it! In spinning these yarns about the good ole days, I consider myself simply ADDING to their education!

That said, I well remember BAC. The first A/C school that I attended was COLLEGE! Our old home on Evergreen had no A/C. And we really didn’t think we needed it.

The windows in our house were made in two sections, upper and lower. The lower section was RAISED 12” to 18” upward, and the upper section LOWERED by this same amount. Because warm RISES, warm air near the ceiling was allowed to flow OUT of the upper opened section and cooler (outside) air could flow INSIDE through the opened lower section to replace the hot air. On days when it was not HOT, we didn’t need the attic fan. Adjusting the windows to the above configuration sufficed. The windows in George Elementary School, Enochs Jr, Hi and Central Hi all worked this way. But on days when the house got HOT inside, we had our large attic fan.

This 36″ fan was located in the attic over the small hallway in the front of the house. It lay HORIZONTALLY, blowing UPWARD into the attic. When turned on, all the INSIDE hot air was sucked up into the attic and expelled through vents to the outside. Outside air was sucked INTO the house, to replace the air expelled OUTSIDE. Hey, it WORKED! Or at least we thought it did. (It also sucked in dust and pollen!) But honestly, I can’t remember being miserable.

Yes I do. I remember that 2 or 3 times, CHS was dismissed around Noon or 1 PM because of excessive heat. But we survived. My great-grand-kids cannot relate to living through that.

A/C came to merchants long before it came to Evergreen. And those businesses who ‘bit the bullet’ and paid for that huge ‘extra’ expense was duly proud of their outlay – and flaunted it! Plastered across the front entrances they proudly proclaimed, “We Have Air Conditioning,” written in blue lettering with snow on top of each letter and icicles hanging below! Dad’s old store, Jitney No. 2 on Gallatin didn’t have A/C, but when Jitney No. 19 was built in Mart 51, it did.

We never had central air on Evergreen. Later we had window units.

And my first personal window unit (during college) was not a true A/C. It had no compressor, and no coils, and of course, no REFRIGERANT. It was basically a metal rectangular box, with a deep ‘pan‘ at the bottom. It had a fan which pulled air through a thick screen of something resembling MOSS. A garden hose was attached at the top (outside) and water was allowed to ‘trickle‘ through this moss as air was sucked through it and blown into the room. A pump brought water up from the pan and back down through the moss. The garden hose was to re-supply water that evaporated. Yes, it did cool – slightly. But the air it expelled was also very HUMID!

Our last vehicle without A/C was a ’55 Chrysler, which we took across country to Vancouver and San Francisco. Dad purchased a new-fangled automobile ‘window unit’ just for that trip. It was nothing more than a 9″ metal cylinder about 18″ long, with a trap door on top. It attached to the window, and held in place when the window was raised. When filled with ICE, air entered the front air scoop, over the ice, and out through a vent that opened to the inside the car. It was rendered useless by the deserts out west.

I believe it was ’67 before I lived in a house with CENTRAL A/C. And yes, I really do appreciate the BLESSING of A/C. When you’ve lived WITHOUT something of value like A/C, you don’t take it for granted.

I suppose that’s my ‘lesson‘ in the post.

 

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