I am going to pause here to talk about how best laid plans and dreams do not always turn out as planned. My grandfather had a dear friend who had the International Harvester dealership in Victoria, Texas. He had no family and no heirs. Gin had talked to him about having me join the dealership after I finished college and eventually buying him out. He was very receptive to the idea.
My Dad wanted to have a Caterpillar heavy equipment dealership partnership with me. We could do this in Victoria as well. Charlotte and I could live in a great small town and raise our kids there. Gins’ friend also had a lot of land and cattle that he also was willing to fit into the deal. What more could you ask? It was every thing I had ever dreamed of, but it was not to be. Along came a war; Dad passed away September 3, 1943 and our friend in Victoria passed away during the war years. So that was the end of that dream.
1943 In September, I reported for duty at Southwestern Louisiana Institute in Lafayette, Louisiana. This was for a year of school and boot camp type training. I already had five years of close order drill experience, where most of the guys there did not even know how to present arms or what the drill orders meant. Because of my experience, I was made platoon officer and trained my platoon drilling almost every day that we marched.
Shortly after getting settled in, I got a call from my Aunt Ada in Houston to come right away because my Dad was deathly ill. I got an emergency leave, caught the train, and arrived in Houston the morning of September 2nd. I saw my Dad and talked to him. He died that night at 42 years of age. I had stopped to visit him on the way over to Lafayette just about two weeks earlier, so I knew he was very weak with ALS.
It was a real shock, and I took it pretty hard. You think those you love will live forever, but the finality of death is always so difficult. I was okay in Houston and during the ride to Calvert where Dad was buried. I was pretty strong at the cemetery and did not cry until I got all the way back to Lafayette and the barracks. My roomie began asking me about Dad and to my surprise I just completely lost it. I did cry uncontrollably, I have to admit. My roommate was a lot of comfort to me. My Dad and I had so many great plans but, they were not to be.