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MY MATERNAL UNCLE James Homer Hounshell, was a productive writer. He kept a Journal, wrote regular letters to each member of his large family, to all of his girlfriends, and to several 'pen pals' around the entire World. When he wasn't fighting the Nazis, he was usually writing something with his 1929 Remington typewriter. If not, then he would be found inside a village bar and socializing. Jimmy didn't care for the Post Exchanges because the PX's didn't offer any women for sex. They featured fist fights.
Imagine that his half-track is parked while mortar shells are exploding all around him. Some of those mortar hits are too close for comfort where the rookies are concerned, but not Jimmy. He had enough experience to know when to take cover or not. He had good hearing and when the incoming shells came close, he would take cover.
Then, the rookies would immediately follow his lead. Before he ever started the engine of his truck for evasive purposes, he would try to finish what he had begun, another piece of writing, either poetry or prose. Sgt. Hounshell also made a pact with the men under his command that, should he die as a result of WW-II, his Journal would be hand-carried to his nephew, me. This arrangement was necessary so that Jimmy could circumvent the problems that are associated with the US Army Censors.
Previously and, during his last furlough to Jackson, Kentucky, he asked me if I would serve as his surrogate writer. And, I promised him that I would be happy to serve his needs, if possible. And, he was pleased with our agreement. And, eventually, his Journal and all his writings were returned to me by a young survivor from the big City of Louisville, KY whose name was Pvt. William Isaac McDaniel. His kindness to the Hounshell family will never be forgotten. So, this book is being written in honor of Sgt. James Homer Hounshell. I have used my knowledge and ability to place his story before an audience that still appreciates reading World War II literature. Jimmy's storyline takes the reader through what he called the '10,000-Mile-Club' from Kentucky-to-Hawaii-to-Germany. It is a rendering of that classic military struggle between a very talented enlisted man and, his less-than-perfect Commanding Officer, a man by the name of Lieutenant Oscar Karo.
During a typical war time scenario, that kind of a man who had zero leadership qualifications should have been removed from his command position to be given a desk job somewhere in the rear echelons where he would be out of harm's way. However, the officers at the rear didn't want to have anything to do with Karo so, he stayed where he was. So, Jimmy was stuck with him and he was forced to carry Karo on his broad shoulders, so to speak.
Naturally, Karo resented his help and protection so a personal feud was initiated. Their relationship was called the Karo-Hounshell Feud. All of the men around those two people knew about the obvious friction between them. All other officers looked in the opposite direction as they chose to not get involved.
What I am describing to my readership, is the problem that is created by having two men each fighting one War within another War and, simultaneously, at that. When they weren't fighting the Germans, they were fighting each other and that kind of problem was not a good one for the 30th Division. One of the greatest mysteries for the Family to try and resolve was simply stated, "Why didn't someone separate them so, that they could not hurt each other any further?"
JAMES AND MYSELF were both products of the Great Depression years dating from 1929-1941. Jimmy was born in 1920 and I was born in 1932 so, that statement merely suggests that we each shared the horrible experience of living at least nine full years during the worst days that this Nation has ever faced.
That particular era of angry, hungry, dispirited, and dejected men, women and children was a horrible time to be alive. Nobody from that time period would ever have asked if they could be born during that awful time. Even if they might have had a controlling say about the issue.
During those years of pure stagnation, there was very little work to be had and people were killing other people for as little as a twenty- five cent coin. Do you find that to be upsetting? In today's World, the going rate for a Mexican hit man is still just $50.00 of US cash money. So, in one sense, not much has really changed since the 1930's. Life is cheap in hard times.
Welfare programs that send out a survival check of about $600.00 per month had not yet been invented and, maybe, that is a good thing. The free cheese and soup that we received back then did not destroy a person's character like those welfare payments of today do. There are families in Eastern Kentucky who will not work because our Government pays them to stay at home. I love my Country but, I hate my Government.
As a child, Jimmy lived in Quicksand, Kentucky which is a small village outside of the nearest town of Jackson, Kentucky. Quicksand became famous in its own right because an entire team of horses and their cargo was lost during one of General John Hunt Morgan's raids in that area. A Yankee supply wagon with guns and ammunition just vanished into the mud. As a result of that deep quagmire activity General Morgan won that skirmish and the Confederacy had high hopes once again.
Jimmy's earlier years of education were received in a single room log cabin that was nestled very near the intersection of what is, today, State Highways 15 and 30. All eleven of his brothers and sisters had also attended that little school at different times, of course.
When he wasn't attending grade school, Jimmy established his independence early in life by fishing the nearby streams which were the North Fork of the Kentucky River or Troublesome Creek. He also hunted the edible creatures that lived on the nearby mountains. And, he liked to roam wherever he damned well pleased. He thoroughly enjoyed having some freedom from his five sisters and five brothers.
His hunting specialty was chickens, both wild and domestic. He was a real sharpshooter who could always get a clear head shot at a very respectable distance. Grandmother's favorite piece was the neck and Jim tried his best to keep his Mother happy.
So, whenever a neighbor would visit downtown Jackson, that neighbor was guaranteed to lose one chicken or more, depending on what his Mother needed. She loved Jimmy dearly because she could always count on him to provide enough meat for the supper table. She always thanked him for his generosity but, she would never ask him to provide any details about the kill.
And, Uncle Jimmy did love to eat fried chicken better than any other entrée. Sometimes, he would consume a fine meal, sip some strong coffee before saying, "People should count their chickens more often. We have a lot of foxes that raid the chicken pens much too often".
His years at the little log cabin school were largely uneventful and his grades were poor caused, in a large part, by his wandering lust. This is to say that a day of hunting and a day of school are not really compatible with each other. One is well advised to concentrate on one of the two, not both. As you might guess, Jimmy had other irons to grind and each of them involved the outdoors, not the indoors. After all, his mother was one-half Cherokee and he had certain character traits which were unique among the Scotch and Irish who settled the region. As a result, he became a claustrophobic introvert. He was not a team player and things had to go his way or not at all.
In 1934, his Mother moved her family inside the City limits of Jackson with the fondest hope that Jimmy might be exposed to a better teaching staff in a qualified high school environment. In principle, moving to the big city was a fine idea but, would it work for an outdoors type who was learning the skills of becoming a leader as opposed to being a follower".
To the surprise of everyone in the Family, Jimmy took to his first year of high school like a duck takes to water. His grades got better but, this initial improvement had very little to do with the teachers or the subjects. He was obsessed with the thought that the girls would like him better if he became smarter than the other boys.
Sadly, that plan failed because those young girls weren't looking for a smart, shy guy. They each preferred older boys who were better prospects as potential husbands and providers. Sometimes, they would tease him about his hand-me-down overalls but, Jimmy tried to ignore what needs to be ignored.
When that happened to him, he would say over and over again, "Sticks and stones might break my bones but, words will never hurt me." Jimmy knew that this old saying was some sage advice that poor people had concocted.
However, he felt more like crying than dodging imaginary sticks and stones. Then and there, he made himself a promise. He said, "I must learn how to please the opposite sex." That objective became a compulsory course for young Jimmy and he called it 'Sex 101'.
It was a sad fifteenth birthday for James Homer on January 9th of 1935. He had not received any birthday presents from anyone and he was hurt, miserably so. He knew that times were still extremely hard. And, he also realized that his poor Mother could not spare any pocket change for something as frivolous as another birthday gift for either one of her eleven children. He wondered if the poor people of Eastern Kentucky would ever find any relief from this economic depression.
He was gazing through a large window of Breathitt County High school as he pondered this question, "What birthday gift would I treasure the most if I was lucky enough to get one?" He mused about that matter until a loud voice broke his train of thought.
Mrs. Wooten shouted "James Homer Hounshell, you are not paying enough attention to my math lecture so you get to stay after school today. How's that for punishment?" He felt some guilt over being caught in the act of daydreaming once again but, he wondered, privately, why me?
Aren't most of the other students also doing something that is quite similar to what I got disciplined for? They each appear to be thinking about other matters which are far more interesting than mathematics. If I had to make a guess, I would wager that the girls are lusting after the boys and vice versa. But, why is there no lust to be cast in my direction?
Actually, none of his classmates really cared very much for anything that was too cranial. As an example, consider today's verbiage about the Pythagorean Theorem. It really harmed the eardrums and heightened the headache.
Earlier, Mary Ellen Gettman had announced that Pythagorus was a carpetbagger who, after the Civil War, had looted parts of Breathitt County. If she is telling the truth, then Pythagorus had no business being discussed in a math classroom. Instead, he belonged in a history classroom. When will the principal get things right around here? Then, the dismissal bell rang very loudly.
Quickly, all other students left the math classroom while young Jimmy and Ella May Wooten just stared at each other. After a few moments, she smiled to say, "Jimmy, I don't know what I am going to do with you. You have a great potential but, you won't apply yourself.
I am going to ask you a very important question and, I want an honest answer from you. Why don't you study the homework that I have assigned to you?" He thought about his answer for a short while before replying, "Why should I even try? There is no future for people like me. How can I ever dream about having a good life with so little food, no money and almost zero opportunities?"
She replied, "I think that you have answered your own question when you used the three words of almost zero opportunities." Quickly, he asked, "How's that, Ma'am?" "Jimmy, it is written in the Holy Bible that God helps those who help themselves.
So, help yourself by studying your class assignments and applying all of your energy towards getting a passing grade. Over a period of time, you will succeed. I guarantee that success will come your way, if you just keep on trying.
They tell me that you are a good hunter. Think of it as a game between what you see on the printed page and what is inside your head. The trick is that your mind must capture what is written on the printed page. So be a hunter and capture the math."
He thought about her words for a few seconds and he responded, "I will try harder, Ma'am but, I doubt that it will make any difference in this cruel world." She looked at him sternly before saying, "Okay, define the word 'difference' and tell me why do you think that this wonderful life is so cruel?"
He did not hesitate with his answer when he said, "I will try to answer your two questions Mrs. Wooten but, to my way of thinking, a person makes a contribution when he or she does something that really improves the World for all of its inhabitants. We must help others with their needs and priorities."
"Not a bad answer for a high school freshman and I am most impressed, Jimmy. Now, tell me something meaningful about why you find this World to be so cruel?" "Ma'am, I know that these are hard times for the economy but, I didn't cause this Great Depression.
Washington is to blame and that shouldn't involve me or my poor family. If Washington caused all of these problems, then they should fix the problem so that you and I and, all of the rest, can have a decent life. I want for this day to be a happy one, not a cruel one."
Ella May interrupted to inquire, "What's so special about this day, James? Isn't this just another boring Wednesday afternoon?" He replied, "Yes and no, Ma'am. Today is my birthday and it's cruel because my Mother has no money for any gifts of any kind. Aren't birthdays supposed to be celebrated, instead of being ignored? See what Washington has done to me and my family?
And, before she could speak, he continued, "But, here and now, with just you and me, it isn't boring at all. That's because I am looking at one of the most beautiful females in all of Breathitt County. I have admired your attractive body from a safe distance ever since I first enrolled in this math class. And, I just can't seem to take my eyes off of you?
She smiled and said, "Tell me more, Jimmy. I just love compliments like that one. What do you like to look at best? He replied, "I like it best when you sit upon an empty student desktop and expose your vagina while you are lecturing to your students. I enjoyed today because you are not wearing any underwear at this particular time.
I also admire your attractive breasts, your lovely face and your neat waistline. Ma'am, I just want to admire you in the nude, if that be possible. Of all the things on this Planet Earth, my being allowed to view your nakedness would mean much more to me than anything else, for now or ever more."
She smiled and took his hand leading him inside of her cloak room closet where she locked the door before removing all of her garments, one by one. She exclaimed, "See me in my birthday suit on your birthday, Jimmy?" Then, she did a few twirls, turning around and around for his full view examination, entertainment and evaluation. In a gasping breath, he said, "Your body is far more beautiful than I could ever have imagined.
Without a doubt, your countenance is the absolute perfection of true loveliness." He French-kissed her again and again on all the erotic regions of her fantastic body, both high and low. She interrupted, to whisper in heated ecstasy these words, "Show me what you have between your legs, Jimmy." He took off his garments and she gasped, "Wow, that's a huge one!
I don't think that I could get your erection inside my mouth very far because it's so huge. And, that long length, double wow! I know that you are going to hurt a lot of small women who are endowed with a tough hymen tissue. I would suggest that you stay away from virgins because they will hurt you more than you hurt them."
With a loving voice he said, I don't really understand all of that and, at this particular moment, I don't really want to learn about how to handle virgins. Just teach me how to make women happy, please." She did and he proved to be a quick learner. After that rapturous birthday gift of 1935 and during all other subsequent visits to her cloakroom closets, he became quite attached to his nymphomaniacal math teacher.
Eventually, they were both caught in the act of sexual intercourse. As a result, Ella Mae was transferred to another school in another County and Jimmy was expelled from school after less than two years at Breathitt County School.
Tough punishment for what comes naturally but the Principal was a hardnosed individual who would tolerate absolutely no infractions of his rigid rules. In today's World, the teacher would be severely punished but no student would be thrown out of school and be denied the chance for a high school diploma.
Excerpted from LOOKING AFTER LARRY by CHARLES HAYS Copyright © 2012 by Charles Hays. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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