Real Life Stories

Real Life Stories

by Paul Emerson

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781450265911
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 12/14/2010
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

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Real Life Stories


By Paul E. Mix

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 Paul E. Mix
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4502-6591-1


Chapter One

The Rooster from Hell

I was born in the small town of Penfield, Pennsylvania on September 26, 1934, with the help of a midwife. My mother, Marion Lucille Curry, was born in the DuBois, Pennsylvania hospital on February 26, 1916. My father, Paul DeVere Mix, was born in his Dad's' house in Penfield, Pennsylvania on September 23, 1909. Grandpa Mix had a two-story framehouse with a nice front porch, and a cold cellar for canned goods.

Back then the family cooked on the top of wood stoves and heated the house with a Pot-bellied wood stove that overheated the house and you, if you stood too close to it. In the Wintertime you were hot in the front and cold in the back and froze your butt off. Mom, Dad, Uncle Leroy Mix, Uncle Bill Thomas, and our family tore the old Mix home down in 1965 and burned the old rotted siding in 1966.

My brother, Keith Mix, was born in the DuBois, Pennsylvania hospital on February 8, 1939. My brother Richard William Mix died as a baby and was buried in an unmarked grave in the DuBois cemetery. I was named Paul Emerson Mix by my mother, who liked the poems and poetry of Ralf Waldo Emerson. I'm glad she didn't name me Waldo.

When my grandmother Rosa Mix died of dropsy, my father comforted me by telling me that she was just sleeping. A short time later our little family moved to my grandfather James C. Curry's farm at Hickory Kingdom, Pennsylvania. I was born on September 26, 1934, so I guess you could call me a Depression baby. I loved the name Hickory Kingdom, and when sitting on the front porch of my grandfather's house, I thought he must have owned all the land as far as the eye could see, but of course that wasn't true.

When I was a small child, our family lived in a converted grain house. It was very cold when the winter winds blew between the old slat sides. One year my pet goldfish froze to death in his bowl. The farm also had a smoke house where meat could be hung in the winter and salted to preserve the cut meat. Grandpa's house was near the top of the hill and it seemed to me it must have been a mile down his long dirt driveway just to get to his mailbox.

As a small boy I had no real friends, only an occasional rabbit that I'd try to catch, the goldfish that froze to death, and the daddy long-legs spiders that walked across the floor. Sometimes when playing with them, I'd accidently pull their legs off. Every Sunday we ate dinner at grandpa's house, and there would always be one piece of meat and plenty of vegetables for everyone. That is when I developed my dislike for cats. One day a house cat jumped up on the table and stole my only piece of chicken. From then on I disliked cats. However, I always loved dogs.

There was an old wooden outhouse about fifty feet from our converted grain-house home. The outhouse had three steps up to the floor level. One day I had to go to the toilet, so I went up a couple of steps so I could reach the old outhouse door latch. When I unlatched the door, there was a rattlesnake looking at me eye to eye. When he sounded his warning rattle, I didn't need to use the toilet anymore. I screamed "Rattlesnake!" and Dad came running with a pitchfork and killed it.

Several older children, cousins I guess, lived in the big farmhouse with Grandpa Curry. One day they thought they would have some fun at my expense, so they shoved me into the chicken coop and latched the door shut. That's where I met the "Rooster from Hell." The rooster pecked me and clawed at me until I was a bloody mess. Finally, I grabbed the rooster around the neck and beat him against the door and shelves. I beat him until he was dead and couldn't hurt me anymore. My mother arrived on the scene, and the other children took off running back to the big house. After Mom tended to my wounds, she headed to the farmhouse to have a talk with grandpa. Needless to say I was never locked in the chicken coop again, and I guess Grandpa had to get a new rooster from somewhere.

Once a year, during the so-called Great Depression, local game wardens allowed farmers to shoot as many deer as they needed to help feed their families. The number of bucks, does, and fawns had to be counted, and the local game warden notified. Since Grandpa's house was near the top of a hill, it had a great view of his cornfields in the valley below on the right. At that time, deer herds in Pennsylvania were very large, and as many as 100 or more could be counted at a time.

On a bright moonlit night in October, Dad and several neighboring farmers, gathered on Grandpa's front porch just before dusk. I asked Dad if I could watch and he told me to "Sit at the front door and don't make any noise!" The men all had ".30-.30" or ".32 Winchester" carbines, and they waited patiently for the deer to arrive. A short time later bucks, does, and fawns slowly came into the corn fields; one of the men whispered "Ready.... Aim.... Fire" and all Hell broke loose. Fully loaded, each Winchester rifle held seven rounds, and the men had extra ammo in their coat pockets. They reloaded as they hurried down into the cornfields to kill any wounded deer that might try to escape.

To a four-year-old boy it sounded like a war, but only one side was doing all the shooting. Hot brass cases were flying everywhere. After the shooting was over, the dead deer were dragged partway up the hill to the smoke house. There the deer were counted, gutted, skinned, cleaned, quartered, and hung up to be smoked with hickory. Deer that couldn't be hung up were cut into smaller pieces and salted to preserve the meat. Everyone got their fair share of the kill. The next day the local game warden was given the count of bucks, does, and fawns that had been killed.

Later during the Depression Dad also worked for the Works Progress Administration. During that period of time workers built roads, rest stops, and many other things. Several years later Dad found out that work was available in North Tonawanda, New York, the so-called Lumber Capital of the World. So he went there to find work and earn more money for our family. Later the family moved to an upstairs apartment in Buffalo, New York. One by one Dad's brothers and sisters moved from Pennsylvania to New York State as jobs became more plentiful before the beginning of World War II.

Chapter Two

The War to End All Wars

I was seven years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and our country united and fought back. At that time, Dad worked for the DuPont Company, which made gun powder and other items for the war effort, while Mom worked on an assembly line for Lockheed Aircraft. I did my part by gathering soda-pop bottles in my little red wagon and drying milk weed floss that was hung in burlap bags from the clothesline until the floss dried. The dried milkweed floss was used as the flotation material in Flight Jackets. I often wondered if my dried milkweed floss ever helped save a pilot who was shot down over the ocean. During wartime everyone saved everything that could be saved and used, — from used lard to tin cans, tin foil, old tires, and rubber bands.

I will never forget the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. It was Sunday afternoon, and I was at a matinee at the local theater watching, "The Picture of Dorian Gray." It was a horror film about a man who wished that his painted portrait would grow old but he would stay young forever. However, as he began committing every crime under the sun, his picture grew older and more hideous. Finally he couldn't stand to look at his picture any longer and set it on fire. When he did, his picture returned to its youthful look and his face turned into the hideous face of his portrait. It was truly a great horror film!

When it was announced that "the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and sunk several of our Navy ships," every able-bodied man 18 years old or older in the theater got up out of his seat, went to his local Recruiting Office, and volunteered to join some branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. During the war my dad was also a local air raid warden and would ask people to turn off their lights when there was an air raid warning and the sirens sounded.

I also remember standing on the street in Buffalo as a youngster, when a flight of bombers passed overhead. They were in such tight formation that the sky literally darkened with bombers. I thanked God that they were on our side and felt sorry for the poor people of Japan who would be the targets of our military might. Everywhere you went there were anti- Japanese and anti-Nazi posters. Kids made up jingles like, "Hi Ho Silver, stepping on the gas, Here comes Hitler sliding on his _ _ _!" There were also a lot of pro-American posters like the one with Rosy the Riveter, "Loose Lips Sink Ships," and "Remember Pearl Harbor," to mention a few.

During the war Dad worked for the DuPont Yerkes Plant in Buffalo. One day they asked him to operate a piece of machinery in a new way, hoping it would speed up production. Instead his left hand caught in the machinery and it wasn't stopped by anyone until it had pushed the flesh and muscle of his left arm up to his elbow.

DuPont paid some of the best surgeons in Buffalo to save his arm if they could, and they were able to pull much of the flesh and muscle back into place and re-attach it so that he had most of the use of his left hand and arm, which was quite an achievement. He could halfway close his left hand and drive a car. There was a lot of scarring and a deep lengthwise gash on the top of his left forearm. After the accident DuPont offered to send Dad to a four-year college with no promise of a future job or two years of college with the promise of a job. Dad took the two years of college and became a Time Studier. They also gave him a substantial number of savings bonds. Later Dad used some of his savings bonds to help pay for my college education.

Shortly after Dad's accident, Mom took my little brother and me to a clothing store owned by two Jewish brothers. She wanted to buy us new clothes for school. The man said he had read about Dad's injuries in the Buffalo Evening News. He told Mom to pick out some clothes for both of us boys and a new pair of shoes as well. He told Mom she could pay him later when Dad was feeling better and back at work. Ever since then I have had the deepest respect for Jewish merchants.

Chapter Three

Canadian Border Crossings

World War II essentially ended when the United States Air Force dropped megaton nuclear bombs that totally destroyed the southwest Japanese seaports of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945. These were the first nuclear bombs ever used in war. I remember Life Magazine having huge photo spreads of the aftermath. One picture that really impressed me showed the burned surface of a bridge with white shadows on it. The white shadows were of people walking across the bridge when the bomb went off, burning the entire surface of the bridge except for where the pedestrians were cremated as they walked across it. Hiroh Hito, the Emperor of Japan, quickly signed a peace treaty aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier a short time later.

After the Japanese surrender, US troops occupied Japan. My uncle Jack Kehoe said that the Japanese people were some of the nicest people he had ever met. They were very kind and courteous. Uncle Jack brought home a Japanese flag and gave it to me. I kept the flag for several years until the rising-sun emblem and charcoal writing had almost completely faded out. Then it was disposed of by burning. The Japanese people are a very ingenious people. Before the war an American-made Argus C3 35mm camera was the best and most popular U. S. camera made. As a youngster, I saved up a lot of money while working for thirty seven cents an hour at a local department store. Later I made a dollar an hour working for the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company store by stocking shelves after normal operating hours. That was a lot of money for me. After the war, the Japanese exported just about everything, from the little toys in Cracker Jack candy to the finest-made 35 mm cameras like Minolta. It wasn't long before Kodak cameras were made in Japan and exported to the United States.

When I was eleven and my brother Keith was seven, our family moved to North Tonawanda, New York. My sixth-grade teacher was Mrs. Shine. She wasn't my favorite school teacher. She was the oldest gray-haired teacher I had ever seen. She also had some unique ways to punish students. She liked to send me to the coat room or bang the back of my head on the blackboard. Neither made me a better student, but the rest of the class seemed to pay better attention to her. I guess they didn't want their heads banged into the blackboard.

I went to Felton Grammar School and North Tonawanda High School. John Bush became a good friend of mine in grammar school and high school. We were both interested in photography and target shooting. On some weekends, I'd bicycle to John's farm on the outskirts of town and we'd put up some .22 caliber fifty-foot targets for practice.

In our last year of grammar school, John had rheumatic fever and frequent breathing problems. He had to use an inhaler frequently. After that, every time I caught a cold or had a fever, I worried that I might have rheumatic fever. Dad convinced me that rheumatic fever wasn't contagious and assured me that I had nothing to fear.

Shortly after I joined the Boy Scouts, we had a joint campout with some Canadian Boy Scouts. I made friends with one boy in particular named John Hall, who lived in Hamilton, Ontario. We became such good friends that we alternately spent one week of summer vacation at each other's homes for several years. I forgot all about these summer vacations until I applied for work at the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina. The job application asked if I had ever been to a foreign country, and I replied, "No." A short time later two FBI agents dressed in black called me in to a small interrogation room. I told them again that I had not been to a foreign country and they said, "Well, according to our records you spent alternate summers in Canada for several years." I admitted that I had but I had never thought of Canada as a foreign country. We all had a good laugh, and I did get the job and worked at the SRP for several years.

Another high school friend was Donald Lichtenberger. His family was Danish and everyone in the family had blonde hair and blue eyes. They invited me to go with them to Canada to see Niagara Falls from the Canadian side and do a little shopping. When we crossed the border, Canadian custom agents asked a few questions and waved us through.

Coming home was another story. Canadian custom agents asked Donald's dad to pull off to the side. They took me to a guard shack and began to ask me questions like, "Who is the pitcher of the New York Yankees?"- I didn't know. They asked a couple of other questions I couldn't answer. Finally I said I didn't have any real proof of who I was, but I lived in Buffalo, New York. I told them to call my Dad, that he would be home by now. I gave them my home phone number and said "Please call my father!" They did and my father verified that I was an American student. What I didn't know was that at the time many French Canadian boys were trying to hitch rides into the United States to find better paying jobs for their families. Imagine that!

After the war my dad also tried to cross the Canadian border with our family in a blue 1947 Chevrolet four-door sedan. As soon as we arrived at Canadian customs, they pulled us off to the side. Everyone had to get out of the car and they literally took everything out of it, checking under the seats as well as looking under the frame, in the trunk and under the hood. What we didn't know was that someone in a car with the same description had robbed a bank in Buffalo, and was believed headed for the Canadian border. Dad was very angry when none of the customs agents even offered to help us put things back in the car.

Chapter Four

High School Friends

Other high school friends were Homer Rieffanaugh, David Elzner, Robert and Dianne Kennedy, Warner "Buddy" Brave, James Oshier, and Howard Menken. Homer and I were good friends during our senior year. We had a chemistry class at the same time. Sometimes I'd borrow paper from him and he'd charge me interest — more paper than I'd borrowed. When he went on vacation with his family, he'd send me a picture postcard, and when I went on vacation with my family, I'd send him a picture postcard. "Wish you were here! Not really."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Real Life Stories by Paul E. Mix Copyright © 2010 by Paul E. Mix. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Chapter 1 – The Rooster from Hell....................1
Chapter 2 – The War to End All Wars....................6
Chapter 3 – Canadian Border Crossings....................12
Chapter 4 – High School Friends....................16
Chapter 5 – A 1950 German Pen Pal....................21
Chapter 6 – Scout Island....................27
Chapter 7 – A High School Bully....................30
Chapter 8 – What Scouting Meant To Me....................33
Chapter 9 – Artemis Retreat....................37
Chapter 10 — The Savannah River Plant....................40
Chapter 11 — My Son John....................44
Chapter 12 — The Tom Mix Connection....................50
Chapter 13 — King Solomon's Mine....................56
Chapter 14 — Movies, Politicians and God....................92
Chapter 15 — Paradise Lost....................96
Chapter 16 — Bamboo Bazookas....................106
Chapter 17 — A One-Room Bungalow....................112
Chapter 18 — The Healing Begins....................118
Chapter 19 — Shriner's Burns Hospital-Galveston....................128
Chapter 20 — Rinor's First Trip to the United States....................131
Chapter 21 — Preparation and Red Tape Galore!....................141
Chapter 22 — A Strange, New, Wonderful World....................163
Chapter 23 — Trouble, Trouble, Boil, and Bubble!....................188
Chapter 24 — Return to the Philippines....................211
Chapter 25 — Reunited at Last....................230
Chapter 26 — Cool and Friendly....................249
Chapter 27 — Thank You and God Bless You....................271
Chapter 28 — World's Greatest Philanthropy or Justified Target of Criticism?....................288
Chapter 29 — Yellow Journalism....................302
Chapter 30 — The Day I Died....................305
Chapter 31 — Memories....................311
Chapter 32 — Corpus Christi, Texas' Most Memorable Cold Case Homicide....................318

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