Wednesday, 21 July 2010 08:10

50 Years Ago Late Autumn/Early Winter 1959-1960

Written by  Maurice Telleen
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So how was December 1959 different from December 1934? In just about every way imaginable, is how. In that 25 year interval, our country had gone from the depths of depression and drought to and through the most destructive quarter century this grand old republic, and almost the entire world, had ever experienced.

My high school graduating class was the first post-war class from our hometown. There were only 18 of us in the entire class and within a few weeks, every male member of that class had enlisted in either the Army or Navy. Part of it was that with so many older brothers in the armed forces, we felt that it was up to us to "go though and do likewise."

My two older brothers and brother-in-law had all served. The same was true in other households. I guess we just couldn't stand being completely left out.

Marv, my oldest brother, had served the longest stretch in the household. He was a medic all the way across North Africa, Sicily, and up the Italian peninsula, right up close to Switzerland. He wrote home that the sight of those Swiss cows on Alpine pasture had brought tears to his eyes.

Prior to being drafted, Marv had graduated from Iowa State in Dairy Industry and was working for none other than H.C. Horneman, Danville, Illinois, as a butter maker. When drafted fairly early on, Mr. Horneman took him to the train station, gave him a warm embrace and said there will be a good job waiting for you when this is over ... or words to the effect. (Yes, you Belgian people ... the same J.C. Horneman who owned the famous Kenfleur Belgians ... headed by none other than Jay Farceur himself. Horneman also had a bunch of creameries in that neck of the woods.)

But three or four years of war takes its toll. So following his stint in the service, Marv chose instead to relieve our tired and aging father of the farm and took over the Swiss herd and field work. (Remember, this is the medic who said the sight of Swiss cows on the Alpine slopes had brought tears to his eyes so no surprise he chose cows over butter.) He married a lovely local school teacher, he served for six years as a director of the Brown Swiss Cattle Association of America, he and Rosemary had a full house of kids and three of them are still milking big brown cows.

My next brother, Merrill, went into the Navy and so help me God, wound up milking a bunch of Holstein cows on the island of Guam ... thereby providing the Naval Hospital with fresh milk. Really! Following basic training, he and three other young men with dairy experience were dispatched to Guam with a shipload of the black-and-white kind. The Navy was considerate enough to send a few Holstein bulls along with the sailors and the cows. Any calves born en route were dispatched to the Pacific. I imagine there were some very surprised fish.

My brother-in-law, with a Ph.D., found himself in the Air Force but I have no recollection of what he did in service. At least there were no cows of any kind involved. And, he was also an officer ... whereas we three were not. A good guy, but no "cow man."

This, I guess, brings the roll call up to me, and that bunch of post-war boys who felt some sort of obligation to wear the uniform. We were the postwar recruits. I took my basic training in Fort McClellen, Alabama, and almost before I knew it, I was taking my turn on a boatload of guys headed for a placed called Korea. I had honestly never even heard of the place. Neither had the other guys. We were, for the most part, all kids fresh out of high school.

General MacArthur was the man in charge of that part of the globe. Korea had been split across the middle, as it were, with us on the south side and our former allies, the USSR in charge of the north side, which made for a lot of friction. Fortunately for me, I had taken typing in high school. Being a farm kid, I could also drive a Jeep, harness a horse (or even an ox if need be), dig a posthole and that sketchy background served me pretty well in post-war Korea. When MacArthur clamped down on the hell raising, I was assigned to be the go-fer to an officer who was an attorney in civilian life and, together with an interpreter who was provided to us, we ran a courtroom that dispatched justice with as little fuss as possible. The interpreter, a Korean, once pointed out the hair on my legs (I'm really not that hairy) and laughed and said, "Monkey! Monkey!"

And that is how it was 50 years ago in the Ed and Maude Telleen household. Nothing very heroic or unusual about it. I'm sure that most of our readers have similar tales. And with that, I intend to go back to chronicling the draft horse business in 25 Years Ago.

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