An Oil-Camp Boyhood, 1947-1957

Five months after Bill and Genevieve's wedding came Pearl Harbor. The war brought turmoil to their lives. My father had always been interested in flying (as a boy he built a glider which, had it worked as he planned, could have carried a person) and ended up in B-17 pilot training in Columbus, Mississippi. He completed the training, but his chemical-engineering expertise led the Army to assign him to Wright-Patterson field in Dayton, Ohio, where he test-flew planes powered by new aviation fuels under development. He and Genevieve lived in a little rented house in Dayton. I was born in the Wright-Patterson Field Hospital in October 1944.

Not long after that Dad was sent on a secret assignment into Germany to try to get information on German progress in rocket fuels. While there he developed nephritis, a kidney disease, and came near death, but recovered. Mom and I in the meantime had gone down to LaRue to stay with Etta. (W.T. had died in 1942.) Mom said I enjoyed my first plane ride and hummed along with the droning engines. Her own memory of the storm-plagued trip was not pleasant. Click Here for pictures of Etta, Mom and me, from that time period.


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Dad is at lower left.