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Folks Of Interest The Greatest Generation...fading fast.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by jakespeed63, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. Please stick with me, in my relevance to this subject matter and Traditional Hot Rodding. Two recent motorcycle crashes, one fatal, the other leaving a man hanging by a thread in ICU, has prompted me to have deep thought about our aging forefathers. These men helped pave the pot-hole stricken road, for us to enjoy this here street rod hobby.

    Before more of this "Greatest Generation" slipps away, we all need to a better job in honoring them. Maybe a simple phone call, or invitation to the garage for a cold beer or hot coffee. Fellas, when they are gone, they are gone. Our circle knows of a talented metalsmith, whom I am dying to do a small Saturday seminar. Hell, he would be glad to get a BBQ dinner out of the deal and hang out with us gearheads.

    About two weeks ago I received one of those dreaded phone calls. "Hello JT, sorry to say ....Jim has died in a motorcycle crash". I was devastated!! Then yesterday, Ring, Ring..."Sorry to say, Bob was in a bad crash and in the ICU".

    Jim was a self made man, borderline genius in the die cast business. And a car guy in the truest sense of the word. I learned SO much from him, throughout the 25+ years I knew him.
    Bob was/is more of the Sporty-Car type, whom knew/knows all the U.S. roadcrses like the back of his hand. And has rubbed elbows with the likes of Carrol Shelby. So pissed I did not make it to his birthday party two weeks ago. But I am glad I played hooky from work, this winter, to meet Jim at a little beachside bar to share car stories.

    A radio story story yesterday stated, " People in their 80's are staring death in the face" Please get in contact with someone, you've been meaning to hang with before it's too late. Recently I tracked down an old Army buddy of my late Father. He was SO glad to hear from me. Plans are to drive up there this wekend for a visit.

    Lifes too short, don't take it or others for granted.
  2. 35desoto
    Joined: Oct 6, 2009
    Posts: 765


    I agree - My Dad is 86 - lives alone and I stay with him as much as possible during the week. My wife resents the time I stay there but I am committed to giving my time to Dad cause without his influence or guidance I would have the interest in anything mechancial that I do today. One day he will be gone and then I cannot ask him how something works or seek his impute into straightening a bent panel or.........
    So I make the most of what we have and enjoy his little ecentric ways.
  3. Fuel to burn
    Joined: Jul 17, 2009
    Posts: 279

    Fuel to burn

    Good advice.
    I just spent a week with my dad.
    He's 82, he had a 40 Mercury with a Carson top but he wasn't a car guy,
    that's what you drove when you were young in the early 50's.
  4. 6t5frlane
    Joined: Dec 8, 2004
    Posts: 2,381

    from New York

    My dad is 94 WW2 vet.....Aircraft B-17 mechanic and instructor. He can ( or could ) fix anything. What a life he has lead. Loves his country, God and Family. Trust me guys,they don't make like him anymore....

  5. Great thread! I couldn't agree more. Honor and learn from these guys while you can, because they'll all be gone before long. As far I'm concerned the term "The Greatest Generation" is appropriate and well earned. May God bless them. When I look around the office where I work and see the all the spoiled, slightly effeminate guys, I wonder what the hell have we become?
  6. Olds Dad
    Joined: Sep 22, 2011
    Posts: 216

    Olds Dad

    yes... x2
  7. williebill
    Joined: Mar 1, 2004
    Posts: 2,730


    Good thread. When I was in my 40s,and my dad was in his 80s, I tried to spend as much time with him and my mom as I could. With a business to run, and 2 young children, it wasn't always easy to be 2 places at once. After working late many a night, and listening to AM radio on the way home, all it took was "Cats in the Cradle" coming through the speaker to make me change direction, and go by to visit for a while.
    Seemed like the late night, far away AM stations were playing that one for me. Worked every time.
    My parents have been gone since the 90s. I'd give anything to be able to ask my dad for advice again.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  8. dynaflash
    Joined: Apr 1, 2008
    Posts: 506

    from South

    I realize that the greatest generation is the WWII guys and since my dad is a Korean War vet that it is not quite the same. But here is a quick story. Dad was born in 1934 and that makes him 79. He lost his wife (my mother) a year ago after 60 years of marriage. I got my car habit from him and to this day he still loves old cars. I made a plan with him and my brother to do 2013 Hot Rod Power Tour. We did 10 states. 3000 plus miles and just had a big time. I learned things about my family history that I never knew. It started out as "let's see if we can finish this thing in 2 cars that are over 50 years old" but turned into the memory of a lifetime. Best use of time and money that I ever spent

    Posted using the Full Custom H.A.M.B. App!
  9. 29AVEE8
    Joined: Jun 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,384


    Good idea to keep those guys in our thoughts. My dad was an S.C.T.A. member in the thirties, worked two jobs plus going to high school (when there were very few jobs), flew gliders in WWII. Lost him in '79. Might also remember to honor the women that helped to build the planes, tanks, jeeps, weapons that those guys used to keep us from speaking German. They also lived through the depression and gave birth and raised my generation. Lost my Mom last year at 86.
  10. My brother in-law passed away a week ago. He was a WWII vet and was awarded a bronze star for bravery along with a number of other commendations. He never liked to talk about and always said he was just doing his job. There was a military honor guard at his funeral and they read off the list of his commendations and offered a short eulogy thanking him for his service in defense of our country followed by a rifle team firing a three volley salute. There wasn't a dry eye to be seen. When you realize what those guys went through you know why they were called the greatest generation.
  11. KIRK
    Joined: Nov 17, 2005
    Posts: 384


    I couldn't agree with you more. Some times we get so busy that we tend to forget these guys. My first car was a 32 Ford 5 window and my dad always had time to help me and show me how to do things. He has been gone for many years but I am very grateful for all he did for me. We must take time to talk to these guys now because they are leaving us every day.
  12. skinnydude
    Joined: Feb 18, 2008
    Posts: 169


    Very good post , rather hearing about what oil is better than the other brand. people just do not take the time to relate to others,before it is too late, and I know all of us have said if only I would have taken the time------- well we all know the clock is ticking. thanks for my little rave on.
  13. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,869

    Harms Way

    It's not just friends and family guys,...... My Dad was a WWII Vet. and I miss him more than words can express...... But this might interest you. Written earlier this year.

    <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:DoNotOptimizeForBrowser/> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> In the presence of greatness
    It was a sunny spring morning just before Memorial day, I stopped in to the local grocery store to pick up some items, &#8230; I paused briefly at the card table set up by the VFW, And said hi to some of the guys I knew selling &#8220;Buddy Poppies&#8221; We talked a little about who was doing what, who passed away, how things were going at the post&#8230;.. And how sales were going&#8230;..

    As we were talking we could see the old man walking across the parking lot with a bag of soda and beer bottles he would collected everyday from the park, and all the garbage cans in town that lined the main street, and take them in for the deposit. One of the guys paused,&#8230; he said hey look busy, Here comes &#8220;Freddie the freeloader&#8221; As he was known in town.

    Fred (If that really was his name) was the perfect example of the old Bum,&#8230; A stained and frayed kaki jacket that looked three times to big, Dark trousers of indescribable color that hung over his small frame, gathered by a worn out belt. And shoes that looked like he found them while looking for bottles.

    As he approached, he gave a big grin exposing a lack of several teeth,.. A sparse growth of beard looking more like a molting bird with patches of feathers gone, as his shaving skills or his eye sight must be failing him. As he got closer, the faint aroma of dirty mildew clothes and old sweat followed.

    With a bright and chipper voice he greeted us &#8220;Morning fellas !, beautiful day ain&#8217;t it !&#8221; (one of the guys said under his breath, but loud enough for all to hear, &#8220;Well it was&#8221; followed by laughter).
    Unaffected by the comment or the laughter like he was almost use to it, or was laughing along with the joke, Old Freddie said, &#8220;I&#8217;ll catch you on the way out for my poppy.&#8221;

    As Freddie went inside to return his bag of bottles, The conversation turned to him,&#8230;. Rude comments, Jokes, talk about what a worthless human being he is,&#8230;. &#8220;A waist of skin&#8221; was one mans comment and another&#8217;s comment &#8220;He is using up perfectly good oxygen that someone else could do more with&#8221;,.. The insults continued and much to my shame, I stood there and laughed along with them, until the conversation drifted off to the next person that wasn&#8217;t there, That they want to talk about.

    I talked for a while and made my way in to the store, with list in hand. With my small list complete and securely in my cart, I walked past the Bakery department, If you buy a doughnut, there are tables set up for you to have a free coffee. Sounded good to me, so I picked one out and found a seat,&#8230;.

    There was about 3 or 4 other people sitting there as I found a seat,&#8230; and I was immediately accepted and made part of the conversation. I just started to sip my coffee, when they seen Freddie walk up to the bakery counter,&#8230;. Some negative things were said, And as they were all getting up and gathering there trash to throw away one man said,&#8230; well He&#8217;s all yours !,&#8230; and laughed,&#8230; they all got up and left, Leaving My coffee and me with Freddie,&#8230;..

    Freddie came over toward me, got his cup of coffee, and sat down at the other table, knowing nobody really wanted to sit with him. He was silent for a few moments then blurted out &#8220;Yep ! gonna get me one of them poppies on the way out !,.. Do it every year !&#8221;.

    I kind of got a chuckle out of his abrupt attempt at starting a conversation. I replied,.. Yep ! I will too,&#8230; My Dad was a member of the VFW , He was a WWII combat vet, so I like to support them,&#8230;. His eyes lit up,.. I don&#8217;t know if it was because of what I said,.. or that I was talking to him at all.

    He looked at me with his toothless grin and said I&#8217;m a WWII Army vet too !,&#8230;. Where did your Dad serve ?&#8230; I told him the Asiatic-Pacific, He said I served in Europe !

    It was almost like he didn&#8217;t know what to say next, But he was starved for conversation and human interaction,&#8230;. He looked at me briefly, then looked into his cup of coffee&#8230; Followed by these words&#8230;&#8230;

    &#8220; Yeah,&#8230; The very first action I seen was on my 19<sup>th</sup> Birthday,.. Little did I know some of those guys that were wishing me Happy Birthday and slapping me on my helmet wouldn&#8217;t live through that day&#8230;&#8230;. He never looked up,&#8230; just stared deeper into the black coffee that he was holding with both hands. Without looking up he said &#8220;I was born on June 6<sup>th</sup>. 1925,&#8230;&#8221;

    A chill went up the back of my neck as I herd him say that date,&#8230; Knowing what I might hear next. &#8220;I was with the 29<sup>th</sup>.&#8221; He went on to say never lifting his stair from the coffee cup,&#8230; &#8220; I was just a kid, too skinny for my fatigues, or gear,.. Before the gate dropped on that LST you could hear the bullets hitting it&#8230; When it did drop everything was shaking,. You were just pushing to get out, I hadn&#8217;t even noticed that guys were falling into the drink, cause the gate dropped short. I got pushed into the water and started to sink,.. Then he chuckled, but my gear was so big on me I was able to wiggle out of it.

    When I came to the surface there was a body floating right in front of me and I held on, At first it scared me, but then I felt some bullets hit the body, When I looked back I seen bodies, in fact there were bodies all around floating,&#8230; I worked my way to shore, but I was totally confused. It was like the first time I ever rode a &#8220;Roley-Coster&#8221; Everything shaking, you don&#8217;t know what next, And you have no control&#8230;.&#8221;

    I sat silent having a hard time hearing what this frail old man was pouring out. As he never stop staring at his coffee, almost like he was talking to it,&#8230; and not me.

    He continued &#8220;When I got up on the beach I was exhausted, then I felt somebody throwing sand at me !,&#8230;. But nobody was throwing sand at me, it was where the bullets were hitting the beach in front of me and the sand was flying in my face&#8230;. Can you believe that ? He said. I was on the beach and it never occurred to me that somebody was shooting at me ! He chuckled for a second,&#8230;.. But then his face lost all expression.

    That&#8217;s when I realized, I had no gear, nothing but a helmet. I found a rifle and didn&#8217;t know what to do,&#8230;. They were shooting at me but I was afraid to shoot back,&#8230; I felt the concussion of a explosion and the air around me was black for a few seconds,.. That was the first time I heard the yelling and screaming.

    About ten feet away from me was a man that was pretty tore up, I seen him and ran over to him,&#8230; I could see a bluff where he would be safe about thirty yards in front of us,&#8230;. So I grab him and dragged him over to it,&#8230;. But by the time I got him there he had been hit again and he was gone. That&#8217;s when I seen another guy that was hit, I ran out and got him back there, and then a few more.

    That&#8217;s when I realized I lost my rifle again, He chuckled for a second,&#8230; I lost more rifles that day !&#8230;. I ran out to grab another one and got back to the position behind that bluff&#8230; As much as I wanted too, I never even had a chance to fire a round that day. But over the next several months I had plenty of opportunity to shoot. Ya know most of those fella&#8217;s I drug over to that bluff lived that day, that was a Birthday I&#8217;ll never forget.

    He broke eye contact with his now cold coffee and looked at me with glassy red bloodshot eyes, I knew what he was holding back inside,.. And thought to myself what a tough son of a gun !

    Then he said &#8220;They gave me a metal for that day,&#8230;&#8221; Reaching into his back pocket he pulled out a plastic sandwich bag wrapped up tight, opened it up carefully and pulled out a folded up handkerchief, Laid it on the table and began to unwrap it. As he got toward the center I could see the ribbon that was once bright red, white and blue,&#8230; stained, battered, and thread barren,&#8230; And beneath it a piece of Bronze in the shape of a star.

    I went over to him, shook his hand and thanked him for what he did and for his service to our country,&#8230; He almost looked shocked I would shake his hand&#8230;. I told him I would stop in again next Friday if he would be there,&#8230; His big toothless grin looked quite appealing now,&#8230; And I no longer seen a bum,&#8230; I could see a young brave man putting it all on the line for Me and the greatest nation on earth&#8230;. I would be proud to be counted his friend.

    On the way out, I ran across the same men that were there earlier selling Poppies,&#8230; and kidding around they smirked and asked &#8220;Did you enjoy your visit with Freddie the freeloader ?&#8221; &#8230;. I looked at them for a second and said,&#8230; That Man is ten times the men we are, all put together.

    Just goes to show,&#8230;. You never know when your in the presence of greatness !
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  14. 55chevy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2006
    Posts: 280


    Harms Way, I cried when I read your story. I ride with the Patriot Guard Riders for Veteran's funerals, and we stand a flag line for them at their funeral service, as well as at the Barrancas National Cemetary, it's very hard not to cry when you hear Taps. We recently lost Col Bud Day from Shalimar Florida, a WWII Marine, Korean War Vet, as well as USAF Vietnam POW that was a cell mate with John McCain. These 3 war Vets and others are such heroes, and we are losing them every day.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  15. Col Day was also a Medal of Honor recipient. If I remember correctly, he also saved a fellow's life out in the Gulf of Mexico about ten years ago.
  16. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 28,807


    In twelve days it .l be ten years that I lost my dad In WWII he was a tech Sgt in the 5th Army Air Corps in the South Pacific and flew tail gunner among other positions.
    His stories of his cars when he was young and some pretty cool cars he had when I was a teenager visiting him on dad and kid weekends when my mom allowed it including a jet black 57 Olds J2 that sat right on the ground as it had been lowered before he got it.
    We managed to go to the indoor car shows in Seattle and Tacoma in the early 60's the drags and topped many a weekend off with a few hours at the old speedway on 99 somewhere around where Sea-Tac is now. Later If I was at a rod run anywhere around Puget sound he was usually with me. His greatest joys were his kids and grand kids though.

    After I went to Viet Nam in Dec 1967 he got the map out an figured out that he had flown over the same area in WWII in a B25 that I was flying over in OH-13's an OH-6's in 1968. One of the big deals for him was parading me into the Renton Wa VFW in Dec 1968 and signing me up as a life member of the post he belonged to.

    Thanks for starting the thread.
  17. 55chevy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2006
    Posts: 280


    Join the the Patiot Guard Riders with your car, come and stand a flag line for our fallen vets
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  18. justabeater37
    Joined: Jan 1, 2009
    Posts: 1,345


    I work as a PTA in nursing homes/skilled care units. I almost let a tear slip the other day when I was helping out at a local hospital taking a gentleman to his car after hip surgery. We were waiting in the lobby when a soldier walks in with desert camo on and this gentleman calls him over. He sticks his hand out to the younger soldier to offer his thanks to him for his service. The younger soldier didn't even know what to say. I work with a WW2 tailgunner and can't wait to see him every day. I wish we could keep them all around as examples of what heroes really are. The quiet, timid, and shy stepping up to the plate to protect what so many take for granted.
  19. I visited the veterans home last week to drop off some magazines,,this is the only connection I have with the WWII vets these days,,both my dad & my father in law have passed away and they both served in combat,on land and in the air.

    My father in law came home unscathed,my dad was the soul survivor of his crew on a B-29,,he was a left blister gunner. HRP
  20. My dad and his four brothers were all WW2 vets ... he is the last one living although the oldest out of the bunch.

    Battle of Okinawa 18 March 1945 the old man is a fantail gunner on the USS Intrepid. A Japanese Betty (bomber) flying low off the ocean right in the middle of the flotilla is heading right for the Intrepid with almost all the ships in the grouping firing away including Pops on what I think was a quad 40. Finally a destroyer lobs a 5-inch round and hits the kamikaze as it is about 100 yards off the side of the Aircraft Carrier engulfing my dad, as he was still manning his gun, with fire and shrapnel. He received a Purple Heart that day.

    Last month Dad called me and said the doctors found out he has stage four lung cancer which has traveled through his body ... he told me he is not afraid of dying, never was and never will be, and wished me his best.
  21. Sam,it seems many of the flight crews that survived the war has end up battling lung cancer,,I suppose it has something to do with all the asbestos in the 25's & 29's. HRP
  22. I have nothing but the highest respect for those on the bombers ... the mortality rate was so damn high and they knew it with each take-off but my dad was on a Air Craft Carrier as a gunner on the ship. Lung cancer deaths are also high for the sailors, that's what got Steve McQueen , but he says, at 92, if it wasn't that (lung caner) it would be something else. Llaughing at death all the way to the end I guess LOL
  23. SAM123 and all the rest, thank you so much for sharing those teriffic stories. Extremely touching and heartwarming. So with ALL this said, my point was we should all work harder to honor and stay in touch with the people whom mentor'd us AND in turn do the same for the next generation. This here message board seems to have helped break the generation gap between old timers and young up and coming talented builders. Old World Craftmanship is becoming few and far between. Colleges such as McPherson seem to be taking young bucks by the horns and teaching these skilled trades.


    p.s. RJT served in WWII and was right here in Orlando exactly 70yrs ago.
  24. jcmarz
    Joined: Jan 10, 2010
    Posts: 4,633

    from Chino, Ca

    My parents are a part of the greatest generation and because of them, I understand why their generation is called the "Greatest" and us boomers came along and screwed everything up.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  25. Jimmy2car
    Joined: Nov 26, 2003
    Posts: 1,707

    from No. Cal

    I had the honor and previledge to attend in May the meeting of VF 42 (V-aircraft carrier, F-fighter, squadron 42). There are 4 men remaining , and 3 of those attended the reunion held in Texas. Absolute gentlemen all.
    One, in particular, was John "Chicken" Underwood. In 1941 he was a "Moonshine" runner in Tennessee.
    He was caught by the Feds driving a 32 Ford roadster filled with shine. He was 14 years old at the time.
    Going before the judge, he was given the option of reform school or the military. He joined the Navy, and had an Aunt who falsified his age so he could join. He served aboard the carrier Yorktown as an armorer for the fighters. He was called "chicken", as that was a name given to very young Navy servicemen.
    In 1944, he was "found out" so to speak as to his being under age. Normally, he would have been discharged (dishonorably), but an Admiral knew of his excellent service and made him the Admiral's
    driver. That way no one could touch him.
    He is a true gentleman.
    As someone said here: "They don't make 'em like that anymore".
  26. My uncle was also aboard the Intrepid and has pieces of the kamikaze plane that hit the ship. He is in a nursing home and has some dementia. Last time I saw him, six months ago, his son and I drug out his war memorabilia. I had seen the plane parts before, but it was cool to see them again. He told me, maybe ten years ago, about the incident and how some of his shipmates were badly mutilated. My cousin told me later that it was the first time he'd ever heard him talk about the war.
    He was involved in the Intrepid reunions and went to all of them, until he became too infirm. His name is Parker Buzzell. Maybe your dad knows him
  27. Deuce Daddy Don
    Joined: Apr 27, 2008
    Posts: 5,091

    Deuce Daddy Don

    Could be a coincidence---My brother in law was also in the 5th air force piloting a B-25 for 57 missions in the Pacific theater.
    When he returned home to SoCal in 1943, he gave me his leather jacket patch insignia, same pix painted on his B-25 nose art.
    I was 11 yrs. old then.
    Eight yrs. later I was in the Korean war from 1951-1955 USN.

    Attached Files:

  28. k9racer
    Joined: Jan 20, 2003
    Posts: 3,091


    Just to add something funny that Col Day did.. While a prisoner of the VC he was interviewed for taped broadcast. At the end of the interview he flipped the middle finger to the camera. He got by with this several times. He told them in the USA it was a good luck sign or something along that line. Later the VC found out the true meaning and were not happy. He still thought it was funny.. I hope this thread does not get closed.. Thank You... Bobby..
  29. My dad and his brother both served on B 17's in the Army Air Corp. My dad was a co pilot and my uncle was a radio operator. Dad died back in 2005 and my uncle was KIA back in January of 45. I fly the flag every day in their honor.

    My father's plane with the crew he flew with. He is in the first row second from the left.


    My uncle is in the back row second from the right.

  30. I think about this alot, and I try and see my grandparents as much as possible. At work its often very sad, lots of the houses I take care of are owned by elderly, that are real lonely. We talk to them alot, every week and often feel bad we cant stay..

    Im sorry more young people dont give a fuck and dont listen....

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