Robert C. Daniels

Author / Adjunct History Professor


Interview conducted as part of research for the writing of World War II in Mid-America

Joan Laandal  © Copyright 2006

Interview by Robert C. Daniels

Joan Laandal was interviewed at the Union-Congregational Church in Waupun on 16 March 2006 starting at 2:45 P.M.  The interview lasted 45.07 minutes.  At the time Joan was eighty-one years old, very alert, and articulate.


What is your full name?  Joan Gail Laandal.

Is Laandal your maiden name?  I was never married.

I know a lot of people born in the early twentieth century were not born in a hospital but at home.  Where were you born and when?  Merrill, Wisconsin, July 19, 1925.

Was that in a house?  In a home or hospital?  In the home.

And Merrill…, how do you spell Merrill?  M E R R I double L.

Who were your parents?  Melvin and Mae Laandal.  M A E, Mae.

M A E, okay.  Do you have any brothers or sisters?  I did.  I had two brothers, John and Robert, who served in the Army…, I mean in the service.  One was in the Air For…, they both were in the Air Force, come to think of it.

Were they older than you or younger?  Yes.  I had a sister.  She died when she was thirty-nine years old.  She was the advertising manager of the Waupun Leader News when it was a weekly paper, and a good paper.

Was she younger or older?  Older.

So you’re the youngest?  Yes.

What was her name?  Mary Elaine Laandal.

And both of your brothers, they were in the Air Force during the war, World War II?  Hmm-hmm (nodding her head yes).

Where did you go to school?  Waupun High School.  I graduated in 1943.  And then I went to secretarial school in Milwaukee.  Graduated in 1947.

Was that a college?  No, it was a private school, secretarial school.

What grade school did you go to?  Lincoln, in Waupun.

What was growing up like for you?  It was depression time.  I don’t remember a lot, but everybody was in the same boat.  You didn’t…, you didn’t…, we didn’t feel deprived of anything.  It was…, it was alright as a child.  As I got older, of course, we had the war.  I was a kid in the war, a teenager.  

There was some things that, of course, everybody experienced.  No shoes, you know, difficult to get shoes, and rubber, elastics, underwear, or pajamas…, you had buttons.  It was not difficult, it was no hardship for the people that they played at it, you know.  I’m sure it was hard for the mothers to try to figure out how to make food with no sugar or no fat, you know, that kind of thing.  But it was…, whole total effect was to try to help the war effort.  It was nationwide.  It was unbelievable.  I’ve never experienced anything since then, that feeling and wanting to do our best and help at home.  We sent boys to the…, well, those boys were just boys.  They served in [the] South Pacific, most of them.  Rugged, rugged time.

What did your father do?  My folks ran a restaurant and a tavern in Waupun.  We lived in the west side of it.  It was next to the Catholic Church, but it’s been torn down now, so that area is all parking lot.

So you lived in town then?  Yes.

Do you remember the rationing?  Oh, absolutely.  It was—especially in the restaurant business—it was difficult, you know, especially difficult.  I don’t know how…, I don’t have really much memory of how they procured things.  I think there was probably certain stamps and whatnot that restaurants had.  We didn’t serve any real elaborate things because you couldn’t get certain meats, you know, weren’t available.  

I think I told you that at our restaurant my family served the National Guard when they were stationed in Waupun prior to leaving just before action.  But they served…, they’d come up Main Street, marched up Main Street to our restaurant.  And they had three meals a day.  I was in school but at noon I had to work; help serve, clean and wash glasses—bar glasses especially.  The soldiers didn’t use the bar glasses, but whoever even drank water out of it, you had to use a special washing on them.  A memory.

Yeah, I’m glad you mentioned that.  I never realized that there was rationing for taverns or for restaurants.  Well, there were some things that were prohibited, you know, because the guy across the street in his home couldn’t get something didn’t mean we did get it, you know.  There was some way of…, I don’t know how they procured that stuff.  I don’t have a memory of that.

I know sugar was hard to come by.  Yeah, and oils.  A lot of things were…, coffee.

Do you remember where you were when you heard that Pearl Harbor was attacked?  Yes.  I was standing with my dad behind the bar in the tavern listening to the radio.  It was in the afternoon and my dad was seated in sort of a window.  We had a big window there and he always had a big stool there that he could watch the bar and could look outside.  And all of a sudden it came over.  Well, I had brothers that were of age to be in service.  This was 1941, but unbeknownst to my mother my brother Bob had already enlisted prior to Pearl Harbor in the Air Force.  And he was in school in Madison.  And just about Christmas time—he didn’t have to report apparently until after Christmas because he brought us all elaborate gifts—and he told our folks.  I thought my mother was gonna have a heart attack because you send your kid to war you send them to death, you know.  But not so.

What was the name of the restaurant?  Laandal’s Lunch.

Laandal’s Lunch.  The bar was the same?  Yeah, it was a combination restaurant-tavern.  A kind of a family type place, you know.

You said in the afternoon you heard…, was there a particular time that you remember?  I know it was afternoon.

And that was on the radio?  On the radio.

What did people say?  What did they do when you first heard that.  Do you remember?  I don’t know.  I just remember the concern that my brothers would be of the age that they could very well be drafted.

What did you do during the war?  I was a student until 1943 when I graduated high school, and then I worked over in the office at Shaler’s in Waupun.  Rivet…, I think it’s called National Rivet, it was Shaler National Rivet.  I worked in the office because…, the rivet was…, all airplanes used the National rivets, the rivets from National Rivet.  And they built a big fence around the place, and they had the Navy E up on the flag.  And it was quite the place in the war.  We had a guard at the gate.  

I only lived a couple blocks from there and forgot my badge with my picture on it.  I knew the guy from kid on—I had to go home and get that badge.  I could not get beyond that gate.

Was he armed?  Did he have a gun?  I can’t remember that.

No one can.  Everyone I’ve asked, they couldn’t remember if he was armed or not.  Some of them thought he was but no one really knows for sure.  I don’t remember if he was.  He was very firm about letting you in, though, because that was his duty, you know.  Well, I had to punch in then late because I forgot it, but there was a good lesson to me.

Was he a civilian guard?  Yeah, Mr. Trilling, I think it was?  He was a civilian guard.

Trilling?  Frank Trilling, Sr.

How do you spell that?  T R I L L I N G, if my memory serves me correct.  I hope somebody will…, if you ask someone else maybe they can confirm that.

Okay.  What did you do?  You said you worked in the rivet office?  Yeah, we took orders, rivet orders.  And eventually, I don’t know how long it was, but then I was promoted.  I think I got 2 cents an hour more from 51 cents to 53 cents.  And then I helped on the switchboard and learned the switchboard.  And then I was a relief operator there.

Do you remember, did the rivets themselves, did they get shipped out by train or by truck?  I have no idea.  There was a train access, you know.  I have no idea.  I’m sure it was all done, though.   You know, we were all concerned with spies and that sort of thing because it was drilled into you, “Loose lips, sink ships,” you know, that kind of thing.  And so you didn’t talk about any of that, ever.

So you remember rationing cards?  Yes, I do.  Because you had the individual ones as a family, you know.

As I understand, everyone had their own rationing card.  I believe so.  I think so.  I’m not sure of that, now that you say it, because it would have been separate from our restaurant, you know, our family.  I don’t know, I can’t tell you.

Okay.  Did anything change in the Waupun area during the war, from before the war that you can recall?  It got busier because the rivet plant was going full blast and they were hiring lots of women.  I don’t know that anything changed, just that there were no guys around.  Our friends were gone, you know.  We still had movies on the corner at the Classic Theater, which is now torn down.  There’s a parking lot for, um….

It’s on the corner of Main and Carrington (Streets), isn’t it?  Yup.

Across from the old Ford Garage.  Yup.

Across the street from the Chit-Chat (Restaurant).  Right.  And then the garage is behind the…, behind there.

Yeah.  And that’s called the Classic Theater?  Classic.  And Milton, the son of the owner, was in my class.

What did you do for entertainment besides go to the theater during the war time?  Well, we had a, like a girl’s baseball team that played other baseball teams.  There wasn’t a lot to do, you know.  There just wasn’t that much to do.  There was gas rationing.  You couldn’t very well go anywhere, you know.  Once in a great while you got to go to Fond du Lac maybe to shop.  But if you did there would be five other people with you in the car, you know.  I mean, you loaded up the cars.  I don’t recall that we, you know, did anything special.

Were you living at home?  Yes.  Until, you know, until I went to school in Milwaukee.

When did you move there, when did you go to school?  I think it was ‘45, maybe ‘45, and I graduated in ‘47.

What was it like when you heard that the war was over with?  Oh man, was that fun!  The hotel was on the corner where the National Bank parking lot now is, but right up smack to the corner was Hotel Waupun.  The other side of the street which is a Chinese food thing?

Yes.  Okay, that was Jockey’s Tavern.  Above Jockey’s, or the building next to it, above that was the armory.  They didn’t do much training up there, but they slept up there and ate at our place.  I don’t know what else they did.  Where they were billeted I have no idea.  But at the end of the war my friend and another guy came, and we went downtown because everybody was out on the streets.  In fact, up and down the street…, because we had the prisoner of war camp, you know, where the…, did somebody tell you the location of that?

Yeah, it’s where the warehouse is for the prison is, yeah.  Used to be the old canning factory?  Okay, that still had prisoners there and still had guards there, army guys.  But the head of the thing my sister knew, he was a captain, and he drove the jeep up and down main street.  And my little niece, Judy, my brother John’s little girl, who was four or five years old if that, got to ride in that jeep.  But she was the only civilian in Waupun that got to ride in that army jeep.  And there she was.  It was cute (she laughs).  

But we had fun that night because we were dancing in the middle of the street on Main Street.  Right smack in the middle.  I don’t know where the music was coming from, but there was…, everybody was....  It was just like heaven, you know.  Such a relief.  And the kids were coming home, and it was over.  It was just…, hard to tell you what it was.  Well, we just…, I don’t think that…, I think that everybody…, it was two, three in the morning and it was still going.  We walked, you know, to our homes then.  And my dad had closed the tavern, but my folks were still up and just….  It was just unbelievable…, was just such joy.  But we were dancing in the middle of Main Street.

And that was V-J Day?  The Japanese Victory?  I think it must be V-J, yeah.  It was just great.

What was it like when the military members started coming home?  When the military members came home, what was that like?  Well, they didn’t come as a big group.  They came, you know…, you would just kinda know that they were home.  And I don’t know if we called them or saw them or greeted them.  One of my girlfriends, her boyfriend who she eventually married, had a home and a lot of money.  He was discharged from the Navy.  It must have been his whole total savings.  And he took her and all of her girlfriends down to the Bon Ton for drinks.  I think we were twenty-one.  I’m not sure that we were, but we went to the Bon Ton for drinks, and he paid for ‘em.  And we just had…, oh, that was a big deal, you know.

Did they had a drinking age back then?  It was twenty-one?  Uh-huh.

Oh, wow.  Now that I never knew.  My dad’s bar was very busy that evening, I’ll tell you.  Neighbors were over and, you know, people coming in.

Were the military members different when they come back?  They didn’t talk about their experiences, I will tell you that.  I don’t remember any of them saying how god awful it must have been on their ships when they were under attack, and that sort of thing.  They didn’t talk about that.  They were so glad to be home and so glad to see you, you know.  We just sort of picked up where we left off.  But not really, you know, everybody had, you know, gone through a lot.

Did things change after they got home, such as the rivet factory with all the women there while the war was going on, did they start getting replaced by the men?  Yes, they did.  But by that time, of course, I was in Milwaukee.  And I had…, I worked for Pabst Brewery after I graduated from school.  You could get a job anywhere if you weren’t married.  But if you were married at Pabst Brewery…, there were girls working there that Pabst never knew were married.  But at the end of the war when their husbands came home they just quit their jobs because they knew the guys were coming back.  But during the war…, I don’t know why Pabst was so insistent on that because there weren’t many men to fill any jobs…, any men, younger men I should say.

But the women, if they were married, Pabst wouldn’t let them work for ‘em?  No.  And I knew a couple girls that worked for Pabst, and Pabst never knew they were married.

That was during the war?  During the war.

What did you do at Pabst?  Did you work in the office?  I was a secretary for the…, the guy that buys all the stuff to make beer with.

How long did you work there?  Maybe a year.  I worked there at Christmas time.  When I came home for Christmas with my family—and one of the drivers from Pabst stopped at my parents’ house—and Pabst sent a case of beer and a big turkey for all of its employees.  And he dropped it off on his way up north wherever he was going.  Which wasn’t that great, you know?  

Oh, yeah.  They treated…, that’s how they treated people years back.  That they were very kind.  And I worked at Alice Chalmers, and they were exceptionally kind.  A big company like that.

Where is Alice Chalmers at, out of?  West Allis (Wisconsin).  Big manufacturing company, out of business now.

So after the war you worked at Pabst for a while….  And then I worked at Alice Chalmers.

And you’re retired now?  Yes, I worked for the State for forty years.

Oh, really?  What did you do there?  I was a warden secretary.

Here in town?  Yeah.

Which prison?  I worked at all of them.  I worked at Walls on Madison Street, they called it the Walls.

The Maximum security prison?  Yeah, the big prison.  And then I worked…, the year they opened in ‘62, when they opened Fox Lake, I worked out there the first year for Warden Donnel.  Then I transferred to Central State Hospital, which is now Dodge Correctional.  I worked for the superintendent of Central State until the conversion to [the] prison, and then I worked for the Wardens.

What was the Superintendent’s name of Central State?  Do you remember?  Yeah, Schubert.

Schubert.  S C H U B E R T.

And he was a doctor, wasn’t he?  Yes he was.

Psychiatrist?  Yes, Psychiatrist.

This is an off the wall question.  Do you know Ed Gein?  Yes, he paneled my office.

Really?  Yeah.  He never said anything because they always had a supervisor with him.  But he would look at you, and I remember how sick looking his eyes were.  I think that when someone is sick you can tell in their eyes, and he was just like so sick looking.  But he never bothered me.  He didn’t bother anybody, really.  He just did his work.  But he paneled my office.

Were you in there when he did it?  Yeah.

Were you uncomfortable?  Not a bit, because there was a supervisor working with him because it took two guys to handle this big eight-foot tall boards.

I was told he was always a meek, mild little man that if you didn’t know who he was you wouldn’t think anything of it.  Never bothered anybody.  But he sure looked at the women, you know.  The girls that worked in the office.  Down the line was a record office and across was a business office.  So he didn’t bother anybody.  And the same with Jeffery Dahmer.

Was he there?  We had him in Dodge prison.  We didn’t get to see him.  He was in the back, in the prison proper.  Our building was then built outside of the fence.  If you ever go up by Dodge, you know where it is?

That’s where the old Central State….  Yeah.  There is a building outside of the fence, the administration building.  The pharmacy is in there too.  It’s all out of the fence.

So Dahmer was there too for a while?  Oh, yeah.  See, Dodge is the receiving institution for all prisons in Wisconsin, adult prisons.  For a while…, I’m not sure yet if we still receive women.  We did, but I don’t know, I haven’t been there for…, I retired in ‘98, January, and I don’t know if they still…, or do they, you know, go somewhere else for reception.  Or they still go to Dodge and then they’re shipped down to Taycheedah (Wisconsin) or wherever where one of the prisons are.  But we have a lot of inmates there because they’re always moving.  There are some that are permanent because there’re work crews and maintenance guys.

Now, the Maximum security unit is still the one on Madison Street.  But so is Dodge.

Oh, Dodge is Maximum security too?  Oh, absolutely.  They have more inmates than I think the big prison.  Well, we call it the big prison, Madison Street prison.  I think that Dodge has over six hundred.  I don’t know what their count is.  I haven’t been there.

Do they have the same warden, or is there separate wardens?  Separate wardens.

Is there one warden in charge of all the wardens?  Not a warden but an administrator of the Division of Corrections, and he’s in Madison.  And I don’t know his name now.

Now, there’s a big house on a Highway…, I think it’s (Highway) 26 going out of town….  That would be the warden’s house.

Which warden is that?  Well, that used to be the Warden Burke.  He was a warden at the prison on Madison Street.  That was when that was, you know, there wasn’t a Dodge Prison, there was a Central State.  There wasn’t um…, any um…, the one outside of the…, just across the tracks on (Highway) 151 coming out of Waupun is now a woman’s….  I can’t remember the name of that place.  There was nothing around here except the Waupun, the big prison here.  Prison farms; there was a Farm One and a Farm Two on the way to Fox Lake.  Boy, you’re asking me some stuff that’s long time ago.

Yeah.  Well, that’s what it is all about, right?

It’s interesting, though, yeah.  It really is.  Okay, now you never married?  No.

And you live here in Waupun now?  I just live south of town about a mile on Milligan Road.  It’s, um—I went past Karen’s[1] to get here.  It’s just…, I’m just…, I just ate—on the way to Beaver Dam.  The first road to the left after Ren’s Nursery, you know.  It’s Milligan.   Yeah, I’m the second house on the hill.  It used to be the first house, but somebody built a great big huge house right next to me.  The farmer’s…, the farmer on the corner, that’s his land, his sister built there.  It’s a beautiful house, big house. 

So both your brothers were in Army Air Corps?  Right, my brother Bob was a…, you know, my mother was just beside herself about him.  Bob never left the states.  He was a first lieutenant and he trained flyers in Texas all through the war.  He just…, all the good flyers you ever heard of, Bob trained ‘em.  And my brother John was drafted.  I remember when he left they picked him up on the bus right from our tavern.  The bus was going by, so they stopped for him.  He didn’t have to go the couple blocks to the bus station. 

He…, we were really concerned about him.  But he was stationed in Honolulu (Hawaii) through the whole war as a postmaster, and never left there.  So my brothers were relatively safe.

But you know a lot of other people that went to the war then.  Oh, did I.  Everybody you knew had somebody in the service.  We had a little, you know, the thing in the window, the little flags during the service.  If they were killed they were different, a gold star, I think.  That’s why they said, “Gold Star Mothers.”  They used to print in the (Milwaukee) Journal every night the list of the guys that were killed.  It was tragic, just tragic.

Nothing compares, I don’t think, to that generation to have that war.  We just assimilated it.  It was ours, you know.  And still we feel that way.  It’s our war.  It was important to us and it was…, nobody, nobody shirked their duty.  The kids that went to service and the ones that were left home; nobody shirked their duty.  And I don’t think you ever found that in a war since, you know.  We were attacked.  I still—this is off the cuff—will not buy anything that I knowingly know, except probably my television because there’s…, I won’t buy anything made in Japan.  I will not!  I won’t buy a car made in Japan.  I just have that…, but a lot of people will, you know, and think nothing of it.  But I can’t do that.  I remember that sneak attack. 

And, of course, there were so many movies that came out to, um…, well, when I was in the movies it was on the screens, “Buy bonds,” you know.  Even if you paid ten cents you bought something for a bond.  I don’t know what they call it.

War bonds?  Yeah, war bonds.  You bought war bonds.  It was…, it breaks your heart to think of it.

Do you remember Victory Gardens?  Yeah.

Did you guys have one?  No, we didn’t, ‘cause, see, we were in the restaurant business.  And I think our Victory Garden came by whoever was selling vegetables pulled by a horse-cart on the street, you know.

Did you need to have rationing cards to buy vegetables?  Not for vegetables, no.  Now, there were…, pretty near everyone I knew had a garden, you know, and tended their gardens well.  Right behind us on the corner across, I don’t know, you know, St. Joseph’s Church on the corner, right behind that going to Franklin Street on the corner, that was a Mr. Clover, and the whole thing, the back side of their property that came right up to the side of the alley—and here was the church (motioning with her hands)—was full of vegetables.  And then he had a big garden on Taylor Street.  That’s a couple…, another street over and down the hill, was all full of cabbages.  Everybody did something, you know, for food.

You mentioned a POW camp, do you remember…?  I remember going up there and going by it.  You couldn’t be around there.  You better not be, you know, the first thing you’re dad would have whipped you (she laughs) if he knew you were up there by the prison camp.  But, no, we never were up there, except we might have driven by.  But that was all fenced.

What kind of fence did they have, do you remember?  No, I don’t remember.  You could see through it.

Were there buildings in there or tents?  Tents, yeah.  Now, I told you, I think, on Sunday afternoon they marched those guys down Madison Street to the theater—down the Main Street, turn right to the Classic Theater—after, I suppose, the matinee was over for the people, and showed them the propaganda films.

Oh, really?  And then they marched them back.  And in the front row was the exact guy that Hitler was ever always talking about—the blonde, healthy looking, good looking, big German guy.  Front Row.  I just hated him.  I didn’t know him, but hated him because he was the enemy and they were killing our guys.  We had a number of our class that were killed in…, while they were still young men.  

I was gonna tell you something funny that I thought of.  It probably has nothing to do with your….

That’s okay.  Have you got somebody else coming?

No.  There was…, in our…, back in the late ‘40s before graduating, in our history class…, first floor of the…, it would be the corner of Fond du Lac Street and Franklin (Street).  The middle school used to be the high school, and there was four hundred kids in there from grades seven to twelve.  They were not big classes (she laughs).  But anyhow, they built on to that school in 1938.  And they built a gym and they built music rooms behind that and so on.  But in ‘38 then you had a good view of the streets, you know, there was a lot of windows.  Well, Herby Northrop, God bless his soul—who lived across the street from the high school, and he was a good looking kid and he used to sit in the row by the window in Mr. what’s-his-name’s history class—and one day out of the blue, Herby stands up and he says, “There goes another load of bullets.”  And everyone who could see looked out through the upper window.  It was a big truck load of scrap metal.  And Mr…, Calhoun, Mr. Calhoun says, “Good,” and then we continued right through the class, you know.  Nobody did….  Herby just stood bold upright and said, “There goes another load of bullets” (we both laugh).

Well, speaking of that we did go and collect scrap metal, and we used the truck from Kohl’s Feed Mill because Orland Kohl was in my class and he drove the truck, and the rest the kids were…, a bunch of us were in the back.  And then we’d go down the street and everybody would yell, “Scrap metal, scrap metal.”  And you go house to house and pick up old dish pans or old pots and pans.  And that all went on the truck for wherever it went to be made into bullets.

And this was all donated?  It wasn’t…, you didn’t get paid for any of this?  All donated.  No, no.  All donated.  But Herby Northrop; he came home from the service—he’s in my annual there, he was in the Navy—he came home from the service and he was killed by a car accident right outside of Waupun.

Did any of the teachers go…, were any of the teachers drafted and gone to war?  I don’t remember that if they were.

I asked that of Mr. Rigg.  Who?

Mr. Rigg.  He used to be the principal of the Junior High School.  Maybe that was before my time…, after?

That was after your time, and he said not..., he wasn’t here at the time, but where he was teaching before a lot of teachers did go to service.  He was too old to go himself.  He was deferred a couple times because he was too old, but a lot of the teachers that he was teaching with did go, the younger ones, they were drafted.  Yeah, we just had, you know, we had just the routine run of the mill teachers that were probably forty-ish.  Probably had the number of children that would have deferred them.  But they may have very well have gone, I don’t know.  I don’t remember anybody going.

There were several of the teachers when I was going to high school here that had gone in the service.  What year did you graduate?

1976.  Okay.

I don’t remember, my memory’s gone bad….  And they went to World War II?

World War II, yeah.  I don’t remember…, my memory is so bad I don’t remember what my teachers’ names were.  But they may not necessarily have been here all those years ago.

Not necessarily, no.  But they did go?

Yeah, there were like three or four of them that had gone to the war.  One thing that crossed my mind just as a thing to tell you, one day Damsteegt’s Drug Store, you know where that is on Main Street?

No.  Between the Hub and Redeker and Vandezande’s  Clothing store….

Okay.  Damsteegt’s Drug Store.  I was going in….

Oh, yeah.  They used to have a fountain in there?  Fountain, yeah.

I used to go…  And booths, they had some booths.

Yeah, I used to go at lunch time in Junior High School.  I’d walk over there with, oh, maybe a dollar, and get potato chips and a soda.  Yeah.  They had good cokes.

I was going in the drug store—this was during the war and it was probably ‘43, ‘44, I don’t have any idea what year—and as I was going in I saw a soldier.  And he looked at me and he says, “Hello Joan.”  And I looked at him, and my God, it was Emil Hopp who I went to grade school with.

Oh, wow.  And I said, “Well, Emil Hopp, how are you?”  And he said, “Well, I’m home on leave.”  He was wounded, and he says, “But I’m getting along okay.”  And just then, just then some guy—a lieutenant—he was going into the drug store and he looked at Emil and Emil looked at him and the lieutenant said something [like], “Did you forget how to salute solider?”  And Emil, who could never hardly even say his own name, stood up like a…, I gotta show yah how Emil would stand, how he would stand to attention, you know how they stand (she stands at rigid attention), and he said the most—oh, I didn’t know he knew those words—he said, “Sir I was wounded in action and I am unable to salute with my arm.”  But he said it in such a…, more words than that and big words.  And this, this lieutenant looked at him and he said, “I salute you, Sir!”  And then away he walked.  And I just stood like…, I couldn’t believe this.  I’ve never seen it.  It was like the movies.  You never saw that on a Waupun Street where the lieutenant saluted this private or corporal or whatever he was.  He didn’t call him sir, he said solider, “I salute you, solider!”  And Emil didn’t think twice about it, you know.  I wondered what happened to Emil Hopp, he didn’t graduate with us.

I interviewed his wife a couple days ago.  You what?

Interviewed his wife, Josephine, a couple of days ago.  Yeah, Emil’s wife, and he’s dead isn’t he?

He’s past away several years ago?  Did she have good memories of Emil?

Yes, she did.  Great!  She mentioned him in the service, that he had…?  Was he ever wounded?

Yes.  He was an army corpsman, and he was wounded in one of the arms…, left or right arm….  Must have been the right because he couldn’t salute.

Yeah, you’re right.  Oh, but it just flowed out of him, he was such a man right then, and he was just like a dumb kid all the time from grade school, you know.  Oh, then you know his wife.

Yeah.  Well, that impressed me, and something I forgot.

(The interview ended at this point.)


[1] Karen is Karen Flier, the author’s (interviewer’s) sister.


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