Robert C. Daniels

Author / Adjunct History Professor


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

Gertrude (Mintzlaff) Schrank  © Copyright 2005

Interview by Robert C. Daniels

Gertrude (Mintzlaff) Schrank—she goes by Ges, pronounced Jess—was interviewed in the living room of her home in Waupun at 10:30 A.M. on 30 November 2005.  The interview lasted 52.21 minutes.  At the time Ges was eighty-seven years old, very alert and articulate, and proved to be very willing to talk and an excellent source of information.  Ges passed away on 2 March 2007.


What is your full name?  Gertrude Edna Schrank.

What was your maiden name?  Mintzlaff, M I N T Z L A F F.

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

What was the date?  July 4th, 1918, 4 o’clock in the morning.  My mother always told me that’s why I was a red head.  I cannot tell I was that now, but I was (Ges laughs).

And 4th of July.  Yeah, right.

Who were your parents?  Charles and Matilda Mintzlaff, and my mother’s maiden name was Freyer, F R E Y E  R.

Do you have any brothers or sisters?  I had a brother who died at nine years old from Polio, and then I had two living sisters.  They are now both deceased.

What were their names?  Well, let’s see.  Ruth would be next in line after me, after Martin, and then Elsa.  Oh, Ruth is Ruth Giulian, she was married to Mr. Giulian, G I U L I A N.  And then Elsa was Elsa Klenk, she was married too, to Bill.  He was a Navy man.  E L S A.

And her last name was Kling?  Klenk, K L E N K.  Not Klink (she laughs).

Where did you go to school?  I went to school at Grafton Grade School, Grafton High School, and then I went to the University of Wisconsin.

And that was Madison?  Yes.  Well, what a big change it was from Grafton High School with a class of twenty-four graduating onto being seat number one hundred twenty-first in my first economic class, you know (she laughs).

Grafton was small then, wasn’t it?  Oh, yes.  Grafton was real small.  We didn’t even have a thousand people when I was young.  Maybe eight hundred. 

What was growing up like for you?  Well, I think I had a very protected life.  And my father’s sisters lived and brothers lived within a few blocks.  We were very family-orientated, and my cousins were my playmates, and, of course, the girl next door.  And I played with the boys too while my brother was living, because I got to be a tomboy.  I learned how to play baseball and ride a bike and do those things because I didn’t have any girl friends that had bikes, you know.

So you had a good childhood, then?  Oh, yes.  My father worked in the record factory in Grafton, where they made records for Caruso, Bing Crosby, and all the famous guys.  But, you know, he never took us down there when they were there, and now I wish I had.

So Bing Crosby was actually in Grafton?  Yeah, he actually was, and Caruso.  He recorded many of his songs…, and I just can’t believe that, you know, father thought nothing of it.  Then when he got through that, then he…, he was an electrician by trade…, then he went to the Goldman factory.  And I don’t know what the new name is—they had another name for it—but he put in their motors, electric motors, and their equipment. 

His first job was in Milwaukee when he worked with the power lines that ran the streetcars, and he earned a dollar a day when he was young.  And he worked for the City of Milwaukee until they were married, and then they moved to Grafton where his parents lived and family.

What were you doing in the 1939, 1941 timeframe, just before the war broke out, World War II?  Just before the World…, I graduated in ‘36 from high school and went to the U.  Then I had…, I met Dr. Schrank, Dr. Leonard Schrank, I should say, my husband, at school.  And we went together for six and a half years before we were married because his father was a stubborn German like mine was, and, “You finish your education before,” you know, “you get married.”  And they wouldn’t give us consent, so we decided that we would sweat it out then until he was ready to intern and leave the Akron, Ohio….  We weren’t married until April ‘43. 

And during those years I worked in Muncie, Indiana, at Ball Memorial Hospital.  And then, because Leonard was in residency—or not residency, what did they call it at that time?  It was, when they were seniors they went out to the different communities and he ended up in Marshfield, Wisconsin.  And we were so far apart there was no way of connecting—once in a while we would.  So I moved to Sheboygan Memorial Hospital because it was easy in those days to get a job.  I am an X-Ray technician.  I had the four years of college and then I took a year of internship at McArdle Institute.  And then I went into the X-Ray field because he…, when I met my husband, I was in the school of Agriculture.  I was gonna be a Home Ed teacher.  And he said, “Oh come on, you get into sciences, you get into LMS” (Licensed Medical Services).  So that is what I went into.

So what is your degree in?  Well, I did not graduate because I had to have a P-camon and one other course, and they ran not the next semester—one one semester and one the next.  And my father says, “Another year?  No!  Five years is too much for me because I’ve got two girls growing up” (Ges laughs), you know.

Do you remember what you were doing when you first heard that Pearl Harbor was attacked?  Yes, we were at the medical school library, and my husband said to me, “There goes the end of my career.  I’ll have to work more.”  He wasn’t my husband then, he was my boy friend.  And we both sort of had tears in the eyes because someone walked into the library and said, “Do you know that we are at war with Japan?  They bombed Pearl Harbor.”  Well, then everybody closed their books and they ran to radios to listen. 

And he was very upset.  He thought he would have to be drafted.  And his draft board kept up after him all the way through the war.  But, you know, the Army insisted they wanted him to graduate as an M.D., and they could use him much better then than a pre-med, so.

What time of the day did you hear the war had started?  It was right when it happened, it was right after lunch, maybe 1:00, 1:30.  Some time in the afternoon on December 8th, I think it was.  That was the beginning of the war.

What were your thoughts and feelings about the United States being all of a sudden in a war?  Well, you know, we were just shocked.  We didn’t think any nation would ever attempt to attack America.  And then I kept thinking of the boy next door or my cousin in Milwaukee who was in the Navy.  And he was in the boat that was in the…, laying in the bottom of Pearl Harbor.  He was only eighteen.  And I thought about him. 

I thought about what was going to happen to my life if Leonard had to go into the service.  And we decided to just continue on.  And his draft board would keep deferring him because the Army kept saying, “Let him graduate.”  So instead of doing four years in medical school for his last residency on surgery, he did three years without a day of vacation and no time off at all.  I mean, on weekends he…, they just kept their routine.  Everything kept going. 

They got three, four years of work done in three years.  And then when he graduated and he knew he had to serve internship because it was part of the program at the time, he applied for the internship at the Akron, Ohio, hospital called Akron City Hospital, and he got his residency there.  Before we moved there we were married in 1943, on March 31st of 1943, and he had…, we had my first born son, Charles, Leonard Charles.  He’s a dentist in town here.  That was in ‘44.  He was born May 8th, 1944. 

I mean, we just kept living on, and getting deferred, and getting deferred, because we knew that they would never take him in the middle of all this residency.  So they let him finish, and then when he finished he just went right into the service. 

He did go into the service?  Oh, yeah.  He served down in Brooke General Hospital in St. Antonio, Texas.  And then he was supposed to have orders to go overseas.  And somehow his orders were lost.  When he got to Marysville, California, to go overseas they had no orders, so then they sent him back to Brooke General.  And he worked in that hospital. 

I went down to see him occasionally, and once I thought I was going to move (she laughs), but that didn’t last very long.  As soon as I packed the suitcases he got orders in about two weeks.  And then he went back to Marysville, and I flew out there on one of those B-18’s, or something.  They made a lot of noise, and they were clunkers, really.  But I got up there and I said good bye to him and saw his ship leave.  And he went to the Philippines.  And he had troops in his boat, two hundred-fifty young people.  And they all got sea sick.  And he had his hands full, he said (she laughs).

Did he get sea sick?  No, he didn’t.  Well, I guess he was so busy taking care of others he didn’t have time to be sick himself (she laughs).

What was his rank?  When he went in he was a first lieutenant, and when he came home he was a captain.

Where was he born and raised?  He was born and raised in Lomira, Wisconsin, on a farm right near Brownsville (Wisconsin), and he went to high school in Brownsville.  His folks, you know, sold the farm to his oldest brother, or one of the brothers.  He was the youngest of nine, and there were seven boys and two girls in his family.      

When was he born?  March 13th, 1918.  The same year I was.

What were the general feelings of those around you about the war when you first heard about it, the fact that the United States was now in a war?  Well, I think we all set back and we’d do whatever we could.  I rolled bandages for the Red Cross and I volunteered as much as I could with having had my first two children by then.  And my parents opened their doors to me because I had no place to live.  I had to move in with them.  And my dad just loved having the two boys, it was up his alley (she laughs). 

And, let’s see, what else…, oh, we had gas rationing, sugar rationing, flour rationing.  We got stamps to get shoes.  We got stamps to get…, I don’t know…, we just made do. 

I remember that for my trousseau I bought one new spring coat and I bought a new pair of shoes.  I was wearing bedroom slippers because I couldn’t afford to give up the shoes stamps for my shoes, and they were Daniel Green satin flat, not heal bedroom slippers.  But they served the purpose, they kept my feet warm (she laughs). 

I don’t know what else I should say.  I think everybody did what they could.  I knitted scarves for soldiers, I knitted mittens.  We did a lot of volunteering, helping.  When they said lights out, we went lights out.  I mean, we didn’t try to do anything the government didn’t want us to do.  And I think we felt relatively safe way back here in the Middle-West.  I think had I lived on the East Coast I’d been a little concerned.

What did you do during the war?  Did you work or…?  No.  I took care of my babies, helped my mother and made meals, learned how to cook and bake better than I did when I left (she laughs).  I think that I…, my recreation was going to another town to bowl.  And that was once a week.  And we car pooled, and everybody was in one car. 

And, let’s see, what else could I say.  I babysat at night.  When my kids were once in bed, then I would go to somebody else’s house if they were…, you know.  Like this one family, he was in the orchestra in Milwaukee, and they would leave by about eight o’clock.  He had a concert or something at nine o’clock.  We lived close to Milwaukee, we were only eighteen miles away.

That was in Grafton?  Grafton, yeah.  That’s where I lived.

Can you tell me about the rationing cards?  You mentioned a little bit about them.  Yeah.  Well, it was a little book, maybe six by three (inches).  And you had cards in there for your flour, your sugar, your shoes.  I can’t remember about clothes because we made do with what we had.  We didn’t spend a lot of money during those years.  And I don’t know what else to say about the rationing cards.  I wish I could remember more or I had written something down, but I didn’t.  Now I am eighty-seven and how can I remember?  That is a long time to remember back (she laughs).

I hear a lot about victory gardens.  Did you have one?  Oh, yes.  Oh, my.  Yes, our garden was about a half acre.  It was behind our house and behind the garage and then all the way to the lumber yards, the shed.  And we planted potatoes, and mother had lettuce and celery, radishes, onions.  Lots of onions, because, you know, we would put them in bags and hang them in the basement, and they dried.  And she raised cabbage, and you could keep those heads in the cooler part of the basement where there was no heat.  Carrots we buried in stone jars with sand in, and then the raw carrot was in there and you just dig ‘em out as you needed them.  Beets we kept.  I can’t remember any other. 

We had Apple trees, we had pear trees, we had plum trees, we had raspberry bushes, gooseberry bushes, currant bushes, and, I mean, I…, oh, I even sold raspberries when we’d get an overload.  I put them on a card table out in the front lawn because Highway 57 went by our house.  I could sell those quarts of raspberries in about an hour, you know, the surplus.  And what other surplus we had mother canned.  We canned pears and peaches and raspberries, cherries.  We had a cherry tree, we had the red type of cherries.  She would use that for sauce, and plums too we used for sauce. 

Did anything really change in Grafton during the war?  Oh, not really.  I wouldn’t say that the population grew.  It was more of a community of retired farmers moving into town.  The industries were not related to the war except for probably this company my dad worked for, and I don’t know what else they made. 

Oh, during the war…, oh, that is World War I.  My father worked in the foundry, and he did not get drafted because he was making canon balls for WWI (she laughs).  That is how he happened to marry my mother, who was a lady from Chicago (Illinois).  She would come and visit her sister.  And the railroad depot was right across from the foundry, and he must have spied her.  And Uncle Art would pick her up with the horse and buggy then. 

Oh, we could remember that my Uncle Art had a cousin named Ed, who was my dad’s best friend.  And through Ed and Art dad got introduced to my mother.  And she went with them to picnics when they needed an extra woman, you know.  And then my dad and she went together, I think, two years before they got married.  They met in ‘14 and they were married in 1916 (she laughs).  Crazy, isn’t it?

What was it like when you heard the war was over?  Oh, World War II, being close to Milwaukee there were trucks going by with loud speakers on saying, “The war has ended,” because, you know, in those days we didn’t have communication like they do now.  No radio, no nothing.  We didn’t know.  The only thing we could get news of was from papers. 

Well, I don’t know, I’m a little confused about between the two wars, a little bit.  But I do remember that there was loud speakers and trucks going up and down telling the war was over, and people were happy.  Oh, oh, my.  That’s World War I because I am confused.  My mother told me when the World War I ended she said fire whistles blew, all the factory whistles blew, and she didn’t know what was going on.  And I was a little baby in her arms from July until November when the war was over.  And she said she stood in the kitchen, no in the living room, looking out of the window to see what had happened.  And she was waiting for fire trucks to come or something, and they didn’t.  But that was her version. 

And World War II, that was a little different.  I…, Dr. Raymond’s wife was also a war widow…, and I had come back, I came back from Grafton to move in with her for a little while because she had little Ray and I had Charlie—and Ray was her son.  I mean, I moved in with her for a short…, oh, maybe three, four months.  Then Dr. Raymond, who was scheduled to go to Japan or to the Middle East somewhere, his orders were changed and he was sent to Great Lakes and he processed soldiers going to or coming home.  And since he lived so close I moved back to Grafton because he could come home weekends and times he had off.  I am sorry I got those two mixed up.

That’s okay.  I know that Berty and I, Mrs. Neugent, and Eva Hayes all got together the night the war ended, and we decided to go to Beaver Dam to celebrate.  And we went up and down the streets and we finally found a tavern we thought we would be safe in (she laughs).  And we went in and had a beer, and, oh, we were home by 10:30 (P.M.).  And grandma Schrank stood at the door; she said, “You naughty girls, you are not to go out and drink to celebrate the end of the war.”  Oh, grandma was so angry at us!  And we were her daughter-in-laws, you know.  Her sons were the boys that were in the service.  So that was funny (she laughs).  But she got over it.  And, of course, Ray came home and Leonard.  Ray came home first and he started practice back here in Waupun.

That is Leonard’s brother?  Yeah.

He would be your brother in-law?  He was my brother-in-law.  There they are (Ges points at a picture on her living room wall) the two of them on that picture on the wall way over.  And Ray got out about maybe nine months or a year before Leonard did.  And Leonard was over in [the] Philippines, and he was in a MASH type unit, you know, where he did surgery in tents.

So Raymond Shrank was a doctor also?  Oh, Yes.

Was he older than Leonard?  Yeah.  They were, let’s see, he was born in ‘12, six and a half years older.

He served in the military, too?  Oh, yes.  But he was in London.  He was in the European Theater.  And then he came back from that thinking he was gonna get discharged.  And he’d been there a couple of years.  And then they said, “No, you are going to go to Japan or that area.”  And, well, you know, he didn’t say no, and he was…, he had…, let’s see, he had three or four children by then.  And that’s why—they found out that he had a family and had been overseas—that he should be sent to some state side unit, so that they could take care of him too.

Did things change when the military people came back from the war?  Oh, yes, I would say.  I had brother-in-laws, sister-in-laws who worked in Milwaukee in plants that made bullets and supplies for the war effort.  Most of Leonard’s brothers were doing something in that field, you know, helping with the war effort.  And those guys were all older than he was and they were married and had sort of grown children by then, because his oldest brother was a one hundred and two years old when he died.  And most of ‘em died in their eighties, the older ones.  And then sort of the middle of all of them died at their sixties.  I don’t know why.  It was just different. 

I am trying to think what else they did, but I know that Art’s wife worked in Milwaukee, and she was teased that she was Rosie the Riveter.  And I’d imagine that is what she did, I don’t know.  But everybody that could help the war effort did.  And after the war they continued until they were sure that things were quieted down.  I think a lot of supplies were made ahead of time for…, in case this erupted again.   

I can’t remember after the war other than I moved back again with my parents and I came here to Waupun and met him.  He came home on January 1st of 1946.  And his ship was held out in the harbor at San Francisco because they wouldn’t bring that troop ship in on New Year’s Eve.  So they just held them up there for one whole day because they knew that that would be too much of a wild party.  By that time the guys were anxious to get on a train and get home.  I think I saw him on the 2nd of January when he got home.

Was he different when he came home?  Well, it was quite an adjustment to make.  He had seen an awful lot of war injuries and he did a lot of surgery.  He said, actually, it was the best thing that could have happened to him because he was forced to do it and things that he was not doing.  He would, you know, cut off an arm, whatever.  And he said, “I learned a lot of surgery during the year I was over there.”  But he was in a regular tent type hospital like MASH unit. 

We watched MASH a lot.  He says, “Oh, I remember those days” (she laughs).  And he had one real nice nurse, and he said, “Ges, she was homelier than a mud fence,” but, he said, “she was a good nurse, good surgical nurse.”  And he just loved her.  She wrote to him after the war to find out how his family was and how we were doing, and I wrote back to her because, naturally, he was so busy.  He didn’t take time to write.  And she sort of knew me from our letters back and forth.  I still have a shoe box of letters I got from him.

Really?  But a lot of them are, you know, cut.  If he said anything that they shouldn’t have said, it is all cut out (she laughs).

So after the war when did you move to Waupun?  Oh, well, I was pregnant with my third boy and I couldn’t come house hunting so much, so Leonard and his mother went around, found some homes.  And then they had me come up one weekend, my folks brought me up, and I said, “Oh, that is fine.”  I was happy to have just a roof over my head and have a husband at home (she laughs).  So we moved into a house at 115 West Franklin Street in Waupun.  And then a year later we found that a house that we originally wanted, which was right next door to Dr. Raymond’s on Grove Street, was for sale.  And so we bought that big house.  We worked on it for almost a year remodeling it.  And then we moved into that house.  But it was very nice. 

The first thing that happened to me was I hung the diapers out on Sunday morning.  And we had a neighbor that said, “No, you aren’t supposed to be washing or hanging out diapers on a Sunday morning.”  And the next week my husband ordered a dryer for me, so I had a dryer and I didn’t have to hang out my wash any more (she laughs).  That was quite a surprise to us because, you know, we weren’t born and raised here, so we didn’t know what the community was like. 

And what brought you to Waupun?  Oh, well, Ray was here.  Ray had started his practice here.  Originally he started in Oakfield, and he just couldn’t make it go.  He had no cash flow.  He got bushels of potatoes, and bushels of cabbage, bushels of carrots, chickens and ducks and stuff like, but no cash flow to buy food, or not necessarily food, clothing for his kids, diapers for his babies.  So, I mean, we all depended on a washing machines in those days (she laughs). 

When he (Leonard, Ges’ husband) came back from the service he started up here, and his first office was over Gysbers, or it used to be Gysbers Groceries, it’s now Van’s Corner Drug in that stone block building.  And they were on the second floor.  And old Doctor Smith, who was well in his eighties, was there.  And then, Doctor Lenz was there, the optometrist, and Doctor Raymond Schrank, and Doctor Leonard Schrank.  And I think there was an insurance agency up there.  But that is…, there were all offices, and that is where he started his practice. 

Well, it wasn’t long and they outgrew the business because people climbing those stairs that had heart problems could hardly make it, and so they decided to get on the first floor.  So where the National Bank is now there was a big home, and they bought that and made it into a Schrank Clinic.  And then in 1952 they built the Schrank Clinic down here on the corner.  And it still bears the name because when Dr. Lewellous bought my share he asked if he could use the Schrank Clinic name because they had, you know, lots of stationary, billing heads, everything, and he didn’t mind using ‘em.  And then when Dr. Peters died, he was no longer here but his daughter said, “Well, why not just keep it the Schrank Clinic.” 

Now I have a granddaughter as a Doctor Schrank, and I am hoping that maybe some day she will come back and be a practitioner here.  But she is serving the residency, family practice up in Appleton (Wisconsin) right now.  And I don’t think she’ll leave Appleton because Appleton has a lot more to offer than we do.

You said you married in 1943, and you mentioned some of your children…, how many children did you have and what are their names?  Oh, I have Leonard Charles, and Robert James, and Thomas Wayne.  And eleven years after the boys I kept praying for a little girl, and I had Susan Barbara.  I had my little girl, but it was eleven years.  I never had a pregnancy, I never lost a baby, but I kept praying for a little girl.  I wanted a little girl so bad.  I told Leonard that if it wasn’t a little girl then that was the end of it.  If I didn’t have a little girl….  He said, “You are gonna have a little girl.”  He knew it. 

He gave candy to all the believers at the hospital—all the sisters (Catholic nuns) at that time were still working here, and he called them believers—and he gave nuts to all those who didn’t believe he had a little girl.  And he had more fun with that baby.  They said he never came out of the clouds for a couple of days.  He just went around smiling.  And they talked to him and he didn’t even hear them.  He was so delighted that he had that little girl.

When was your daughter born?  She was born in 1947.  No, no, ‘57.  Charlie was born in ‘44, Bob was born in ‘45, Tom was born in February of ‘47, and then Suzy was born in ‘57.  No, yeah, ‘57.  See it wasn’t quite 11 years, ‘57, but she was born in October of that year, Oct 30th.

Did any of your children go into the military?  No.  Most of them are drafted, you know, they had numbers given to them.  But Charlie’s numbers were real high and so are Bob, and they were both in dental school at Marquette, so they didn’t think they would be pulled out.  But then Tom had a real low draft number, so he went into the National Guard.  He served six years, or whatever the rule was at that time.  I think it was six years.  Aand he went to guard camp every time.  And then Suzy, of course, by that time there was no need.

There was some type of a flu epidemic or something in the early ‘50’s that a lot of children, young children, died from.  Do you remember that and what caused it?  Was it a flu epidemic or what was it?  I don’t really remember.  I was so busy being a mother with three boys and a new baby I just don’t remember about that.  I’m sure there was.  I know at times when Doctor Schrank came home and took off his suit and clothes, if he’d been with someone who had polio, and he’d leave everything in the garage and he’d say, “Send this to the cleaners and put it in a bag and tell them that I was with patients that I thought were contaminated.”  And I even sent his shirts along to the laundry.  But I did his underwear and stuff like that.  But, you know, we were very careful in those days because our children were so young.

Is there anything else that you can remember that you would want to tell us about that timeframe or anything?  Oh, in my letter to you I forgot to tell you that if you got a run on your nylon stockings you mended it.  You had a little gadget and you mended it stitch by stitch with a magnifying glass.  And I am trying to find that instrument so that you have a picture of it, but I haven’t found it yet.  But it had like a little hook latch, and it was real tiny, and you’d mend that run.  It might take you five hours to do a run about six inches long, but, I mean, your nylons are so precious.

I had two ladies tell me that if you couldn’t get nylons they would actually draw a line on their leg to look like a nylon seam.  Oh, yes, yeah.  Yes.  Oh, yeah.  In those days it usually ran up the back of your leg, and you do that to pretend you had nylons on, you didn’t have any.  And we had…, well, I could get lyle, they called it lyle, it was cotton or something, but you hated to wear them.  But when it was cold in the winter you wear them (Ges laughs).  You know, because they were heavy, thick, and your clothes stuck to ‘em.  You try to walk and your stocking would hold you back (she laughs).  But Leonard could not get any overseas.  A lot of husbands could get them at the PX’s, as  I was told.  But he being isolated in [the] Philippines, he couldn’t. 

He was in Luzon, the province of Luzon.  He had a bad experience there.  He was returning from an R & R (Rest and Relaxation) in Manila, and their jeep was only a mile or two from the camp, and someone shot the sergeant that was driving.  And he said, “I just rolled right out the jeep and down into the bushes.”  And he said, “I just laid there and hid.  And I watched what went on.”  And those Filipinos were after the gas cans and the gas.  And he said, “That’s all they took.”  They left the jeep there, they left the sergeant there, they didn’t rob him, nothing.  Just took the gas; because they had extra gas cans on the back of…,  because they never knew when they went out how many miles they were gonna have to go to pick up different people.  But that was…, he said, “A horrible experience.”  And he said that he stayed laying in this jungle, and he said, “I worried about snakes and animals, but nobody gave me away and luckily nothing made me scream or cry out.”  And he said he thought they looked for him for about five minutes.  They didn’t spend any time…, they just wanted that jeep with those gas cans.  Cans of gas, you know.  

Can you tell me about his family, brothers and sisters?  Okay.  The oldest one was Bill, then John, then, I think, Elvin was next, and then…, or Art, Art and Elvin, they are close.  They were two brothers.  And then Raymond and then…, oh, Elle was born about the time Raymond was, maybe a year before, a year after, I can’t remember.  Then Edna. 

And Edna died of pneumonia.  Her husband didn’t take care of her by taking her to a doctor or a hospital until she couldn’t breath, and she died.  I mean, by the time she got to the hospital, she died, you know.  But that was probably because they didn’t have very much. 

But they…, the family worked farms, and Art and Elvin were both…, Elvin joined the Coast Guard during the war.  And he was on the escort ships for forward moving company taking supplies to Europe.  And he became a chef on the boat.  And he said, “Many times I thought this was it when we’d get hit, but we managed to limp along and get back to port somehow.” 

Art was not in the service, but he worked in a factory or some place in Milwaukee and made war equipment.  I couldn’t say what because I don’t remember.  His wife was Rosie the Riveter, she was always teased about that.

What was her name?  Let’s see.  Have I got nine of them mentioned there?  Yeah, I think so.  Leonard was the baby in the family.  When I met him he lived in Brownsville.  He was going to high school at Winnebago Lutheran Academy and was going to be a preacher.  But he got down to Madison and he wanted to be an engineer, and so he went into the engineering school. 

And one day he met Ray.  And Ray was serving a residency in surgery at Madison already, because there is quite a difference there in age.  And Ray said, “I’ll bet you can’t make medical school.”  And Leonard said, “Well, I’ll bet I can.”  He says, “I’ll go into medical school tomorrow.”  And so he changed his field.  The next year when he registered he went into medical school.  And, of course, Ray took his internship in Akron City Hospital.  And even though it was four or five years that he was there, when Leonard walked in everybody knew him.  Thy said, “Hello Dr. Schrank.”  They thought that he was Ray.  So he always said that he had a good welcoming at Akron.  Of course, he stayed for four years and got to know everybody that Ray had known. 

During the war there was a big shortage of doctors, too.  Only the very elderly doctors were working.  There weren’t anyone in the middle aged groups from forty to sixty.  There weren’t anyone left, they were all in the service.  And he said that he probably had the best training he ever had because he had to take over as a young intern or a young resident and do things that he never thought he’d be doing that soon.  And, I mean, the speed up program, of course, was good too because you saved a year of schooling.  But before he first earned his first dollar he was twenty-nine years old.  I still have it framed (she laughs).

Is there anything else that you could think of that you would want to say?  Not really.  I mean, I wish I could remember a little bit more accurately.  But you could take out what you want because I’ve told you what I know that I remember.

I really appreciate the time.  Well, I am glad you came.  I wish I could tell you more about my life there, but it was so limited because I was so busy with these babies and I couldn’t expect my mother to do all the washing and ironing and stuff, I did all that for her.

Well, thank you.


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Last updated on 27 Jan 2013 .   

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