To start this history from the beginning, go to the right hand column and click on June and then scroll down to Chapter One - Part One.
Cherokee, The War Years
1941 was not only eventful for the United States, possibly for the world; it was significant to our family for more than the fact that we were at war.
Sometime around late 1939 or early 1940, when he was nine-years-old, Jack got a job selling Look magazines. He would sell each one for ten cents and every two weeks someone would deliver 200 to our house and for every one he sold he was paid a penny. This meant he was able to make $2.00 every two weeks which he turned over to mom. This was a time when every family member was expected to do their part to help the family.
He kept this job for at least three years. Sometimes Dave and I would go with him, not so much to help as to keep him company. On one occasion, December 2, 1941, when Jack was almost 12, Dave was 10 and I was 8, Dave and I went with Jack to sell magazines on South Broadway. Englewood was only three blocks south of our house and the three of us ended up in Englewood on the corner of Bates and Broadway. Since I was young enough at eight-years-old to still be cute and cuddly, people seemed to buy the magazines more often from me. Jack had his bicycle with him and, at one point, when we only had a few magazines left, he suggested that he ride his bike north on the west side of Broadway, while Dave went south on the same side of Broadway. There was a Service Station on the east side of Broadway where I had always been able to sell one or two magazines, depending on the number of customers. So Jack told me to go over there and this is the last thing I remember until I woke up in the hospital the next morning.
We were usually very careful about crossing the street, but I obviously didn’t look ways before crossing the street. A car that was traveling south on Broadway didn’t have time to stop when I walked in front of him. Dave heard the sounds of the breaks squealing and the thump when the car hit me. He turned around just in time to see me fall. According to him, I was already trying to get up by the time he got to me. Jack hadn’t made it very far north because he was able to push the driver away from me who was trying to help me. I do have hazy memories of the ambulance siren, being wrapped in a scratchy, wool blanket making me much to warm.
After the ambulance left, Jack had the unenviable job of riding his bike home to tell Mom and Dad about the accident. When he got home the atmosphere made his task even more difficult. The smells of the cooking dinner permeated throughout the house and Mom was in a very pleasant mood. Jack knew he was about to destroy the peaceful evening. No one should have to do something like this, let alone an 11-year-old. I’m not sure how my parents got to the hospital, but when they did arrive they found out I had a fractured skull and severe concussion and at first I was completely blind. Thankfully, this symptom had passed by the time I woke up the next morning.
I was in the Denver General hospital for three weeks. Since the car had hit me on December 2nd, this means I was in the hospital on the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. I remember the nurse coming into the ward that I shared. She was crying and told us, “The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor.” At eight-years-old I had no idea what a pearl harbor was or why that made her cry. Like everyone else, I learned very quickly what it meant.
It is difficult to imagine this now, but my parents were only allowed to visit me one time during my three-week stay. The only one who came more than once was our preacher, Arthur Golden. Now that I look back on this I surprised that I adjusted to this so quickly. The other boys in my ward had various injuries, burns, broken legs, etc. All of us were confined to our beds. It seems I had some kind of fluid in my skull and had to be careful not hit my head. Ask me if it stopped me from getting out of bed when the nurses were not around. One of my roommates, dared me to get out of bed, so, the first time I got up, all I did was stand by my bed. The next dare was for me to walk to his bed a few feet away. I did it. In fact, the final dare was for me to walk out of the ward, to the room across the hall to touch the table we could see in there. Not knowing exactly how dangerous it was, I took the dare. I wish I could say that this was last foolish thing I ever did in my life.
I have great memories about when I was finally released from the hospital. When I got home everyone treated me like a king. I had never felt so important. Even my brothers and my sister treated me special. At that age I wanted it to go on forever. It didn’t. It wasn’t long before I was simply another member of the family. But it was still good to be home.