Friday, May 27, 2005


I owe a deep apology to Don and Paula Anne. They sent this to me quite some few weeks ago and, in the setting up of the new sites and other stresses of day-to-day life, there it’s languished. Please accept our apologies. –tlp-

Don Thompson

I remember the Service Flag hanging in our window of the house on North Main across from the First Methodist Church. I lived with my grand parents and the flag represented their son, Alvin Graham. Then there was the terrible day a telegram arrived announcing that Alvin was missing in action. I can still hear my grandmother, Sadie Graham, breaking down and crying uncontrollably. We kept up hope that he would be found alive but eventually we learned he had died on the battlefield in France. Alvin had married just a short time before while on leave before heading to Europe. His bride would never see him again. There were so many similar stories at that terrible time.This is a memory I don't like to think about too much.

As a youngster of 7, I didn't understand about war but there was a certain excitement hearing about planes and tanks. There were the radio broadcasts, newspapers and movie news reels keeping us informed of the progress of the war effort. One memorable event really made a big impression on me. There was a demonstration of weaponry at the armory on East Race St. I remember going with some friends and watching the soldiers put on a show of machine guns and rifles in action. The smell of gunpowder permeated the air and the sound of rapid firing of weapons was deafening. My friends and I hung around after the show and searched for spent cartridges. I don't remember anyone telling us to leave and we found several shell casing. I even found one live M1 shell which I eagerly put into my pocket.

Years later at age 13, I decided to make something from those cartridges. I decided to fabricate a mechanical pencil from the complete shell. I carefully removed the bullet, emptied out the gunpowder, and drilled a hole in the cap end and cut off a piece of the bullet and drilled a hole through it so I could attach the lead end of a Scripto pencil. The cap of a radio vacuum tube served as the other end of the pencil. The natural color of the brass casing didn't appeal to me. I had just been reading about electroplating and decided to plate the pencil.

I had some Nickel Sulfate from a chemistry set and used another M1 cartridge to make an electrode by putting a piece of battery carbon in the bullet end. A ball of cotton soaked with nickel sulfate solution on the carbon end was used to "paint" on the nickel using batteries scrounged from the telephone company trash cans for electric current.

My son now has the pencil and you'll find a rather artistic photo of it at .

I did some research on the shells using the wonderful resources of the Internet. The cap end of the .30-06 M1 casing had an "F", "A", and 27 stamped around the rim. If my reasoning is correct, the FA means the shells were manufactured at the Frankfort Arsenal in Frankfort, Kentucky in 1927. I guess they were using some old ammunition for the demo.

Paula Anne Windsor Thompson

World War II has several memories for me. I did know there was a war going on, but early on I had very few connections with it. We were living close to Harding and Dad was manager of the Safeway store in Searcy. I remember coming home one afternoon and found my Dad at home early. My Mother told me that he was being drafted and he would be leaving soon. I was so surprised because he was 34 at that time and had previously been deferred because of his flat feet. I remember going down to the bus station to see him off along with a group of other draftees headed to Little Rock. I am not sure how he made it into the Navy, but he did and was off to San Diego for boot camp. My mother and I stayed in Searcy until I finished the fourth grade and then we moved to Little Rock to stay with my grandparents.

Once Dad finished boot camp and knew were he would be stationed, which turned out to be Oakland-Alameda Navy Base in California. My mother and he went there, leaving me with my grandmother. Mother did not think it would be a good place for me. My grandmother and aunt, who was still at home, looked after me and got me started to school in the fifth grade in Little Rock. After supper we would sit around and listen to the news. Do you remember Walter Winchell and "all the ships at sea"? My grandparents were always listening because my uncle, their son, was a bomber pilot and, of course, they’d listen to see what was happening.. My uncle was a squadron leader and was in the second group that flew over Berlin when the bombings began there. He was lucky to make it through the war. My dad never went to sea and that was fortunate for many reasons. One was he got motion sickness taking the ferry boat to the base on the island.

I looked forward to letters from my parents and occasionally I would get a 45 r.p.m. talk record made at the U.S.O. I still have those records.

I did survive that year in Little Rock, and was so glad when it was over and my parents returned. School was still in session, but for some reason I got sick that day and had to stay home from school. We moved back to Searcy and dad returned to Safeway.

Sailors Paul and Paula Posted by Hello


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