Second World War: Tall, Thin Man in an Army Uniform

Woman remembers the homecoming of her Uncle Herbert, crisp uniform, Model A Ford, and all, after the Second World War.

| Good Old Days

 My memories about the second World War center around my Uncle Herbert Nelson's homecoming. My parents, my baby sister, my mother's slightly retarded brother and I lived in a tiny town, a place in the road really - called Dover, Florida. Our house was built with the back facing a long dirt road; on the other side were the piney woods and palmettos. This road led to the highway where my father walked each morning to catch his ride to work. 

We were about a half mile from the nearest neighbors, and the land was situated so that one could look down the road toward the highway and see anyone walking in the direction of our home.

One sunny morning, Mama was doing yard work, and I was playing nearby. I did not see anyone coming, and neither did my mother. Suddenly, a tall, thin man in an Army uniform came striding down the dirt driveway toward my mother. Dropping her gardening tools, she made a small cry and ran to the man. They embraced and cried and smiled at the same time.

I might have been frightened, since I was a shy child, but somehow I was not. I walked closer and stared up at my mother, who looked down and said, "This is your Uncle Herbert. He's been away in the War." I was 4 years old, and this was the first I knew about an Uncle Herbert. He had come to stay a while and would share a room with his younger brother at the end of the house.

Uncle Herbert bought a Model A Ford with his mustering-out pay, and we proudly rode to the crossroads grocery store and to the Baptist Church. Mama said the car sounded like a sewing machine. He often drove us to see relatives in nearby towns. Once my sister and I were playing on the edge of a fish pond, the kind people used to have in their front yards for decoration or landscaping. The deep end was about three feet deep, and Sissy fell in. I screamed and groped under the water. I couldn't swim and was afraid to go in. I got her dress and pulled her up as everyone came running out. Uncle Herbert asked me if I pushed her. He had seen me hit her with a swing at another time and was suspicious. But that time the fall was an accident.

My uncle had never married and was not used to young children. He would hold me on his lap sometimes, and I often asked him to do this. He was very nervous from the War and would jump visibly if someone dropped silverware. I began to drop mine just to see him jump, until Mama got wise and spanked me hard for it.

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