Remembering Those Still “On Patrol”

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, Heart of Hollyhill

May 30, 1964

Jocie Brooke here reporting from the offices of the Banner on Main Street, Hollyhill, Kentucky, on Memorial Day. 

Mama Mae always called it Decoration Day when she took flowers to her husband’s grave. I went with her sometimes. Now she’s there in the graveyard beside him. I rode my bike out to the cemetery earlier today to lay some peonies on Mama Mae’s grave. She loved peonies. Dad must have gone by there on his way to work because a bouquet of white roses was already there. If I’d known Dad was stopping by the cemetery, I’d have gotten up early and gone with him.

But Dad sometimes likes to be alone to think about Memorial Day. You see he served in World War II on a submarine. He says that might be him in the back on this picture. In a submarine way down in the ocean with the Germans shooting torpedoes at his sub is where my dad heard the Lord calling him to preach. At the time, he thought the Lord might simply be letting him know it was his time to go to his final resting place. (It’s some story and I never get tired of hearing it. If you want to know it, he tells me the whole story in Scent of Lilacs.) I’m really glad the Lord didn’t let any of those torpedoes hit Dad’s sub so that he could come home from the war and be my father. 

He’s glad too, but at the same time, he says he can’t forget the thousands of families with empty chairs at their dinner tables because of the war. Some of those who didn’t come home were submarine men whose subs were hit and never surfaced. On Memorial Day, Dad says a special prayer for  the crews of the World War II submarines that are still “on patrol.” He heard about this special memorial to those lost submarines and their crews not long ago so he put this picture on the front page of the Banner, top fold.

Dad doesn’t talk much about his war days, but Memorial Day week he works extra hours to put out a newspaper to remind people to remember those who died in service of our country.

I asked Dad if I could interview Mr. Whitlow. You remember Mr. Whitlow from last week, don’t you? That guy who showed up from nowhere to live in the hotel on Main Street. He might be a veteran but even if he isn’t, I still might find out something about him to give a clue to what he’s doing here. But Dad says I should go to the nursing home instead and talk to the World War I vets. Get their stories on paper while they still remember them. Not exactly what I had in mind, but Dad’s the boss. 

So I’m off to the nursing home, but if I were to happen to meet Mr. Whitlow on the street, it surely couldn’t hurt to ask if he had served during the war. Then I’d know at least one thing about him. But whether I find out anything about him this week or not, I will sooner or later. Something besides that he comes in every Thursday to buy a paper, and every Thursday, Zella has on a Sunday go to meeting dress. 

Zella doesn’t pay the first bit of attention to how the cat, Red, arches his back and hisses when Mr. Whitlow comes through the door. But that might be something we need to notice. Of course, Red does the same thing when Pastor Barton from the First Christian Church comes in. He even scratched at him when Pastor Barton tried to rub him once, and Pastor Barton is as nice as can be and not a bit mysterious. Wes says Jupiter cats are a peculiar breed and hard to figure out. 

Oh well, I’d better be thinking about what I’m going to ask the old veterans for next week’s paper. Maybe tonight, I can ask Dad some of the same questions since he’s a veteran too. 

Did you have family members who fought in the wars? What would you ask them if you could?